Saturday, June 27, 2009

Camping, circa 1978

Lily's last day of school was May 29th, and Dan, being the genius daddy that he is, decided to kick off the summer with a camping trip up Pine Creek Canyon. (Lori, you nature lover, stop it right now. You know envy is one of the Big 10.)

Brian's parents bought an old (late 1960's vintage, I think) camper a couple of years ago in the hopes that their kids and grandkids would use it for some summer fun. Would you believe we were the first ones to take it camping? Dan has been eyeballing the camper since we moved here last August, but since the chainsaw injury was only two weeks after we arrived, we didn't get the chance to use it last fall.

As we were driving out of town with the unregistered camper hooked up to "Red", the old, very abused ranch truck, all 5 of us in the front with no seatbelts on, we passed the town cop and waved. Dan said, "Oh man, I'll bet we've got at least 30 violations!" Fortunately, there's an unspoken understanding in town that ranch trucks don't have to be licensed. Apparently stuff you're towing can slide by too, because the most recent registration on the camper was from 1978.

Once we got up Pine Creek and found a campsite, I started snooping around in the camper. I became giddy as I was overcome with nostalgia for the Dodge Van that we used to drive all over the country and camp in when I was a kid.

1980, at some KOA campsite with the Dodge Van and the orange pop-up tent for the boys. That's Becky (I think) just heading in from the camp pool.

Upon choosing our campsite, we quickly realized that we'd forgotten to get ice for the cooler. Luckily, Pine Creek is pretty close to town, only about 15 minutes from the Flying J. While Dan went back to town to get the ice, Lily and Amelia explored around a little bit and then settled in at the picnic table to try to carve arrowheads.

"See, Amelia? You hold it like this and then you whack it as hard as you can."

"Be careful to keep your other hand out of the way so you don't lose a digit."

"Oh, I get it. I hold the rock in one hand and just go at it as hard as I can? Brilliant!"

A little shameless product placement.

"You want some?"

Camping doesn't get much better than this: sliding down a dirt hill as fast as you can!

Mack loves to ride in the backpack.

Chillin' by the camper. Totally ghetto.

It didn't take long to get dirty and whiny. Maybe an hour, tops.

Amelia is on a total screeching kick lately. She just screams and scrunches her eyes up in a rage. I think she was mad because I wouldn't let her climb up the steep dirt trail behind Biggie. She'd climb up aways, then look back and start screaming once she saw how high she was and she wouldn't let Lily help her slide down. I must be getting old and lazy because I was tired of going up after her.

Lily's dirt goatee.

"I need bug spray on my neck."

"And right here on my chin."

Dan pointing out the finer details on how to build a good fire.

Doesn't he look hot in that honky hat?

Cutting potatoes for dinner. As I sat there, I smiled, thinking of my mom preparing dozens and dozens of meals at a picnic table.

I asked Lily to take my picture. She was much more interested in the hamburgers than she was in me.

So I made Dan take one where you could actually see my face.

June 1980, classic Garlitz family grubbin' at a campground near Limon, Colorado. My mom still has that green and white water jug. That's me on the right. I LOVED that shirt with the ribbon ties on the sleeves.

Amelia's favorite activity was washing the picnic table benches. Dan kept telling her to quit wasting the drinking water.

The two camp cooks.

Mmm... Me so hungee!

Lily's job was to entertain Mack while we were making dinner. She loves to do little cheers for him.

That's some good baby nibbles!

After dinner we played some Yahtzee, a classic from my camping youth.

Amelia had a hard time keeping her hands off the dice long enough for us to tally our score each time.

"See Daddy, that's a small straight!"

Is there any kid who doesn't like a campfire?

Lily's favorite part of the whole trip: roasting marshmallows.

"Oh, yeah! That's good!"

"Ucky Daddy, what's that black stuff?" Amateur, she doesn't appreciate the fine delicacy of charred marshmallows.

After making Dan take yet another picture, he said, "There you are, in the fiery flames of hell" to which I responded, "where you wish I was with my camera right now?" At one point Dan said, "I didn't realize we were on a photographic expedition. I thought we were camping." Yep, me and my camera are still annoying, even after 13 years of marriage!

Getting ready to bunk down for the night.

Amelia lasted about 5 minutes up in the bunkbed with Lily, until she wouldn't quit whining and settle down so we made up the bed over the table. After another 30 or 40 minutes of fidgeting and whining, she fell asleep but by 2am, Dan had switched spots with her because she woke up yelling and wouldn't stop. It didn't help that she was weaning from the binky.

Lily (old reliable) slept like a log and surprisingly, so did Mack. He must have liked being burrowed up tight in the cool mountain air.

While the little ones slept in, Dan and Lily went out and made some hot chocolate. Lily found a big tree limb and made a see-saw over a log. She begged me to ride the see-saw with her and I asked Dan to take pictures.

This is how he felt about it:


For breakfast we used the leftover potatoes from dinner and mixed them with scrambled eggs. Lily really wanted to make her own fried egg so Dan supervised the campfire cooking.

Here's another little camper having breakfast:

July 1979, me grubbin' on some Froot Loops in Teton National Park.

Mack hung out in the backpack with me while I cleaned up breakfast and sent Daddy and the girls off for a little hike.

It didn't take long for the sun to bake us and send us clamoring for some shade. Amelia was in love with the little camp chair we borrowed from Keith and Lynette.

June 1980, Limon, Colorado KOA. Love the knees in those pants!

Amelia was super amused by the little sliding door on the camper. She kept opening it and peeking out and hollering to Lily.

"Biiii-deee. Where are you? Hi Biddie (Biggie)!"

After the morning hike we retired to the camper and the girls played on the bunkbed.

