I went on a two week bike trip when I was sixteen, camping from Kittery to Acadia, ME. Even before that, there’s a photograph of me, lying in a tent at dusk, and reading (of course). (I was about 8. All I did was read.) My feelings when I look at that picture are of such peace. My parents are not the camping type, and as I recall, were dragged along on that trip by a friend of my dad’s. It was their first and last time camping, but not mine.
But somehow, between a black fly horror show of a canoe trip that was my first honeymoon (slathered with Calamine lotion, we jumped ship and went to France instead), a feared mud slide while camping during a torrential downpour, and a few other lesser experiences, I haven’t camped in a while.
My kids have never been camping.
But our first night on the road, in Western Pennsylvania, camp we do, and it is BLISSFUL. The campground is spacious and nearly empty, the kids bike around a nearly flat path they can be independent on (my elder even learns to start herself, which was the Next Big Task), we roast hot dogs in an open fire, eat my writing buddy and dear friend’s homemade brownies and corn muffins, and all is quiet as we sleep. Showers are nice, we drive off refreshed and ready for another day in the car, and basically are spared all those problems that can ruin a good camp out.
It’s incredible because in these cosseted lives many of us lead, I don’t think kids get to experience much in the way of roughing it, or even getting to understand where things come from, what goes into producing them. Food just arrives on the table. Beds are made and ready to lie down in. But when we camp, the kids have a literal hand in preparing that night’s food, which they’re so hungry from. They construct their own beds–their own bedroom. I mean it’s not picking potatoes all day, but it’s a tad closer than we normally get.
Anyway, off to Ohio today, and Amish food at Mary Yoder’s Amish kitchen, which we discovered on our last road trip (only as far west as Michigan). I could eat those soft, puffy rolls and this haunting peanut butter cream they give you to spread on them till the cows come home. The same cows that probably give the milk for this luscious taste of how food used to be.
After this, we push ahead into Indiana, where my parents via the Food Network lead us to South Side Soda Shop in South Bend (can you tell that food drives a fair amount of our travel? When we recall great sights we saw, or hikes we took, all four of us tend to say, That was where we had those granola bars…Or, Remember? We ate at the Chinese place?) for a great dinner that actually includes turtle soup. We taste it, the kids don’t. Not bad, but it tastes nothing like chicken.
That night we stay at a hotel, which I expected to feel like pure luxury after the camping, but actually I’d be fine with another night in the tent.
Know what famous last words are?
Till my next post…