Car Camping: Day 1

As we shut our trunk, jumped in the car, and drove away, I remember feeling lighter with every turn of the wheel. 

“Can you see alright?”

I asked Boris, as I once again looked back at our car load of crap and started thinking about what I could’ve left behind. 

“Yeah, it’s good babe.”

Ahh.  Just the confirmation I needed to relax, turn back around and enjoy the ride.

Leaving Our First State

Our first goal was to leave Jersey.  We knew after we made it past that Exit 1 sign, it would mean the official start of our adventure. 

We chose to drive at night because we knew that our first state would be Pennsylvania.  And, well… been there, done that. 

Our first real state we were looking forward to was Ohio.  Not because of any particular reason other than the fact that it was new.

And, that it wasn’t Pennsylvania or New Jersey.  It was a state neither of us had been to, and would feel like the official official start of our journey. 

Before we could get there though, we had to drive through the unexpectedly, long Amish country. 

It was reaching 3am and we made a decision to find a place to pull over.  We knew we still had a little bit to drive, and we wanted to be well rested enough to enjoy Cleveland. 

Plus, we were kinda excited to try out this whole car camping thing! 

We still weren’t even sure how it would be to transfer ALL of the belongings from the back to the front of the car, so that we could access our mattress.  We tried out the mattress before and it was comfortable, but would we be able to sleep on it?

We’re not exactly spring chickens anymore and both sometimes have our “elderly” symptoms of bad neck or back pain, especially from bad sleeping arrangements.  We had no idea what to expect. 

First Stop: Bedford, PA!

At 3am we pulled over in Bedford, Pennsylvania at a truck stop.

And, this was a Truck. Stop.  There were nothing but trucks.  Everywhere.  And lights.  Everywhere. 

Well, it’s not exactly the remote mountain view we would have liked, but we knew not every stop on this journey would be sunshine and rainbows. Or in our case, mountains and no people.

Don’t get me wrong, (some) people are great during the day, but when you’re trying to sleep, the less the better.

In this case, there was definitely no less of anything.  Except maybe our privacy. 

We pulled in between two trucks in front of a row of trucks and behind a road specifically for the trucks to exit through.

Needless to say, it was a symphony of engine, break, and tire noises with no final song in sight. 

It’s okay, because we were excited.  And exhausted. 

So here we go.  Time to unload the stuff. 

The Real First Test

We hopped out of the car, popped open the trunk, and headed to our corners.  As with all things, we have a special language and understanding where we don’t need to really say much, we just break off and do what we need to in that moment. 

A funny example comes to mind during our road trip when we passed a local farmers market on an open field surrounded by mountains and the crispest air you can imagine.

Being on the road, you become versed in ways of making the most out of the least.  So when opportunity arises, we seize it!

We walked up closer to discover an overwhelming amount of food samples.  From picked veggies and fresh veggies to fruits to pies to everything you could think of and everything in between.

We never expected this!  Quickly without saying a word, we went through the aisles and stands trying everything that aligned with our eating habits.

A minute and thirty seconds later we were out of there, completely fed and fully satisfied.

They never saw us coming! 

Back to our story. 

We made our rounds from the trunk to the front placing our belongings like Tetris pieces into the seats.  We had to make the most out of the space and use it to our advantage.  Our things would also serve as a shield against the nightly creepers. 

Less than five minutes later and we were done. 

“Wow, that was quick!”

“See, I told you it wouldn’t be that bad!”

Boris gave me his look and we both laughed. 

“Okay, hop in!”

We both hopped in and shut the trunk.

We had left each of the windows open slightly because there are rain guards on the car. Which conveniently allow us a chance to keep our windows open without it looking like it and without any rain getting in.

Which is great when you’re in our dream location surrounded by nothingness.  But you make due, and in this case, it was just nice to have air. 

The First Sleep

We laid down and it was actually nice.  We exhaled from relief and exhaustion and snuggled up next to each other.

We had hung pillow coverings and sheets on the windows providing a fort-like tent similar to the kind you make when you’re a kid.

It was so incredible.  Here we were in a place surrounded by people and trucks and lights.

And yet, we were in our little cove.  We felt comfortable and safe. 

Neither of us even remembered falling asleep.  All we knew was that we woke up about 4 hours later feeling completely refreshed and even more excited than we could’ve imagined. 

We shuffled our way out of the car and went to the bathroom.  When we got back, we quickly transferred our stuff once again.  This time, back on the sheet, on top of the sleeping bag, on top of the mattress, and stepped outside.