Man, I remember Becky and I used to have so much fun playing in the bunkbed of our Dodge Van. I think we used to ride up there while we were driving (back before seatbelts were all the rage) while the boys played board games at the table and we rocked out to Abba or John Denver or Neil Diamond. Good times!

Somehow Mack managed to stay asleep in the backpack while the girls wiggled and squealed up above him.

The bunkbed got old after a few minutes (or, more accurately, Dan and I got sick of the girls fighting) so we busted out the board games. Lily loves Sorry.

Still on my "expedition", having a little fun with the mirror.

Mack is in major "grab and chew everything in sight" mode and he especially likes to gnaw on his middle finger. Don't take it personally, it's not intended to be an obscene gesture.

The boys had a nap while the girls played some more Yahtzee. We also sat and read some Beverly Cleary, one of my favorite childhood authors (love that naughty Ramona!). At one point Lily started whining about going home and I said, "Are you kidding me? If we go home I have all kinds of chores I have to do. Out here when we're camping I can just sit and read and play games and hang out with you." That was the last I heard about going home.

The camper had a table that can be removed and placed flush with the seats to make a bed. Our Dodge Van had the same feature and we had so many fun times playing games and eating on that table. It even had some sweet cupholders in the corners, which could double for holding game pieces.

1982, Don and David ready for dinner, probably a pot of soup to go with the Club crackers.

The girls got a little restless and rowdy in the camper while the boys were trying to sleep, so we went out for a walk. Lily wanted to go exploring in the trees, but the evening before had proven that Amelia just isn't old enough for that: all she did was trip on sticks and whine about branches poking her. So Amelia and I just went walking up the road and looked at flowers and butterflies.

After awhile, I was ready to go back. I didn't want to get too far away from Lily and I figured Mack would be ready to eat soon. I told Amelia it was time to turn around and she threw a holy fit. One thing about Amelia is she is strong-willed and hard-headed. See the dirty look she's giving me?

She stomped off in determination. "I go up hill!" So I just turned around and started walking back and eventually she followed, but pronounced that she was too tired to walk and I had to carry her the rest of the way. Stinker!

The aftermath:

It was only a 15 or 20 minute drive back to our house, but every one of us (except the driver!) was totally zonked out by the time we got home.

It was a great time and we agreed that we wanted to try and go camping every week or 10 days this summer, but then it rained for 3 weeks straight. We haven't made it back up again, but maybe next week. Today we're going up the canyon to roast hot dogs and marshmallows for lunch with the Nates. It'll be good to get out in the sunshine, let the kids run wild, and eat some good camp food. If only God hadn't created mosquitos...

The only down side to camping in the wilderness is that now Amelia thinks it's OK to just drop her britches and pop a squat outside anytime she has to go pee. I've tried to explain that we only pee outside when we're camping, but alas, she has been seen peeing under the swingset at the park and right in Brian and Becca's backyard while we all watched the full moon from the dining room table.

Makes a mama proud.


Lois Ann said...

WOW!You get triple gold stars for this very nostalgic post. Speaking of making a Grammie proud... LOL
Any chance the trailer is coming for the reunion? Not with the farm truck, of course.

The Dragonfly said...

Your camping trip wins hands down over EVERY camping experience I have ever had.

Looks like a great time was had by all - and I'm so impressed with Mack's ability to hang with the crowd. It has to help that you had a camper. The thought of camping with a baby in a tent sends me into hysterics!

Becky in Wyo said...

Okay, first thought, "Who's stupid idea was it to go camping for the family reunion this year?!!" I'm soooo not looking forward to the dirt and whiny children in a hot tent. Uughhh. But I'll go, because I know the kids will treasure the memories, even though I'll want a week's vacation at a spa when it's all done.

Second, I want to know where you got all the nostalgia pics?? How are they already in your collection? And can I have copies?

The best part of camping? Going home!!!

Yes, I must be grinchy because I feel a nap coming on, or something. But what a great post you did! Thanks, Susie Q!!

Lori Gerten said...

I read the first sentence and thought "blech, camping?". I haven't even finished reading the post yet because I went straight to the comments.

Lori Gerten said...

I now have read the entire post and all I can say is that I am so jealous (seriously!) that you make such great memories for your kids. Grace will always remember. .. .how clean she was!!

Lois Ann said...

I am reading your post again as I am getting ready for bed. It is wonderful... You sure look happier cooking at the picnic table than I was at that particular moment when your dad took that long ago picture!

David Garlitz said...

Your camping post is awesome, Sue-B. I still have fond memories of the Dodge camper van and the "original" minivan, the burgundy VW bus we camped with in Germany. I can still remember going to church in Dusseldorf after driving 1 1/2 or 2 hours, having a picnic lunch out of the back end, and then driving home. Talk about a church commute... Aimee and I love to campout in the back yard and play pirates on the hammock. Love ya, Sue. David

Dustan and Micayla said...

That sounds like you had a blast!! I think it is so cool that you have all of those pictures from when you were little too! I love all of your have such a cute family!

The Queen Vee said...

My idea of camping now includes a Hilton or Marriott but back in my youth I loved to go camping. The last time I camped was at girls camp in Germany. My last day there was the day for our girls to try a little repelling. I went down the cliff face once and then drove home. I could hardly walk for several days afterwards. It was the drive that did it, should have stretched those muscles more after the repelling.

As usual Sue, your pictures tell the story. I couldeven smell that camp fire and taste those marshmellows.

Dan looks like a forest ranger.

The Donnells said...

Isn't it great just to be out of the house overnight and surviving on your own. I love that you read the girls the Ramona books, I think you gave me a few when I was little and I have loved them ever since. I can't wait for the family reunion. See camping with kids is totally doable.