I apologize in advance to anyone who is offended by this photo. It was sent to me on email by a friend under the title: A Short Safari Story. I couldn't help but laugh and thought maybe some of you would, too.
Although I used to love camping, I always camped at the more civilized facilities that had amenities such as restrooms with johns that flushed, hot and and cold water showers, and occasionally even mini laundramats. I know, I know: some would say that's not camping, but we did sleep on the ground in sleeping bags in a tent and cook our meals over an open fire.
My first camping experience was of necessity: we had just moved back to Maine and my (first) husband needed 9 more credit hours to complete his master's degree. The University of Maine would not accept more than 12 credits in transfer, so he decided to go back to Western New England College in Massachusetts to finish his degree. At the time, we had one car and a six-month-old baby. I didn't want to stay in Maine with no car and a six month old in a town where I knew no one, and we couldn't afford to rent an apartment for six weeks and still make our house payment in Maine, so we decided to camp for that period of time.
Now, we're talking about two people who have never camped in their lives. We bought a tent, sleeping bags, a Coleman stove, an outdoor extension cord, and electric heater (gotta' make sure that baby stays warm!) an electric frying pan, and whatever other paraphernalia we thought might be needed, and we made the trek, with baby in tow, to a campground in Connecticut about 15 miles from the Western New England College campus. (The name of the place just came back to me: Stafford Springs Campground. I don't know if it's still there!) We had a car bed for the baby, which was the 1970's version of today's "pack 'n play."
On our first day, the sky clouded up as we were setting up our 12' x 14' tent and our 14' x 14' tarp, which gave us a place under cover for the picnic table. Mother Nature was kind enough to allow us the time to get the car unpacked, our sleeping bags and car bed into the tent, and the coolers under the picnic table before she let loose. The rain begain to fall, and fall it did, for ten straight days! We had to dig a trench around the tent in an attempt to keep the water from getting under it, for we were getting a sloshing sensation through the tent floor with every step taken. Thank God the tent didn't leak! We had to buy plastic curtains to hang from the sides of the tarp so we could eat at our picnic table without getting soaked. Of course, we weren't so lucky when nature would call, and we would have to make the dash to the restroom facilities!
After that first ten days, we had pretty decent weather, and the baby and I had a great time. I learned to cook many one-dish meals in that electric fry pan during bad weather, and we made use of the Coleman stove and the fireplace. The campground had a small pond and sandy beach, and I thought it a grand adventure. Unfortunately, my husband who was attending classes and trying to do his homework in the tent, didn't find the adventure that grand; he refused to go camping ever again! A year later, my second son was born, and the boys and I went camping many times including a three-week stretch with a babysitter along, while I took classes toward my masters'.
To this day, my sons still go camping, now with their own families. I confess that since at this age my bladder can no longer make it through the night without having to "use the facilities," I don't go anymore; but I still have lots of great memories of those times!