We began camping in 1968—wow! That is over forty years ago—when we rented a pop-up camper and headed west, as in Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. At that time, we had never so much as put up a pup tent, nor had we ever cooked outside the confines of our kitchen.
To make it interesting, we planned the trip with my brother, Billy, whose family lives in Florida. They made the first leg of the journey to our home in middle Georgia. We spent the night in our house placing pallets everywhere to accommodate them and their five children and ourselves and our four children. Did I say they also were camping virgins.
We spread maps which we had acquired from AAA in Macon, and the debate was on about which route we should take. We felt confident—with strength in numbers—that we were up to the task. The plan was to get an early start and to make it as far as possible the first day, thereby gauging the length of time it would take us to get out west. What is the old saying about, “the best laid plans of men and mice,” or something like that. My memory is vague at this time as to why we were delayed in our effort for an early start, but a good guess would be that the women-folks probably had to stop at the grocery store.
Once on the road with the wind in our face and the miles spilling out behind us, we made good time, I think? Let’s see now. It is approximately 115 miles to Phenix City, Alabama, our first stop on the journey west. Where is my calculator? At this rate, we would need several weeks to reach Texas.
Actually, we made much better time the second day, arriving at a very crowded state park in Missouri. We were excited as we set up our campsites for the night. Everything was fine until the storm hit in buckets of rain.
How were the kids supposed to know the canvas covering on the camper would leak if they touched it? It was a very wet night, and everything was thoroughly soaked.
Alas! Better days were ahead as we decided to push the envelope by driving through the night. Ahh! To be young, and full of adventure. By the time we stopped in the foothills of Colorado, which seemed like mountains to us, we decided to make camp. How were we supposed to know that pancake batter would bubble up in the thin air of the high peaks, and how were we supposed to know that our Coleman stove would not light because of the thin air? Petty obstacles! A sure cure for that is Vienna Sausages. The thin air did not stop us from opening the cans.
We learned much from our two-week journey west, and we loved the adventure of it—seeing places we would not have seen otherwise. After our return home we began looking for our own camper to purchase, and became avid campers for the next three decades. Our children have so many memories—that money can’t buy—of those years.
Family values can be strengthened by the adventures of camping. Put it to the test, and enjoy the great outdoors!