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Thursday, 25 July 2013

The First Camping Trip

By Marcy Belson

We had been married a few years. Our vacation time was spent driving to Los Angeles and staying with my in-laws and enjoying the sights in the area. With two small children, that was about the only vacation we could afford.

But the time came when we decided we could afford a used trailer and we found one in the San Diego newspaper.

Used, but in clean shape, it was perhaps 20 feet in length. The small bath with tiny shower and a closet filled the rear area. The sink and cooking area was across from a couch that opened up into a uncomfortable double bed with a indentation right down the middle.

At the front near the door was a table with padded bench seating which also made into a small bed, large enough for our girls to sleep.

Neither of us had ever driven a car with a trailer attached. It was a learning experience.

We decided we would drive from southern California to Colorado where my husband had lived as a child. Our destination was Monte Vista, altitude, 7900 feet.

Our first overnight was spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We had a book with addresses of parks - there weren't so many in 1962. We found the park, paid the fee and looked for our camping spot. It was time to back the car and trailer into the space.

First try, Gordon had it in place and we were doing the usual tasks of unhooking the trailer from the car when the manager came into view. She informed us that two tires were on the grass and that was unacceptable.

Gordon told her she was lucky we didn't have all four tires on the grass as he had never backed a vehicle and trailer before and didn't think he could do any better than what he had done. She gave up and left.

As we drove through Colorado, we planned a visit to the Royal Gorge. We entered the big parking lot in the early morning, not too many cars to deal with, no problem.

After we had enjoyed the view, had an ice cream and returned to our car, the problem was this: The parking lot had filled up. We were surrounded by cars. There was a one way road out of the area.

After some consideration, we decided there was no way for us to move 40 feet of car and trailer without going the wrong way on the one way road. Our solution was for me to run in front of the car waving off other cars to the side of the road, so we could speed out of the predicament.

With a few angry comments from other drivers and a few laughs, we did exactly that. I see the moment in my mind's eye, me running with arms waving madly and Gordon crunched over the steering wheel hoping there wouldn't be another trailer on that road.

We made it to our destination, visited with hubby's childhood friends, took a tour of his home. Nice people to allow us to enter without knowing us.

Then it happened. Gordon had hives. Looking back, we think he had hives from the terrible stress of moving that Lucy and Desi trailer down the highway.

Nothing to be done but to go to the emergency room at the local hospital, as we didn't know what was wrong. As they moved him into a private cubicle, I felt the room go dark.

A nurse had me lower my head and then she walked me outside. She explained that the altitude and my anxiety were probably causing me to have the symptoms.

Now, I was really panicking, as I realized if something was quite wrong with Gordon and I couldn't deal with the car and trailer, what would we do? And who would watch our small children, so far from home and family?

The doctor gave Gordon a shot, the hives disappeared and we made ready for our return trip home.

We spent a few days in Buena Vista, parked above the Arkansas River. Again, Gordon had backed into our space and the rear end of the trailer was hanging over the edge of the bluff with the river below. Every time I entered the bathroom area, I held my breath wondering if my weight would tip the little trailer over the cliff and into the river.

Still in the high country of Colorado, we pulled into a roadside area to have our lunch at a picnic table. As we sat there, a man from another car parked nearby walked over and spoke. He asked Gordon if he had been in the Army and stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Gordon answered yes and it seems they were in the same barracks, five years earlier. Small world, isn't it?

We had many trips in the little Nomad trailer - weeks at the beach in the summer, trips to Mexico with friends, time spent in the mountains, all good but none as exciting as the first trip to Colorado.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Loved your adventure..as a city girl, I certainly was anxious about the whole saga..in l970, 3 kids, large dog, we bought a VW bus, which quickly got traded for a VW camper with a tent as an added attraction..we just loved the whole thing..my husband was a "drive anything guy from Vermont>" We didn't exactly envy the giant campers at all the parks we went to, but my kids sure did..Camping people are very friendly, but not overly so, so I never got to get a peek in the fancy rigs, etc..but just watching them unhook, empty various portals, etc..while we sat in our little camper all relaxed and compact..I was glad not to be worried about winds and making fast getaways in case of forest fires, etc..great memories for me and the kids I must say..thanks for sharing the other side of camping..

I enjoyed your story. I could almost see myself doing that to help my husband. We had similar adventures.

Funny. It's the small things that kids remember. I would be very curious as to their thoughts about this.

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