Camping With The Koontzes

My family is really into camping. We love it. Ever since I was a baby we’ve been going places in, first a camper van, then a motorhome, then an RV.

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My older brother and I both learned how to ride our bikes while staying at the same motorhome park, several years apart from each other. That’s something, I imagine, is learned on the neighborhood street, with the friendly neighborhood kids cheering you on from the sidewalk and your mom smiling from the porch, holding a glass of lemonade on a tray for you for when you’re done.

That happens.. right?

Motorhomes and RVs have been something of a staple in my family. We use them for everything — camping, the beach, to live in when our house was being built, to spend the day in when our church was forty minutes away and we didn’t want to drive home to eat a fifteen minute lunch before having to rush back to church for Sunday afternoon choir practice.

Motorhomes and RVs have just been a huge part of our lives. The movie, “RV,” speaks to us.

We recently moved to a new home about a year and a half ago, and we had to sell our motorhomes because of it. You can imagine, from our history, how strange and horrible it was to be without one. I went to the beach with a college church group and saw the motorhomes there scattered about the parking lot and had depressed flashbacks of our good times.

My parents had been looking for a while. Finally, their searching paid off and they found a little-nothing motorhome. It’s about twenty feet, baby sized compared to our old forty footer, but cute and open on the inside. My dad had been working on it for months.

Finally, it was time for the “test run.” We always have to test run our motorhomes. This means that we stay overnight at a campsite fairly close to our house. In case something goes horribly wrong, we can always push it back home, theoretically.

I’ve pushed a fair amount of cars in my day. Never a motorhome however, praise God. At least, I don’t think so..

We decided on a campground we’ve never been to near Big Bear. We were going to go to Calico, I believe. Only three spots were occupied! my dad told me. But it was hot in the hundreds, so our plans changed. I asked for the day off of work. My manager thought it was a strange request, asking for only one day off for camping.

We packed that morning, stuffing the motorhome with food and clothes and toothbrushes. All my life, we’ve packed using a laundry basket to move our necessities from one “house” to the next, especially food. Why stop a thing that works so well?

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Our first gallant stop was at Baja Taco for lunch.

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Then we were on the road! Which means, just like every day on our Cali-to-New-York trip and back, I had to sing “on the road again!!” loudly, and off pitch. I actually don’t know the entire song.

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I did think it was daring to take the poor little motorhome up a twisty mountain. I was exhausted for it. But the little trooper made it in one piece!

We had never been to that camp site before. But, stepping out of the motorhome with a cringe, waiting for the heat to smack you in the face and it doesn’t, you feel pretty good about camp site choices.

It was nice.

According to the site map, we were on “Strawberry Circle,” which reminded me of something out of a My Little Pony episode, in a “sunny spot.” We still had a tree, so we all agreed our spot was nice. The sun was intense, though, but I took advantage of it and tried to tan my feet.

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Hashtag #whitegirlproblems?

After getting settled, we grabbed some shoes and scoured a trail for the lake.

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The trees are so pretty. California really does have it all.

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Pinecones too. I got close to the ground to take this picture and just had to appreciate how perfectly spaced they were. Like a little army.

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The path led through another forest.

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Until next thing you knew, we were at the lake.

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I decided we were going to ship out my little brother on his own personal boat. He’d be like Moses, I explained.

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There was even an observatory.

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Shout out to Papi Koontz for fixing my laptop for me!

By the way, my brother was back! He visited for three weeks, before shipping out from Long Beach for his year at sea. He’s already a natural on the water.

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He wandered around on his own, pointing things out for us to see, until he walked up holding a mollusk shell and a small glass jar, packed tight with dried dirt.

“It’s junk, just toss it,” my dad told him.

“It’s not junk!”

“Really. What do you need the jar for?”

Without batting an eye, my brother replied. “To hold my shell in!”

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It was so pretty out on the water. Though judging by the dead fish, we weren’t too keen on stepping in it. But the view was enough, no matter which way you looked.

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Soon it was time for us to make our way back to camp for a Carne Asada dinner.

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And some quality Fam Time.

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Just kidding. My mom took these pictures out of the irony of it. I don’t know what a lot of us were doing. There wasn’t any wifi up there, obviously.

Speaking of which, go without wifi for twenty-four hours. It will make you reevaluate your life.

We walked to the bathrooms once at the camp site in an attempt to try to avoid our own. My mom and I walked in, did a quick sweep over the three unflushed, yellow stained toilets, and walked right out. My dad taught us how to work the toilet in the motorhome instead.

The next morning, we had pancakes and barbecued bacon. I sat outside in the sun, tanning and watching my dad poke at the barbecue as flames licked up towards his face from the bacon grease. He walked away triumphant with both eyebrows in tact and a pie tin of charred deliciousness.  Extra crunchy.

We drove home in time for me to take a shower and head straight to work, but we had a great time. It was awesome to be able to do it while my brother was here. And unlike our last test-run (stay tuned for Friday’s post!), nothing went wrong!

It’s a sturdy little thing, our new motorhome. As we left the campsite, my dad asked what we should name it. I was disappointed that “Fuzzy” was immediately vetoed. The couch is of a really soft material, so I thought it fit nicely.

“Lucille” seemed to be agreed on, a hat-tip to one of our favorite TV shows, “Leverage,” on Netflix.

I’m not sure about the rest of my family, but the trip definitely reminded me how relaxing and fun camping trips were. I’m excited to go on our next one, for at least more than just a day.

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