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Happy Camper-Solo Version


This trip……I’ve so dreamed about this camping trip.

I first started thinking about this trip back in 2016 when I first met some of my dad’s Vintage Trailer camping friends. I imagined myself playing house in my own little trailer at a campsite on the lake. I dreamed of going into this solo trip fearless and feeling empowered. Who knew hooking up and towing a travel trailer and spending 48 hours alone in the woods looking over the lake could make a person feel so damned good? Wait, who knew I’d be completely alone in the woods? I was so excited to Fall Camp. I assumed several campers would be there too. In the entire State Park and of all of the different campgrounds throughout the park, there were only a handful of campers, and I was the ONLY camper in my campsite, which in my opinion, had the most spectacular view. No sewer hook ups though, and for some campers I am learning that’s a deal breaker. Mind you, I have no running water, no propane, obviously no bathroom. I do however have electric, and so far I’m good with that. My potty bucket works great for one!

When I camped at this State Park this summer with my dad and stepmom and over 50 other Vintage Trailers, this is the one that I loved so much that I extended my stay one night with one of the other campers and we spent the next afternoon on the water with our Kayaks. Before leaving here last summer, I took a drive and looked for the perfect spot camping on the water. I wrote down the name of the campsite so I would remember where to go and could reserve it if need be.

I found it on Friday.

Just me. Me and Effie by the water surrounded by trees and just enough sky to let the sunshine in.

I arrived around 4:00 on Friday afternoon. I had only really made the decision to go the night before. I’ve had November 1st on my radar for my first trip for several weeks, but I knew weather would play a huge role in me actually being able to go. The day before Halloween it actually snowed here in Kansas City, so even a few days out, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen or not.

When I went to bed on Thursday, I knew I’d be heading out after work on Friday. Mike was not super enthusiastic about me camping alone. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling scared at all. Hesistant and paying attention, but never really scared. I just felt strong. I felt proud. It’s fun to fantasize and think through an idea we have in our heads, but to live out that fantasy is such a rewarding feeling.

I set up camp fairly quickly. Since this was not a rally and I had no real intentions of trying to make it all look pretty, I just brought the necessities. Food, comfy camp chairs, water and firewood. Oh, and wine and coffee. All a part of my fantasy camping trip I’ve been playing over and over in my head.

It was really windy so no fire Friday night. I bundled up and went for a walk through the campsite. The sunset was gorgeous but I couldn’t capture how gorgeous on my phone, so now it’s just instilled in my head. You just get a picture of my face! 😂

I headed in for the night and heated up the Turkey Chili that I brought. My little electric skillet worked perfectly!

I tested out my new little heater for the first time. No worries. All sorts of safety features and it worked perfectly! I didn’t even need my electric blanket, which ironically is currently laying on my lap while I pounce away on the keyboard in my cozy little chilly basement office. (This office of mine, also a fantasy lived out. I’m so cheesy.)

I sat at my little table inside my trailer sipping on my red wine and pulled out my sketch pad. I haven’t done that in years. I used to love to sit and draw with a pencil or chalk and I can’t remember the last time I made the time to sit down and do that. My drawings were crap but it was incredibly therapeutic.

Bedtime. I curled up in my jammies surrounded by thick soft blankets and wrote in my journal. I have a journal that I am keeping in my trailer and I only journal my “Effie” adventures in it. I filled up about 7 pages full of thoughts on camping, taking a chance, living out your dreams and finding peace in your life.

I finally turned off all of the lights and drifted off to sleep, right after I read the directions on my Mace and placed it neatly beside my pillow.

Saturday morning.

What is better than a cup of coffee at a campsite on a cool Fall morning? Nothing really. Well okay maybe a few things. Loved ones, world peace, but this cup of coffee ranked right up there!

This is the view from my bed overlooking the lake and I absolutely love it!

There was no breeze at all when I opened up my door for that first inhale of the outside cool air. I decided to give that fire a go. I wanted to be out there beside it all day long. So I was. All day.

Before 7:30 I had watched almost a dozen fishing boats come down the nearby boat ramp and head into the cold lake. The boat ramp was to my right and the marina was to my left. Between the two of them I saw several fishing boats on the lake all day long.

