When last we spoke of my camping adventures, I wrote of a lovely trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, taken–could it really be?– two years ago in our erstwhile pop-up, “Pippa”.
Much has changed since then. After the Fall Creek Falls trip, we would enjoy one more extended trip in Pippa to Natural Bridge State Park seven months later in May of 2013. It was fun, stuff happened, I zip-lined across Red River Gorge, but unbeknownst to us at the time, the most important detail of that trip would only reveal itself in hindsight. Because on that trip it rained. And it rained. Usually at night, but, significantly, it rained several nights in a row. At the time, all it meant to us was a few pre-bed time hours each night watching “House of Cards” on the laptop and eating Cheetos instead of taking in the night air outside the camper. Pippa, her seams having been sprayed and reinforced with sealant, was quite weather proof and the sound of rain on the sturdy canvas only added to the fine sleeping weather that damp, cool central Kentucky spring.
When it came time to return home, we cranked down the top with the usual difficulty–Pippa being an ancient and contrary contraption, this often involved cussing and sitting on the thing in various spots as one would a bulging suitcase in order to get the top to at least somewhat successfully meet and properly latch to the bottom. We drove the five hours home and backed Pippa into place without incident in the driveway where she was to sit, covered and untouched, for almost exactly one year. My desire to plow through school at an accelerated rate meant that I would not take off a semester or even a Christmas break from that time until I would finish in May of this year.
And so it was with great anticipation in May that we again (finally!) booked a spot at LBL, the place we consider our camping “home base”. It would be our first trip in a year and we were eager to get back to the business of battling the elements while enjoying a constant internet connection and the glowing convenience of Jeff & Emily’s IGA less than a quarter of a mile away.
Our joy was short lived, however. We had strained only half our guts out over the crank before noticing Pippa was emitting a less than fresh scent from her interior. A full dual hernia inducing crank revealed the whole horrible truth: Pippa had developed a chronic and irreversible case of mildew. Likely due to lingering (if only slight) dampness from the rain a year before and the extremely long period of compression without airing. The canvas was perhaps a fourth covered in the dark creeping mold and in the worst spots, was peppered with small holes. The smell was intolerable.
All was lost.
Dejected, we left Pippa in her partially set up state, and drove home. Like a woman obsessed I pushed back against my feelings of sadness and loss by launching an immediate internet scouring search for a replacement. I checked local for sale listings and dickered with a dealership that sold pop-ups as far away as Indianapolis. We put the word out to all our friends: FOR GOD’S SAKE WE NEED A POP-UP CAMPER.
And, before you go pointing out the obvious, let me just say that on the face of it, it might not make too much sense for a woman who hasn’t camped in a year to be searching for a new pop-up life her life depended on it. I get that. But here’s the thing about having a pop-up in one’s driveway: there IS a pop-up in your driveway. The possibility of a camping adventure lives and breathes, right outside your front door, every day, just steps away. Those cold, crappy depressing Monday mornings backing out of your driveway can be interrupted, if only for a moment, by the seductive lure of the pop-up. A brief ray of outdoorsy sunshine suddenly beamed into your work week. It whispers: really, if you wanted to, you could just hitch up and GO. Of course, you can’t and you won’t, but the thing is… you could.
Unless, of course, you don’t have a camper.
A situation that I was determined would be rectified. And quickly.