A campfire can be seen at the Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing, Alaska, in May 2020. (Clarion staff)

A campfire can be seen at the Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing, Alaska, in May 2020. (Clarion staff)

‘Real’ camping

For those not familiar with it, “glamping” is glamorous camping.

  • Saturday, July 4, 2020 11:14pm
  • Life

‘It’s not glamping if I’ve got a mosquito bite.”

My wife and I were debating whether we are getting soft when it comes to camping. We were sipping wine and nibbling on cheese and crackers as we had that discussion, enjoying our spot at Hidden Lake Campground on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

For those not familiar with it, “glamping” is glamorous camping. Think of it as if you were pitching a tent at the Ritz Carlton, with all the amenities you would expect at a luxury resort, even a concierge.

We recently got a new travel trailer — with more whistles and bells than we ever intended. We were upgrading from our old family camper, which had bunk beds for the kids. But the kids outgrew the bunks, and the new camper is designed for just the two of us (with room for the dogs, of course).

In addition to a shower spacious enough for a regular-sized adult to actually use, it even has a power tongue jack. There’s no more cranking to raise and lower the coupler to get hitched up, which is a good thing, because that used to be the kids’ job.

Inside the camper, we added and ottoman, so we could rest our feet in the sitting area. Outside, we got a large woven matt to cover the ground, and one of those screen houses to keep the bugs off.

But that led my wife and I to our current debate: were we still camping, or had we crossed over into “glamping” territory?

Growing up, I was led to believe that real camping involved tents and cooking breakfast and dinner over a campfire. (Lunch was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the hike of the day.)

We had a pop-up trailer when I was younger, but switched to tents when I was maybe 10 years old — we were getting back to “real” camping. Many years later, after getting a pop-up trailer to camp with my own young kids, I learned that my parents got rid of their trailer because backing it up our long, steep driveway was going to be grounds for divorce.

My wife and I are doing much better in that department, despite the fact that my truck doesn’t even have a back-up camera. The technician at the RV lot where we bought the camper seemed baffled as to how I didn’t have one. I suppose it might be helpful, but I feel like doing it the old-fashioned way keeps us out of the “glamping” category.

We also go old-school with our camping coffee — a percolator coffee pot. Sure, we use the stove in the camper, rather than a gas camp stove, but you still have to wait for it to percolate after rolling out of bed in the morning. (By the way, we did get a cushy memory foam topper for the bed. No more converting the bed to a dinette in the morning for us.) And we still cook over and open fire, at least occasionally.

Maybe we’ve just reached the age where you figure out that not every outdoor experience has to be uncomfortable. Maybe we are flirting with “glamping” — though we’ve never stayed anywhere with a concierge.

And maybe I’ll just have a little more wine and cheese. Could somebody bring it out to the screen house? And don’t let any mosquitoes in!

Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Reach him at willmorrow2015@gmail.com.

• By Will Morrow, For the Peninsula Clarion

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