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Ardent Camper is Back

Hello, friends! Do you remember me? I’m Marie, and I love camping, traveling, and nature.

I’m back, and I’ll be sharing camping stories and tips, just like I did before. But also differently!

Because these days, I don’t RV. Instead, I camp out of and in my car. My current goal is to finish outfitting my Jeep Cherokee so my dogs and I can comfortably spend a couple of weeks at a time on the road.

Hey! It’s Maya! Camping! In a car!

Plus, I road trip around New Mexico, surrounding states, and beyond.

I will be back to sharing my adventures with you regularly!

How it all started

I began this blog way back in 2013 when I lived in Houston, Texas. Not exactly the outdoor capitol of the world.

But the blog kept me motivated to get outdoors, travel to public areas, and share my (dubious) wisdom and mishaps with you all.

When I became a full-time RVer in 2014, that was a relatively cool, new thing to do. Now, it’s become a lot more accessible, which is awesome.

Back then, I was fortunate to be welcomed into a group of other full-time RVers who traveled with me and created community on the road. I remain dear friends with a number of them to this day.

Change WAs in the Wind

In 2017, Josh and I decided to stop RVing full-time. Still working remotely, we could choose to live anywhere. We picked Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s an outdoors-lover’s dream. It’s affordable. It’s in a blue state. It has green chile everywhere. It felt like home.

We moved houses a few years later, from the wooded East Mountains into the city. We sold our RV to our wonderful friends, Jeanette and Eric of JenEric Ramblings. It was tough to settle into stick-and-brick life, as we were embarking on a major renovation of our new house. We tore that thing down to the studs, and then some!

Even though the house had exposed wires for quite a while, I started to settle into being a newcomer to the Burque. I joined a local writing group and got serious about writing novels. I even published my first book, with more to come! I explored local parks, forests, and mountains. There is so much Albuquerque has to offer, and I’m still enamored with this city and state.

Just a casual view down a casual street in casual Albuquerque. Not every city has a 10,600-ft mountain RIGHT THERE.

It turns out Albuquerque hasn’t been a bad place to spend a pandemic, either. There’s lots of open space here for me to hike and stay active. Plus, our governor took Covid precautions seriously. The vaccine roll-out was smooth, mask mandates were sensible, and I’ve been grateful to remain Covid-free.

Difficulties

In 2020, my beloved dog, Gabby, passed away. It’s been two years, and I’m still crushed when I think about losing her. I know many of you met Gabby and enjoyed your time with her. She enjoyed you, too! I know she’s wagging across the Rainbow Bridge, waiting until we all get to play again. I’m proud to say she peed on 13 states and 2 provinces! What a well-traveled, well-loved angel pupper.

One of my favorite pictures of her. My beautiful girl.

Later in 2020, I adopted Mitchell. That decision was largely an attempt to heal my broken heart, but it has been a great one. He’s such a wonderful little guy, and he and my other dog, Maya, get along great. (I promise they’re a lot more fun than they look in this photo!)

Mitchell is on the left, and Maya is on the right. Mitchell is blind in his right eye, but I don’t think he has a clue. It doesn’t slow him down one bit.

In 2021, things got even harder. Right around the time of our 9th anniversary, Josh and I made the very difficult decision to divorce. I haven’t felt emotionally equipped to speak about this publicly, beyond stating that it is a thing that happened. I don’t plan to talk about it on this blog. But I did want you to know why he’s not a part of new blog posts, since he was a big part of Ardent Camper previously.

I spent the latter half of 2021 living in an apartment with my pups. Late that year, facing rapidly-increasing rent rates, I was very fortunate to be able to purchase a house in Albuquerque.

I Started to Re-Emerge

Much like the decision to adopt Mitchell was a way to numb pain, my decisions to travel, hike, and camp were also a way to numb the pain.

But both decisions were good, because they fed my soul. I’ve been starting to feel a bit more like myself, and being outdoors and spending time with family and friends really helps.

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to…

I explored Sandia Peak, the mountain that makes Albuquerque’s skyline.

I went on a writing retreat with some of my writing friends (including Jessi, pictured here).

I spent Christmas with my parents in Houston.

I marveled at Albuquerque’s unparalleled sunsets. That’s Mount Taylor in the background, with The Volcanoes in the foreground.

I went tent camping with dear friends, Taormina and Jessi in Sedona, Arizona.

I climbed on America’s tallest dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park… with my four-legged family members!

I went tent camping in Moab, Utah and spent time exploring the amazing Canyonlands National Park.

I got my dogs comfortable with camping in the car. They like the views!

I even outfitted myself with a solar panel, portable lithium battery, and camp fridge.

Most amazingly, I was super fortunate to take a trip to Italy with my parents. I ate SO much gelato, y’all.

There’s more to tell, but that’s what upcoming blog posts are for. 🙂

Here’s What You Can Expect

I used to be so disciplined with Ardent Camper. Back in the day, I would post every single week, whether I had something to say or not.

I’m a different person now. I know the importance of taking care of my mental health. And I also want to share high-quality content with you when I have something worth saying.

So I don’t know how often I will post. I hope to share a new story at least monthly, and goodness knows I have an enormous backlog of trips and adventures to report on! But I won’t make any promises about a posting schedule.

I invite you to join my mailing list, where I’ll send new Ardent Camper adventures to your inbox.

I will also share links (affiliate if I have them, direct if not) to any products, books, or gear I personally recommend and have experience with. This blog is a creative outlet and community-builder for me, but it’s also a source of revenue. I’d like to be open and transparent about that.

Sadly, the old site design and format had to be abandoned. Josh is a web developer and custom-built the design and back-end. But I’m no developer, myself, and I needed something I could edit. So here we are: same great content, new website face.

Finally, I want to thank you for being here and reading this update. I found some of my dearest, best, lifelong friends through this blog and the adventures it give me a platform to share, and I hope it continues to be a source of connection for both you and me.

Until next time, happy trails.

xo
Marie

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