Remember when the bear ate the hot dogs?

Posted July 17, 2013 at 12:00 am

My friend, Jackie Fauth, wrote about not caring for camping. She noted, “I know that my attitude on the subject of camping out is not one shared by everyone, but I’m willing to bet there are a few others out there who do not enjoy the tent brigade.”

I’m sure she’s right; but camping was something I really enjoyed once I was introduced to it.

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Ruth A. Moller

My first experience wasn’t all that great, I’ll admit. The first summer after we were married, my husband decided a camping trip to the Hills was in order. We borrowed a rather ramshackle tent that “draped” rather than stood straight. Quarters were cramped, etc. But I loved getting up and sniffing the pines, picking up rocks and just enjoying the scenery. I could take a draped tent (but not for a long period of time).

A year or so later we bought a “real” tent. It was roomy, and we used it a lot. When my son was about three, we headed for Yellowstone. He had fun, except he wasn’t crazy about cold mornings and outhouses. I remember, as we tripped over folks on the ground in sleeping bags, on our way to an outhouse, Tedd whimpered, “I want to be home in my own little bunk bed!”

When my daughter came along, we took her camping (in the tent) when she was four months old. I bathed her in a pan on the picnic table; she slept in a car bed. All was good. In fact her eye quit mattering (forever) while we were in the Hills, and I saw that as a good omen.

After moving to Minnesota, we “upgraded” to a pop-up Coleman camper. It wasn’t big, but was sufficient, and my husband built wooden containers to hold food, clothing, etc. That little camper made it all the way to Banff, Canada and back, without incident.

A couple of years later we upgraded again, and bought a hard-walled, pop-up Apache camper. It was much bigger, had many more amenities, and still provided the “camping experience.” We logged a lotta miles on that…to Canada several times, all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, the Hills, you name it. My mom even went camping with us once at Bemidji (it hailed). If we had a free weekend, off we’d go. And by then we had a third “little one” to enjoy the great outdoors.

My husband lived in the Apache a month in the Hills before the rest of us moved to Rapid.

Of course once there, it wasn’t so necessary to “travel” to a tourist spot, but we still camped now and again.

Then along came a pull-type upright camper. It was okay, and the new one didn’t have to be cranked up and down.

My thought was, we kept upgrading, but the enjoyment didn’t really upgrade. I thought some of the “super” campers were wimpy…why go to a beautiful spot and sit inside your camper and watch TV?

Perhaps my love of camping has little to do with tents vs. campers, etc. It has to do with the many unforgettable memories: wood smoke…the bear who ate the hot dogs…feeding a squirrel by hand…songs around a campfire…walks along a creek…picking wild raspberries…finding rocks…peace and beauty and wonderful sights.

I may not be quite up to tenting and long walks to the privy by flashlight anymore, but I loved it at the time.

My most recent experience was last Labor Day, when my Black Hawk family rented a cabin at a campground. It had good beds, indoor bathroom, stove and fridge. It wasn’t exactly roughing it; I missed that.

At least I could sniff the pines and smell wood-smoke.

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