One of my favorites parts of my morning, after coffee by the fire of course, Yoga. I did Yoga standing beside the fire looking at the lake. Is this real life right now? Yes Julie. This is really your life right now. Embrace it. Be present. So I was.

I had occasional cell phone service and Tess and I like to have coffee together on the phone on Saturday mornings. I was in luck. The call came through! We chatted for over an hour. She totally gets me probably more than anyone, so she was letting me tell her every detail of my view and my feelings about it all. Then I let her talk. For a little bit.

Then, I went for a long walk. Took a short drive to a nearby campsite to look for a bathroom. My trailer potty is just for that. Potty. You’re welcome. That’s when I discovered there were actually other people in the park with me.

I spent some more time sketching. I also brought a book to read, but I was having a hard time getting started on it, so I went back to drawing. Later, more walking. It was sunny and in the 60’s. Truly a perfect Fall day.

I had a pretty hot fire going now, but I was trying to keep it fairly small because I was going through the wood that I had brought quicker than expected and I was hoping to have a fire until bedtime, then again in the morning before heading home. I decided the fire was hot enough that I would give my iron skillet a test.

Chicken Sausages, Asparagus and Carrots.

I put the carrots on first with just a little Olive Oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning. They cooked up perfectly and the sausage juice gave them a little extra flavor. The asparagus didn’t need any time at all. Yummy little camp fire dinner.

For dessert I devoured an entire small bag of Pumpkin Pie Spiced Popcorn. I had no idea there would be little pieces of icing on the popcorn! Dang it. That was delicious! Add a little red wine. Heaven.

I was out until just after dark and had a fire going the whole time. I really only went inside because I didn’t want to face a raccoon or opossum all alone in the dark. Um, no thank you. And, it was time to curl up inside. Now I was totally playing house, doing dishes, getting ready for bed, thanking my little heater for working so well. The trailer is stocked for sure. I never did discover anything that I needed that I didn’t already have. In fact it was the opposite. I was thinking of things that I had packed anticipating a Fall trip that I hadn’t yet used. The wool socks, the cast iron skillet for cooking over an open fire, everything to make pancakes, the Fall candle scents. I even brought with me Pumpkin Spiced coffee. I know. I love Fall. Maybe even more now.

Sunday morning.

My first thought. Should I stay another day? I really could have. I had plenty of food but only one bundle of wood left, and really, I thought…I need to accept that I do not live here.

I started the fire with the last of my wood. I made a huge breakfast in my tiny kitchen. I had wanted to make pancakes each trip this summer, but it hadn’t happened yet because so many of the group trips planned a potluck breakfast together.

I made pancakes in my little WW Skillet on my electric burner. Then I scrambled up some eggs and added a little Yogurt Parfait. I was having fun using ALL the things.

After breakfast I determined how often I could add a log to my fire and stay until about 2:00 without running out of wood. I really did. I added two logs, curled up in the best camping chairs ever, added a blanket to my lap and opened up my book, determined to give it a chance. Oh my goodness. Loving this book. Just had a slow start for me I guess, but by page 30 I was in.

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

I took a mid morning break to move my body. I took a walk, then did Yoga on the Picnic Table. Yep. It was sitting in the sunlight just right, so I sat on top of it.

So many beautiful views.

I think I’ve mastered roasting marshmallows.

Now 100 pages into my book and with the last log on the fire, I know I need to start thinking about leaving. Instead, I look for more wood at other campsites and I find some! I dive deeper into my book.

And the sun feels amazing….

Later, lunch. I bring the electric skillet outside and finish off my Turkey Chili.

I’m finding it hard to leave.

I can’t wait to go back.

Having Cancer was awful and emotional, but I have to admit, it did change me some. I’ve always had dreams and plans and followed my heart, but I always found myself holding back just a little. I now follow my heart with more confidence and I move forward knowing I never want to look back and have regrets. I am following my dreams much more aggressively.

I’m living my best life.

Are you chasing your dreams? If you’ve ever had a dream and chased it, I would love to hear from you in comments or send me an email.

You ALL inspire me!

“love the live you live, live the life you love”



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Happy Camper-Solo Version