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Donna (Mom) and Kay ca 1963 camping with our Renault Dauphine

My family camped occasionally beginning  just about as early as I have memories of anything.  My paternal grandparents also camped but since we rarely lived near one another we didn’t often camp together.  My grandfather like to fish and hunt, and camping goes well with those activities.  I suppose that’s where my Dad discovered that he liked to camp.

You can see by the photo above that we did primitive camping.  Through the years our camping gear ranged from a tent made of what looks like sheets, our car, a renovated VW bus and finally to a camper on the back of our truck.  One thing that seemed to remain the same was that we usually camped in primitive spots.  For the most part, that was fine but my preference is to have running water and restrooms close by.  Dad always remarked that Mom didn’t enjoy camping but I always thought we had a good time going on adventures and enjoying the sights and smells of the outdoors.   Camping can be lots of fun but it is also quite a bit of work to pack everything that a family is going to need.

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Donna (Mom) and Kay and our Dodge Charger at Pikes’ Peak 1968

I have only vague recollections of the camping trip when I was 3.  I remember there was place where you pumped your own water and we have a photo of me standing on my tippy toes pulling the lever to fill my glass with water.  One of the next “camping” trips (it was actually a move) was through Carlsbad Caverns and Pikes Peak on our way to Long Beach, California in 1968.  By that time we had Erica, a German Shepherd, plus Felicia and Frisky, Siamese cats, and they were with us.  My recollection is that we spent several nights (all of us) in our 1966 Dodge Charger.  I have no recollection of how we arranged ourselves but the back seats did lay down.

By 1971 we lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and Dad had converted our VW Bus to a camper complete with a full size bed, a place for a stove and an ice chest.  Several weekends we drove to various primitive locations and camped.  I have very few specific memories of those trips but I remember being quite cold and having to be where there was no restroom at all.  I also remember that Dad, who had a business when we lived in Wichita Falls, TX called “The Hangar” for model airplane supplies, loved to build model remote control airplanes.  By the time we were in Ohio Dad was making model remote control boats and when we found any water such as a pool, pond or lake he would play with his boats.  (One such time, I noticed some clothing in the water and leaned down to get it and fell in.  That time was not a camping trip and I didn’t have a change of clothes so I was freezing until we got back home.)

Donna (Mom) in our camper VW bus in 1971

Erica, Donna (Mom) in our camper VW bus in 1971

In the fall of 1971, after we moved to Durham, NC we were on our way to go camping when we had a wreck in Winston Salem and totaled our VW Bus and lost Erica, our dog (read more).

It didn’t take too long before we bought a red and white camper to go on our odd colored blue truck.  I’m amazed that I have not found any photos of that camper!  However, we do have photos from some of our trips.  While we lived in NC every other summer we drove to Oklahoma to visit family and camped on the way home a couple of times.  One time we hunted for rocks in a very deserted place and I have no idea where we were.  The only thing I remember is that our truck with the camper was the only thing you could see for miles.  Dad and I, with our satchels full of equipment, spent several hours rock hunting with our new German Shepherd, Amanda.  Also on that trip we went to a place and hunted for gemstones in a water trough.  I thought that was fun and had high hopes of finding a gemstone that my grandpa could polish and make into some jewelry but I didn’t find any gemstones.  Instead, Dad bought me an chunk of amethyst, which I have on display in my curio cabinet now.  (Grandpa made jewelry out of his polished rocks and had given me some but sadly I no longer have any of them).

The trip to and from Oklahoma involved driving through the mountains and I have many unpleasant memories of the drive itself, since I am afraid of heights.  Amanda, our dog, traveled in the camper while Dad drove, I sat in the middle of the bench (with an add-on air conditioner and CB radio in between my legs) and Mom by the passenger door.  We were quite snug.  On one particular trip we were in the mountains on a narrow, winding road and with each twist I could feel the camper leaning and it frightened me to the point that I felt compelled to tell Dad to please slow down.  Mom and Dad both told me numerous times that he was going slow.  After my continuing to complain, Dad finally got angry and yelled at me to not say anything unless I had something good to say.  I sat in the middle with Dad on my left and Mom on my right leaning one way and then the other with each twist of the road  and getting sicker by the minute until I began to gag and leaned over Mom.  She immediately opened the truck door, while we were driving, to try to get the vomit to miss her and go outside.  My Dad was upset with me and asked why I didn’t tell him I was getting sick.  My reply was only “I didn’t have anything good to say.”

Mom and Dad decided to find a place to camp for the night, perhaps earlier than they may have wanted.  Unfortunately, I was still sick and the camper was not leveled that night so I couldn’t lie flat but kept rolling out of the bed and vomiting all night long.   The next morning I was exhausted but okay.  We went on a walk around the area and it was gorgeous.  Dad liked to take photographs and be a bit artsy with it.  He captured a moment that day when Amanda and I were enjoying the beauty.  Mom and Dad had the photo enlarged and framed and still hangs on Mom’s wall today.  Notice that my clothes do not match, which is because I had nothing else clean after my episode.

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Kay and Amanda in the Virginia mountains in 1972

Many years later my future husband and I went camping just about every weekend during the first summer that we knew one another.  Keith is a scuba diver and he was in a club that went camping and had spear fishing tournaments .  We decided that camping was a great opportunity for us to learn how compatible we were.  We figured that if two people can go camping in July and August in Oklahoma and still like each other, it had to be a good sign.  At the end of that summer, after having enjoyed many camping trips together, we decided to get married.

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“Camping” in our mobile home at Lake Texoma, 2006

These days our camping is quite different than the camping I did as a child or that Keith and I did our first summer together.  In 1991 we bought a mobile home and leased a spot at Lake Texoma.  Our children’s lives began there and we continue to go to Lake Texoma where we enjoy swimming, boating, skiing, ski biscuiting and just hanging out.  In 1997 we purchased some land at Lake Texoma and moved our mobile home to where it still sits.  See more pictures of how we ‘camp’ now at our Lake Place.