As I type this, it’s 12:34 a.m. on the first night of a two-night stay in a cabin at the KOA campground near Starkville, Miss. I’m the only one awake, and I like it that way. My son is sound asleep on the futon couch behind me. My wife has fallen asleep reading in the bedroom. I’m sitting at the kitchen table with one of the music channels on the satellite TV blaring music just above my line of sight. At 12:35 a.m., this Sierra Nevada is still cold and as refreshing as ever. Life is good on this “camping” trip.
I’m on assignment this weekend for Trekaroo, a family travel website I only recently discovered. So far I like what I see. It’s a website with a lot of good information from parents who travel with their children. As a traveling parent I know how important it is to hear the good, the bad and the ugly of family travel from parents.
And that’s how I find myself writing in the kitchen of a beautiful cabin at a KOA property next to a lake near Starkville, Miss. I’d like to say it’s a beautiful lake, but we arrived just after dark. I know our cabin’s front porch is just feet from the water’s edge. I know we have a comfortable screened-in front porch with a couple of rocking chairs and a ceiling fan to help cool off this miserably hot June night.
But is this really a camping trip? It’s not exactly the type of camping experience I grew up with when I was a kid in rural Arkansas. But a lot has changed since then. Just three days ago, I was on a plane returning home from a busy week in New York City. Days before that I was experiencing the beautiful scenery, amazing food and wonderful people of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. More than a year ago I decided to become a travel writer. I couldn’t have imagined that in the course of two weeks, I’d find myself zip lining through the rainforests of Mexico, attending a Broadway show in Manhattan and sitting next to a lake in central Mississippi. But here I am, and I’m excited about the opportunity to experience a KOA property for the first time.
Before I took on this assignment I couldn’t have imagined how comfortable camping could be. Yes, I get it. I’m in a cabin with beds, its own bathroom, a functioning air conditioner and kitchen appliances. But the best part of this camping experience? I’m away from home, where the responsibilities of cleaning the garage, getting some work done, paying the bills and whatever other weekend chore I’ve neglected over the past month awaits. All I can do this weekend is relax in the cabin, enjoy a cold drink in the rocking chair on the front porch and splash in the lake waters with my son.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve sat on the beautiful beaches of Mexico and experienced the great art museums of New York. But this camping trip at KOA Starkville might be the best vacation I could’ve imagined.
Not that you really care, but because I’m working, this experience at KOA Starkville is paid for by KOA. I’m being compensated for the writing I’m doing for Trekaroo.com about my experience at KOA. But in no way are my opinions about how relaxed I am as I type these words influenced by KOA or Trekaroo. Could it be the cold drinks, relaxing cabin and opportunity to get away from the fun stress that is my life? Yeah, maybe. Cheers. Next one is on me FTC.
Editor’s Note: I’ve been so busy since enjoying our camping weekend, that it’s taken me nearly two weeks to publish the post. Let me just confirm my initial thoughts from that first night: Our KOA weekend really was a necessity. It was great to get away from everything for a couple of days. Colby and I had a lot of fun playing in the water park all day, while Stacey sat in the cabin and read and worked on a new book. This was our first experience at a KOA property. I doubt it will be our last.