Camping does not come naturally to me. Isn't it ironic that living in nature doesn't come naturally? Trust me, it doesn't. For the last 20 years my family and I have camped one weekend each year with a group of my oldest and dearest friends.
The Girls' Camping Trip (a misnomer because the trip is open to husbands, kids, pets and occasional guests - and because we are no longer girls!) and the time we all spend together has become woven into the fabric of my personal history, and that of my children, in a way that is nearly indistinguishable from the threads of significant annual events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of my life's best side-splitting-laughter has occurred during The Girls' Camping Trip; some of the best conversations; some of the best memories. With friendships reaching back four decades, the camping trip is a chance to catch up on what's going on in our hectic whirling lives, to reestablish bonds, to remember why we were friends in the first place.
My daughters will never forget exploring the creek, swimming, hiking the trails, playing cards and Scrabble, the sing-alongs, and toasting s'mores. They will have lifelong memories of Theresa's famous snipe hunts and talent shows! They won't forget, though probably wish they could, witnessing the adults acting like children or that Poppy (Mr.Greenjeans) ate a bug. They've made permanent connections with people, especially kids, that they may only get to see once a year but that they've known since birth. Despite the priceless memories, I just can't seem to separate the good times from all the packing, setting up, tearing down, sleeping in a tent and dirt!
The dudes...ready for golf and bbq...
Hardly a year goes by where my family and I don't have some camping mishap or other: One year our entire load (including our tent, mattresses, tarp, etc) blew off the top of our car. Twice, we awoke in the middle of the night to find ourselves getting rain-soaked because we neglected to put the cover on our tent - once when I was eight months pregnant (I wound up sleeping in the car with the kids, leaving Mr. Greenjeans to soak and stew!). Another year, our tent wouldn't go up at all. Yet another year our food was attacked by huge rodents (my friend Lisa will love that one!). Many of these mishaps can't be blamed on camping per say but more likely on human error - which only serves to strengthen my resolve that, while we do other things very well, Mr. Greenjeans and I are simply not cut out for camping.
As the years go by, it never gets easier, never feels like second nature (get it? second..nature, ha!). I wouldn't trade the time with my family and friends for the world but I would trade the camping part of camping. And the older I get the harder it is. As I see it, that's where glamping comes in...
Glamour + Camping = Glamping
MaryJane Butters, author of Glamping with MaryJane is considered a pioneer in a number of arenas: the first woman to attend her Utah trade school, enrolling in the decidedly un-girly carpentry program. After working as the only female on a home-building crew, she became one of the first female wilderness rangers in the United States, where it was necessary to hike 27 miles from the end of the road to her assigned firetower.
MaryJane lead the way in the area of organic farming, founding an environmental group that remains in place to this day. Ms. Butters' business empire includes a line of organic food products, home goods, and a lifestyle magazine. She fills the role of the main "Sister" in the Farmgirl Sisterhood, the group that she established, and has now set her sites on bringing the idea of glamorous camping to the masses through her fourth book, Glamping with MaryJane. This is one busy pioneering lady!
The luxurious wall-tent cabins that are part of the B&B on the grounds of Butters' Moscow, Idaho farm...complete with wood-burning stove and outdoor cast-iron tub - for bathing under the stars!...
MaryJane describes glamping as equal parts grit, grace and glam. Think Out of Africa meets The Long, Long Trailer. You don't need a five wall tent or vintage Airstream to glamp. According to Ms. Butters, you can glamp in your car or your backyard - though I love the idea of my very own retro rv! It's all about getting away, even if it's not far, and giving yourself permission to create a place that's beautiful and transportive and fun.
Glamping with MaryJane gives practical tips about how to erect a tent, shop for a vintage trailer, what to pack when you're ready to hit the road and more. She offers sound advice for travel safety, about where to go and how to get there in one piece. There are housekeeping tips for keeping things neat and tidy and comfortable while you're on the road.
"Remember, you were once wild, you bathed in the OPEN"...
Glamping is also chocked full of hittin'-the-road craft and building projects (such as how to build your own cot or camp table) plus, as you would expect of a woman who owns her own food company, delicious recipes for living it up along the way. All of it beautifully illustrated through artistic photography, nostalgic graphics and helpful diagrams.
MaryJane runs her own deluxe wall-tent B&B on the rolling acreage of her Idaho farm but for going mobile she owns not one but three trailers: a tear drop trailer, a vintage Shasta trailer, and a 1968 22' Safari Airstream, which at the time of publication was being refurbished and not yet complete - updated photos and descriptions are available on MaryJane's Glamping website (see below). The results are so stunning it's hard to believe that anyone wouldn't want one of their own!
A dreamy, restful spot...
As usual, Ms. Butters is really onto something. Glamping has gone global with around-the-world 5-star glamping destinations available to rent by the night or the week on GlampingGirl.com. Starlite Classic Campground in Canon City, Colorado offers stays in vintage trailers for the very affordable rate of $79-$119 per night - Starlite is also known for their vintage trailer/glamping conventions and how-to seminars. Or for just a few thousand dollars (and quickly up from there, depending on condition) invest in your very own vintage pull-behind trailer.
That sounds good to me. The Girls Camping Trip would never be the same. We could each get one in different colors! Now I've got 'til next August to convince everyone...C'mon, girls! Let's glamp! Maybe I should re-watch The Long, Long Trailer first...I'll keep you posted.
Sites to check out for your own glamping experience:
All images from Victoria Cullen or from the book, Glamping with MaryJane for the sole purpose of review only.