Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tent camping (Part 1)

My earliest recollection of tent camping was in the 1950s when my parents and I went to Estes Park , Colo. Of course it was cold – it was in Colorado , wasn’t it? -- and some of first people we ran across were the Ritzky’s. Harvey , Maxine and Garry ... small world, eh? Garry, like me a class of ’65 grad, much later became my roommate when we both were at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah in the mid 1960s. Anyway, the only problem was that the Ritzky’s forgot their tent. I don’t remember what they did exactly (because it was so many years ago), just that they had forgotten to bring their tent. My mother also slept in the backseat of the car it was so cold.

After the Estes Park adventure, the next time I remember any tent camping came when I was in the Boy Scouts sometime in the 1960s. I mentioned in my Christmas memories blog about how Mike Mattison and I were into the Boy Scouts and our parents bought us all kind of ‘BS’ stuff, then we both unexplainably quit the scouts. Well, this was before we decided to quit. We had gone on a scout trip somewhere south of Heavener. Several of us sat up tents, because I remember Jerry Jack Stewart and Dewayne Bain setting theirs up in a hollow, of sorts. I also remember Dennis West being on the trip. During the night, a tornado roared through and dumped I don’t know how much rain on us. The reason I remember is because Jerry Jack and Dewayne’s tent washed away down that hollow.

The tornado flooded the river close to our campsite and we all had to be rescued the next day by another crew that came down. I remember getting up for breakfast, not knowing what time it was. As it turned out it was the middle of the night, but we didn’t care we still ate breakfast.

Another time I remember also involved Jerry Jack. It would have been in the late 1960s and I was home on leave from the Air Force prior to going to Vietnam . (I went over there in December 1969). We went camping somewhere between Poteau and Wister. It was cold, so cold we almost froze. But we got up the next morning, built a fire and cooked ourselves some breakfast.

A third time also involved Jerry Jack. This time it was the middle of the summer at Roaring River State Park in Missouri . My dad, me, Jerry Jack and Jim Patterson went, so we could all go on to Kansas City and see the Yankees play. I remember Jerry Jack being afraid to spend any of his money (on horseback riding, miniature golf, pinball machines, etc.) before the game, because he wanted to save as much as he could for snacks at the baseball game. One morning, in particular, we got up for breakfast. Dad fixed pancakes and fried some bacon for all of us, but Jerry Jack ate all the bacon before Jim and I even got up. Jerry Jack was a rather large young fellow in those days.

In 1986, my daughter and I went tent camping one night when were in Colorado on a dude ranch. We rode the horses – with a group -- way back up in the Rockies . We slept in a pup tent and, man, was it cold! We had fun, though. Oh, one other time, a friend of mine and our wives went camping at Cedar Lake . Wayne and I were going to show our “knowledge of camping” to Gale and Carol, but we couldn’t even get the lantern lit so we could have light! Needless to say, again we almost froze during the night as we laid their on dirt and rocks.


At January 4, 2009 at 10:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, I'll never forget that trip to Roaring River. Although it wasn't funny at the time, looking back on it, it is really amusing that Jerry Jack ate all the bacon. I'm sure the look on your dad's face was priceless once he realized what had happened.

Concerning the trip to Cedar Lake, I'm sure Carol had a few choice words for Wayne after having to camp out in the cold. - Jim Patterson

At January 4, 2009 at 2:10 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Sounds like you have a whole bunch of happy camping memories, John. My family used to go to Roaring River every summer from about 1956 on. Of course, I was gone by the mid 60s but Mama and Dad still went and met the same bunch of folks each time.

I remember camping on several trips through the American west--sometimes in a tent and sometimes under the stars. I learned how to pour gasoline on a big can full of sand and make a controlled fire for cooking those times we camped near our car.

I. too camped at Estes Park and other places inside Rocky Mountain National Park several times. I had forgotten how cold it could get till I read your blog.

At January 4, 2009 at 2:40 PM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Hey Guys I lived up there by Estes Park for a few years. First I lived in Allenspark just south of Estes Park. Then I lived on about a 50 acre rance just outside of Estes Park. It was on the same road you would take if you were going to Allenspark from Estes Park. "The Wheel Bar" in downtown Estes Park was our favorite hangout. I enjoyed my time up there but I couldn't make any money up there. :)


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