When Other People Make It Look Easy

Fairly soon, we’ll be heading on our third camping trip of the season.  I’m a little bit nervous because we are going to the same campground where the big awning blowoff of 2012 took place, and I’m definitely a little skittish about returning to the scene of the crime.   But, it’s a great campground and I’m hoping this time is a little less adventuresome.  We’ll see.

I had to share a story about our last trip, which took place earlier this month.  We stayed at another one of our favorite campgrounds, this being our fourth visit (two before we bought the camper, and one last year).  We had a great time but what stuck out were the people on either side of me.

They both blew me away!  So much so that after the trip was done, I commented to Mrs. Beagle that I was sure glad that these people hadn’t been my neighbors on my first trip, for they made things look amazing easy!

On our left

The people to the left of us arrived a day or so after we did.  We were out so we didn’t see the setup, but we returned to our campsite to find that they were all setup, with a big camper and a boat on top of it.  As the week unfolded, I was absolutely astonished.  The campers consisted of a dad and his three young children (7,5, and 3).  I had a conversation with him and he did reference his wife, but she wasn’t there.

These kids were so well behaved you barely heard a peep out of them (the 3 year old got picked on a few times and would cry, but that was it!).

He took the kids out on the boat for the entire day multiple times, and would return to take care of dinner.  The kids would sleep in (or at least stay in the camper) until past 10 in the morning.

For us, we had two adults and we only had two kids, yet it always feels a little more frantic….and there’s no way I could have handled a boat on top of everything.  This guy made it look easy.

On the right

Around the same time, our neighbors on the other side came in.  They were a family of four, and set up rather quickly.  Two of the four were teenage boys, and we were amazed that they all fit in the little pop up camper that they had.

Even more amazing was all the wood that they started unloading.  Both kids and the dad were pulling wood and making a pile that kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  It was astonishing.

And, it was good wood, too, as they soon lit some and it lit easy and crackled away.

We soon found out why they had all that wood.  Because they kept their fire going all day, and cooked every meal over the fire.  And, we’re not talking plain old hot dogs over the fire.  They made meals that I would struggle with in a full kitchen.  Chicken that you could tell was just perfectly tender and seasoned to perfection.  Bacon and eggs.  Tacos.  Fish wrapped in foil.  It all smelled delicious, and it got to the point that when it was mealtime, my wife and I would both peek out the windows to see what was being served, and they never disappointed.

Again, had this been my first trip and I pulled up between them, I would have thought that camping was a cinch.  At least now I know that this is definitely not the norm, at least for a novice.

It’s All About Time

I talked with the people on both sides, and as I suspected, they were pretty expert campers.  The people who did all the cooking said that they’d been doing it for a number of years, and they have definitely built a routine.

That hit home, because it’s easy to see this type of setup and think that this should be your standard, where in reality, that’s not the case.  Assume that they’ve been camping for five years.  Will we be in this position in five years?

I’d like to think we’ll be a lot closer than we are now, and that others will look at us and make it look easy.

Set Priorities

I also realized that they’re good at this because they ‘going boating’ or ‘cooking by the fire’ as their priorities.  We like doing other things like going to the beach or park or even local attractions.  So, cooking is secondary, where for them, their primary focus is sitting around the fire and cooking or going on the boat.  That’s important to differentiate, and I’d like to think that they saw the way we pack for the beach and spend the day there, and think that we maybe made that look a little easy :)

It’s Probably Not Always That Easy

We had great weather the week we were there, so we got to see both of these ‘experts’ at their best.  As my wife and I were talking about them, I pointed out that, especially for the people that cooked everything over the fire, things would have been much tougher had we had a cold, rainy week.  It’s probably harder (and a lot less enjoyable) to make a perfect piece of chicken if is pouring rain and you’re soaking to the bone.  I’d have to think that the law of averages has made this situation a reality for them a time or two.

Set Your Own Standard

Last year, when I was just getting started on the whole ‘camper’ business, I got frustrated a lot more often.  Now, I basically reserve my frustrations exclusively for when I’m backing the camper into the campsite, which I still have not gotten the knack for.  Other than that, I’ve realized that we’re pretty good at this…for being relative novices.  I try to keep that perspective and realize that every trip means we learn more and more, and that we also find new ways to enjoy ourselves.

