Yay! Ok, here we go. I actually went on this trip about 3 weeks ago, but I'm only now getting around to writing this. Little thing called moving happened.
If you're on Instagram and have a well-developed sense of wanderlust, you've likely run across hundreds of images of adventurous nomads in their tricked out vans, SUVs, or even buses facing scenic vistas with twinkly lights strung up overhead. Commonly referred to as #vanlife, I was captured hook, line, and sinker by these idyllic photos of camping. No tent, no campground, just you, your vehicle, and the great outdoors.
My first foray into recreating this scene was not too bad, I must say. I think the photo above captures our experience pretty well. Other than the near-freezing temperatures that descended upon us that night, it was a perfect trip. Hiking, an empty campground, lake life, and a healthy dose of coziness. All that was missing was a campfire.
We nabbed a perfect campsite at Maplewood State Park up in Pelican Rapids, MN. It was a weekday in April, so that wasn't difficult to manage. We essentially had the park to ourselves and romped, swam, and hiked all day long. I was really excited to try camping in my car that night, though. Proof of concept!
I have a Toyota Matrix hatchback, and I had actually "camped" in it one other time while near Glacier National Park. Long story short, I ended up wedging my full-sized air mattress inside around 11pm. It barely fit, and really ended up being almost a burrito, but we stayed warm and toasty in there that night. This would be different. Less amateur hour and more premeditated.