Some Strange Campsites, or, “A Place to Rest for the Night”

When we search for each next adventure on the road, we don’t always make it to a destination in one day’s driving. We find ourselves camping somewhere in between now and then.  Our “100 mile per day” goal also places us where there are no National, State, Private, or official campgrounds.  We’ve tried the Walmart invitation, parked in roadside pull-offs, dirt roads and closed parking lots at times.

The first non-traditional spot was high above Trout Run in PA.  Right along the route we used to travel going to McIntyre Mountain (a coal town, mountain bike playground we found in our early bike-trip days), we saw the exit, drove away from the highway on a small paved road.  Quickly turning to gravel, the road offered no room to turn the camper around. Especially as this was really the second day we had towed it with the 4Runner and David still lacked skills.  We switch-backed incredibly to the top of a mountain where we thought we’d be isolated.  Instead we saw the lights of at least 3 homes in the stark night.

As we nearly gave up, we spied the gravel apron of a “new-home” construction site.  David managed to jack-knife his way in and we discovered a new use for our foil-bubble-foil window squares. Originally conceived as heat conserving additions, we realized they also offered a measure of stealth as they blocked our interior lights from leaking out and betraying our location.

It feels like campsites such as that one require us to get up early and drive away before we are spotted!

Before the trip, David had planned to keep track of how many “camping” sites we were asked to leave. Well, 135+ days in and we’ve never been booted off a site! We must be better at stealth camping than we thought. Or, no one’s paying attention anyway!

Here’s a pictorial history of some of the notable campsites where the Tramper has slept:

Birth of the Tramper! She lived here for who knows how long before David found her.

Birth of the Tramper! She lived here in Delaware for who knows how long before David found and refurbished her.

A pre-Voyage test run to Belleayre Mountain in NY. Pulled by the Subaru, the Tramper slept in the parking lot.

A pre-Voyage test run to Belleayre Mountain in NY. Pulled by the Subaru, the Tramper slept in the parking lot.

Camp Muckleratz in Lykens, PA

Camp Muckleratz in Lykens, PA

In Huntley's driveway in Stowe, VT

In cousin Huntley’s driveway in Stowe, VT

Across the street from my brother's house in Sidney, ME

Across the street from my brother’s house in Sidney, ME. A friendly neighbor let us park on his lawn.

In cousin Gordon's driveway, Frederickton, NB

In cousin Gordon’s driveway, Frederickton, NB

At a campsite along the Machias River in Maine

At a campsite along the Machias River in Maine. Beautiful! One of our fav campsites and, as a bonus, no one else was there!

At Baxter State Park, ME. The small silver dot in the distance is the Tramper.

At Baxter State Park, ME. The small silver dot in the distance is the Tramper.

In an "illegal" spot in PRL in Maine. We realized, in the morning, that it was someone's driveway.

In an “unofficial” spot in Public Reserve Land in Maine. We realized, in the morning, that it was someone’s driveway.

Walmart parking lot in Maine. First of a half-dozen Walmart stops for the night

Walmart parking lot in Bangor, Maine. First of a half-dozen Walmart stops.

In Acadia National Park, ME

In Acadia National Park, ME

In an abandoned Burger King lot, somewhere in Massachusetts. We will soon get Panera Bread coffee across the street

In an abandoned Burger King lot, somewhere in Massachusetts. We will soon get coffee at the Panera Bread, seen across the street

Creek View campground with Jason & Blue, Rosendale, NY

Creek View campground with new friends Jason & Blue, Rosendale, NY

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Hurricane Sandy evacuation center, Rosendale, NY. This is when the 4Runner was in the shop. Our new friend Jason very nicely towed us to this safe spot.

On a town street in Keene, NH

On a town street in Keene, NH during Pumpkinfest

In our own driveway, in Baltimore. No room in the house, so we slept in the Tramper in our driveway!

In our own driveway, in Baltimore. No room in the house, so we slept in the Tramper in our driveway!

In an abandoned school parking lot in Waynesboro, VA

In an abandoned school parking lot in Waynesboro, VA

Crabtree Falls campground, Crabtree Falls, VA

Crabtree Falls campground, Crabtree Falls, VA with owner Dave; a gracious host if there ever was one!

Richard's front yard, Culpepper, VA

Friend Richard’s front yard, Culpepper, VA

Miss Pauline's front yard, Nontahela Gorge, NC. She owns a closed campground across the street. We weren't sure it was closed so we called her. She offered us her front yard instead!

