In my early teens, I sold $75 worth of canned peanuts door-to-door (as a very shy girl this was a difficult thing for me) to earn a trip to a Youth Camp in the Los Padres National Forest. That was the beginning of my love for the out-of-doors and national forests. Life kept me out of the forests for awhile but my husband, Fred, and I have found a way to back.
During their courtship, Fred told me, “I don’t do windows and I don’t camp.” But that was before we discovered the beauty of the National Forests and the wide variety of camping experiences and other recreational opportunities to be found there. Frustrated in the early 1990s by the lack of specific, dependable information about camping in national forests, we decided to do something about it. In May 1996, we closed the front door on their Virginia home and with Tory, their Golden Retriever, headed out in their 23-foot travel trailer to fill that information void.
Fred and I have enjoyed many adventures since undertaking their project. During our travels, they have met and interviewed hundreds of interesting people, driven on some of the worst roads in America, and seen the most amazingly spectacular sights. They’ve had some scary moments too, but those are more than overshadowed by all the great times they’ve had.
Occasionally, we’ll look at each other and wonder at what we’ve accomplished during their first 16 seasons on the road -155 National Forests visited, over 2,400 campgrounds surveyed, a popular website created, 10 books published, and over 250,000 miles traveled. Little did we realize when Fred made his declaration about windows and camping that our shared love and respect for the out-of-doors would become such a major part of our lives. Nor could we have predicted spendng one year after another visiting so many parts of America, collecting information on National Forest campgrounds, and loving every minute of it.