Monday, December 26, 2011

Cabin vs Camper

Since Ken and I first started camping at age 18, the summer we got married, we have loved being in the mountains. For several years we did primitive camping in the Allegheny Mountains near Marienville, PA. Most of the time back then, Ken’s sister, Barb and her husband, Ed, went with us. It was Ed who introduced us to this area, being familiar with it from hunting.
On one of our first camping trips the four of us went for a hike down a dirt road.  We enjoyed the quiet solitude, the beautiful trees, the lush greenness of the area, and an occasional cabin hidden in the woods. After walking a good distance, we came upon one camp that looked as if no one had used it for a while. In the front yard was an old wooden picnic table. One by one we sat down on the table to rest. I was the last to sit down. At that time, I was rather thin, weighing about 103 pounds. But for some unknown reason, when I plopped my then skinny butt down on the bench, the table decided to break. All these years I have held the responsibility of breaking some camper’s table. And no, we didn’t leave a note telling them who did it! We took off.
But from that day on, Ken and I have talked about owning a cabin in the mountains and retiring to it. We pictured ourselves living there year round with wood stacked on a front porch near the door to keep us warm in the winter. We pictured watching out our window while deer came to a salt lick that we would provide. We envisioned the family coming in the summer and staying for extended weekend vacations or using the cabin when we were not, if we bought one before we retired.
We would have two sources of heat to make sure we were warm. During the summer, we would chop and split wood and stockpile it to get us through the winter. We would have propane or electric heat available as a backup. We would have phone service and once the internet came about, we added that to the list of must-haves. We prefer to have running water inside with a bathroom. An outhouse wouldn’t be as bad in the summer but I can’t imagine trudging through the snow on a cold winter night to take care of nature’s calling.
The cabin wouldn’t have to be big. It would need at least one bedroom, a living room with enough space to have a pull out couch, maybe somewhere for bunk beds for the grandkids.  The kitchen and living room could be one big room as long as there was space for a table and chairs and some countertops. A shed would be nice for storage of tools and things. The driveway needn’t be paved, gravel would be fine.
As for location- woods, woods, woods. A creek or lake nearby would make it ideal but is not a must. I would love to sit outside the cabin and hear the trickle of water as it spilled over the rocks in the bed of a creek. There was one cabin in the Allegheny’s that I told Ken I wanted when we retired. It was built above a creek, and the setting was absolutely beautiful.  It was obvious that it was built to take full advantage of the view of the creek and to watch the water tumbling over rocks right in front of the cabin.  If I remember correctly one would have to cross over the creek to get to the cabin built on the side of a hill. The cabin was surrounded by trees, lots of pines for sure.
All of these wonderful dreams have not completely faded away but in recent years we have been camping in the luxury of a fully equipped trailer.  To pursue our older goal would rob us of our current idea of traveling the country, living in campgrounds along the way, and visiting places we have wanted to explore. Currently we long to be full-time RVers. We volunteered as camp hosts at Mosquito Lake State Park Campgrounds to gain experience to take with us along the way. Our plan is (was?) to take our home on wheels wherever we want to go, find a campground we like, and do volunteer work there to pay for our stay. Some places require a longer commitment while others do not. Depending on the weather, we could be in whatever part of the country we chose, living as Ken puts it, “homeless and trailer trash.” 
Another option we have been exploring it is to keep our camper at Leisure Lake the entire year and to purchase another camper in a campground where the winters are warm and the campground is open year round. We could travel between the two “homes” as we chose. To follow through on this idea would eliminate the dream of seeing the country and would keep us in two places throughout the year. 
Following one’s dreams is not always an easy choice. All three ideas appeal to me. On any given day, one or the other idea is more attractive, depending on my mood. I think I could be happy in any of these scenarios as long as I can be out in the woods, near water, or watching the animals and creatures in their natural habitats.

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