Something Bout A Campfire

something-bout-a-campfireOn a chilly night, with a gathering of friends, or in a new place you’ve never visited before, there’s just something special about a campfire. For me, it’s the epitome of the camping and vacation experience.

Much of the fondness for them likely stems from my childhood. I have very good memories of family camping trips, complete with a campfire starting every night at dusk. Sometimes we’d cook hotdogs, sometimes it was marshmallows for S’mores, and as we grew older we discovered the extreme tastiness of pudgy pies, or maybe they’re called hobo pies where you’re from. Sometimes after a big dinner, there would be no food at all, and that would be okay too.

Having a good excuse to sit outside and enjoy nature after dark was always a big plus as well. I loved being outdoors even as a child, and that didn’t change in adolescence or adulthood. When it’s too dark to see what’s going on outside of the circle of light from a fire, your other sense seem to compensate. The smell of the earth, the rustle of a breeze through the trees, and the feel of dirt between the toes seems sharper and more real. It also makes the campfire feel more cozy and inviting, not being able to rely on your eyes to know that everything is okay beyond the glow of the fire.

But I think the best part was always the conversation. It was a time of togetherness and bonding with family, with those who shared the safety of the fire against whatever might be in the darkness beyond. Of telling stories (my parents were both really good at it, my brother and I got much more coherent with our campfire tales the older we got). To this day, this aspect remains my favorite part.

Day to day living still take up a fair bit of time, even on the road as a full-timer. With Julie and I working full 40+ hour weeks at the Trading Post and our shifts offset by three hours, we really don’t have a lot of extra time that isn’t consumed with groceries, dishes, laundry, catching up online, and other chores. On our days off which are all together at least, we go hiking and sightseeing and talk mostly about what we’re doing or seeing.

But nights when we have the time for a campfire, that’s when we can really catch up and talk about life. Being one of those kinds of people who enjoys deep conversation with a few close friends, a campfire is about the best setting I’ve found to get that need met. And if a S’more or adult beverage is involved, I certainly won’t complain.

When I first became a full-timer, I wondered if I would be more or less likely to have campfires when they became an every-day option and not just a novelty for the infrequent camping trips I use to be able to escape to while still working in the real world.

As it turns out, I don’t bother with them when there’s no company. Which shouldn’t be surprising considering my main motive for a campfire is the companionship. I can get my fill of nature during the day on hikes, and heat a hotdog or marshmallow on the stove or in a microwave with a lot less effort.

But on the days when I have friends visiting, there’s nothing that says relaxation, good times, and getting more in tune with nature all rolled together quite like a campfire.

* * *

Also I’d like to give a hearty Hello! to everyone coming over from Wheeling It thanks to Nina’s latest post. Β Welcome aboard, and I hope you enjoy your stay!

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  1. Margaret on January 22, 2015 at 8:01 am

    My problem with campfires is the smoke, especially people who go to bed leaving the fire smoldering smoke into my window. If they would only put the fire out when they go to bed! My husband has asthma and we love to camp, but the smoke is really a problem for him.

    • Becky on January 22, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Leaving a fire smoldering unattended is irresponsible in more ways than one. Sorry to hear about the difficulties your husband faces while camping Margaret.

  2. Alana on October 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I agree! I have fond memories of sitting around a campfire with my dad… even in the heat of a Texas summer night!… and talking with him, listening to him talk about his childhood memories, or even just looking into the fire. Great times around a campfire.

    • Becky on October 1, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Yep, campfires are for memories Alana that’s for sure. πŸ™‚ Also, welcome to IO! Glad to have you here.

  3. Reine in Plano on October 1, 2014 at 9:09 am

    We really like campfires when it’s chilly enough to enjoy em. I have fond memories of our early camping trips when the campfire was actually a cookfire. But I’m glad they are MEMORIES. Now the campfire is for enjoyment or the occasional hot dog. My biggest gripe is when we’re in a state park or other campground and the neighbors have so many lights strung around their campsite that you can’t really enjoy the campfire! In my mind when you’re camping and it’s NIGHT it should be DARK.

    • Becky on October 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Yeah, a lot of lights on and night bother me too, campfire or no campfire. Out here and in the Badlands last summer, the stars are just magnificent at night – there are no big cities nearby. I love sleeping with the blinds open in the Casita so I can look at the stars in bed. Yep, I’m living a good life!

      People who’ve met me in person tell stories about how much of a cook I am NOT. I’d be worried to cook anything more complex than a hotdog on a campfire for fear I’d char it or leave it raw, haha!

