Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

This song by The Clash, a favorite of mine from the 80s, reflects my contemplation of the Stay or Go opportunities in the campgrounds. We do not hang out in the campgrounds–we are outliers in that respect–different from other campers. I am trying to better understand how to live this “leisure” life of retirement, considering the ebb and flow of our daily vanlife routine, and it occurred to me that writing about it might provide some clarity…

Here we are, Stay-ing

We are different, in these ways: getting up before dawn, being gone from camp for most of the day, cooking and eating our meals inside the van, not building a campfire in the evening — these choices set us apart from traditional campers. It is not that I wish to be like everyone else, but I am intrigued by the choice of most of our fellow campers to Stay…in camp.

One aspect of the Stay or Go conundrum is that we have some single night visits to a campground. If we arrive in the afternoon, there doesn’t seem to be much point to digging in, such as to set up our mesh tent or lay out the picnic table cover. So we tend to Stay, inside of Vanda. We have found that we are more relaxed on a second day in camp, and that a third day — such as this particular weekend — adds a new layer of relaxation. We’ve set up the tent, laid out the table, pulled out our chairs, and are happy to Stay in camp. We ate outside then enjoyed the evening, not in Go mode, but sitting around — I started writing this blog post for instance.

When John began planning our travels, we didn’t have an idea of Stay or Go, and being used to Go mode in our lives, he pursued the “let’s do as much as possible” planning, per our usual. We see now, and have agreed, that Stay time is alright, it is perfectly acceptable, and that we will likely benefit from less Go and more Stay. Planning for future, we are committed to a 2-night minimum stay with 3 and 4-night stays mixed in. We will get this retirement life dialed in, eventually!

Another consideration is that it’s only recently been warm enough to Stay outside for meals and sitting around in chairs. Alas, this is an obvious difference between us and most campers. First of all, most other campers start a fire as soon as they get to camp. We have not done that once! It’s not that we couldn’t make a fire, but we just haven’t gotten into this habit in spite of having these cool little waxy & fibrous firestarter doodads packed in the garage along with shredded paper for more fuel, and that each campground sells firewood for a reasonable price. The predicament is that we started the vanlife in January when it was cold and got dark early, so we became familiar and comfortable with cooking & eating in the van, then snuggling inside to read, look at photos, or watch a video. Most other campers Stay out in the cold, bundled up in jackets around the fire, and/or watching their outdoor televisions! I am not kidding–that is a thing–RVs that have a TV built in to the side of their rig so they can watch while they are sitting outside. Opulence! No judgement. Also, I do not love the smell of campfire on my clothes or in my hair, inside of Vanda. Backpacking and sleeping in a tent after sitting around a campfire is different from being in our home on wheels. Call me prissy, but there you have it, I like going to bed clean from a shower, not smoky…

Further contributing to the decision to Stay or Go is our affinity to follow the sunrise and sunset. I’ve written previously that the sunrise is the impetus for our early morning excursions, and oftentimes, once we are up and at ’em for the sunrise, we just keep on Go-ing. The same applies for sunset; if we are in camp already, we will walk or ride over to the water so John can make some photographs, which decreases our Stay.

Sunrise from yesterday morning at Delaware State Park, OH

This 3-day stay at Salt Fork State Park in Ohio over Memorial Day weekend is different. We are not near the water, although the lake is just a bike ride away. Sunrise and sunset photos typically require a tripod, which can be managed while riding a bike, but which John has not yet chosen to do, so this is the rare time when we Stay in camp without that daily event as an anchor. I like that we sat around last evening, writing and reading. I like that we did not set an alarm for 0500. I like the Stay mode this morning — there is a cobbler baking as I write this, given that we are not in Go mode; I am sipping coffee listening to the birds; John is looking at photos (what else?!); I have had my morning meditation; the other campers are just beginning to move about, after 8 AM, and right now, I can do whatever I want! Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A blueberry-blackberry cobbler, baked while in Stay mode

Later this morning (it is not even 0900 yet!), after cobbler for breakfast, we will Go, on our bikes to a trailhead for a hike to a waterfall and cave. Upon our return in the afternoon, we will Stay…

A rare moment of non-Go, for John



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