By Doris Schroeder
When John and I had our family of two to raise, money was not plentiful and we had to take short mini vacations in order to get away from the everyday stress of daily living. Only the way we could best afford it, was to take a tent, our camp stove, sleeping bags and some groceries to the lake, usually we went to Kanopolis.
We would drive around the camp ground until we found a place to set up our humble abode. We’d then get out and put up our dark green tent, hunt around for some twigs and fire wood, pull up a picnic table, and we’d have our little home arranged.
I would assemble our cooking stuff on one end of the picnic table and make sure it was covered and there were no ants. We’d usually have a skillet along but sometimes we just roasted wieners on old clothes hangers. The ice chest kept our perishables nice and cold and our soda pop ready for some instant refreshment.
The kids and I would check out the rest rooms in the middle of the camp ground and make sure we knew where it was and what facilities we could count on. Hubby would go and set his fishing lines in the water and Judy and I would usually take a little hike.
When we first had our black poodle, Curley, he would love the hiking also. The first time we took him, he thought he was in paradise. Somehow, he got loose from his leash and he spiraled up in the air, chasing butterflies. Judy and I ran after him with all the speed we could muster but to no avail. Our son John heard the ruckus and soon joined in the chase. Finally Curley slowed down a little and John took a nose dive and caught him.
You can be sure we checked his leash more closely next time but we all enjoyed the adventure.
One time we brought the wrong tent poles and so our little canvas abode resembled an old gray mare. It looked so funny, we all collapsed on the ground laughing. That way we didn’t have to blame anyone for the mistake and we got all the cobwebs shaken out. We did end up sleeping in the van, however, but that wasn’t any better or worse than the tent would have been.
Morning by the lake was a soft, beautiful tranquil time. As the beautiful colors of the day would peek over the trees, the earth glistened in a sparkly, diamond like shine. The birds would add their melody to the coming of the day, and one couldn’t help but feel the Lord’s presence on our being.
There was something special about frying eggs and bacon on the camp stove in the early morning hours. The songs of the birds punctuated the quiet air and the rustling leaves on the trees gave a happy cadence to our day. As the sun came up through the morning mist, vibrant colors painted the sky. If you didn’t feel a soft serenity for the day, you were beyond help.
Hubby, of course, would have gotten up early to check his lines and I would have to send one of the kids to get him to come in.
Since we did seem to like camping to some extent, we finally bought a new little camper a few years later that we thought was really neat. It had a double bed on one end, a single on top and the table and benches also made into a bed. It had a cabinet with a little sink, a stove, and a little refrigerator.
The first time we took it out was in April and we went to Kanopolis. It turned very cold and I had three blankets along and I must say, that was not enough.
One time we took it to Cheney and as usual for Kansas, it stormed that evening. John had put some fish lines out and he and our son went out to get them in. John D. got hit in the head with a sinker. When they came back in, we put some medication on his forehead and sat around the table playing Monopoly while the storm howled around our camper, rocking it back and forth. I don’t know how, but we felt safe and secure in our little home on wheels.
Sometimes we went out with some other friends who also had campers
The fun part was to sit outside in the evening on our lawn chairs as we snacked on some pies that Judy and I had baked. The kids would try to catch lightning bugs that flew around like diamonds in the night and put them in quart jars. Other times we would share all our happenings of the day. The fishermen would brag about the fish they had caught and we women just nodded our heads like good wives do.
When we came home late on Saturday night, we’d be quite tan or sun-burned and would arrive at church the next morning with a different colored skin but that was all right, we knew we’d had a good time in God’s beautiful outdoors.
God does tell us that sometimes we are to come apart and rest awhile and that is what we did.
Camping is (was) a wonderful past time…if you can take the heat.
Doris can be reached at [email protected]