  4. Terri on September 30, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Ok, I have to admit, I’ve never heard of those pies you were talking about eating around the campfire so I will have to google them and see if I just call them by a different name, being from the northeast. Your post reminded me of my grandmother. Growing up, my mom always had a seasonal campsite, and my grandmother would spend many of her nights by the campfire. We called her a “pyro” but we meant it in fun, and I think I kind of took after her with her love of campfires. You also brought up a good point – when you’re RVing, do you start to take some things for granted? Would I have a campfire every night? I like to think that I would, but in reality, probably not. Because, as you know, you’re not on vacation really. Just working where you would otherwise vacation!

    BTW, since the scooter has not worked out, I am definitely now thinking of getting a TT like you and something to tow it with. And because I don’t want a huge honkin’ truck to pull it with, I’m leaning toward the more lightweight ones, or fiberglass ones. So thanks for putting that idea into my mind, lol.
    Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

    • Becky on October 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      It’s a special kind of skewer thing that fits two pieces of bread, and whatever you want to put in between. Ham and cheese, pizza fixings, pie filling, there are a lot of options. Mmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. It must be close to dinner time. πŸ˜‰

      Bertha is a mid-size truck, bigger than anything I’ve owned before but still easy enough to maneuver in cities and park in tight spots. The gas mileage and turning radius are the biggest differences. I really do like fiberglass egg trailers because of their durability and weight for the size that they are, but there are other trailer options out there too. Keep us updated on your search, I’m rooting for you!

  5. Rene Kipp on September 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Memories indeed…
    One time my sneakers got a little toasty-didn’t catch on fire thankfully!
    The time my mom had too many adult beverages…
    Foil dinners, yum!
    S’Mores seem to taste the best cooked over an open flame…
    Snuggling with Grandma and Grandpa πŸ™‚
    My sister playing her guitar and the whole family singing songs…

    Thanks for reminding me of the great times I’ve had.
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!My Profile

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Those sound like some great memories Rene, I smiled just reading about them. πŸ™‚

      One time my brother burned a hole through the knee of my pants when we were sitting around a campfire as kids. He got better as he got older. πŸ˜‰

  6. Marsha on September 30, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Love your reflections on campfires.

    We called them pudgy pies as kids, but I’m also from Wisconsin (maybe a Midwest thing?).

    While we will do the occasional evening campfire, for us a campfire and morning coffee is the best. And if it’s cold and we’re not traveling, a finger or two of Baileys in the coffee makes that morning campfire extra special.

    When we were at Yellowstone earlier this month my husband called out to me to see if we had any newspaper to get the fire started. Before I could respond, across the road came a neighbor with some newspaper and little firestarters she had made with egg cartons, sawdust and wax. Great way to get to know the neighbors! Camping people are the best.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Maybe it is a Midwest thing Marsha. πŸ™‚

      I’ve known others who prefer a campfire in the morning, it my family it was an evening activity and I just continued on that tradition when I left home. I bet it makes getting up on cold mornings easier knowing there will soon be a fire to get warm around! And Baileys is pretty awesome. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve had it in hot cocoa and that’s quite good too.

      I’ll second you on camping people generally being pretty awesome people. I’ve been working the reservation counter for our campground here at the Trading Post, and despite occasional problems, I’ve never once been yelled at or even asked for a refund. Campers are pretty easygoing people.

    • Ed H. @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on October 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      I’m definitely with you on a MORNING campfire and coffee. Baileys IN the coffee even better.
      Ed H. @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Things we take for grantedMy Profile

  7. Barbara on September 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Hi! I’m here straight from Nina’s post. I’m one of the older solo females on the road, sure wish I had tried this when I was your age. I’m looking forward to following along with you. πŸ™‚

    And PS – in 3+ years on the road, I’ve never once had a campfire. I’ve visited fires at other people’s campsites, but never had one of my own. Wierd, huh?

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Welcome aboard Barbara, glad to have you!

      I actually get that quite a bit, older RVers saying they wished they’d gone when they were younger. I guess I’m on to something good. πŸ˜‰

      I’ve had maybe 7 since I hit the road two years ago, it’s definitely not a common thing for me, but maybe that’s what makes it special?

