At 28, I met my future husband, Tom. We camped, biked, hiked and cross-country skied. He proposed after one year, and his honeymoon wish was a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. My wish was a resort cabin and eventually I convinced him that my resort idea was better. We went to the BWCAW on our first anniversary, and I think that was my last trip there. (Tom works at a desk all day and I have a very physical career, so vacationing with a canoe on top of my head and heavy gear on my back wasn’t any fun for me.)
For the next seven years we tent-camped in state parks and loved it. Then we adopted two babies and we did not camp for about four years. My parents donated their old pop-up trailer that held great memories for me. On our second trip pulling the trailer, our transmission blew and we had a $5,000 repair. We made it home. On July 4th, instead of camping and fireworks, I was wallowing in self-pity on the couch.
Nevertheless, I embraced the pop-up trailer. Tom did not like pulling such a heavy “tank,” as he called it. After about four years, I said I would try tent camping again. What was I thinking? We bought a big tent and a cot for me. He really wanted me to be comfortable. Turns out it was worse than sleeping on the rocky ground. We had two semi-fun trips. On the third tent trip we went to St. Croix State Park on Labor Day weekend in 2002. After spending hours and hours packing, we spent hours more setting up camp. The next day, the park ranger rounded up everyone, and we all sat in a stone building for three hours due to ferocious storms. Our great campsite was now a swamp, and we spent hours packing up heavy, muddy gear while our children played in my cousin’s trailer — on high ground, dry and warm. When the hail started again and the temperature dropped 30 degrees, Tom and I had to take a break in the van.
I had to shout to be heard. “I AM FOREVER DONE TENT CAMPING! I am age 47 and this is too much work for me. You have five options.
1. We buy a new, lighter-weight pop-up camper.
2. We buy a small trailer.
3. We buy a small, used motor home.
4. We buy a cabin. Or …
Tom crossed off divorce. He said he wouldn’t pull anything, and did not want a motor home. The only option was buying a cabin. He said instead of remodeling the kitchen, we could put down money on a small cabin.
We bought a winterized house within a month in the woods near Webb Lake in northwestern Wisconsin. We have miles and miles of biking roads and hiking and ski trails, and we can hear the loons in the distance. It will be our retirement home in a few years. Our kitchen still is ugly at home; however, peace abounds. It is all about compromise, so they say.
Karla Hecht, Plymouth