Today was fun with my sisters and mom. I know family gatherings can be scary, but this was really nice. We ate a fabulous meal prepared by Liz. She made a combo of family favorites like Greek salad and spinach pie, in addition to the old standards of turkey and mashed potatoes. I’m getting hungry writing about it.
We took the RV so the dogs would be comfortable. God forbid they stay home locked up for eight hours. I guess we forgot that we did it to them daily for years while we worked. Oh well. Guilt.
Traffic was horrible. We wondered if we weren’t back in NJ. Actually, it wasn’t that bad but after living in the sticks for six months, one or two cars on the road can be frightening. We were driving down I 96 with the radio on, and our favorite Easter song came on; Stairway to Heaven.
We were transported back to 1972. Jim, home from Vietnam just a few short months, decided we should get a van. A big, empty box of a van it was. Someone either gave us or we bought a used bench seat. Jim paneled the inside of the van with dark paneling. I made curtains that were strung on strings for privacy. We began our camping days then.
Andy was just a toddler, but he loved the van! The minute we started getting the camping gear out, loading up the van, he would get so excited. (Odd that as an adult, he always prefers luxury hotels. I wonder if too much exposure to the Coleman stove, Porta Pottie lifestyle is responsible. Jeni hated camping from birth, but that is another blog post.)
We wanted the experience of taking vacations for our kids, and camping was the only thing we could afford. When we were kids, my parents took us on vacations all the time. They were the long weekend kind of trips that I love to this day. You weren’t gone so long that you became homesick, but just long enough to have a reprieve from the work week. I knew as a youngster that it was a lot of work for my mother. She had to pack up for four kids, my father and herself, and food for whoever else might be tagging along. I”ll have to ask her if she enjoyed it.
I loved planning our trips. Jim would call AAA and get our Trip Tick, (remember those?) and plan all the stops. I would start getting our clothes ready a week in advance. We had our eight track player with a selection of tapes, our coolers full of food, even a canopy in case of rain. We never let a little rain spoil our trip!
When Jeni came along, we stopped sleeping in the van and got a tent. Even in her little camper crib, she was miserable. Camping came to halt then. When we took trips, we stayed in motels. But when she got a little older, she agreed to try camping again. We bought a pop up camper. That was almost worse than the van. You couldn’t just hop in the car and go. The thing had to be ‘hooked up’ properly to the car. I was almost always afraid it would come off and slam into the people behind us. Confidentially, I hated the pop up. Thankfully, that phase only lasted a year.
Last summer, we got the RV so that we would have someplace to live when our house was on the market for a year. I didn’t think I would be emotionally able to have it ready to show for that length of time. We bought the RV thinking we could stay in it and travel around to see our kids while our house languished on the market. Then, the house sold in three weeks, so we have this great camper now. Plans of mice and men……
Today when that song came on the radio, I thought how little we have changed. Our accommodations are much nicer, we have a real refrigerator, air conditioning, satellite TV, and a bathroom. But the truth is, we are still people from the 70’s. I wouldn’t call us hippies exactly, although my husband was starting to look like one until he got his hair cut. Now we have four-legged children, instead of two-legged. We have come full circle.