A Lifetime of Road Tripping And Camping

I have been going camping and enjoying outdoor life since I was a child. Not because I was raised by wolves, ha ha, no, I had normal parents. To my great advantage, they enjoyed getting out into the environment when the work day ended and weather permitted. We often drove to the swimming hole after my dad got home from work. We had riverside picnics with hotdogs and corn on the cob cooked over a fire. We tented, tent trailer, and eventually my dad bought a small used pull trailer. As near as I recall it was 8′ X 12′ with no indoor plumbing but we happily crammed 2 adults and 5 kids into it many times. We sure put on some miles.

Every year, as soon as the snow melted and the weather turned warm in northern Alberta, our family began looking forward to camping season. Friday nights we would load up and drive the hour it took to get to Twin Lakes Provincial campground where we spent many summer weekends.

The air was scented with spruce and pine, birds sang, we even saw the occasional moose swimming in the lake and joked that they were probably in there to avoid the mosquitos. The roads were dirt, it didn’t have street lamps or a playground. There were no heated bathrooms with running water or flush toilets, no electricity and no one gave any thought to plugging in an RV. There was a camp house in the center of the park that featured an indoor wood stove which only got used if it rained and the free woodpile was always stocked. The only real convenience in the park was a hand-operated water pump that usually needed priming with lake water before it would work and the nearest phone was back in town.

Clockwise from the top left.Me, my sister, my youngest brother, mom holding a fellow
camper. His sister standing beside mom.

  None of that mattered because what it often also had was other families with kids to play with. Those weekends went by filled with the giggles and squeals of children running and having fun.

It’s where I learned to spot the Big Dipper, build a good fire and start it with one match, how to make a whistle out of a poplar twig using just a pocket knife and where my dad taught me how to troll for Rainbow Trout. At night I fell asleep to the sounds of loons calling and the adults visiting quietly around the fire. Okay, not always quietly but it was still soothing.

As I got older I helped my mom mix Kool Aid and mind the younger kids while they roasted hot dogs and learned the best way to toast a marshmallow. I carved my initials in the   table and explored the bush around the lake searching for treasures like frogs, dragonflies and pretty rocks.  Rain or shine, there was always an adventure waiting to be found.

Me with my sister and brothers in the Rocky Mountains.

Our annual summer vacation meant 2 weeks of driving and camping. All 7 of us would pile into the station wagon with suitcases full of what we deemed essentials for the trip. Every summer when the tail end of the car dropped under the weight of it all, Dad would give us the same shocking news.” You kids packed too much, you don’t need all that stuff.”  We would reluctantly go through our bags and leave some things behind. He was always right, we never missed any of the items we unpacked.

We drove through the narrow passes of the Rocky Mountains, drank crystal clear water from mountain streams and ate fresh picked orchard fruit in the Okanagan valley. We swam in lakes, rode the gondola up and down the mountains and slept in the Banff/Jasper National Park. We saw the old gold mines and climbed on giant rocks in Yellowknife, wandered the beaches of British Columbia and swam in the Pacific Ocean. The memory of those sights, sounds, and adventures have stayed with me into adulthood and middle age. Is it any wonder that travel and camping are in my blood?

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