Most summers since I was an infant, I have spent at least 1 week camping with my family. We’ve camped in different states and in all sorts of summer weather conditions. Blazing hot and sunny? Check. Mini tornado? Check. Sweatshirt by the campfire kind of cosy? Check.
Sometimes there have been over a dozen of us together, sometimes there have been as few as 4. The common threads have been my parents and a genuine love of camping.
The word “camping” itself can conjure up all sorts of images to various people, depending on their own experiences (or lack of experiences). For me, it makes me think of one thing: Family.
This year’s camping trip had it all, it seemed. Good weather, crazy weather, laughs, campfires, delicious food, plenty of fresh air, and the-thing-we-forgot-to-pack. This year’s “thing?” The canopies that go over the metal pop up frames that ultimately cover our picnic tables. There was a modicum of grumbling and cursing, then Mike and N went to the nearest Lowe’s to find a tarp, while I helped my parents set up their tent.
Mike returned with a huge tarp, 20 X 40 feet! That more than covered the two pop up canopy frames, butted up against each other. So that took care of that problem, plus we had the added bonus of providing us and our camping neighbors with some humor. When the wind picked up during the week, the tarp would billow up like a balloon so that the whole canopy set up looked like a giant blue mushroom.
We’ve been camping in the Finger Lakes region of New York since 1975, with a few years break for college. It’s a beautiful part of the state, with wide scenic views, dark nights filled with stars (unhindered by bright city lights), and rolling hills. And on many of those hills are wineries. So we partake of those, too. On our 3rd day of camping, relatives visited us for the day, and the females of the group went to three local wineries: Hazlett, Penguin Bay, and Caywood. Our favorite is Hazlett, with their popcorn and funny names (Red Cat, White Stag).
We went to Wagner winery the next day, for lunch, a beer tasting (Mike and Dad), and stocking up on some of our favorite wines of the area. It was the first time we’d eaten lunch at the restaurant there, and I think it became a new tradition.
We camp in tents. When I was a kid, my family had a pop up tent trailer – the kind that had beds and not much else. My father had rigged up storage bins in it, for holding our clothes and towels. And when we were really little, it also had a very basic potty. I kind of cringe at that thought while also appreciating my father’s ingenuity – there were 3 young kids to accommodate after all and that means 3 young bladders.
Our current tent is impressive in many ways – its very large to handle 6’5″ Mike and our air mattresses – but it does not, alas, have a potty. It is a trek to the bathroom. The campground bathrooms are pretty nice. They are also quite public, so there is no question about wearing footwear in the shower. Did we worry about that when I was a kid? No, not at all. We also didn’t have bike helmets, sunscreen or aloe lotion.
I am not a flip flop person. I was when I was a kid but at some point in my life, I grew to intensely dislike sandals that required a thong between my big and second toe. My camping conundrum, therefore, is that I must wear flip flops to and in the shower while hating having to wear them.
And this simply highlights how much I love camping, as anyone who knows me well knows how much I hate feet, especially my own… in flip flops.
In the midst of this year’s camping trip, we also biked, ate ice cream daily at the camp store, gazed intently at stars (saw Andromeda!), tried and enjoyed 3 new campfire recipes, and went to a dinosaur museum. It was a week full of familiar and new, spent with family, outdoors and together.
Just the way I remember.