It’s a tradition. Sometime late in May means a big camping trip to kick off the camping season. I did it as a kid and still cherish those memories. Now I do it with my own family and these are precious memories in the making.
I can’t tell you who looks forward to these camping trips more. Is it my son who discovered this year that it is A-OK to cover himself head to toe in dirt? Is it my daughter who loves the social aspect? Neighbors? Helllloooo! Is it my husband who carefully sets up the camper, the awning, and all the outdoor necessities (shade, chairs, tables, hammock, lighting, frisbee golf course, etc.)? Or is it mama who sets the interior like home with all the amenities, a bowl of fruit, a bowl of candy…and a cold beverage? The fresh air, the smell of pine, the lack of cell service, the fact that somehow food actually tastes better when camping. All these things contribute to the appeal of camping for us.
Although we’ve been camping in a beloved area just beyond the New Mexico border for the last several years, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my childhood when my parents would take me and my sister camping in the White Mountains right outside our hometown. We didn’t have to go far to enjoy their beauty. During the summer we would camp with my aunts, uncles and cousins for weeks at the Black River, Big Lake, South Fork or off some random forest road. Some of my favorite memories were in that forest that we call home.
Taking walks with my cousins – We told our parents we saw a black bear. Did we actually see a black bear? I’ve convinced myself we did.
Playing in the Black River and making friends every summer.
Charging a toll for people to cross the cattle guard.
My dad sneaking up behind me and my cousin and using his elk bugle. (My short life flashing before my eyes as I envisioned being stomped by the angry elk bugling behind us).
Sitting out in a field in a hollow tree stump with my aunt and a pair of binoculars watching the elk wander in for the evening…about three feet away!
My five year old sister trying to catch a squirrel from her camp chair with a rope.
Playing an endless amount of Skip-Bo and other card games.
Sitting on my dad’s lap and “learning to drive” his truck on those dusty forest roads.
Going for a Sunday drive to look for animals.
Tent camping over Memorial Day weekend when the wind and cold was so harsh we drove into Alpine for dinner. We woke up the next morning to snow on the ground and stayed long enough to brew coffee and hot chocolate and pack up.
Yes, some of my favorite memories were in that forest that we call home. The forest that is now being charred by the Wallow Fire. I can’t help but imagine what the landscape will look like after this fire has done its damage, and that thought hurts. And so does the realization that our children will not know the beauty of that forest like we had the privilege to know it.
A sincere thank you to the thousands of firefighters who are working night and day to protect the forest, the homes, the businesses, the people, the memories.