10/16/2018 0 Comments
Let's Get Started... (Camping Pt. 1)
Hello! Happy to have you land on my blog. It's a work in progress, and I'm learning more as I go. Thank you for visiting today, I hope you enjoy it!
In my previous post (my one and only other post so it's not hard to find!), I told you that I intend to cover a variety of topics with my writing. I've been writing my personal history of camping and travel, so that's where we start:
Like the moon, we have phases. We’ve successfully navigated through the life phases up until this point. We can look way back to our own childhoods as a beginning phase, when life didn’t really seem like we owned it as individuals. We mostly were family-centered, and couldn’t really picture a life other than that.
I came from a small family farm in an agricultural region that was in the center of the country - that “fly over zone”, ignored by most of the country’s population on the coasts. I remember when I came to realize that some of those people felt a sort of superiority due to the fact that life in heavily populated areas was somehow better than life for the rest of us. At first I felt defensive, but quickly turned that around in my head to tell myself that life in the heartland was really quite fine. Just look, anybody can live in those urban areas, but it takes somebody really special to love living in a rural setting. That’s why there are fewer of us!
Unbeknownst to me, Bob was living and learning about life not so very far from my hometown, but far enough to be out of the range of circles of friends and family. The only reason I had even heard of his town was because there were stock car races there in the summer, and occasionally someone I knew went there. Otherwise, no connection. Bob had a solidly busy life as one of 9 siblings raised by 2 very hard working parents on a farm. Keeping all of that going smoothly was in the best interests of everyone, and they all worked on whatever was necessary. There was never a thought of saying “I don’t like doing this and I’m not going to do it”. Not even imaginable!
I, on the other hand, had just 1 brother and 1 sister, which seemed just right for our family! Again, we unquestioningly did as we were told (mostly!) or did what we knew needed to be done to keep the family farming business going and growing. The outside work with fields and animals was not the primary role of the females of the household, but did get intermixed with the guys often in more ways than one. There were times when there was just so much work to be done that my mom had to spend hours out in the fields. And sometimes I, too, got to putter around on an old tractor to do some of the lower priority jobs. So my memories of growing up centered on life on the family farm, plus vacations from that!
Somehow, and it couldn’t have been an easy job, my dad always managed to find roughly 2 weeks off in August. There would be a flurry of work in the days just leading up to our departure. Dad would need to have someone, maybe my grandpa or a neighbor, responsible for feeding and tending the animals (cattle, pigs, chickens, horses) while we were to be gone. I’m not sure how it was decided where we would be going, that was never up to us kids. He and mom worked out a plan of where to go, almost always to the Rocky Mountains. This was entirely a camping trip, I’m pretty sure we couldn’t afford to stay in hotels. And I’m not sure where the camping bug came from. As far as I know, none of my grandparents were ever likely to have been campers. And in the 50’s and onward, the idea of vacations and leisure time for the middle class came to be the new rule.
So mom, dad, brother, sister and myself, would pack up every inch of the ’55 Chevy, rooftop rack and all! We would never have a definite itinerary, unless it was to pay a visit to relatives in another state. Most of the time, my dad would announce “We’re going to the Maroon Bells, or Glacier Park, or the Wind River Mountains, etc.” without us really knowing where that was nor why that was our destination. Dad and mom were always reading interesting books about other places and people, and that must have fed some bank of ideas about what they could do with 3 kids in tow. We camped simply in a square canvas tent, a 2-burner camp stove, a lantern and some food supplies. At first, I remember that we didn’t have small sleeping bags for my younger sister and myself, and mom made something out of green army blankets for us to use. Scratchy green army blankets!
This is how our summer camping trips turned out to be the highlight of the year for me, and a huge factor in growing up. I’ll continue this another day to tell you just how camping has shaped my life.
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Hi! I'm Pam! Join me on this journey through the next steps of life!