Once upon a time, forty-two years ago, two wide-eyed baby boomers loaded up their ’64 VW camper with one black lab, one wooden canoe (attached with bungee cords), one bottle of Dr. Bronner’s All Purpose Soap, five gallons of trail mix, and two fishing poles and left L.A. heading for Canada. No, they weren’t draft dodgers, although the Vietnam War was in full swing, just a couple of kids needing to escape the city looking for adventure and whatever came their way.
First stop, Oregon, to sit in a friend’s wood-stoked redwood sauna, a welcome luxury after many hours on the road straining uphill followed by a dotted line of ”real” cars with scowling drivers waiting for the passing lane.
We crossed the border listening to Cat Stevens. The warm sun streamed through the split windshield. Views of snowy mountain peaks, pine trees, blue skies (seen through a filter of dead bugs) filled our eyes. Yes, this is what we came for. Even our dog seemed content, her body hogging most of the bench seat. This was home.
Setting up camp along the bank of a remote lake we unleashed the canoe to discover a golf ball sized-hole smack in the center of the canoe bottom. The bungee cords had worn straight through. Being ingenious, like most RVers are, we set to work patching it with the only things we had-candle wax and electrical tape. It worked like a charm. So well we never repaired it any other way. Lucky for us the lakes were cold so the wax hardened quickly, and lucky for us they were full of fish! Life was simple and soul satisfying. There is nothing like reeling in a five pound trout standing buck-naked in a mountain stream. (Remember, this was the sixties and it was a very remote place).
Our journey continued for three blissful months through British Columbia, Glacier National Park, Montana and Idaho. We stretched every dollar until we wore them out. It was time to head home.
We made it to Crater Lake. Chugging along the edge of an extinct volcano we sputtered to a stop. Our VW was as broke as we were. Without the luxury of cell phones and credit cards we did what we had to. A few push starts- running along side the van, doors flung open, one hand on the steering wheel, the other pushing until the clutch popped, jumping in hoping our feet were in sync with the tires- got us to Grandpa’s farm. We were young and strong and there were just enough downhill slopes to help.
Fast forward forty-two years- our RV is bigger, newer. We have cell phones and credit cards. We use AAA maps and prefer national parks to remote lakes. We can call for a tow instead of push-starting. But the feelings of freedom and excitement that begin every trip, and the anticipation of what lies ahead, keeps us going and keeps us young at heart.
Submitted by Vickie Broussard of Placerville, CA as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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