Ahhh….. The family camping trip. Memories of large fires, burnt burgers, snuggly Coleman sleeping bags, biting insects, and wild fishing tales, nothing brings a family together like a camping trip. Never lacking in excitement and always guaranteed fun, my family’s camping trips were always a comedy of errors.
I remember one particular trip where we all loaded up into my Dad’s old Dodge pickup and headed out to Fossil, Oregon for a grand adventure. My Dad drove with my two sisters and mom in the cab. I was stuck back in the bed of the truck with the dog. It was only a three hour trip, but it felt like eternity! Being young and dumb, I sat cross-legged with my back against the cab. This created a perfect sun burn on the insides of my leg!
What a great way to start a week of camping!
When we got to the camp site Dad and I were tasked with setting up the old Coleman tent. My Dad was fiercely loyal to Coleman. All of our gear was from them. Our camp site could have been used as an advertisement for Coleman! Although, they would have had to edit out the squirrely looking boy with the uneven sunburn on his legs.
That tent was older than I was and still functioned perfectly…. once you got it up. Dad and I worked feverishly, racing the setting sun, to connect all of the aluminum poles, pound the stakes, and raise the tent. I’m sure I looked funny as I hobbled around, trying to keep the insides of my legs from touching anything! I would have done anything for one of the modern Coleman tents that set up in a matter of minutes!
After the tent was set up, we let the girls get settled in as Dad and I got the camp fire going and the lantern lit. Dad always lit the lantern. It was one of those large Coleman propane deals that used cloth mantles. I always lit the mantles on fire. This is another great modern improvement to camping. Have you seen the new LED lanterns? They are bright, last forever, and almost never catch on fire!
About the time I got a roaring bonfire going, we heard viscous screams coming from the tent. A wasp had flown in and stung my oldest sister. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, but after some speedy first aid (compliments of our Coleman first aid kit, of course) it settled down to some quiet whimpering.
Night had fallen by this time, so Dad handed out the flash lights. This was normally my youngest sisters’ favorite time. She was only four or five and had her own pink flash light! This was before the long lasting LED flashlights of today. This was the only time she was allowed to play with a flash light, and the only time my parents could afford to feed it batteries. Unfortunately, she did not come when called.
Apparently, in the wasp fiasco she had wandered off. We hastily split up. Yelling for her, my Mom ran around waving her flashlight around like she was trying to signal a rescue plane. We found my sister quickly. She had fallen down an embankment into a creek. Muddy, but happy to be found, she was rescued from what is now known as “The Pit” and was sat in front of the now dying fire to dry off.
As we waited for my Dad to cook some burgers on his Coleman grill, my siblings and I sat around the fire nursing our wounds and daydreaming about the adventures we would have tomorrow. Days like that last a lifetime in memories. Nothing brings a family together like a camping trip.