All Around The Campfire

So we begin…

Camping…some people hate it and some people love it. My parents took me camping for the first time when I was still a baby. They tent camped with me and eventually with my younger brother. My dad told me a story of a camping trip where we were all practically eaten alive by mosquitos. That was the end of tent camping. He bought a truck with a shell and built a platform bed across one end. He and my mom slept in the truck bed, and my brother and I slept on the platform. That was all well and good for a season, but upgrade fever hit fast. They bought their first motorhome around 1975. I have very vague memories of being tucked in for the night on the dinette bed. A few years later the 1978 Jamboree joined the family. It immediately became our summer home as we explored the west. Even after all this time, I can picture the layout in my head. I remember where I kept my clothes. I remember where I sat when we drove. I remember how I would arrange my bed once the dinette table was collapsed. I remember how I would place my boombox just right, so I could listen to Prince while curling my hair, because a girl has to have priorities. I even remember the layout of the kitchen, which is where my mom taught me to mix a gin & tonic when I was 9, because she was navigating. Not long after I left for college, my parents sold the Jamboree, but I was ruined for life. I’d experienced having a bed, a bathroom, and a kitchen. I was ruined.


My mom and I in front of the 1978 Jamboree (1985ish)

After my husband and I got married and started having kids, we tried tent camping a few times. It was hard. Toddlers are gross little things that eat dirt and bugs. As soon as they are at their filthiest, they want to share a sleeping bag with mommy. Camping was so much work, and by the time we had our youngest child, we didn’t camp at all. We moved to Central Oregon in 2004, and it was time to give camping another try. We bought all the supplies: tent, lanterns, flashlights, coolers, etc. We would go once or twice a year always close enough to home that we didn’t have to worry about a crisis. It started to be fun again. I could camp in a tent and not die!

In 2009 we decided to take our 3 boys and a nephew to Yellowstone National Park. My husband and I packed 4 kids, 4 bikes, and a whole lot of necessities into a Ford Expedition and hit the road.


Loaded to the gills!

That trip was so much fun! We spent too much time in the car. We explored. We bonded. We sat in multiple bison traffic jams. We followed all the park rules like don’t touch the wildlife and don’t go off the boardwalk. And we tent camped.

Setting up the second tent

Setting up one of the tents

We had a great campsite at Bay Bridge with neighbors on one side and neighbors across the road. Behind our site was a huge meadow and path to the lake. I think that all in all we had a pretty nice setup. Sure I had to wash my hair in ice cold water at the dish cleaning station at the bathrooms, but we had plenty of food, beer, and fun.

All set up for the stay

All set up for the stay

Yellowstone was awesome! I loved showing my boys all the places I liked the most from my childhood, especially the mud pots. The mud pots are my all time favorite feature of Yellowstone. Our last morning at Bay Bridge we woke up to rain. We carried clothes to the car in the rain. We carried bedding to the car in the rain. We ate breakfast in the rain. I think it might have been granola bars and no coffee, because it was raining. My least favorite weather is rain. By the time I was taking down the tent, I was feeling angry and aggressive. I think the tent pole snapped because of a manufacturing defect, but my husband swears I snapped it on purpose. Whatever. I was done tent camping. Done, done, done.

I’ve camped in a tent exactly 5 nights since that trip in 2009. One night was a few weeks later, and I’ve gone on a couple of girls only camping trips that involved tents.

After years of needling, begging, bribing, and and RV rental win at a charity auction, I finally convinced my husband that we needed to camp in a little more luxury, and we started our hunt for the perfect motorhome. In 2014 we bought our lovely Lola (2014 Forest River Solera), and camping is now a huge part of our lives.

She may not be the Jamboree of my memories, but I love her anyway!

She may not be the Jamboree of my memories, but I love her anyway!

Those kids in the Yellowstone pictures? They only camp with us under threat of death now. The little one 15 and the older one is 19. 19 goes hammock camping with his friends, and I’m sure he thinks even tents are too glamorous. 15 would rather be with his friends, but we are dragging him (and a friend) to Yellowstone again this summer. Their older brother now has a family of his own, and they tent camp. My daughter mostly tent camps, but last summer she learned the joy of a bed, bathroom, and kitchen, so she is halfway to the dark side.


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