By Freda Rumford from the November 2013 Edition
I camped under canvas for many years in my youth and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was fun, free and easy. Plus in some instances, I could go without a shower for a weekend and truly commune with the smell of nature. My parents had joined the Camping Club of Great Britain and every week we went to a different area and farmer field’s where we erected tents in the most orderly fashion, with all pegs being equidistant and all guy lines totally orderly. It was almost a military type of forming a campsite but my father and I were the winners on more than one occasion. We could erect a large ‘Bukta Ridge Tent’ with its huge and heavy flysheet in less than three minutes.
The outside of the tent also had to be maintained in perfect military order and “lat tents” (privies) dug to the required depth and distance from the tents. It was quite an ordeal but one that was done with a certain amount of pride of accomplishment that stood the test of time as my husband and I much later also took our young and growing family on two and three week excursions each year plus occasional weekends when we could get away.
The huge and old “Bukta” was given to me by my parents who had bought themselves a beautiful French “Marichel” tent with two rooms and in a beautiful shade of blue. It was a frame tent and a brand new design for those in the Camping Club.
We used that Bukta tent for many years until we left England for Canada in the mid sixties in fact. At that time my parents asked for it back so that they could give it to my brother for his use. Then, surprisingly, presented us with the beautiful Marichel model which was much lighter to transport. This, our now Canadian family used on holidays each year in the Okanagan. Unfortunately one of our sons borrowed it one year and didn’t return it after his holiday. Later, when it was needed again, we found it stored in an old trunk outside of his house where it had simply rotted away. Replacing it was an absolute impossibility. So, sadly, we decided that our camping days were now officially over. We then lived with our memories of excited children fishing at 5 a.m. in the morning in Lake Kalamalka, in the Okanagan valley of B.C.
We had rented camp trailers for both sets of elderly parents to go camping in our favourite spot in Vernon, Okanagan but only once had we used a camp trailer for ourselves. We much preferred the idea of tenting and sleeping on air mattresses under our double sleeping bags. It amazed my mother-in-law that I could cook complex meals for seven people on a simple camp stove.
Many years later we found ourselves living in a tiny bungalow in Manzanillo. After a while, we realised that all of those years tenting had given us life lessons of how to live in confined spaces with minimal equipment. Considering that I am a kitchen gadget freak, it really was a lesson well learned. Many of the things that I was so used to using, gradually worked their way down to Mexico in our ever over loaded car and now are piled in boxes as we recently had to downsize again.
Now I have swung around 180 degrees as we recently ended up buying an older, but well looked after thirty three foot Sea Breeze motor
home, with a few creaking joints to match our own. Two long trips have been made in this vehicle and we have enjoyed it immensely. The jury is still out on whether we would have been better off with a truck and fifth wheel and we
are listening to other folk’s opinions regularly. Eventually I expect we will make a decision as to which would suit us better. But perhaps we will rent this one out as it behaves so well.
In the mean time we have visited California three times as well as to Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. So far we haven’t ventured into Mexico because of time constraints so are just living on other people’s experiences which have mainly been very positive. The two best spots where we have stayed have been in California and the most unfriendly place for rovers is Phoenix!
In a couple of months we will perhaps venture into the Baja California but the current price of gas is a little prohibitive for constant touring. It seems better to have our car on a dolly and park the RV in a central and suitable spot then use the car for shopping an exploring. The Safeway and Chevron piece of marketing at the moment has been most helpful as we have had considerable reductions in gas prices at several places. When a fill up is often well in excess of $200 those odd few dollars off at least buy a cup of coffee or two to help us on our way. Both of us had fifty fits to see gas marked at $4.99 a gallon at one gas station but gasp though we may the gas was still required at that unfortunate moment.
In thinking about camping in Mexico many more plans have to be made. There is a book available for camping in Mexico and we have heard that camping is good on the Baja as many more people who are used to that way of life venture there. Camping is really not the Mexican way of life. It is more usual for families to get together and purchase vacation homes and go to the same place year after year as a Time Share. While that certainly has its merit, most vacationers from the northern climes, like visiting different places before selecting the few that gave them more pleasure to return to.
Near to Manzanillo, there are two RV sites in Melaque. One is well run with toilets, showers and modern conveniences; the other just provides a shovel for digging holes. There is a large camp site at Boca de Iguana up the coast a little way, but they have resident crocodiles which do like the taste of dog! As we just have cats at the moment, perhaps this would be OK. Kirby is making sounds as though he could come to like baked or fricasseed crocodiles but I think a little more studying is required before we venture that way.