A lesson in less

It’s always amazing what you find when you clean house, even virtually. I found this little musing buried in my drafts and thought I should finally share it. I originally wrote it a couple of months ago after returning from our Cumberland Gap/Deep Creek adventure. We managed a week away from home with four people and dog in a Subaru Forester without even having to do laundry. At the time, it was our longest-yet camping trip in Blubaru and I could’t help but reflect on our very first adventure in her. It’s a short lesson in less and one of my favorite minimalist camping stories.

Ready to Load

Seems like so much space until you start cramming food, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, and other gear for four people and a dog into it.

The background…

Last August we began our down-sizing mindset by shrinking our ride from a minivan (no snickering please!) to the fabulous Forester. Obviously much less cargo and passenger space and when we first got her, we didn’t have a roof box yet. That meant we had to cram all of our gear for her first weekend outing to Amicalola Falls State Park inside the cargo area.

This also happened to be our first trip with our newest Camp Granolan, Dobby. You can do the math on the packing learning curve on this one. And yes, even for a packing goddess like yours truly, it was quite a challenge. In spite of that learning curve, we had a great trip with our little car, our little tent, our little dog, and the big outdoors to play in.

The setup…

But this story has more to do with our camping neighbors for the weekend than with us. They were a super-sweet family and, like us, only visiting for the weekend. These folks though were at the opposite (and I mean opposite!) end of the camping spectrum from Camp Granola. In fact, I’m not sure I could say they were camping at all. For their weekend trip…I repeat, only a two day trip…they’d packed up their RV bus complete with all the comforts, electronics, and excess of home.

I think you can probably guess how a minimalist, granola tent-camper feels about that kind of setup. It was very disheartening that with only a couple of days at such an amazing place, their little ones were inside the RV watching movies much of the time. Obviously that’s their deal, they get to make those choices for their family, and everyone has their own style. Just saying, it seems to miss the point of going someplace if you stay inside, glued to the television. But I digress.

Stop to smell the grass

Dobby on his first outing with Camp Granola.

The lesson…

The lesson in less here though is how minimalist camping is not about discomfort and sacrifice. It’s more about what you define as necessities and luxuries or, more aptly, recognizing that bigger isn’t always better. As former backpackers, our little car-camping setup actually feels quite cush. But when you juxtapose our bare-bones camping versus the bring-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink RVers, the disparity is extraordinary.

So given that disparity, take a wild guess which family had forgotten the mustard and had to borrow it from their neighbor? Well it wouldn’t be much of a lesson if it had been us would it? Of course not. It was the people who brought (almost) everything that were the ones who had to borrow from the granolas with the bare minimum.

I hope the point here is obvious so I’ll just end with a reminder to do a mental double-check on what you need to be happy and comfortable and to be mindful of the feature creep in your life. You’d be surprised what you can be happy, if not happier, without. Simple isn’t necessarily a sacrifice.

How do your keep life simple?

And now for your moment of green…

Lily Pad

The beauty of simplicity.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Paige AllOvertheMap - November 22, 2011

Hey! We downsized from a 4Runner to a Forester last year, too! We love it, and had no trouble packing it for a 3 week trip to the beach.

I must say, I am REALLY enjoying letting go of MANY things as we prepare for our year or so away next year. So many books I haven’t cracked open in years… boxes of… things I haven’t needed for a decade or more – if they were lost, would I even know it? So much more room to breathe now!

    Val - November 23, 2011

    Yay a Forester buddy! I’ve never been a car person but I adore Blubaru. And I’m with you on the down-sizing, we’ve been slowly thinning our belongings and it’s so liberating!


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