Miss Pauline’s front yard, Nantahala Gorge, NC. She owns a closed campground across the street. We weren’t sure it was closed so we called her. She offered us her front yard instead!

In friends Bob & Joann's back yard, Greensboro, NC

In friends Bob & Joann’s back yard, Greensboro, NC

Ft Wilderness RV Park, NC

Ft Wilderness RV Park, NC. Not a favorite, for sure. But, it gave us a place to rest for the night

Black Rock Mountain State Park, GA

Black Rock Mountain State Park, GA. We were given a Thanksgiving feast by the camp hosts!

Oconee National Forest, GA

At the end of a long dirt road in Oconee National Forest, GA. A hunter drove up and asked where we would be hunting!? His name was John. His friendly ways made us a little less concerned about hunters.

Georgia International Horse Park, site of 1996 Olympic Mountain Bike events

Georgia International Horse Park, site of 1996 Olympic Mountain Bike events

Jekyll Island campground, GA

Jekyll Island campground, GA. Very, very nice people in charge. But, could easily win for the worst tasting water!

Ocala State Forest, FL

Ocala State Forest, FL. Nope, not a Tramper pic, but, I had to show David in repose. Doesn’t happen very often during waking hours!

On Alex's street, Deland, FL I got to play with Zealen!!

On Alex’s street, Deland, FL I got to play with Zealen!!

Appalachicola State Forest, FL

Appalachicola State Forest, FL. We met some very laid back hunters here

Marathon Cemetery, Marathon, TX. Our first night in a cemetery. So quiet!

Marathon Cemetery, Marathon, TX. Our first night in a cemetery. So quiet!

In the Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park, TX, celebrating Christmas Eve

In the Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park, TX, celebrating Christmas Eve

Christmas Day in Big Bend State Park by the Rio Grande

Christmas Day in Big Bend State Park by the Rio Grande

Cop-sanctioned Picnic Area in David Mountains, TX. Really. He suggested it!

Cop-sanctioned Picnic Area in Davis Mountains, TX. Really. He suggested it!

Vaughn, NM truckstop. First snow of the winter season.

Vaughn, NM truckstop. First snow of the winter season.

Carson National Forest, NM. Beautiful big, wide open spot

Carson National Forest, NM. Beautiful big, wide open spot

Our current campsite, near Salida, CO. Very close to Monarch Mountain ski resort!

Our current campsite, near Salida, CO. Very close to Monarch Mountain ski resort!

Sometimes, it's sunny and beautiful but we always hope for more snow!

Our current camping spot. Sometimes, it’s a ‘bluebird’ day in Salida but we always hope for more snow!

– Jane & David

14 responses to “Some Strange Campsites, or, “A Place to Rest for the Night”

  1. Great pics! Glad you guys are having a good time

  2. Great photos. Like the winter stuff. Used truck stops a lot in the Vanogan but far better were state roads that followed a river or creek. Always pull offs for picnic ground’s or fishing boat launches. Never got hassled. Smaller profile of course.

  3. Great post, I quite enjoyed it. Camped near allot of those places myself. In fact, we once boughta car in Salida, because our jeep broke down there while camping, and we had to get home. Beautiful area.

  4. Camp Muckleratz, Lykens! Awesome pics and spots. How could anyone boot such wonderful folks off a campsite… May you continue to emit your we-are-your-friends spirit.

  5. Curt Cunningham

    Thanks for sharing guys! Amazing adventure so far!

    • Thanks, Curt! Truly amazing. I am dumbfounded sometimes to think we imagined doing this…planned…sacrificed…then had the audacity to step out here. The best part, though, is as one does so; the world greets, supports and inspires!
      -David

  6. The campground pictures are wonderful. You could write a book of just campground photos. Priceless and the Tramper is the star.

  7. Nice summary, beautiful pics. David looked good in that forest ranger hat – like he was made for that job!

  8. Thanks for sharing. I love your stripy awning, where do you store it when driving. I also thought the hammock was brilliant. I hope to follow your adventurous lead someday.

    • It is such a cute addition. That plus the IKEA flower solar lights and our kerosene lamp make for a comfy invite back to camp in the evening. When we were packing and gave 6 weeks notice to our jobs, we felt this thingy was becoming indulgent, now as we travel we see the inspiration in most we meet. Good luck with your own. Our blog has been fun (although a lot of work) and will be a record of our travels and thoughts along the way.
      = David

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