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Abbie Wathen: From Camper to Dunraven Engineer

Posted by Abbie Wathen on October 18, 2019

As a kid, I grew up next to a state park in KY, and had access to the trails. We camped, but not a lot. There were four of us kids, and we tent camped, which – as anyone who car camps knows – tent camping with 4 kids is a lot of work. My sister and I would spend countless hours in the “woods” carving our names into the down trees, playing hide and seek. The park was a huge part of what we did and where we were playing. As I got older, I could walk over to the main part of the park, and run the trails. I swam during the school year, but would spend the summer on the trails. I loved the solidarity, the time by myself. I felt at home and comforted by being in the forest and just exploring the entire state park.

 

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As I got older and ventured out on my own, I didn’t do a whole lot of camping or traveling. However, running and being active outside remained a large part of what I wanted to do. After college, I had a job where I was traveling a lot on my own, and I really enjoyed it. All of these experiences have come into play as I get older and am figuring out what I enjoy doing and what I feel like is important to teach my kids.

 

Before we had kids, my husband and I did every kind of travel. We camped, traveled overseas, took beach vacations, and just loved the time together exploring and experiencing places outside of our normal. After kids, we knew that we wanted to travel and keep doing the things we loved doing. We tried tent camping, but found it tedious, time consuming and cold in the Colorado mountains, and we came home very exhausted. It was the same story with a pop-up, and mobile home. I couldn’t set up the pop-up without Bob’s help, and the 32 ft mobile home literally lost a large piece of steel driving down the highway (and it was brand new!).

 

We ended up with a teardrop camper, which we loved, but it didn’t work with three kids. We had a roof-top tent, but this didn’t solve the issue of being cold at night. Finally, we got fed up, and decided to just do it on our own. I am an aerospace engineer who works on aircraft structure and loads, so surely I can figure out how to build a camper… We designed the camper with the intent of being able to take three kids and three dogs camping, and not feel like we have to work the entire time. We wanted our camper to be able to be a vacation, and we wanted to enjoy our time with our family and fully experience the place that we are in. We also want it to be reliable, and to be able to get to where we want to go. Sometimes, we just want to get away from it all and withdraw into ourselves in order to truly reset. So it was important that the camper had this capability. We also wanted it to be very comfortable, because we tend to spend around two weeks out at a time when we camp.

 

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We fully believe that travelling with our family is very important, letting the kids experience things different from what they are used to, and different cultures and people. With three kids, camping is a very affordable way to do that. It allows us the freedom to pick up and go with limited packing, because everything is in the camper. The freedom to go where we want and the confidence that our tools will support our goals.

See the full video of Abbie's story, and enter our competition here!

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