Friday, June 22, 2012

Camping it Up, Camping it Down.

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Our family went on a lot of camping vacations while I was growing up. What fascinated me, looking back, was how gradually "roughing it" progressed in the reverse direction. When I was a pre-schooler, it was exclusively canvas tents, Coleman lanterns, and open campfires. By the time my brother and I were teens, it was plush getaway cabins in Bass Lake or Huntington Lake, owned by various friends and business partners of my Dad's.

In the interim our summers were frequently spent in the rustic wooden cabins in Camp Fresno near Dinkey Creek. These were a cut above the canvas tents and a cut below the plush getaway cabins.

I never asked but I'd say in retrospect that Mom's influence factored heavily into the steady "upgrading." Given her druthers, Mom preferred going to the small cottage owned by our friends the Assids as she was more of a fan of the ocean than of the mountains. She was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama's sole seaport. Her preferences ran in more of an urban direction. She thought I looked "sloppy" in blue jeans (which is all I wear anymore).

And the canvas tent Dad would pitch in our backyard during the parts of summer when we stayed home was a major source of embarrassment to her. Our backyard at our corner house was fenceless and she lived in perpetual dread of people we would never meet driving up and down the street and seeing it.

Who knows, it must be that rebellious component in me that favored the basics. I still think of all the sleeping bags I've owned over the years as great companions. Whether we utilized them in our station wagon or our backyard (when the tent wasn't up) with all the stars supervising us, we saw that as the way to live.

In my 20s I especially loved going to our beloved Yosemite and securing a spot at the walk-in campground where we would pay the ranger a quarter per diem to roll out our bags and sleep alfresco. In my 40s it was the year-round canvas cabins in Yosemite's Curry Village.

That doesn't mean that I was above making compromises. When I got hungry I didn't bother with an open barbecue pit. I'd simply put on my hiking boots and and walk over to the Village to procure a cheeseburger, or a box of Wheat Thins.

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Anonymous said...

Great story Guy! I can so relate! For me now "roughing it" means the hotel doesn't have a lounge downstairs! LOL

Tim Armstrong said...

This reminds me of growing up in California and camping everywhere from Lake Cachuma to Felton north of Santa Cruz. My mom also preferred cabins, but that didn't keep my brother and I from pitching a tent anyway. I yearn for those days again! Great story, thanks.