When Greg and I were undergraduates, we went on our first camping trip together. We tent-camped around the eastern Sierra mountains and Death Valley. The most memorable thing about that trip was that Greg forgot to pack the tent and had to take my step-dad (a backpacker) aside when we stopped at their house and ask to borrow his tent. It was a backpacking tent – a tiny bright orange puptent. Oh well, we were young and in love and who needs room anyway! But, it set a tone for us.
We bought our first RV when we were in graduate school. We envisioned a life of taking our children and our dog camping. Setting up in one place for a week and spending time exploring all there is to know about that one area. Taking long rambling treks across various states and returning after a month to our home.
We did camp a fair amount in our 5th Wheel trailer with our 4×4 pickup truck. We thought that would be the way to go for us. And, it was when it was just us. However, the reality of driving for 8 hours across the state (slowly because you are towing a trailer) with two small children and a labrador directly behind you wasn’t what we’d really hoped for. Changes had to be made.
And they were, slowly, over time. First of all, our children got bigger. That seemed to happen without any planning on our part. Secondly, we, again, slowly, over time, replaced the labradors with Ruby the Rat Terrier. We never could have envisioned that small, compact, fiesty, and loving would turn out to be the best camping dog ever. And, we replaced the truck and 5th wheel with our vintage motorhome and a small SUV to tow behind it.
And, we have struck camping gold. This combination works. Traveling 8 hours across the state to end up in our destination is part of the fun now. The kids love camping in the motorhome and the flexibility of lounging on the back bed area with their books, DSes, or simply staring out the window or coming up and sitting in the front seat with us and watching the world go by and talking about what we see, big plans, concerns from school, or what that bird was that just flew overhead. The dog is a camper extraordinaire. She loves the motorhome, loves traveling, sticks around even if the door is left open, comes when called even while on the trail of some horrid little rodent (most of the time) and generally is worth her weight in gold (12 lbs, by the way). And, for us, each trip has a veneer of goals achieved. we can look back at those young campers with big dreams and know that we are living their dreams. Oh sure, we are older, fatter, and more staid than we envisioned being but we are out camping with our kids and our dog and loving every minute of it.
Here is where we camping in Sequoia National Forest. This is the site that we hoped against hope we would get.
Here is the view (part of it) that we enjoyed while we were camping there.
You’d like to think that I played with the color and made it more beautiful than it is. And, I did boost the color a little in iPhoto. But, it doesn’t come close to capturing the beauty of this area. Some areas are larger than life and the Sierra Nevada mountains are among them.
We camped at 7,600 feet. It was so beautiful. The air is thin and the altitude gets to you. The sun is so intense at that altitude. I had headaches and felt queasy for the first few days. We could see mountains that were 11,000+ feet from our site (only on clear days). We experienced all the wonders of the Sierra summer weather from 40F nights to 80F days and sun that burned in less than an hour to pouring, bone-numbing rain. We celebrated Father’s Day which seemed so appropriate since Greg is the reason we are campers and his father was the one who gave him the love of camping. We explored and visited new sites and old, familiar sites. We challenged our fears and sometimes conquered them and sometimes surrendered to them. We spent time together and alone. We read, played games, and talked. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes on our itty-bitty DVD player all curled up in bed together. We looked at birds and animals in new ways. We fulfilled that dream that Greg and I had many years ago when we camped together in a little orange pup tent by the side of a road in Nevada.
And, we’re glad to be home.