Sunday, July 19, 2015

Learn by camping

My family camped when I was a kid. We had a fold-down camper - not one of those fancy pop-ups like we have now, with a roof and all, but basically a big ol' tent covering a trailer base and a couple of bed extensions.

You had to plan ahead for your camp outs back then. The canvas tent top was barely water-resistant, and certainly not waterproof, especially if you touched it during a rain event. To achieve waterproofing, it was necessary to paint the entire canvas with a waterproofing substance, AND give it ample time to dry before allowing rain to fall upon it. When I was about nine, my parents traded up to a new camper shortly before we were planning to go camping, and there was not time to waterproof the tent. No worries! It was July, it was Kansas, and it was hot as a pistol.

You know where this is going, right?

At two o'clock in the morning, I woke up, sweltering, to find Mom covering the bed, and me, with a plastic drop cloth. A storm had blown in out of nowhere, and she and Dad were doing the best they could to keep things dry.

This was also the first trip when I have a distinct memory of campsite shower houses. This particular spot pumped in lake water, which allowed them to have constantly running showers - cold showers. And we took those cold showers, and enjoyed them, after the initial shock. As one of my friends says, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

Now, Knightstar and I have a modern pop-up camper with a roof, leakproof canvas, electric lights and refrigerator, and a gas stove. Still, when we took it out for the first time last week, we had to be prepared to be unprepared. Is it raining when you arrive? Expect to spend a lot of time sitting in the car, and dash out to do a few things whenever the  rain slacks off. No electric sites available? We travel with a battery and a small solar system. The showers cost 25 cents for every minute and a half, so open your soap dish and squeeze out some shampoo before you drop the coins in the slot.

And always, always, expect the unexpected.