  8. Ed H. - Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on September 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Nice post BeckY! Campfires will always represent fond memories for me. If I were traveling alone, I’d still have a campfire. Maybe not every night, but on occasion. And, as for numerous campfires in a campground being a nuisance, while I agree, the object of MY game will be boondocking where “numerous” is not an issue.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:26 am

      I’ve actually given thought to whether I’d make a campfire while boondocking or not. When I’m by myself I very much doubt I ever will, and when I’m with others a lot will depend on if we can muster the ambition to go gather the wood (I never carry firewood around with me). Plus I think I’d be more worried about the fire escaping my control and the damage it could cause. Which is kind of silly because a fire that got loose in a campground could cause a lot of damage to other people’s property too, but it’s just a silly quirk of the way I think. Boondocking there isn’t going to be a handy sign at the front desk that says “It’s okay, it’s wet enough to make a fire”. I hope you have lots of good campfires while you’re boondocking through Ed!

      • Ed H. @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on October 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm

        Howdy again! As was mentioned below, campfires don’t HAVE to be only in the evening. I share your concerns about being alone and having an evening campfire while boondocking alone. And I’m 6’2″, 245 lbs, and a former Marine. PLUS, if there were any doubt about the hazard of having one seasonally, I also would not have one.

        But all things being equal, a early morning campfire with your favorite morning beverage is a great way to start the day. You should try it. And, if there is anybody out there watching you, at least you can see’m coming. That’s what a big freek’n gun is for. πŸ™‚
        Ed H. @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Things we take for grantedMy Profile

        • Becky on October 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm

          Yeah, then it’d be just the inertia issue to overcome. πŸ˜‰ Just something about flames after dark though, it’s prettier somehow.

  9. Pleinguy on September 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I know campfires are the iconic symbol of camping. But, in a campground when everyone is doing it they become a nuisance. Many don’t know how to keep the smoke down. I have yet to make one since being on the road. As you said, little need when you are by yourself. I do admit it is nice to sit around one with friends on a cool evening. But, for me they are really not necessary for the camping experience.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Natural BridgesMy Profile

    • Susan on September 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      I completely agree that smoke from neighbors fires can be very bothersome. I love sitting around the campfire, but after being on the road for 6 months I have had dozens of times that the people next to use did not know how to keep the smoke down and we ended up having to stay in the camper with all of our windows closed to keep stay out of the smoke! Sadly, I got to the point where when I dreaded seeing my neighbors light a fire. They are also very polluting. We have a gas fire pit at our house that has all the atmosphere and not of the annoying smoke.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

      It can be hard to keep smoke down depending on the type of wood the campground is selling I’ll admit. And then there are camping newbies who simply haven’t learned how to make a proper campfire, but I guess everyone has to start somewhere.

      I like seeing fires lit up at other people’s sites, that feels kind of cozy to me too, but campfire smoke doesn’t bother me unless it’s blowing directly into my face from my own fire. It makes sense though that some people might be more sensitive to it, I hadn’t really thought about it before. Thanks for sharing Plein and Susan.

  10. Jodee Gravel on September 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Celebrated the Autumn Equinox around a wonderful fire last night! Even in an urban setting, having an “camp” fire is so lovely – both for the immediate and the memories. Your description of the sounds really resonates with me, sensing rather than seeing what is outside the ring of light…….good stuff πŸ™‚
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Sparkly Friends and Emeralds in the LavaMy Profile

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Sounds like a lovely time Jodee. Back when I lived in South Carolina my friends would host campfires behind their house in a suburb. Was still fun. πŸ™‚

  11. Ken Howitt on September 28, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Heck this is my favorite time of year to camp in Texas because it cooled down enougfh so we can finaly make campfires.
    Love fall camping and campfires.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Yeah, campfires on hot days aren’t as nice for sure. As hot as it gets down in Texas I can understand why you wait for fall Ken. Enjoy the cooler weather!

  12. Donald N Wright on September 27, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    There are conversations around campfires that are just not repeated anywhere else. Memories
    and laughter of campfires and camping long ago. A few weeks ago I spent a week with Mark
    and Susan at their Airstream near Durango. We had a campfire almost every night, and one night we joined another campfire group.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

      I hear you on the conversations Donald. Sounds like you guys had a good time. πŸ™‚

  13. Ron on September 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    We just came in 4 hours around the campfire with our friends and neighbors, perfect weather, a few beers, some wine for the ladies. Could not be better. It has been a good campfire summer for us, 2 a week on average, so relaxing.

    • Becky on September 30, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Sounds like a good time Ron! You’ve hit on all my campfire highlights, except I prefer alcohol that doesn’t taste like alcohol, hehe.

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