Shortly after my husband and I were married in 1969 (and blended our five children into a new family), he began regaling me with wonderful tales of “camping.” Having been a Girl Scout in my younger years, this wasn’t a foreign concept; however, I had trouble picturing myself living in a pup tent and cooking meals for seven people over an open fire. He assured me that camping had come a long way since those days, so we were soon the proud owners of something called a “pop-up.”
I’ll never forget that first outing. It was a typical, humid, Florida, July weekend with temperatures in the upper 90’s. To introduce me to the new wonders of camping, my husband foolishly chose a campground with sandy, non-shady sites that would never have been featured in Highways magazine. I was miserable! I remember asking my boss the following Monday morning, “What do you think about seven people living in a one-room dwelling with no bathroom, no air conditioning and a block of ice to keep food cool?” He said it sounded like a terrible poverty situation. “No,” I replied. “It’s camping!”
But I soldiered on, trying to be a good sport, until one day I discovered the amazing world of motorhomes. We had dropped by a dealership that also sold camping supplies, so while hubby was browsing for some sort of fitting or gadget or one of those things with which men are eternally entranced, I wandered outside. And there it was … a used, 23-foot Lifetime Motorhome. I was in love.
A quick math calculation, an enthusiastic beckoning of my camping buddy to show him my discovery and a flutter of eyelashes later, and we were driving off the lot in our newest acquisition. From that day forward, I’ve been an avid devotee of “camping.”
The quarters were tight, to say the least, but we found a sleeping spot for everyone. A double bed over the driver’s seat pulled down at night to accommodate the two older girls. The dinette made into a bed for the two boys. A banquette sofa in the back slid out into a queen-sized bed for the two adults and the cocker spaniel. And a piece of plywood, cut to size and stored on top of the pull-down bed during the day, was placed on the driver’s seat and the co-pilot seat to serve as the bed for the baby in the family.
We drove that Lifetime from Florida to Washington, D.C., to Monterrey, Mexico, and every place between. Our children saw things and did things that none of their peers had experienced. Nearly every weekend during their teen years found us at a campground. To this day, I credit those camping trips as the main reason we had so few teen problems.
Our ride these days is a 40-foot Class A. More luxury, more conveniences and more space than that old Lifetime … but not a bit more fun!
Submitted by Mary Capo of St. Augustine, FL as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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