Wish Me Luck

As I said before, the trip we’re headed toward has a great campground with amazing things to do, but I’ve told my wife that if I get ‘bit’ again, whether it be another awning incident, a major problem with the camper, a flat tire or some other big deal, I’m going to consider the place cursed.

But, I’m sure we’ll have a great time.  We always do!

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18 thoughts on “When Other People Make It Look Easy

    • Very true.

      I think if it were up to me, I’d stay at a great lakeside or oceanside villa and spend time around the beaches, but the budget makes camping a more realistic option :)

  1. Fun and adventure to add on to your comment above! Sure beats staying in those ocean front villas :)
    Its been a while since I went camping, reading your experiences makes me wanna plan one pretty soon. And I really don’t think there is a correct way of doing it…once you have your priorities you pretty much learn the rest as you go, by doing!
    Best of luck on this camping trip!
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  2. I have been camping almost every year since I was 8. I know how to pack and unpack efficiently. We do a lot of backpacking, so we know how much we can carry with us and how much food to bring. I actually like when we go car camping because it is much easier on us. Now, my wife and I haven’t taken our newborn yet, because he is too young, but it will happen soon enough.
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    • We are pretty efficient as far as packing and unpacking. I have a checklist that I follow where the routine is pretty well established. Our beds fold down at the ends of the camper so that adds some time compared to others where they can pull up, and crack open a beer pretty much right on the spot :)

  3. I have seen both those type campers plus the ones who don’t really camp, but have satellite TV and air conditioning in their ginormous camper. I think we fall somewhere in between. My husband has got the pop up set up down to an art, but we are terrible cooks over the fire, and hot dogs or hamburgers are about the limit of our campfire cuisine. Sometimes if it rains, we nix the fire altogether and go out to eat if we are near a town. We also are not good at sitting around, so we need an adventure during the day, whether it’s a hike or going to the beach, or driving over a mountain pass. Some people go just to relax and sit by the fire, but that’s not us. I bet you’re next trip will be great and will undo the jinx. Can’t wait to hear about it.
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    • Thanks, I’m very hopeful. My wife is a lot like you, she always has to have something planned for the day. Me, I’m good with just sitting around reading a book all day :)

  4. I grew up camping and loved it. We went at least twice a summer. My parents were really organized and efficient when it came to setting up camp, cooking meals and running the week. We took our first trip this past summer with our four kids and they loved it. I told my dad after we got from our trip that I never realized as a kid how much work went into camping. Now I do!
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..“I’m Rich!” – How to Handle a Lump Sum of MoneyMy Profile

    • It’s definitely a lot of work, but having the camper is nice, for at least when it rains or is cold, we have shelter.

  5. Haha I can’t imagine camping next to these people, I’m definitely nowhere near as good a camper as most. I have absolutely terrible allergies, which is why I think I never was able to fully enjoy camping. Now that I am getting allergy shots hopefully I can enjoy it a bit more in the future ;) But, back to your point, it really does depend on your priorities. If cooking around a campfire is what you prioritize, you are bound to get very good at it. I also sometimes look at people who have boats and easily put it in the water and take it out and wonder how they don’t get drained dealing with all the little things that come with managing a boat.

    Hope you havea great trip!
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  6. We love camping, but we’re definitely not experts. This year, we skipped the campground and went to my grandparents cabin on a small private lake. Serene setting, great swimming, and a house with plumbing and electrical with a kitchen and shower. Much more comfortable :)

    And don’t worry about the other guys, but definitely take notes. I love learning tips and tricks from more experienced people doing something I would like to do.
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  7. LOL! I wouldn’t mind renting a fellow like that first dad, but don’t think I’d want him around all the time. This guy could be too. darned. perfect. :-D

    SDXB was an accomplished camper — preferred to do without the rolling stock — and he did make setting up camp look fairly easy. That was until you pitched in and realized what a gawdawful amount of work he was doing!

    Me, I never could see the advantage to hauling all your cookware and food and water and booze and bedding and camp furniture (in his case, this would be military hammocks) and toilet paper and Tampax and shampoo and soap and dish detergent and toothbrush and toothpaste and giant carboys of water out into the boondocks where you have to do ALL THE SAME HOUSEWORK — all the cooking and all the cleaning up and all the general maintenance — without benefit of running water or power.

    Any day, I’d just as soon enjoy my park-like backyard with its big propane barbecue and its nice clean swimming pool, and ten steps away a fine gas stove indoors, along with a sink and a dishwasher and shower and a toilet and a real bed.
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