The first time I went camping I was seven years old. My parents packed everything we’d need for a week into the very small family car, tied the rowboat that my father had made on top and off we went. I remember sitting on top of a pile of lifejackets with my head almost touching the roof! I also remember looking back and seeing my grandmother, with my baby brother in her arms, waving good-bye.
We weren’t in the car very long. Arriving at Okeover Arm, a long inlet near our hometown of Powell River on the BC coast, we piled out of the car and into the boat. Dad rowed us across the water to the rocky point that would be our campsite. My mother, my older brother, my younger sister and I waited in anticipation as Dad rowed back across the inlet to get all of our gear. What an adventure! There was nothing but the ocean, the rock, the forest and us. There wasn’t even a bathroom!
I learned to row the boat and caught my first fish that summer. I also slept in a tent for the first time. In fact, this was the first of many tenting trips. We had such a good time at Okeover Arm that we returned to the very same spot the next year. