Here at TrekAmerica, we just love a bit of camping. Although our office is located in not-so-sunny London, we're constantly thinking about getting outside into that lovely clean air and seeing this vast world beyond our desks. Last year we even went camping in the Surrey countryside for our team 'away day' – OK, not so tropical, but good fun nonetheless.
Clearly there is a huge difference between a camping experience in the UK (think mud, rain and cowering under a tarpaulin trying to light a BBQ with the smoke streaming into your face); and a camping experience in the USA (sunshine, campfires and landscapes to blow your head clean off your shoulders). But we thought it would be fun to speak to some of the TrekAmerica team and Facebook fans for their camping memories...
Hayley (Marketing Manager and travel writer)
Growing up, I was annually subjected to a camping holiday with my parents, their friends and their kids. About 20 of us in total would descend on a campground or caravan park for a week of good old-fashioned English fun. I say I was 'subjected', but it wasn't all that bad once you got past the rain and the cases of trenchfoot. My most vivid camping memory comes from a holiday we had in Hastings, West Sussex. I was about 9 and playing with the other kids on the beach when all of a sudden I started to sink into the sand. The more I struggled, the more I sank, and it soon became apparent that I, and the other kids, had found ourselves in QUICKSAND! Up to our waists in sand and panicking, we began screaming for the adults to help. It took 7 of them to lift us all out, and we returned to our tents shaking with fear and vowing never to return to Hastings!
On the contrary, my best camping memory still has to be from the Wild West tour, where we set up our tents in the dark, only to wake up to this amazing view of the Colorado River:
Absolutely stunning, I'm sure you'll agree. And not a patch of quicksand in sight!
Tim (ex-tour leader)
Maybe a funny story would be the night it snowed in Yellowstone in August so heavy it put out our fire. I took my group to the lodge and we hung around the fireplace for a few hours. We went back to camp late, which was now covered in snow, and went to bed (I slept in the van rather than on the roof rack that night). In the morning I heard my Japanese passenger quietly squeaking my name; Tim, Tim, Tim. When I looked out the window of the van there was a Bison grazing in the middle of our camp, between the van, tents and kitchen tent.
It was a gloriously sunny day, fresh 6 inches of snow on the ground, blue skies, and I told the group to wait until he moved along before coming out. The entire group was peering out of their tents taking pictures of an American Bison just feet away. They looked like people under camouflage taking pictures of snow leopards in the Himalayas. It was a fairly awesome way to start the day, so we decided to have a long breakfast of pancakes and watch the herd of bison roam around the open field at the group campground, rather than rush off in search of wildlife...it had come to us!
Aneesa (Graphic Designer)
I'd never ever been camping before until my first TrekAmerica trip, the Western Wonder in 2009. It was probably the best first night camping you could ever have! Leaving LA we camped the first night by the Colorado River. It was May and really hot. There were very few people so we had great spot right next to the river. We set up camp and once all the tents were up we all jumped in for a swim.
I remember we tried to make a camp fire that night, it wasn't the most impressive but was a fun way to get to know each other. Then the beers came out and then a guitar and we had a great night! In the morning the sun came shining into my tent, it woke me up and I went for an early morning swim with a few others. It was heavenly!
Before I get too smug – the next night we moved on to camp in the Grand Canyon where the temperature just dropped drastically at night, it was freezing, I was wearing everything I had with me and we definitely made more effort with the campfire that night!
Iain (Product Manager)
Travelling by raft for 8 days in the belly of the Grand Canyon is an epic experience, but the ability to free camp along the banks of the mighty Colorado River is incredible. Due to the heat at night, it is preferable to cool off with a nice breeze by sleeping outside of the tent on a camp stretcher, under a blanket of stars like I've never seen before. The relaxing feeling of listening to the flowing water splashing off the rocks as shooting stars fly overhead and night is awesome, as is waking up as the sun rises over the canyon, filtering the rocks with colour hues which transform in brilliance, slowly burning off the morning mist.
My favourite morning routine was a refreshing swim as bacon sizzled and brewing coffee filled the air, teamed with towering mountains which cascade all around and complete silence and peace. Sometimes all it takes is to get away from electronics, noise and the comforts of home to appreciate what an experience camping can offer and how quickly and seamlessly it bonds a group.
Holly, from Facebook
My best camping experience was on the Westerner with Khriss Urban at Betty and Rusty's cowboy camp in Arizona, drinking round the camp fire while Betty and 90 year old Rusty played guitar and sang us old cowboy songs after having cooked us steaks on the camp fire! Then sleeping under the stars in the back of an old wagon!
Martin, from Facebook
Camping by Lake Tahoe, cooking dinner and a bear wondering into camp and walking off with the jar of peanut butter.......trek leader Jake with said peanut butter once the bear had finished with it: