Best Camping Spots: Vamping

The Eurovan is the ground-averse camper's silver bullet.
Brangien Davis  |   July 2010   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
The only tricky part about camping in a Eurovan is making sure you're parked in a perfectly flat spot

When my husband, Daniel, and I go camping for the weekend, there are no tents involved. We do not drag Therm-a-Rests or tarps out of the garage; we do not strap carefully rolled sleeping bags onto backpacks. Instead, we pile into our VW Eurovan and head for nearby wilderness to experience a night or two of nature—all within a comfort painstakingly designed by German automakers. We call it vamping. 

The van is perfect for quick, low-maintenance outings, where day hikes and river strolling are on the agenda but sleeping on the ground is not. The fridge under the single backseat has room for the essentials (beer, wine, PB&J fodder), a bench seat folds down into a comfortable double bed, and the pop-top roof can either serve as an “upstairs” sleeping area or an airy cathedral ceiling. Plus there’s plenty of storage in case I can’t decide which shoes to bring.

On this outing, we headed about 100 miles east of Seattle on I-90, just past Cle Elum, to Teanaway Campground, a pretty drive-in site alongside the Teanaway River. The free, no-reservations (and no running water) spot served us well as an easy escape from the city. The sun shone, the river rushed, the ponderosa pines whispered in the breeze…and from 8 to 10 p.m. the campers across the way blasted Bob Seger. Thankfully, that old-time rock ’n’ roll had ceased by the time we let the campfire die out, slid the van door closed and tucked in to our auto accommodations. 

Captions: The fridge under the seat keeps things cool; sandwiches are staple foods when dining in the van (wine is nice too). We may forget kindling but we never forget the Kindle! High-tech reading in the fold-out bed "downstairs." Daniel keeps the back of the van shipshape—supplies are organized and ready for takeoff; upstairs sleeping quarters are high and tight. 

Originally published in July 2010