I love camping. I love to come home from a camping trip and ahve all my clothes smell like a smoky campfire. My dad loved to camp, too. I’m not sure if Mom loved it, but she didn’t show it if she didn’t.
When I was young, we had a big, Buick Century and when we went on trips we had seven people and all their stuff to pack into it. It had a huge trunk and Dad had packing down to an exact science. When we went camping, the aluminum folding camp table went in first, flat on the bottom of the trunk. Then the big cooler went in the very back. And the heavy, wooden army cots were next, with the big, canvas tent beside them. Then came sleeping bags, food boxes, some folding chairs, tools, ropes, and our clothes. We would each get a large paper grocery sack to put our clothes in–they didn’t have plastic grocery sacks then. Then after everything else had been packed, we would take our clothes bags out to Dad and he would squish them down into the available little spaces. When it was time to leave, he would fill the canvas water bag and hang it on the front grill to keep it cool as we drove down the highway. This water would be used to refill the radiator when it got low on the trip.
While Dad was packing the car, Mom was in the house making sandwiches and food for the trip. We usually left for our family vacations very early in the morning. I can remember one time as we were backing out of the driveway, sleepy but excited for the adventures ahead, Dad started singing one of his songs–Happy Wanderer. He had lived in Germany and Switzerland years earlier and had probably learned the song thre. I loved hearing it. These are the words–
I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
My knapsack on my back.
I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
“Come! Join my happy song!”
I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev’ry green wood tree.
High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o’er the world we roam.
Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky!
When we arrived at the campsite, Dad put up the tent while the kids hauled out what they could. Mom got lunch ready and after lunch, Dad and the kids would take a hike while Mom cleaned up and had some time to herself. I remember she sometimes put her hair up in a scarf “Aunt Jemima” style when we were camping.
Later, Dad would grab the big gunny sack and take us kids out looking for firewood. If we couldn’t find enough on the ground, he had a clever way of getting it out of the trees. He took a long rope and tied a rock on one end. Then he’d toss the rock up over a dead tree branch and pull it down. Instant firewood!
He had lots of clever ways of doing things. H made a shower stall once by wrapping a canvas tarp around three small, close trees and hanging a bucket of water on a branch over it. He had a tube hanging out of the bucket with a clamp on it. If you wanted to shower off, just climb inside and unpinch the clamp.
Dad had the neatest pocket knife. It was the biggest Swiss Army knife in the world. It had every gadget imaginable on it. Once, when we were going to make tuna sandwiches for lunch and didn’t have a can opener, he whipped out his knife and flipped up the can opener gadged and saved the day. I liked that!
My camping memories are happy memories~