Back-in or a Pull-Thru?

Your heart begins to beat a little faster….small beads of sweat trickle down your face…a light headache begins in the back of your head and moves its way towards what feels like a migraine…you notice you’re gripping the steering wheel with a firmer grip….you begin wondering if this time will be the “big fight” between you and your spouse! What’s all the anxiety about???? It’s the ten minutes before you get to the campground (or the place where you store your camper)…it’s time to back in the camper.   😦


If you are like me, then patience is not a word in your vocabulary. Camping is supposed to be about rest and relaxation, but the thought of having to back in the camper triggers anxiety for me almost as badly as public speaking. Why can it be so damn difficult to back in a camper, especially a pop-up? Just when I think I have the technique down, the camper jackknifes and I am ready to blow another gasket! I am sure my neighbors get a big kick out of watching me back the pop-up into the garage. There have been a few times when I had to drive out and pull back in ten times before I finally get the camper inside. But this weekend I found out it’s not just me. We spent Memorial Day weekend at Camp Toodik in the Mohican region of Ohio. We loved the campground, however, the road our site was on was incredibly tight. Amy and I watched campers with rigs ranging from small pop-ups to 5th-wheelers try to squeeze into their sites. I knew the look on their faces all too well.  The frustration of backing in! Although I hated to smile, it was SO good to know it’s not just me 😉

It all boils down to this question: Is it worth the stress?  I love back-in spots because you usually have trees/vegetation behind you – which offers more privacy and more sense of nature. On the other hand, I could roll up to the pull-thru and have the entire pop up and campsite set up in less time than it would take to back the camper in. Ok, that’s an exaggeration but I think you get my point. When Amy and I visited Nashville we stayed at a Jellystone campground which mainly consisted of pull-thrus, so we tried one.  It was convenient but I would have preferred the seclusion of a back-in. Nine times out of ten we choose a back-in spot when we camp. I guess for now I will keep practicing the art of backing in the camper and dealing with the stress. Maybe some day I will master it. Or maybe I will learn to like pull-thrus. What are your thoughts on the matter?

What is it about a camp fire?

It doesn’t matter if I camping in the middle of the winter or in the hottest part of July, a camp fire is mandatory in any camping experience! But what is about a fire that intrigues us so much? I can sit around a fire with a cold beverage shooting the breeze with my wife and friends for hours! When I camp I need to start my morning out with a good cup of coffee and a fire. Mid afternoon I need to stoke that fire back up for some good pot pies or hot dogs. And by evening that fire becomes the epicenter of the social gathering. Campfires are the essense of camping. There was a campground that Amy and I considered when we traveled to Nashville. However, when we found out that the campground had no firerings it was a done deal. No way could I stay for three nights without a fire! What kind of campground does not allow campfires? The campground had a lot of good reviews online but for me, not having campfires was the ultimate downside!

I can remember many great childhood memories of campfires. When I was a young cub scout we always loved to mess with fires. Every year we had an annual campout; just the boys and their dads. We had a great time. During one campout, the boys decided to embrace our pyro sides and make a huge campfire. We took everything we could and put it in the fire. The fathers had no idea until the next morning when they were looking for the styrofoam cups and bowls! We had burned them all! Burning styrofoam is way cool 😉 A really pissed off father who did not get his morning coffee is NOT way cool!

Some of my more “high class” friends complain that campfires cause you to smell like, well a campfire. So? The smell of a campfire and the site of tall flames in a fire ring bring peace and relaxation to an otherwise stressful week! (For tips for eliminating the tell tale signs you have been camping – Click here!)  Roasting marshmallows, making pot pies, using the dutch oven to cook, roasting hot dogs, or just simply burning stuff are the cool aspects of a campfire. And isn’t funny how campfires cause people to talk? Maybe it’s the beer but campfires have a way of facilitating a good discussion. Whether it’s hanging out with old high school friends bringing up stories of the “old days” or colleagues sitting around complaining about the incompetent boss, the campfire is the common denominator.