We are the proud owners of a new teardrop camper. It is easily pulled by our modest SUV. We love pulling in to campgrounds because anyone over 60 runs over and starts to tell us about their family teardrop that was built at home during their childhood.
We also gloat pulling in to campgrounds where all the jumbo RVs that could easily accommodate our teardrop camper inside are pulled over for the day because of 50 mph headwinds. We couldn’t figure out why in the Dakotas our gas mileage had plummeted — forward progress was being obstructed (but not stopped) by a wall of wind.
My elevator speech for teardrop camping is this: It is basically a bed and a kitchen, akin to camping without the tent. I love it for the hard-sided, bear-preventing, locked-door bedroom, which also converts to a couch for rainy day reading.
We’ve stayed in all kinds of campgrounds; our camper’s diminutive size means you can pull in to cramped sites. We hit the KOAs when in transit and look for the remote Forest Service campgrounds or National Parks for longer stays.
And we have discovered something in these campgrounds. They are America’s playgrounds and meeting spots for adults and families … and politics melt away. I’m pretty sure each campground we have stayed in includes Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Greens. But out in the open air, we are completely united with our love of this piece of land that we call the United States of America.
We camp cooperatively, use the same restrooms, share the showers, clean up our spaces and arrive and leave on time per our reservation. We complain about the same things, how clean the restrooms are, the state of the hiking trails, RV issues, and reservation mix-ups.
We ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over the steep canyon walls, the stunning sunrise, the bear growling somewhere in the Sage Oak of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison campground.
It is truly possible for us in these United States to unite. Immersed in outdoor beauty it is hard to get mad or stay mad. United in our love of camping, nature, birding and quiet reflection, we actually get along.
I’m continually amazed that people, in all their uniqueness and diversity, when pressed, can get along. News flash from a former preschool teacher: It is actually easier to get along than to act out, more efficient to work together than push apart, and mood lifting to help your neighbors rather than force them away from you.
So when I despair of the news, the fighting, the harm-filled words, I think back to the peace of a campground, where everyone settles down to bed at about 10:00 p.m., listening to the owls, the insects and the moon as it rises. Proof, that whatever you hear or observe, we can unite for good and still hold unique opinions.
Kris Potter is a writer, teacher and singer in Minneapolis.
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