Aug. 1, 2009 -Camping in Black and White

Lying abed the other morning, on our first “camping trip” in our “new” motorhome, we started reminiscing about our past camping experiences. That brought giggles from both of us.

Back in the day, when we first went camping, we traveled light. During our first year of marriage we went nearly every weekend. It was pretty “lean” camping, and even our little dog, Penny, had to carry her share once in awhile.

Below are the earliest known photos of our camping trips. It was on a popular log road / hiking trail in the hills behind Southern University in Tennessee. Some of the places we went, we constructed camp furniture from native materials and twine and would return again and again.

The following year, we saved money and invested in a “tarpaulin tent.” It was just a light-weight tarp that had a lot of grommets on each side. On one of the early trips using this tent, we camped with some friends at the base of a beautiful falls somewhere in Georgia. We descended to the bottom on a steep path holding onto a cable. Soon after nightfall it began to rain… as only it can do in northeastern Georgia. The friend’s pup tent began to leak badly. They called out in the dark to ask if we were still dry. W

e were, so we invited them over to spend the rest of the night.

Even though we had set up camp in the trees of the shoreline, some 100’ from the water, by morning the swirling lake was less than 20’ away from us. We ate a hasty breakfast, broke camp and headed back up the hill to the car.

The trail now resembled an otter slide. If it weren’t for the cable we would have spent the next several days there!

In the early ‘70s we were doing Foster Care. This photo shows Ruthie, our first, and a neighbor girl, April, as well as our four kids. Need I say we felt like sardines?

We had to take a break from being cramped into this little Datsun wagon.

Deciding that this vehicle was a little too small for pleasurable camping, we bought a used van. We had it about three weeks before we went on our first camp-out with it. This is a picture taken on the first morning after arrival at the campground. Yep, a strong wind came up and dropped about 40’ of a snag through the front, pinning it to the ground!

After the children got a little older, we got into backpacking in earnest. For the next 10 years or so this was our sole camping experiences.

Then in the mid-1970’s we bought our first camp trailer. On our first camp trip we went to the Oregon Coast for Anita’s birthday. It was then that decided that camping in a state campground was not for us. There was loud music and drunkenness ‘til the wee hours of the morning. Shortly after that we camped our way across America to our new life in West Virginia. We used the camper once to visit a cousin in Washington D.C. and then we sold it and returned to backpacking.

After our kids married and left home, we even got into bicycle camping. Mostly in the San Juan’s of Washington state, and while in Sweden. This photo shows Evelyn getting ready to check out a Mall while I watch the loaded bikes.

Then, while living in Southern California, we bought a 10’ Coleman pop up tent camper. It served us well for nearly three years, until it met its demise in Death Valley doing battle with a wind storm.

This was really our departure into the soft side of camping, because, we replaced it with a 16’ fiberglass “Casita” camper.

It served us well for the next 8-9 years.

From there it was a 22’ Class C motorhome. True, it was almost 30 years old, but it ran well and was another step toward luxury camping on wheels.

Spring Vacation of 2008, we hooked up our Toyota RAV4 to the Born Free MH, and set out for southern California. It was an awesome trip, but way too short. We had to return to murky SW Washington to finish the school year.

This motorhome went through several changes in the years that we have owned it! It got its last facelift last winter, becoming our “Ratmobile,” for desert camping.

When we decided to go “full-timing,” after Evelyn retired, we picked up this used 5th wheel RV and Ford “dually.”

We spent our first winter in the deserts of SoCal at our first Workamper assignment. Loved it! Loved it!

However, getting two vehicles, plus a 5theel RV and pickup from one place to another posed quite a problem, so we went shopping and exploring our options. The result was, selling the RV, pickup, and Ratmobile to reduce rolling stock.

Now, we are totally “soft,” living full-time in a 36’ ten-year old Class A motorhome. Whereas in the olden days, camping was a diversion, a getting away from home, roughing it, it now consists of finding a new place to park our home for a few days or weeks for a change in scenery.

Yep, camping sure has transitioned through the years!

In retirement, work pretty much consists of looking around wherever we are located, to see what needs to be done. Then doing something for someone else… that which they neither have the time nor experience to do for themselves is best.

What a kick it is to be retired! I’ve never been busier in my life. And I’m doing those things that I want to do, not which I’m required to do.

Ah-h-h-h-h! Retirement, the ultimate camp life… getting ready for heaven!