RV parks made up a huge part of my childhood summers. There were RV parks based beside lakes, ones near the beach; there were big ones, small ones, and even one that looked out over the ocean with nothing between the two but a cliff's edge.
The one I liked best had three beds in it and a kitchen. It's also the one in which I was afraid of the monster in the bathroom and my entire family—RVs are pretty cool like that—wound up with food poisoning from the local diner.
Somehow—I think because of the entire "family vacation" deal—these puke-soaked, terrifying memories are imprinted on me as good things. These days, it's all about me trying to get the new members of my family to go; it's time the next generation of us climbed into an RV and hit the road.
The Hotel Takeover
Hotel vacations were never as personal as those my parents took us to in our youths. They were organized, packaged; it took away the specialness. No longer were my siblings and I told to get out of bed at 4am so we could pack up the Thermoses and the camping tents and get going to dad's surprise destination.
The surprise destination would always be one of the dozens of state camping and RV parks in Colorado—the most beautiful state of all 50, and one I still consider home.
I remember the disappointment I had when we stopped going camping for the summer periods. My siblings and I were aging out of high school, applying for colleges around the country, and my parents were getting older. Because my brother left for college first, they started to see they could finally put more of their money into fancy vacations.
I got to go, but I'd always miss those early mornings of walking barefoot in the dew to one of the outside showers.
They were quieter.
A Family of One's Own
My siblings and I all lead very different lives. My brother lives on the east coast with his boyfriend, Steven and my sister is in the middle of moving from SoCal to Oregon, hoping to eventually wind up in Seattle.
I stayed in Colorado where the air is crisp and clear, and we have every piece of the landscape a little girl could dream of. I met my husband fresh out of college, and it wasn't hard to convince him to make the move from Omaha.
All that it took was the promise that not everyone skis and so he truly didn't have to pick it up. Skiing is more for the visitors than it is us Coloradans, though there is a time and there is a place for everything. Also, the promise that I would help him to get his stuff from Omaha to Durango in his classic VW bus.
Hit the Road, Jack
That bus was no RV like the ones my family used to drive around when I was younger, but it meant we could see a huge chunk of our beautiful country, spend some time together, and play the license plate game.
We were like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel or an 80's movie that has a strong plot, a killer, classic rock soundtrack—AC/DC, baby!—and an open ending, left to interpretation.
The drive also meant we could be the reckless kids we were and take a detour down into Kansas and on to New Mexico because life is too short not to spend a chunk of it on the road instead of half a day straight.
I find the road exciting and winding up in Colorado would be amazing. At least 30 of its total parks have RV parks included for less than it cost me to rent my own apartment.
My now husband, then and always soulmate, was immediately hooked on the cheap outdoor lifestyle just like I was. Especially when we landed at Golden Gate Canyon; its name alone examining its beauty.
Golden Gate Canyon
We were both in love with this place.
For me, Golden Gate Canyon was an old lover; one with connections and memories to a time that was gone, yet somehow still remained in the trees that had secured their roots there just like I had, and the brutally, jagged, and somehow beautiful outline of the mountains.
We were still a movie. One night, we were lying on a fold-out blanket on the ground and he actually said to me, "Can we live here?" I would have said yes in a heartbeat were we not carrying around a lifetime's cache of DC comic books.
Golden Gate Canyon warns you of bears, or cougars, or all the billions of things that can kill you in nature, but that made us hold each other closer. Like a Nicholas Sparks novel, if I wasn't one half of the whole, I would have barfed.
The Traditional Value of RV Parks
All thanks to the world wide web, we both are now members of a Facebook community that connects keen travelers like us to one another, so we can trade tips and cool campsites to visit.
With a toddler at home and two kids in school, it's only during the summer months that we can get away, like my mom and dad with me and my siblings before us. My family were never Thanksgiving types and my husband is Jewish, so Christmas isn't the biggest deal for us.
Every family needs a tradition. It would only be right for me and for mine to revisit the one that I grew up with: throwing our hiking boots and fleece pajamas into the van and hitting up all of the dang RV parks we can find.
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