I was blessed with two dads. My dad, Jim and my step-dad, Dennis. Both loved camping, fishing, hunting, the great outdoors. They both taught me that the simple things in life are the funnest. As far back as I can remember my dad had recreational vehicles, meaning, small spaces. I loved them. I loved camping, including tents, sometimes I’d even sleep in them just for fun. I loved the small spaces, everything with in reach, it was compact and there was a adventure around every corner. I liked the challenge of fitting all we needed for us for cooking and living in the allotted space, during our visits. I’ve included pictures however, pictures are from the internet and not actual photos, they are just to give you an idea of what I’m describing.
I remember as a young child, maybe 5yrs old, traveling to Northern Michigan in a VW van that the top popped up and it was a bed and the back seat laid down to another bed with my mom and dad and 3 siblings! (see pic 1). That was one of my first experiences of sleeping under the stars! It was fantastic! I was hooked! Then when I was 8yrs old my parents divorced and dad got a combo truck/camper, see pic 2. We spent a lot of time in that, on our visits, we went camping, took it to my great grandparent’s cottage on the lake, and we lounge in it in the summer. When I was 13 he lived in a 5th wheel camper, my older brother and I spent an entire summer in it, see pic 3. It had a sound system through the whole thing, my brother decided that was the summer I was going to learn to love Garth Brooks! Since my brother’s passing in 1997, I think of him when ever I hear this music. It made me crazy at the time, but now, I smile.
My dad has been a truck driver for a long time and once lived in an Airstream like RV, see pic 4. It was very small but had everything you would need. He then owned a home for a while, but after that he lived in a different, bit bigger 5th wheel. He since has given it up and lives mostly in his semi, or in a 12×20 room in a farm house, which he owns, but rents out to others. Interestingly enough, he fits a bed, bath, couch/entertainment area and a long dresser that has a microwave and coffee maker. All he needs. I’m sure if he wanted he could include burners and a micro-fridge, but he doesn’t cook. This is one of the reasons, I know we can do tiny house living, especially if we have loft storage for my lovingly, yet pack-rat, husband, Steve.
My step-dad, Dennis also had a camper, see pic 5. We took it camping every year, but we did a lot of tent camping too. Between his kids and us, there were 8! So we didn’t all fit into the camper that went on the back of the pick up truck. He also taught me all kinds of things, like how to properly start a fire, what kind of nuts, berries and grasses are edible, just in case you get lost in the woods for a few days before help finds you! I enjoyed all these experiences and I guess it taught me that I don’t need a lot of space to be entertained. At home, I with all the kids, I learned that you can share a little space and still be comfortable. Dennis showed me how a kerosene lamp and a fireplace are more relaxing and cheaper than a furnace set on high and bright lights at night and that nature entertains, the beach, streams you pass by on the drive home, the walks, it’s everywhere. He would often stop the vehicle, get us all to get out and go for random walks along beautiful scenery. He could also spot a deer 100yards away while driving 55mph! Since his passing in 2007, I try to honor his memory by continuing to do these things, finding pleasure in the simple gift of everyday life.
I lived in Chicago for a year and found that even if you have a tiny space in the city, life is outside, in the many parks, or cafes, in the sounds of traffic, the museums, the buskers singing/playing/dancing on the side walk. Life is all around to be experienced, we just have to get outside of our homes and let it sink into our being, let it become part of us, to make us feel whole, even with out a big home or many possessions, we can be truly fulfilled.