When posting links to our blog articles about camping on Facebook, a high school classmate of mine, Cheryl Lee Sellars, often commented and shared some of her camping stories. When I discovered that she and her family had been camping for over 40 years I asked her to write about her camping experiences. Here is her first story, Adventures in Camping in Provincetown.
I’ve always loved camping. Mom and Dad had owned this enormous, green, canvas monstrosity that we girls took turns hosting slumber parties in each summer. I spent some very happy and memorable weekends with friends camping locally and in New Hampshire as I got older. Rich, my husband, not so much. However, he agreed to give it a try 42 years ago. We had met in North Truro four years prior and loved the area. The Dune’s Edge Campground in Provincetown was a mile walk into town and within biking distance to Race Point and Herring Cove beaches. It was there that we began our adventures in camping in Provincetown.
Our Adventures in Camping Started in a Tent
Rich had this tiny pop tent, a holdover from his Boy Scouts days, that barely slept 2. Rich, ever the Boy Scout, came prepared. He brought a tarp to put over that tiny tent and he dug a trench all around it. Thank goodness! It poured buckets off and on that entire week and we were the only site that stayed dry. People on either side of us ended up taking a hotel room for the rest of the week and one of them wound up with strep throat.
In between raindrops, the sun came out for a while and we were able to walk into Provincetown center and enjoy the sights. We biked the trails in the dunes, stopped at the visitor’s center, walked along the rocks on the jetty, and climbed the sand dunes. We gazed in awe of the spectacular, fiery sunsets at Race Point, and baked in the sun at Herring Cove beach. Rich introduced me to Ciro and Sal’s, a cute little Italian restaurant right on the water. Rich’s parents had taken him and his sister to Ciro and Sal’s over the years, a treasured family tradition. Rich wanted to share that experience with me. Dining out was not something we ordinarily did as money was extremely tight. Very few restaurants took credit cards back then, but we splurged, and it was a lovely and romantic evening. We have fondly looked back on that night and that trip over the years, so it was definitely worth the money.
You Didn’t Mess with Miriam
Since that first trip so many years ago, we had many adventures in camping in Provincetown. We went back to that campground every year with few exceptions. It was something we looked forward to each, and every year. We replaced that tiny tent with a 6-man ripstop nylon tent that was waterproof and had many good years in it. Miriam, the owner at that campground, ran a tight ship. Quiet hours were between 11 PM and 8 AM. You didn’t make a peep between those hours and you didn’t make problems during the day or she would come to your site and personally throw you out. More than once, she showed up at someone’s site in the middle of the night, told them to leave immediately without their things, and promised them they could pick up their belongings the next morning. You didn’t mess with Miriam and we loved that campground. We could park our car for the week and walk and bike everywhere. It was glorious!
We bought a screen house, a must if sitting outside in Provincetown. Without a screen house, the horseflies and the mosquitoes would buzz us and gnaw at any part not covered with bug spray. We would give up and move inside, itchy, and out of sorts. A screen house meant we could dine outside. As well, we could handle a week of rain and not be in each other’s way the entire trip. Our screen house had flaps that could go down the sides for privacy and if it got really cold, we could use a portable heater.
We Met Some Lifelong Friends While Camping
When you go back to the same campground year after year at the same time every year, you see the same people year after year. We made a lot of new friends during those years. Some we keep in touch with even now. We had friends that we went to dinner with, we had friends we went to the beach with, there were people we met that moved on and we never saw again. One couple were permanent RVer’s and had a cute little dog called Beauregard. Beau kept us entertained all week. Going back to the same campground year after year also meant that if we needed a last-minute reservation, Miriam would do her darnedest to help us out.
One year, the wind picked up so much during the nights that we thought the tent would lift off the ground and take us with it. We had to take down the screen house for fear that something would rip. The wind howled at night. It blew hard and the tent would flap just as hard. The raindrops pounded down on the tent, making so much noise that we couldn’t sleep. YIKES! Rich had a Volkswagen Rabbit at the time. Going camping meant filling the car to the roof inside and filling a bubble carrier on top of the roof outside. The storms that we endured that year was just what it took to nudge us in the direction of a Jayco 8-foot pop-up camper for future adventures in camping.
Our First Pop-Up Camper
Our pop-up camper was perfect! Rich’s VW Rabbit could tow the camper. Backing it up into a site was not a problem because we could unhook the camper from the car and push it into place. We no longer had to spend hours ahead of a camping trip sorting through camping gear. Instead, we could store all of the gear in the camper and less gear was necessary. We no longer had to pack the entire car to the roof with our stuff. In fact, the first time that we took the camper out, we were sure we had left stuff behind at home. We didn’t!
Now we no longer had to sleep on the hard ground. Instead, we slept on sheets with blankets and a comforter. The camper had a tiny little icebox to store perishables, though not many. It had a stove that we could move outside to cook on and a sink to wash dishes. We hooked up a car battery for lighting. There was a heater in the camper to take the chill off at night and in the morning. We had little DC run fans that hung over the bed to help keep things cool on hot nights. And there was a zip-on screen house attached to the camper that had privacy flaps. It took less time to set up and break down and we loved it. We did have to store our clothing on the spare bunk. I thought we would hold onto that little camper forever. But kids have a funny way of changing things.
Time for a Bigger Pop-Up
Forever turned out to be 8 years. By then we had a very active toddler who was potty training and it was rainy and cold every single camping trip we went on. There was nowhere for Vicki to move around in the camper and there was nowhere to store a portable potty. We got soaked every time I took her to the bathroom. This family was ready for a bigger camper. We sold our beloved pop up for half of what we had paid for it 8 years prior and bought a brand new Jayco 12-foot pop-up.
When we opened up the camper, it magically turned into 1,700 feet of camper space. There was room for Vicki to move around if we were stuck in the camper for a day. It had a cabinet for a portable potty and way more storage than we had in the first camper. There was an actual refrigerator that ran on AC/DC/propane, an air conditioner, a U-shaped dining area that you could remove the table and use as a seating area to sit and talk or watch TV or a DVD. As Vicki got older, there was room for her to bring a friend with her. We spent 10 happy years in that camper still going back to the same campground for our adventures in camping in Provincetown.
Things Change But We Still Enjoy our Adventures in Camping
Vicki was now a sophomore in high school, and we knew it was only a matter of time before she stopped camping with us. We were ready for something different and it was time to leave our favorite campground. Miriam (remember Miriam?) had turned over management of the campground to others and the rules were no longer enforced. Big families gathered for breakfast at 6 AM and were up till all hours making a lot of noise. The size of our camper forced us to the back of the campground where the view was the back of a fence and the mosquitoes were brutal.
The friends we had made over the years had stopped coming to the campground years prior. We still enjoyed walking into town and biking to the beaches, but the experience had changed. We sold our 12-foot pop-up camper for half of what we paid for it 10 years prior. Because we had been so happy with our previous Jayco campers that we decided to buy another Jayco, but this time we bought a Jay Feather, an ultra-light travel trailer. It had all of the benefits of a regular camper, with air conditioning and bump-outs, and the bunks folded down like a pop-up. It was time for a new campground and new adventures. But I’ll always be thankful for those adventures in camping in Provincetown.