Have you ever done something you thought would be a good idea but were uncertain about, and in the end, it turned out to be a great idea? Such is the case with the building of Violet the campervan. Many of you know that in 2018 I converted a Ram Promaster high-top van into a camper. I had a basic conversion done via Wayfarer Vans in Colorado Springs, and I have been adding to the build ever since.
There is nothing like having a house on wheels. Yes, standard RVs may offer some additional amenities, but their bulky size and price make them less than ideal for my purposes. My little van is spacious enough to live in, yet it fits nicely into a standard parking slot.
I’m always desperate to travel out West, but gas prices have kept me local this year. However, this has turned out to be a plus as it has forced me to explore the wonders of the Midwest. Last month, I took separate trips to Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and most recently, Minnesota.
Julie’s parents are aging, and we want to visit them more often. However, we don’t want to burden them by staying at their place. In addition, her job can be stressful, so combining a visit with a mini-vacation seemed like a great idea.
She is our trip planner and tasked herself with finding a campground and some activities. Although I like to boondock when I solo travel, I usually stay at a campground when I travel with her as I want the experience to be as pleasant as possible. The nicer the amenities, the more likely she will come along on my next adventure.
Although she takes on the travel itinerary, I assume the rest of the preparation responsibilities, so the week before our trip involved many tasks. For example, washing the outside of the van, cleaning its inside, stocking the pantry, buying special foods she likes, planning meals, etc. All of this is time-consuming, but I have plenty of time.
This trip took us to Taylors Falls, Minnesota, and the Wildwood Campground. Campground hosts and campers are typically amiable, and this place was no exception. We were welcomed to the campground and quickly dispatched to our site. One of the luxuries of camping at an actual campground is the “facility.” No cat hole digging or sponge baths are needed! Taking a shower at home seems routine, but having a real shower when camping feels like a bonafide luxury.
Yes, we try to do some fun activities when we camp, but daily activities are also joyful. Everything takes longer when camping. Hygiene activities take planning. When the evening cools down, extra time is required to build a fire. Even cooking a simple meal is more involved than when at home. Yes, it may take longer to cut vegetables using my trusty Buck knife, but it does the job. Interestingly, food tastes better when you put just a little more effort into its preparation, and meals become a significant part of the day, as opposed to the eating-on-the-run that happens too often in the real world.
On this trip, we kayaked down the scenic St. Crox river one day and toured several quaint towns on another. Naturally, we also spent a day visiting Julie’s parents. They are in their 90s, and I was concerned about over-taxing them. We planned to bring them lunch and then walk to give them a little break afterward. We would return for a short visit after our walk and leave before we overstayed. However, to my surprise, they wanted us to stay longer, which we were delighted to do. I lost my parents many decades ago, so it is especially lovely to have a close relationship with Julie’s parents. They have always been gracious and welcoming to me, which is much appreciated.
If you separate our activities over the last four days, many would seem mundane. However, they add up to a lovely mini-trip when you explore them in total. Julie gained some needed R-and-R and I got an extra shot of adventure.
See the photos below for some details in photos.