How To Survive A Wilderness Getaway, By An UnHappy Camper

how to survive a wilderness getaway feature image

It’s August.  Halfway through a desert summer.  Getaway time.

August has always been our getaway month.  Our valley is humid and unbearable and deep in monsoon season.  The work slows down because the heat slows everything down that makes work for us.

So, every year, except this year, we have done something in August.  When our family was younger and my parents still lived on the farm, we would spend two glorious weeks in a cooler, and greener, climate.

When the boys grew into their camping stage, I actually agreed to living in a tent a few times.  You can do anything for your children, right?  And your friends.  We had friends that made an art out of camping, so if we wanted to be with them, we had to do what they did.

This year is different.  We have no trips planned.  No children wanting to camp.  No cabin rented.

And I’m actually kind of, sort of, missing it.

Never thought I ever would.

For the sake of my nostalgia, I’m going to take you through a few of our camping experiences, and share some tips on how I survived something I really didn’t want to do.  But learned to enjoy.

Elk in the Chapel

This was the year our multi-tent campsite got invaded by elk at night and/or whenever we all left the campsite at the same time.

A few years ago, we could drive up to the Mogollon Rim, find a clear-ish spot in the trees beside the road, drive into the woods, and set up camp.  Anywhere.  It didn’t have to be a campsite in a campground.  This was the Good Old Days.  Or something.

One year three or four families set up camp one weekend, and since we wouldn’t be in church on Sunday, we brought our Bibles and Sunday School Lessons.  We set our camp chairs in a circle around the fire on Sunday morning and had a beautiful pine-canopied chapel.  Deep in our meditations and sharing, it was startling when someone jumped up and began yelling and waving and stomping about.

elk invade the campsite google image
Elk Invasion Image Source Google Images


Church was over for the morning while we herded the elk to a safe distance.  I suppose it was so quiet in the camp that they thought they could sneak in.


The Lost Boys of Mogollon

A few years later, the Rim had new rules, and we had to set up our tents in a paid spot in a designated campsite.  Not very close to a lake, often.

Our Daniel Boones took off for the lake right after breakfast, with their fishing rods and Gatorade.  They were big enough to go by themselves, we all thought.  They had been exposed to much safety information  and heard many lectures from moms on how not to get lost in the woods and what to do if you did.

We were relaxed, and had a good day, each doing our thing.  Which means the older people spent most of the day cooking and cleaning up, and about five minutes with a book in the sunshine.


hiking boys by elijah-henderson-48573
Image source Elijah Henderson,


In the afternoon the camp began stirring.  Where are the boys?

Dinner was cooking.  Where are the boys?

Dads, grandparents, and even moms, began to wander around the woods, calling names, then standing still and listening for boys’ feet crunching leaves (or the lack of).

The happy ending finally came, without any calls to rangers or tracking dog teams.

The boys had an absolutely awesome time, and claim to this day that they were only lost for a short time, and were only sort of petrified about it for an even shorter time.  They don’t remember the new wrinkles in mom’s forehead or tear streaks down little sister’s face.

Getaway Cabin With a View AKA The Truck Tune Up Vacation

Both sons are married now, and our family size has doubled.  Other wives besides me didn’t fully appreciate tents.  And with one son living 1000 miles away, hauling gear would be a little difficult.

Our solution was this cabin in the pines.


Beartooth Cabin in Greer, Arizona
Beartooth Cabin Glamping Image Source


Best camping trip ever.

Until the truck wouldn’t start and no one could go fishing because how would we get home without a drivable vehicle?

Our five minutes with a book in the sunshine became hours of watching three men remove the box of a pickup, perch it on convenient stumps, and proceed to install parts delivered by a travelling mechanic.

The Whole Three Days were spent working on the pickup, with just a few short stolen fishing moments.

It was a new kind of camping togetherness, and truth?  I loved it.  When I rent a cabin with a view in a beautiful place, why would I want to go chasing off to this lake to fish, then trying that other lake to see if it has fish?  Or kayak on this creek today, then that river tomorrow?

See?  I am just not a happy camper.

But I LOVE glamping.  And now, I’m off to book a cabin for the weekend, thank you very much.  Within close proximity of restaurants.  With no packing of gear involved, other than clothes and toothbrush.


packing for camping image by brina-blum-280616
Packing Up For Camping Image Brita Blum,

If You Insist On Roughing It

I made a list of some of the lists we used in the days of roughing it.

There’s even a PDF to download if you are a diehard deep woods camper.

  1. Menu List, which means you need a
  2. Grocery List, which means you need a
  3. Cooking Utensil Supply List, which means you need a
  4. Campfire Supply List

The next list of lists included camping activities other than eating.

  1. Fishing List, which means you need a
  2. Fishing Accessory List and a
  3. Kayak List

My last list of lists.

  1. Tent List
  2. All Weather Clothing List
  3. All Activities Clothing List
  4. Miscellaneous List (Plastic Tub List to Hold All List Items)

Do you still want to go camping?  Because there’s a When You Get Home List, too.

To add to your lists with even more inspiration, check out Zevy Joy’s super helpful tips on glamping.


pop up camping trailer glamping image by zevyjoy
Glamping in a pop-up camper. Source:

In closing, I want to emphasize that I wouldn’t change a thing if I had it to do over.  We did everything we wanted to do according to the seasons of our family and made beautiful memories.

What type of camping does your family do?

Do you have a camping list (of lists)?


Download our Camping Lists by clicking on the picture.