Tim WhytePauline HartePatti RasmussenRichard RiouxLeon Worden

Black N Whyte

Camping trip: A long way to go just to sleep outside

Tim Whyte · September 14, 1997

My Nana, she thinks I'm nuts.

I was over at her house one night last week, chatting with her and my uncle Neil and aunt Linda, who were visiting from Salt Lake City. The next day, my wife Erin, our son Luc and I were leaving on a camping trip to Big Sur -- our fifth camping excursion since acquiring the big ol' Whyte Trash tent trailer, a 1982 Coleman Sequoia.

It's old, and quite brown, but spacious, and very comfortable for me, my bride and our 2-year-old future 50-goal-scorer who will support me in lavish style during my golden years.

Nana, Neil and Linda had gone to Solvang on a day trip that day, and Nana recalled that Erin and I had gone on some camping trips to Buellton, which is just a couple of miles from Solvang.

I think Nana was shocked by how long it took to get there.

"You go all that way just to go camping?" she asked, sort of daring me to day yes.

Never one to decline a dare, I replied:

"Oh yeah. It's only a couple of hours."

"You drive that long just to camp."

"Yup. There's less light pollution out there, so when you're sitting around the campsite at night, you can see lots of stars."

She shook her head.

"That's a long way to go to sleep outside."

I can't wait until it sinks in to Nana that next summer, we're planning a mega-camping wagon-train road trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where we've received a kind offer to stay on a farm -- oops! ranch! -- during the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the biggest rodeo and cowboy-type festival known in these here United States of America.

On that trip, we're planning to drag that trailer all the way through Nevada, Utah and Wyoming before heading home via Colorado and Arizona.

But Nana was still in a state of disbelief about our little two-hour jaunts for weekend camping trips to distant destinations like Solvang.

"You drive that far just to sleep outside."

"Well, not exactly. We have this trailer...."

"If you just want to sleep outside, hell, I'll rent you my back yard...."

"Thanks, Nana, but...."

"My idea of roughing it is staying in Motel 6," she said.

I didn't bother to remind her of the little cabin we stayed in, way back when, on a road trip to Yellowstone with Neil and Linda and their kids. We stayed in this place -- I forget the name 'cuz I was just a kid -- outside Yellowstone where the toilets weren't completely bolted to the floor, and the bathroom door wouldn't quite shut all the way, so you had to hold it shut while you were ... Well, suffice it to say, just making a routine midnight pit stop became something of a rock and roll adventure.

It was no Motel 6. We got a lot of laughs out of "roughing it" on that trip.

It's OK, though. To each his own. Some people aren't into the camping thing, and that's OK, especially if you happen to be a great-grandmother from Nova Scotia.

Some other folks think we're wimps for seeking out campgrounds that have hot showers and flush toilets. And I'm here to tell you that most of our camping destinations have better facilities than that little cabin near Yellowstone. Not all of them. We've stayed at a few places that have "two-holers." But most of 'em have running water and everything.

Still, Nana seems to think that Erin, Luc and I are traveling and camping in something that's just a small step better than a covered wagon, and she's clearly skeptical about the distances we cover in pursuit of dirt.

"You be careful, driving all that way with that trailer and my great-grandson," she warned, before we embarked on the scenic trek up Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur, a drive that, in my opinion, everyone should make at least once a year -- if nothing else, just to clear your head.

"Of course we'll be careful," I replied.

"That's a long way to go to sleep outside."

I was really looking forward to Big Sur. There are massive trees there, and unspoiled beaches, sea otters, and deer, and sea lions, and oceanside cliffs, and places to explore and just be at peace and play with my little boy, that great-grandson who Nana loves so much.

And by the way, Nana, thanks for the apple pie (made with fresh apples out of my mom's back yard). We ate it under the stars, next to the campfire, and it was delicious.

Sure. It's a long way to go to sleep outside.

But that's pretty darn OK with me.

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