Last week, with two feet of snow on the ground and twenty degree temperatures, Vincent asked me if I wanted to winter camp in an RV in the Finger Lakes. Did I ever? Yes! I did.

I quickly packed my warmest sweatpants. On the morning that we left, I wore patagonia long underwear, jeans, a flannel shirt and a wool sweater. Half the point of camping is to look the part. 

Vincent and I headed to our little town in the Finger Lakes: Sparta, NY. It takes a little under two hours to get there and the drive is lovely. We passed windmills and breweries, farms and farmhouses. In the autumn, we used to stop to get fresh apple cider from the farm store. There are always signs for fresh eggs and bundles of wood. I enjoy supporting the farms along the way—like the bumper stickers says, No Farms No Food.

GLAMPINGAn RV is covered in snow.

We pulled up to our piece of land. It was covered in snow. We just had a gravel driveway put in last fall and now that was all covered by a foot or two of snow. It looked like Narnia and Vincent immediately began digging a path for our wheelbarrow. I walked through the snow to our little RV, who I like to call “Barry.” Barry smells like vanilla air freshener. I don’t know if this is a truly pleasant smell, but it’s better than when we used to camp in the shed, which smelled like damp carpet and had mice scurrying above us. Barry is quite the upgrade.

WRITING RETREATA woman sits at a table set up for writing.

It was so quiet and the land is full of trees. I opened Barry and set up my writing spot. I worked on writing my manuscript for a few hours, while Vincent set up his complicated battery system. Soon, the heat turned on and I was able to make a pot of Typhoo tea. I sipped it and wrote. I felt like I was on a writing retreat, only it was an RV in the middle of a forest. I know of writers who get fellowships to live in lighthouses. I can see the appeal. My retreat is an RV. It is much cheaper and easier. 


The sun was beginning to set and I had gotten my 800 words of my manuscript, so I closed my computer. Vincent and I took a little winter walk around the frozen pond. I walked on it, near the shore, to see if it really was frozen. I wouldn’t recommend this method for finding out if a pond is frozen or not, but luckily the ice held and I did not fall in. Phew.

RELAXATION IS MY NATIONTwo people go for a winter hike.

After the brisk walk around the property, we went back inside Barry. We pulled out the sleeping area and set up our bed. The sleeping area is a big rectangle that unfolds, so the only thing between us and the cold air was a thin layer of canvas. However, the heat in the RV worked so well that we didn’t feel cold. I changed into my thermal sweat pants from L.L. Bean and we each opened a Guinness. We got out cards and began to play Gin Rummy. Vincent schooled me in Gin Rummy. One day, I’ll beat him. He always keeps his aces until the end. I am surveying his every move in order to some time assert dominance. But, this time, he won.



We ate some homemade quiche that I made (heated it up in the microwave, thank you to Vincent’s complicated battery) and then we headed in for bed. I read Harry Potter and Vincent read some kind of nonfiction book that he reads—maybe one about North Korea or the dangers of alcohol, you know, regular beach reads. Ha. I kid.

We snuggled into our comforter and blankets. I slept on the outer edge of the bed and honestly was so hot during the night that I had to take off my sweater and sweatpants. So, I looked like a 19th century  miner with my long underwear and flannel pants. I felt very happy with this look as I went out at midnight to pee. I love peeing in the wilderness. You really feel like an animal. I could talk a lot more about this but people in my life tell me that I talk about bathroom habits too much. Got it.

MORNINGThis photo shows the menu for the South End Diner

In the morning, we woke up well-rested. Vincent made us coffee and we sat and drank it, soaking in the caffeine. Then we got Barry all ready for the rest of winter (got the tarp fastened down) and we went to this super cute cafe for a delicious egg sandwich (me $5) and breakfast burrito (Vincent $6).

This is very bare bones winter camping, but each time we come to the property we think of how we will improve it. Our next step is to get a well. Ron, our well guy, has a great sense of humor and I am looking forward to him getting us a super good well. We won’t have to lug up water anymore. 



There is something about getting away from the city and the grid and just going back to a more primal part of yourself. It is luxury in the smallest of ways—a hot tea, electricity for my computer, warm quiche. 

I hope one day we will build a cabin that you will want to come and winter camp. We welcome your comments or ideas or experiences to help us create a more magical Story Road.



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