One of my favorite ways to pass the cold early months each year is to plan out our summer trip. It’s amazing to me how things have changed, and that we know what the year’s trip will look like so many months prior… who will go with us, what we will do, when we will leave and come home, where we will go, and so on. I go back and forth between wishing we could succumb to the thrill and change plans along the way and happily daydreaming about the concrete details, knowing without a doubt, it will be another great summer. I equate it to one year when we decided the winter had been too harsh and took a last minute trip to Fort Wilderness at Disney World, all planned within a couple weeks. The next year, we planned along the 180 day prior guideline, plotting out dining reservations, making t-shirts, and researching fast passes. Both were a complete blast. Despite all the certainty of all those details, there is surely a great deal of unknown to keep the excitement and adventure living on!
Years ago, we took off for the summer without a care in the world or thought about where we may end up. We threw our tent in the car and went wherever the wind blew us. In fact, we drove all the way to Alaska for a whole summer without one night of reservations. We thought we might spend weeks exploring Denali National Park, but upon being dropped off by bus and spending a night backpacking along the Teklanika River with grizzlies and wolves walking near us, and another backpacking in the bush near the end of the road at Kantishna, we decided the Kenai Peninsula was more our style. It was easy to redirect with just the two of us, our small RAV4, and REI Taj tent. Campgrounds rarely filled, and it was easy enough to get a site without planning it out way in advance.
These days, things are a bit more complicated. Camping has become so much more popular! With our 5 kids, Suburban, and 27 foot camper, we are limited in our options. We still want to go to all the remote national parks we have always gone to, but need one of the bigger sites in those parks. We chose our camper carefully so that we could still travel where we like, but in a little more luxury. Our new camper fridge will finally accommodate a gallon of milk, and there is actually a freezer!
This summer, we will have electric for 25 nights and 27 without. There were summers we hesitated to be without electric for even a night, but after a couple years of doing it this way, it doesn’t faze us anymore. Even better, we don’t have to rely on wifi any longer for a second master’s program! We are learning about solar panels and how to use our new camper and vehicle. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Reservations were booked before Christmas, early New Years Day, and others were booked on whatever the designated opening day, often 6 months prior to your arrival day. Even though we booked these so early, we had to get creative with some of our locations. This was a big frustration last year for me – even though I booked in February, I had to check religiously on a daily basis to snatch up cancellations in the places we wanted to be most in California. In the end, some of that was rearranged anyway when our engine blew in the Mohave Desert.
With our new vehicle and camper, we hope that this year will be the first in 4 years without troubles, although we have come to expect it, and are pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t. We go by the motto, “Expect the best, but plan for the worst.” Thankfully, we haven’t seen the worst and have had enough time each summer to adjust when troubles come our way. Whatever comes our way, the entire Hoffpack looks forward to the day our 2016 summer adventure begins!