“I take thee, camping, as my lawfully wedded hobby. For richer, or poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and until heavy rains do us part.”
Yes, some of the best days of our lives involved camping, as well as some days you’d like to forget. This will begin a series on some of those memorable days gone by.
Nancy and I decided that camping might be a fun family activity soon after we married. One day, with Baby Angelin, in our arms, we went to Sears and bought a tent, a two-person sleeping bag, a Coleman stove and a Coleman lantern. Naturally, we charged it to Sears, the only credit we had at the time. We paid on that tent purchase and other early Sears charges for 40 years after we were married.
Our new camping shelter was advertised as a 7-man tent. Maybe 7 pigmies, but not 7 adults. Once set up, our tent would comfortably sleep two adults, and maybe two children under 12, or a playpen and no kids under 12. The tent was made of a heavy canvas and was easily portable – if you had two mules. Still, it would do for us in the early going.
Soon after our purchase, we went camping with our good friends, Pam and Ray Pruitt. We chose a primitive campground at Smith Mountain Lake for some unknown reason. We were late arriving and had to prowl through this mountainside campground after dark with a flashlight, looking for Pam and Ray and calling out their names. We finally found their site, after waking half the campers. If we slept at all that night, with Angelin crawling over and around us and exploring every inch of our 7-man rural abode, it wasn’t much.
The next morning, I learned to eat medium rare bacon that had been sauteed on our new Coleman stove. We also ate the few eggs that were not been permanently stuck to the bottom of an aluminum frying pan. The cantaloupe was good, though. We also discovered on that first camping trip that chiggers are especially attracted to 7-man tents and Coleman stoves. It would be a while before we camped again.