I hate camping.
It is beyond me why anyone would want to leave the comforts of modern housing to go sleep in the woods. Thousands of years ago our ancestors moved out of caves for a very good reason. Why would anyone want to go back?
Don’t get me wrong. I like nature – for the day . I like knowing that it’s out there in all it wondrous splendor, but I prefer to worship it from afar. Quite frankly, nature up close is icky. It’s dirty and has bugs and other creepy crawlies all over it. Another drawback, camping is not conducive to my wardrobe. You can’t go camping in heels, fishnets and stilettos. Ok, you can, but you won’t be very comfortable and you will annoy the other more camping –friendly people around you.
The Never Ending Camping Trip
I blame my dad for my hatred of camping. I love my dad, but it’s his entire fault. When I was in the first grade my family went on what I not-so-affectionately-refer to as the “camping trip from Hell.” My father had been working three jobs for quite some time just to make ends meet. It was the early seventies and the economy was, well much as it is now. My dad lost two of his three jobs. What follows is my six-year-old self's recollection of the ensuing events.
Honey, I sold the house and bought this pop-up camper.
One spring day, in 1971, or was it 72? No matter. My dad came home and announced he had put our house up for sale and we were going to be gypsies. Wow! That sounds exciting! The school year wasn’t over yet, so we had to be pulled out of school, however, we were given our assignments to take with us. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to be homeschooled. Well, make that pop-up camper-schooled. I also remember working through my first grade textbooks with little or no adult supervision or input. One of my last memories of leaving our home at 3717 South Plaza Trail, Virginia Beach, Virginia, was riding my blue Schwinn that had a big white basket in the front to my elementary school. I was delivering our only surviving fish from our aquarium to the Windsor Woods Elementary School. It was a catfish. It was about three feet long. I carried him there in a Ziploc bag in my bicycle basket.
And we were off! But to where?
I remember very little about the trip. I remember one night we stayed in a barn. Yes, you read that right. We stayed in a barn! I remember seeing the biggest, prettiest spider web I had ever seen. I think we had a flat tire or something. I remember being somewhere very green and very hot and I was playing on piles of tires. From family conversations over the years, I learned we travelled up and down the east coast, my father looking for work. We stayed in a lot of campgrounds. It was me, my older sister who seemed to be having the time of her life, our little fox terrier, Pixie, my sisters tortoise shell cat, Fluffy, my younger sister who was maybe two, my mother and of course me. I think my mother was even less thrilled with the arrangement than I was.
Can we go home now?
We were on the road from May until sometime in August. I was sick to death of campfires, those weird muti-person campground showers, dirt, leaves and nature. I was really tired of sharing the shower with GIANT spiders. Apparently, my little sister had had quite enough too. She innocently asked our mother, “Can we go home now?” Mom was fed up with camping, too, snapped, “We are home. This is our home.”
To this day I cannot stand the smell of bacon and eggs cooking early in the morning. Just the smell turns my stomach. Every morning –bacon and eggs.
Ma’am the park is closing. You have to leave.
Thankfully, the gypsy lifestyle came to end when the park ranger came to my mother and said, “Ma’am, the park is closing. You have to leave.” We were off again. We were off to Papa and Grandma’s house – the home of my mother’s parents. The one-bedroom home of my grandparents in the small picturesque town of Pleasant Valley, New York. I was thrilled.
At first we lived in the camper in my grandparents’ yard. I loved it. I got to see my grandparents every day. Grandma was the best cook in the world. As we moved closer to fall, it was getting colder sleeping in the pop up camper. I remember sleeping in layer of clothes and three pairs of tights on my scrawny white legs. As it started to get even colder, Papa made us a room off his garage. It was nice and cozy in there. I started the second grade at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, met my best friend Lori, and went for ice cream every Saturday with Papa. I was having the time of my life.
I loved not camping.
Tess45 (author) from South Carolina on February 28, 2011:
Thank you. Some memories are just stronger than others!
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on February 28, 2011:
This is a great hub! What a great memory you have. Can't wait to read more of your stuff!
Dawn on February 17, 2011:
I missed most of that. I do remember waiting all day at Shenandoah Acres for Fluffy. She wa out in the woods. I refused to leave without my cat. Living in New York in the camper was an adventure unto itself! We would race out of the camper and make a mad dash to the back door eery morning! It was the best time ever! I am ready to do that in my old age.
Tess45 (author) from South Carolina on February 17, 2011:
DIYw, I know. Probably more that we would like to admit. You know, at the time I don't think we (us kids) realized we were HOMELESS! Wow. The government defines homeless to include family units who have to live with other relatives or friends, such as when we lived at our grandparents' house.
Lorinda on February 17, 2011:
Great story. I rember the stories . I loved that camper.
DIYweddingplanner from South Carolina, USA on February 16, 2011:
Wow, amazing story, Tess. I wonder how many families today are on "extended camping trips."