The Good of Roadtrips, the Bad of Car Camping

I’ve been on lots of road trips growing up.

My family and I traveled a lot to take my brother to hockey tournaments in lots of different states. Because of this, I have nostalgic memories of being woken up before the sun rose, wrapping myself in my comforter, and bringing a bag of books to the backseat. And when the sun was up, I loved watching the sky, inspecting little pass-through towns, and having long quiet talks with whoever was awake. (Of course, there was lots of fighting with my brother too.)

There are a couple of “rules” I like to follow on a road trip. One of them is to never head back. If you miss something or a specific food involves a U-turn to get back to, it’s out. You have a destination to get to, you should never go back. Another rule is to check out anything crazy. I leave time specifically in my travels just for random billboard advertising or weird American landmarks. I want any exotic zoo, haunted graveyard, 100 foot ball of yarn.

With my goal being to frequently do weekend road trips I knew I wanted to make my car a perfect long-distance vehicle. Originally, I had saved the mattress pads from my futon to make pillows (slight hoarder alert) but after a bit of trimming they ended up being the perfect addition to my backseats. My car is a mini-SUV (Kia Sportage) so the seats lie flat. I now had a bed! Better yet, because of the two pieces and the way the seats go down separately, I had an option between a twin-sized or a full-sized bed.

This mostly came in handy for long drives where me and the passenger could trade off turns driving and not have to stop and waste time at a hotel. On the trip to CO with my dad, he had also tried to use the air mattress but that ended up being a major fail in a car – way too bouncy. The other great part about cheap weekend road trips – even if we were at our destination we had no need for an Airbnb! I basically had a small RV.

Yeah, so there’s no bathroom or shower. The shower thing I’ve previously mentioned about how you can pay for cheap clean showers at truck stops (always get a locking door!) but we’re camping here! It’s not all going to be fresh as a daisy. And usually I will park the car for the night near a gas station so they have 24/7 bathrooms.

It’s not all glamorous. On the New Mexico National Park road trip, we stopped near the Aztec Ruins, in front of a handmade Native American storefront and decided to use nature as our bathroom for the night. It had gotten very cold for the night and I woke up just before sunrise about ready to pee my pants.

I had kept my sandals in the front seat, but between shuffling the dog and all our stuff in the tight space, I decided to just go barefoot. I usually would’ve crawled through to get out the front seat, but I couldn’t hold it any longer and decided getting out through the backseat would be fine. I stepped out onto the cold rocks and took quick steps forward into the field to find a more secluded place to do my business.

And then those two feet were standing on several grass burrs. It hurt like hell, so I was thinking if I fell back enough to get back to the rocks, I could pull the sticker burrs from my feet. Well, landing on my butt was easy, but I didn’t exactly miss the burrs. Once more got in my butt, I slammed my hand down automatically to get off the ground and got even more stuck in me. So then my feet hurt, my hand hurt, and my butt hurt.

I was half lying in pain in just panties and a t-shirt in the middle of nowhere as the sun was rising. And then a car drove by on the nearby deserted road (of course it did). An ok man drove by, made eye contact with me, a crazed half naked woman lying in the cold, and he kept on his merry way luckily.

Even though everything hurt, I began the process of hurriedly picking out stickers from my feet and butt so I could at least get back to the car. After clearing out most of it (my hand that I slammed was in the worst shape) I got into the front seat to warm up and clean off the bit of blood. Then I grabbed my sandals and headed back out.

This was my lesson to never venture into the wild without any kind of shoes. There’s good and bad to car camping, hell even some ugly, but for he most part it’s been such a fun experience! And the more I save here and there – the more weekend trips I can make happen!

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