Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summers Past

It's fun to think back over the good times you've had in the past. Since it's summer, I've been thinking a lot about how I spent my summers over the many years.

When we were little kids my dad built this unusual trailer that when you got to a campground the sides folded out and made beds. He had all sorts of cupboards and gadgets on it that contained all our camping gear. This was long before the same thing was invented and I'm sure my dad never even considered getting a patent. The summers I remember best when we slept in that trailer, my sister was still a toddler and I was around six or seven. We camped in Yosemite, yes, back in the days when you could camp right along the Merced River. Every night there was a fire fall off of Half Dome. (At least I think that's where.) And you could go to the garbage dump at night and watch the bears come in and eat.

When we got a bit older (my teen years) my dad decided to start building boats. First, it was a little outboard and we spent our vacation at Bass Lake. Here we camped in tents right at the edge of the lake. (No longer allowed.) The next year he built an inboard motor boat so we could learn to water ski--and yes, he made the skiis too. I loved water skiing. My dad told everyone that I got up on the skiis before he even got the boat started. (He thought I could do anything.)

We stayed at the lake for 3 wonderful weeks and made all sorts of new friends--I even had a couple of summer romances. Dad let us kids take the outboard motor boat all over the lake by ourselves. What fun. We investigated hidden coves and swam in places we thought no one else had ever been.

Camping was the only way we could afford any kind of a vacation after hubby and I married. With our kids we pitched our tent in nearby campgrounds around Southern California, places we could drive to in an hour or two. We usually camped with friends who had kids and I learned how to cook about anything over a campfire.

With the youngest three of our kids, we loaded up our VW bus and a tiny trailer hubby had made to haul our supplies for three weeks and we took off across country. I'd planned all our meals for cooking on a camp stove and had the ingredients for every meal except for the fresh stuff we'd have to buy along the way. I'd saved $500 and that had to pay for gas and when we couldn't find a free place to camp. (We didn't have any such thing as a credit or gas card.) I did have a book that listed all the campgrounds in the country and how much they charged. We tried to stay in a free one for two nights, then one with showers and laundry on the third--for obvious reason. Our goal was a family reunion in Maryland.

To make a long story short, we arrived a day late. We'd been having trouble with our VW bus, it wouldn't start without me and the kids pushing until hubby popped the clutch and it would get moving. We could only visit in hubby's home town a few days, because we needed to get back on the road toward home. We went home a different way so as we drove we could see new things.

No matter where we put up our tent it would rain. It got to the point where hubby would say, "What cloud are we parking under tonight?" It took us one hour at night to get everything set up and cook dinner and one hour in the morning to eat breakfast and break camp.

We did make one sight-seeing stop on the way home. We camped near the Carlsbad Caverns and took the amazing tour to see the beautiful formations. When we went to bed in our tent that night, a huge windstorm came upon us and blew our tent down on top of us. We were fortunate, some of our camping neighbors' tents actually blew away!

We made it home when were supposed to, but I'd enough tent camping. I told my husband we were going to buy a camper or I wasn't going on anymore camping vacations. And that's what we did. I really did do even more primitive camping later on, but that's another story.



  1. Thanks for the article. Very interesting. Especially liked
    this part "No matter where we put up our tent it would rain"

  2. "What cloud are we parking under tonight?"

    Love this line -- and your wonderful memories of days under the stars.


  3. Lovely post, Marilyn. We camped in a pop-up trailer...four kids, two parents, and grandmother. It was hysterical but solidified my love of the five-star hotel. Maggie

  4. Marian, I've got great camping memories and I'm so glad we don't do it anymore.

    Maggie, That pop-up trailer my dad made was wood and canvas, but it worked just like the new ones. He'd have made a lot of money if he'd bothered to patent it.

  5. Wow, Marilyn, what great memories! My in-laws have always been campers (well, mostly my father-in-law!); but my mom-in-law told me about camping en route to their wedding and then on their honeymoon. They drove around in a VW bus, too. Every time we see TV ads with campers, Ed says, "Doesn't that look fun?" I'm with Maggie. I'll take a nice hotel in a scenic area any day over pitching a tent. Tho' I did camp as a kid, long before I understood the fabulousness of hot showers, shaving my legs, and sleeping in clean sheets. ;-)


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