As we were standing there, taking it all in, brushing our teeth with a water bottle on the side of our SUV, an RV pulled up.

This guy transformed an old school bus and made it into the coolest RV we had ever seen.  And given it was our first day on the road, that wasn’t many. 

But, it just felt like an omen of the good and very interesting things to come.  We took one more deep breath of the lightly-diesel-laced-fresh air and jumped in the car. 

Off to Cleveland!

Stay tuned for more…

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  1. Interesting and funfilled post. If I could convince my husband to do a journey like this I can definitely add that to my list of accomplishments. He is the DIVA in our family. You would never know he spent 20 plus years in the military. Now he has to have a hotel room whenever we travel.

  2. Looks like so much fun! You worded the entire post greatly. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  3. I’ve honestly never tried this before! I think my main concern will always be, just like anywhere else, the bathroom. I can’t wait to hear more of your adventures though! That RV is pretty cool!

  4. I’ve always been very nervous to go camping after reading your post, it seems like a nice experience. I makes me to want to try as it’s may be a romantic/bonding experience to spouses.

  5. I haven’t thought of doing something like this before. This sounds like such a fun idea to try.

  6. oh wow this looks so much fun and such a great way to spend time I look forward to reading your next entry and to hear what you have been doing

  7. Looks like you had such an adventurous trip. And the way you have written it down, it is definitely going to be beneficial for others as well

  8. This is so adventurous. Great to document every step of the way like this. Allows us readers to kind of also travel along with you. Nice.

  9. Road trips are amazing. Maybe you’ll get to see Lebron James in Cleveland. Also did you know that the Ohio has one of the largest wildlife preserves in North America with zebras, rhinos, wild ostriches and more? It called “THE WILDS” and its near a town called Cumberland. If you take highway 70 from Pittsburg to Columbus, its about 2/3 of the way. Google it. It’s perfect for your road trip. We’ve camped there and loved it.

  10. This sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for sharing, good on you I’m not a camping type

  11. We have never done car camping and you post inspires me to do one. I would love to pick up some bounty at the farmers market. Excited … but I am wondering what the first sleep will be like for me!

  12. I love a good road trip. It takes some getting use to but once you get into the rythym you’ll throw away half your stuff and enjoy the ride! Can’t wait to see where you go next

  13. I too would enjoy a trip with a camping component! The farmer’s market sounds exactly how my hubby and I would be with all the fresh veggies and pies. i cannot wait now to go on a road trip. They are too fun for words.

  14. This sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to see how Day 2 unfolds!

  15. I recently heard a disc jockey talking about going on a road trip and sleeping in his car – by choice. It sounded like fun. Now your piece confirmed it. 🙂

  16. I love the anecdote about the farmer’s market! It really gives the reader a small glimpse into your relationship! Looking forward to the posts to come!

  17. I’d love to go on an adventure like this one day! I don’t have a car though, so that’s definitely something I’ll have to figure out!

  18. The school van to RV is ab crazy idea!! How did he even think of it!?? Looking forward for your posts along the road trip across every destination.

  19. travelling in a comping car is one of our dreams me and my husband, the camping car it allows us to go everywhere at any time as long we have where spending the night ,i would love to do a trip from the east US to the west in a comping car it will be so much fun, your post encourage me to think about it 🙂

  20. This would be an adventure. I’m not sure if I could ever camp in my car. I just need more space.

  21. Wow! What an amazing 1st day experience! We are adventure seekers too. There is such a need to figure out how to do it our own way, know? Great post….can’t wait for more!

  22. This sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Throw in a few gangsters and someone chasing you and this could be the start of a thriller. Loved how you rely on words more than photos and the dialogue and it’s just lovely reading your post. I’m sure you’ll look back at your adventure and the small details that you mention and cherish this road trip. The converted RV at the end looks brilliant and what an ingenious idea.

  24. What an adventure! I lived in a (non-working) car in New Zealand for a bit… probably wouldn’t do it again, but I woke up to the most beautiful mountains every morning! Can’t wait to see more of your pics when you get out of the truck stops! 🙂

  25. Sounds like an adventure! It takes almost a full day just to get out of Texas!

  26. I have never been car camping but it sounds so fun!

  27. I’ve never been car camping but I can imagine it was loads of fun! Definitely on my list of things to do!


  28. My hubby and I have had some of our very best trips car camping! We love it, it allows for a spontaneous day like no other.

  29. Sounds like an awesome adventure! Car Camping is one of my favorite kinds of trips!

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