Or, how can a cruise writer also be the author of two camping guidebooks?
ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- I started camping when I was around four. The first time was in a tent, I think. Later my dad built a camping trailer — welded it up out of tubing and sheet metal right there in the driveway in front of our house on Rainy Street in San Angelo, Texas. I remember the sparks. We took that camper and several subsequent versions all over New Mexico and southern Colorado, often meeting up with aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I remember the first fish I caught, with my Uncle Harvey laughing and coaching from behind as my dad helped me reel in a whopping six-inch rainbow trout. To this day, my favorite scrambled eggs are those cooked in a cast-iron skillet over a campfire.
When I was eight, my dad moved to Albuquerque and the real camping adventure began. We hiked, fished, and slept on the ground throughout the Sandias, the Jemez Mountains, and the Pecos Wilderness. My love for the Gila National Forest is almost as deep as my love for my country.
Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely love cruise ships, but I also think you should camp. Here’s why.
It connects you with nature in a way that you rarely experience any other way
If you want to fall asleep to the rush of a stream, turn off the white noise app on your iPhone and sleep next to a real stream. Or try watching a meteor shower in the Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary while snuggled in a sleeping bag — it’s okay if the sleeping bag is on top of a comfy air mattress. I have heard that for a price, on certain Celebrity cruise ships, they will make you a bed outside on a deck where you can sleep under the stars for a night — kind of cruise ship “glamping.” That’s something I’d love to try.
Campfires connect you to your fellow campers
Sitting around an open fire with other people is primal. If there’s just you and your special someone, it’s romantic. If it’s a guy’s group or a girls’ group, it strengthens friendships, as you rely on one another — literally for survival. If your kids are there, it’s a type of fun that they cannot have at home — cooking their own s’mores, helping gather the wood, and basking in the glow of Mom and Dad’s undivided attention.
And maybe that level of attention is the number one reason it builds deeper connections. Camping forces you to deal with one another with fewer distractions, all while spending time together in a far more vulnerable state.
Camping challenges you
Even if you are not truly roughing it, things are done a little differently outdoors. From cooking to bathing to sleeping comfortably, a little creativity is needed to make it all come together. Once you spend time camping, it becomes your superpower — there is no obstacle you can’t find a way around, through, or over.
Camping challenges your kids
Camping behavior for kids is about helping with chores that seem more fun than the ones they whine about at home, obeying a new set of rules, and paying greater attention to their surroundings. They learn that silence is something to be cherished and that the sounds of nature are worth listening to. There’s a reason why scouting usually includes camping at some point — it builds kids up as they master new skills.
Bonus: It may be easy to do a digital detox due to a lack of cell service or an easy way to recharge batteries.
It makes impromptu trips easy
Camping is the proverbial running away from home you never got to do as a kid. Once you have a sleeping bag in your possession, there may be no stopping you.
Before our daughter was born, Hubs and I gave no thought to making a run for it on any given weekend. Two sleeping bags and an ice chest full of food were all we needed to go exploring. We gradually upgraded the gear and bought an actual camper, which made escaping even easier. We simply kept the camper loaded with everything but the food all season long.
And of course, friends said our nomad days would be over once we had a baby. Boy did we prove them wrong. The camper became our cozy little family haven away from all of life’s challenges — like laundry and household chores. It was where we bonded as a super trio capable of tackling anything together.
What you would spend on even the shortest 3-night cruise is enough to buy all the camping gear and groceries you need for a weekend, fill your car with gas, and pay the camping fees at almost any national forest campground in New Mexico. Plus, then you have everything you need for the next time you run away from home.
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