Last weekend I had the opportunity to take my very first road trip with the Escape and my new Springbar tent.
The destination was Camp Taylor in Columbia, NJ. The trip took 5 1/2 hours and I loved every minute.
I met up with an amazing group of women who were all either long time members of Sisters on the Fly, the Atlantic side or newbies to the group like myself. Back in 2009 when I was looking into camping for the first time, I came across the Sisters, women with a love of the outdoors, camping, kayaking, fly fishing and much more and thought FINALLY, like minded women (though I’m not a fly fisher myself). I thought about joining but didn’t because the majority of the trips were in the mid-west.
Coincidentally, I had also been following the blog of Alison Turner , an amazing photographer who travels throughout the country with her dog, writing about her experiences and photographing the people she meets along the way; a true adventurer. She wrote about the Sisters back in 2010 and I got reacquainted with them. It wasn’t until the end of last year, after a rough period of family illnesses that I turned back to the Sisters and joined simply because I thought if I joined, it would encourage me to get out there and join them. To finally begin road tripping. Then maybe, I would find what I was looking for.
From what I had read about the Sisters, I knew they traveled solo with their vintage trailers living by their motto of “we have more fun than anyone”. The idea behind the Sisters is that the women get the chance to get away from it all, no husbands, no kids, no pets (what?) and concentrate solely on being kids themselves while relying on their own resources and being independent. The rules are bent on certain trips where kids (both the canine and human variety) as well as the husbands (affectionately known as the Mister Sisters) are welcomed.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and leaving the kids behind was rough because I rarely go anywhere without them. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to walk into a group of people I didn’t know. My father thought I was nuts taking off and meeting up with a group that I had never met in “real life. I got in touch with Donna, of Donna’s Do Right Dogs (a friend and dog trainer/pet sitter). It was a load off my mind that I had her taking care of the kids while I was away. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about them and that they were in the best of hands.
I arrived shortly after 4 p.m. and set up my tent by a creek that flowed to the campground pond.
When I registered at the front desk, the ranger gave me a pamphlet explaining that I was in bear country and that I was not to leave any food in my tent or any scented products like deodorant or toothpaste because to bears, any scents could be considered food and they would be likely to raid the tent. He told me that black bears are regular visitors.
So I turned the back of the Escape into my kitchen.
The first Sister that came to greet me was Sallianne. After only a few minutes, I felt like I had known her all my life. Soon after, Rody and Elizabeth came to pitch their tent next door and we got to talking. That’s how it was for the next two days. 23 women in total, from all walks of life, and conversation was easy among everyone.
Their vintage trailers and small rv’s were amazing and had me missing Westly (who has been more aptly named Westly the Fried Green Tomato). Each woman decked out her trailer with motif that best personified her.
When asked what I had brought for dinner, I told them about my freeze dried Mountain House food. Rody and Elizabeth would have me eat none of that. For breakfast on Saturday morning, they called me over to their campsite and made me an egg, cheese and bacon burrito with hot coffee. Rody said, “there’s no reason to not eat well just because you’re camping as long as you have fire”. At night, the feast was fit for Thanksgiving dinner and included everything from chicken curry to pulled pork and fried chicken. Each Sister made a dish with either a crock pot, dutch oven or grill. I was in awe (and heaven).
After breakfast on Saturday, some of us visited the Lakota Wolf Preserve. I can’t tell you how profound the experience was for me. To be that close to such wildness left me with goosebumps.
We were given a tour of the facility and near the end, our guide got the wolves to howl and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I’m not kidding. But I think one of the best things about staying at Camp Taylor, so close to the preserve, was hearing the wolves howl to each other, with no encouragement from humans, in the middle of the night. It was spectacular lying in my sleeping bag and listening to them.
Later that day, we headed to a wine tasting at Brook Hollow Winery. I know, can you believe it? Camping you say? Camping I say? Indeed, camping.
I selected wines to bring to Saturday night’s dinner because, heck, I couldn’t show up with a vat of freeze dried food. One of the wines benefited the wolf preserve so of course, I made sure to buy two of them.
And you know I had to get this image of the winery’s two dogs lying in the perfect patch of sunlight.
Sisters, thanks so much for welcoming a newbie with open arms. From the campfires to u-turns on major roadways, the trip was something I won’t soon forget. I haven’t laughed as much or as hard in a long time and I’m looking forward to getting together again down the road.