It's summertime in the late 1980's and early 1990's.  Our house is blue, our dog is huge and black, the weather is hot, the garden is growing faster than a 6 month old, and our candy apple red Isuzu Trooper is parked in the driveway.  In the early years the Trooper (which we affectionately dubbed "Suzy") was solo.  Later years found her pulling a small utility trailer we lovingly painted to match Suzy's bright personality.  We were getting ready to go camping.  Though we surely camped in years prior to this, these are the years burned into my mind, the memories that define camping for me. 

My mom had a long list of things we needed to bring.  We gathered lanterns and tents from the far corners of the basement.  We packed two duffel bags (one for the adults and one for the kids), gathered kitchen supplies and food.  All of this was packed into boxes that my parents are still using for camping stuff.  We piled all of this along with our camp stove, air mattresses, sleeping bags, towels, dog dish, and more into the trailer and headed off.  Western Washington was our home then, so each year when my dad's week of vacation rolled around we would check the forecast.  If the weather was supposed to be nice we stayed on our side of the mountains, wet weather meant we'd set out for the east side of the state.  We had an early edition of this book we purchased from Costco that we used as our bible.  Using the book as our starting point, we picked the campgrounds that sounded good and off we went. 

I am sure there was fighting and whining.  Suzy didn't have air conditioning and Eastern Washington gets hot!  I am sure my parents got annoyed with us...we were typical siblings after all.  Surely we weren't picture-perfect helpful kids*all* of the time.  But I don't remember any of that.  I remember fun.  Pure fun.  Funny moments that we still call back for a smile today like me, chugging the dregs of a gallon of milk in a grocery store parking lot because it wouldn't fit in the cooler after we refilled it with ice.  I still remember stopping at a hardware store in some small town in Washington where I got my new Coleman flannel-lined sleeping bag.  I remember walks among trees, flowing water, coin operated showers, and washing my hair in the outdoor potable water faucet.  Picking our campsite was such a game...driving around the loops, leaving kids and lawn chairs at decent sites until we found the one that was best for us.  Card games and books by lantern light at the picnic table.  One trip when my Grandma and Grandpa joined us and slept in the back of their truck, another trip (or was it the same one?) when we biked the San Juan islands.  Put our bikes on the ferry and explored different islands each day. Such treasured memories.

Fast forward some years and it's 2014.  My girls have been dreaming of camping for several summers, but for various reasons (bears!) we've put it off.  This year we did not.  Mama learned to shoot, got a gun, and off we went.  Last night was our maiden voyage.  We didn't go far or for long, but it was fun!  We initiated our new bike rack as was the beginning of a whole new set of camping memories!

Some moments to share...

Over and over last night Kelsey kept saying, "I like this!"  and "Camping is really fun!".   Success!  They are already planning our next outing.  I have to admit...I'm looking forward to it, too!  Though I wouldn't mind sleeping past 5:30 next time...;-)


  1. ....and don't forget the night of the thunderstorm, when our tent became the site of "a river ran through it"!


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