In February 2016, as we were road tripping to and from Walt Disney World I got the the bug again-the outdoor traveling bug, that is. Outdoor recreation and travel has always been a passion of mine-in fact my degree is in Recreation and Leisure with an emphasis in outdoor recreation. Some of my college coursework included backpacking trips and kayaking down rivers. After college, I worked at an Environmental Learning Center as a naturalist and taught classes on canoeing, cross country skiing, indoor rock climbing, and stream studies-just to name a few. But after getting married and moving to Iowa, life got busy. I took a stressful job and missed out on prime outdoor weather. We bought a camper and hit the road every now and again but I didn’t get outdoors and enjoy as much as I had in the past.
Picture of John and I right before our first outing with our Prowler in April 2010.
But something happened as we drove past exits on the Interstate for numerous National Forests, hiking trails, National Parks, and recreation areas. I realized I need to have that part of my life back. I needed to get outdoors again doing what I am really passionate about. Thankfully, John was on board with this and the girls are always along for the ride. We definitely got outdoors more in 2016 and we hope to ramp things up even more in 2017.
Last year, our goal was 20 nights in the camper. Had we not been without a camper for the most of July, all of August, September, and October we would have made our goal no problem. Here are a few of our plans/dreams/goals for the year.
30 NIGHTS IN THE FANCY NANCY
As of now we have reservations for 15 nights so 30 nights should be a breeze. This is a huge step compared to past goals of taking the camper out for 5 trips a year-which was a goal we never achieved.
TRIPS WE HAVE PLANNED
Northern Minnesota for a Winter trip-definitely weather dependent but we hope to get out and enjoy the North Country cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
San Antonio/Hill Country-I have been to San Antonio once with my family when I was in junior high and then John and I went with my parents for my brothers graduation from Air Force Basic Training in 2008. It will be fun to go back with the kids, do different things, and explore Hill Country-a place where I haven’t been.
At the Alamo in 2008
Badlands and the Black Hills-I visited this area in 2002 with some friends and I have been itching to get back there. We currently have reservations for one night at Cedar Pass Campground in the Badlands and a few nights at Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill City.
Friends from High School Circa 2002
Itasca State Park (Headwaters of the Mississippi) in Northern Minnesota
Camping up north has been something I have done since I was little. In the past ten years or so we, as a family, tend to find ourselves camping around Duluth and the North Shore when we camp in Minnesota. I can’t wait to go up to Itasca and show my family a whole different part of Minnesota.
Amana Colonies, IA
The dealership where we purchased the Fancy Nancy has a camping club and they take a few trips a year. We are hoping to join them for their local trip Amana, IA for their annual camping trip. We have never gone to a rally before and this one sounds like a fun time in a great location-it is during their annual festival.
We also plan to hit up some local destinations which include, Saylorville, Maquoketa Caves State Park, Lanesboro, MN, and Backbone State Park. We have also thrown out the idea to head someplace south in February which leads me to our next goal for the year…
12 MONTHS OF CAMPING
As we were traveling north for Christmas we started talking about all the places we wanted to go and when we could do it all. I have been dreaming of winter camping this year and so the goal of camping in all 12 months of they year came to me. I do think January might be the most difficult for us because we want to go north and that is so weather dependent. There is really only one weekend that works for us so if it is snowing or SUPER cold (like sub-zero temps), that winter trip will be put on hold until February which means we won’t make out goal for the first month of the year. . .but I guess I am willing to take that risk. ;). The other challenging month for us will be October-we are SUPER busy due to harvest season. Even if we don’t hit every month, at least we try which I think will ultimately lead us to camping more.
52 HIKE CHALLENGE
There is a 52 Hike Challenge out there and as much as I want to think we could reach that goal, I think we have our plate full. I was definitely inspired by Boxy Colonial on the Road for this one as they are in the midst of a 52 Hike Challenge. I am not super confident that we will reach 52 hikes but it sets the bar high and if we come even close I will be happy. Although, like John mentioned-if we are staying at least 30 nights in the camper then we should be able to get in 30 hikes since many of those hikes can be done close to home. He makes a good point. We will just have to see where we end up on this one.
At the end of the day, what all these goals add up to is to just get outdoors more. I hope that by the end of 2017 I can say that we have accomplished that overall goal.