You would think being a Camp Fire Girl when I was a kid would mean I camped a lot. Not so. I think my whole stint with CFGs involved only two camping trips, one which left me with a big tick in the back of my head. On the other trip, my CFG buddy and I decided to rough it by only eating pine nuts we collected. We gave up that bright idea once we smelled the spaghetti. My other memories involved earning merit beads that we sewed on our vests and selling Camp Fire Girl Mints door-to-door. I always wished they were Girl Scout Cookies, but the two organizations never shared goodies.
My dad would have been a totally great camper. He even had all the stuff: a tent, a cook stove and sleeping bags. There was just one problem - my mom. She was/is a lady through and through, never even wore pants the whole time I was growing up and just was not the camping type. They were both from Chicago, but my mom got more of the city in her. I don't think my dad minded too much. I'm sure he gladly gave up the great outdoors for his sweet, lovely, well-dressed wife who was/is Kindness in Heels. Sometimes he would set up the tent in our backyard in Arden Park and cook breakfast for us kids when we woke up from our big adventure.
My family once borrowed a trailer and went down to San Clemente. That was roughing it for my mom because there was a big spider in the trailer when we picked it up. All I remember is that I got a new pair of seersucker pajamas for the trip and that my two brothers got to sleep in the back of the Dodge station wagon. I was jealous, new pjs and all. That was the extent of my camping as a kid.
As a single girl, camping meant bumming along with people who had all the gear. I remember once sleeping in a not-rated-nearly-high-enough sleeping bag in Wyoming. As a rookie camper, I had taken a shower at night and went to sleep with wet hair. It was so cold, I seriously thought, "OK, this is what it's like to die young. They are going to find our frozen bodies here in a few days, mine with icicles on my head." To make matters even worse, all my near death thrashing in the night caused my long wet hair to get tangled in a pile of twigs that my friend's little boy had piled in the tent. When I woke up, lo and behold, everyone else had properly rated sleeping bags or were smart enough to move to the car in the middle of the night. They never taught me to move to the car in Camp Fire Girls.
I sensed things were looking way up when some friends of my husband's family gave us an ice chest as a wedding present. Soon to follow was Augustine, the family VW camper bus that came equipped with a really neat tent that hooked up to the door. And to top it off, or to bottom it out, we were the recipients of the family port-a-potty. Now you may not view a port-a-potty as a proper gift among family or friends, but that thing served us well. We camped all over Northern California with our vintage white camper bus with the funky yellow and blue tent that so discreetly hid the ol' port-a-pot.
|Augustine in Yosemite|
As time went on, that bus seemed to get a little smaller and smaller each time we went. We were getting bigger and bigger, but of course we blamed it on the VW. Our backs would ache in the morning after sleeping on the cushions that were designed to sit on, not sleep on. We decided it was time to upgrade and started looking for a used little trailer. Some absolutely incredibly kind and crazy-generous friends offered to sell us their Casita Travel Trailer for a rock-bottom price. When we went to pick it up, they tore up our check and they gave it to us!!! Gave us a Casita trailer. Five years later this still shocks me. But there it is in our yard in all its Casita cuteness. Not only it is so fun to camp in, it acts like a great overflow guest room when we have lots of company. So from frozen hair tangled with sticks to cozy Casita comfort, this former Camp Fire Girl is now camping in style!
photo credit: texasvwclassic.com