Why I love Camping!

by on May 14, 2010

High Mountain Meadow

Camping… the very word makes me swoon. I love the anticipation, the preparation and the execution of camping. From picking a place to go, to making a list of all the things we need, to calling friends to see if they want to go on an adventure with us, all add up to a very enjoyable ride.

We used to go on 4 to 5 trips per year. Always with friends, kids and dogs, to some of the most beautiful spots in Northern California. It was a blast. Lately I’ve been pretty busy with other responsibilities but I’m getting that itch again and think it’s time to plan a few for this summer.

I would think of an area that I would like to explore and then I would get out Tom Steinstra’s book on all the Campgrounds in California. I’d look for campgrounds he rated at least 7 or 8, preferably a 10, and then pick a weekend. Next would be calling all out friends to let them know we were planning a trip, where to, which weekend and did they want to go. Things definitely started to come together fast. This was usually 2-3 months before the actual trip.

Next I would think about food. What we would do is have meal assignments. If we had enough people we would have 2 families do dinner on Friday night, 2 families did breakfast on Saturday morning, 2 families did dinner on Saturday night and 2 families did breakfast on Sunday morning. I always did coffee every morning as invariably I was the first one up.

High Mountain Lake-Lassen

If I needed to make reservations, I would take care of this and we would always go up early. Usually Weds. or Thurs. at the latest. I wanted to scope out the best campsites and make sure we were set-up properly. Then we would post a notice on the board at the campsite letting our friends know where we were. Hate to say it, but this was before the age of cell phones. Now, I guess I would just call them and say we are in campsite 22 and 23 or some such thing.

What to eat, what to eat? This is always a big decision for me as I love to cook and all of us would try to impress each other with the tasty treats we would make each night. We have had three kinds of kabobs, beef stroganoff and much, much more. All of it so yummy that just thinking of it makes my tummy rumble.

Once I had Friday night’s dinner planned I would call the other family that was cooking with me Friday night and we would plan our shopping list. Then it was time to make sure all the camping gear was together and that I was not forgetting anything.

The anticipation was palpable. Only three weeks away, then 2 and finally 1. Emotions would run high the day we were scheduled to leave. Tom would get all of his gear together the night before. He’d make sure all the gear was packed and ready to go. I’d wait ’til the last minute and throw a few things together. Finally it was the day we were supposed to leave. I’d be taking my team finishing whatever I was doing, Tom would be trying to push me out the door. I remember more than one argument about my waiting until the last moment. Ah, it was all part of the process.

Now we are on our way. I love to drive so Tom would usually start the trek and I would relax then about 1-2 hours in to the drive we would stop, get some gas, maybe some water and trade places. It was a blast to be heading somewhere we had never been before. I could tell you many stories but will save those for another day. It’s funny the sense of urgency that I would feel as we made our way across the center of California, through the scrub and chaparral. We could see the mountains but they seemed so far away. Then we would start the climb into the mountains, the air would change and the smell of pine would greet us. We’d roll the windows down and check the temperature of the air. Ah, bliss! This is what we had been waiting for.

McGhee Creek near Mammoth

We arrive at our destination, locate the perfect camping spot, sometimes with more than a little debate. The next challenge was where to put the tent. Finally, everything would be arranged just so and we were ready to relax. Or, maybe not. Let’s explore. Let’s check out the river nearby or put up the hammock and maybe play some cards. So much to do.

Dinner, dishes, cards, campfire or star gazing, then time for bed. My favorite time was fast approaching. Morning, quiet. I’d slip out of bed, put on some extra clothing (because it’s definitely chilly up in the high Sierras) and quietly make my way out of the tent, hopefully without disturbing Tom and Heather.

Gather some sticks and twigs to get that fire going again. Ah, it smells so good. The birds are chirping, the squirrels are cavorting and it’s time for the first cup of coffee and a chance to read a book without any interruptions. Water boiling, coffee ready, the smell is intoxicating. Grab the book, the graham crackers and my favorite chair and position it just right next to my rip roaring fire. Oh my goodness, this is HEAVEN!

An hour or so later Heather would curl up in the sleeping bag with Tom and enjoy a few more minutes in the tent and then I would hear the zipper of the tent and she would stick her head out and say hello. Time to explore and then friends would arrive and dinner would be made and we’d love and share stories around the campfire that night. The next day I would be the first one up again and go through the ritual only it would include one of my good friends waking up to chat with me and a few of the boys coming out to listen to us and play with the fire. Different but very enjoyable.

Sunday or Monday would come way to soon and then it was the last communal breakfast and the clean-up that no one enjoyed but we all had to confront. Finally we were homeward bound with a treasure chest full of memories of love and laughter amidst the High Sierras!

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