Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How the Green Goddess Glamps

Honey Creek State Park, Iowa, September 2018

When I named this blog "Green Goddess Glamping," I did so because the title defined for me what I wanted and needed from a trailer camping experience. Of course, I have my personal definition of glamping that also impacted my decision.

I know how to get down and dirty with camping . . . something unavoidable at times if you bicycle camp, as I do. Show up sweaty and dusty at a campground with no shower, then "bathe" by tossing pots of cold water over your head. Go to sleep, have a thundershower pass during the night, and then wake up to a campsite muddy instead of dusty. Eat pre-packaged food heated over a one-burner alcohol stove or a sooty hobo stove. Spend fourteen hours of winter darkness in the tent, waiting for dawn and something to do, having already slept yourself to boredom.

I bought the Green Goddess, though, to camp with my wife and to have a cleaner, easier camping experience. That's how I decided that the word glamping was appropriate, although some people will say, "Glamping, but your trailer doesn't have a bathroom or kitchen. It's 10 x 5, including the bed!" My initial experience with tiny trailer camping came about when a woman named Ann whom I met while bicycle camping said to me, "Well, I've finally met someone camping with a smaller setup than me!" Yes, a one-person backpacking tent is small! That woman owned an RTTC teardrop, Grizzly model.

I was curious when the great outdoor equipment co-op REI decided to publish an article titled "Glamping 101: How to Go from Camping to Glamping." Would their definition fit mine? Will they say I'm a happy glamper or just a wannabe?

I was pleased with REI's definition of what constitutes putting the glamour into camping. It's a spectrum, they say, from "uber-luxe" to "cozy." Well, that fits my tiny trailer experience with my wife--warm, dry bed, portable toilet for nighttime trips, two-burner stove for outside cooking, some electric cookgear that can be used inside or out, and an inside heater or ac as needed. REI lists seven DIY glamping tips.

  1. Bring cozy bedding
  2. Add touches of home
  3. Light up your space
  4. Make a comfy living room
  5. Make gourmet meals
  6. Set up stations
  7. Bring the entertainment with you
I would add that to glamp up the outdoors experience, you should bring those things that allow you to unwind. Leave your stresses at home, but don't replace them with survival stresses. Find a way to minimize heat/cold, bugs, wind, rain, humidity, and an environment with too many or too few people, depending on your individual needs. Bring some company, whether it be the pooch, a friend, or one's significant other. Or go out and wander alone, if that suits your needs.

Let's look at these seven tips in terms of my wife's and my "glamping" experience.

  1. Cozy bedding The first thing my wife did was buy new foam for our bed and table unit, redesigning the layout to better fit our needs. Then we bought a wool mattress pad that really added "cozy" to our sleeping experience. When we set up our table, we just fold back the pad and leave 75% of the bed made. Right now, we are also bringing our sleeping pillows from home.
  2. Touches of home We ordered a couple of 16" x 16" pillows of us and our grandkids from our trip to the Pacific Ocean. Now, no matter where we camp, a bit of home and family is right there beside us. We are also using as much tent-camping equipment as we can, which not only saves money but also provides a sense of continuity (and emphasizes our newfound sense of "cozy"). A Cuisinart tea pot for mornings really extends that sense of home since my wife starts every morning with a pot of tea.
  3. Light Well, I have added a little stick-on tab for a battery-operated reading lamp for the back of the trailer. It's also a novelty still for us to have the trailer's electric lighting system. However, our biggest addition of light is having a nice campfire to sit by. That is a special time for us.
  4. Comfy living room I suppose we're still working on this, but the campfire, the trailer's awning, a utility tent for the portable toilet, and a couple of comfortable camp chairs (thanks, REI) do add to the comfort level of the camping experience. We are still looking for a rug for under the awning. From our research, the trend is more toward gaudy than glamourous. Our main "comfy" addition with the trailer is having ac and heating possible, thereby increasing the number of days we are willing to camp and not cope.
  5. Gourmet meals We are working to continue our good meals from home. We eat fresh, healthy meals at home, and we want to continue that--not so much macaroni salad, even though we love it. We bring our Instapot pressure cooker so that we can make a quick and easy kitchari of greens, rice, and dahl. We are also researching the suggestion make to buy a portable induction cooking burner. My wife recently purchased a small toaster oven so she can bake chicken.
  6. Stations At this point, setting up "stations" beyond the obvious of cooking and portable toilet comes down to having a "station" with binoculars, and bird and tree identification books. I want to learn more so that I can have a fuller experience than just saying, "Pretty tree. Pretty bird." What kind of tree or bird--a pin oak? A goldfinch?
  7. Entertainment For my wife and me, entertainment is pretty much one another and books. I am taking one teardrop camper's advice, though, and bringing speakers for movies on the laptop. A long afternoon of rain can be a great time to show a movie . . . and be able to hear the dialogue.
The end analysis is not that the REI list is the ultimate authority on glamping. For my wife and me, it was a useful angle to consider when planning and examining our camping experience. We plan to leave Sunday afternoon to camp for five days again at Lake Sugema. My wife has lots of work to do, I'm bringing my bike, and we're also bringing our favorite tea mugs so we can wake up every morning to a hot cup of green glamping tea. Something like that--you get the idea.

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  1. Glamp on, my friend. Glamp on! I love your blog.

  2. Thank you! Slowly my wife and I are building our experience base so that we feel more comfortable and experienced. We just spent the night with our Polar Bear where the low was 26 degrees. We were warm using an inexpensive oil heater (and it's quiet).

  3. By that definition I'm a glanper. I didn't consider myself one but when I girly upped my camper other people began using it.

    1. If I want rougher camping, I bicycle camp. I'm enjoying an alternative (and one which I share with my wife) with my tiny trailer. Today I'm taking a hike with my wife, rather than showing up to camp having bicycled 25-50 miles. Both experiences are great, but I'm really enjoying a more relaxed style of camping where th emphasis is on the camp rather than the getting there.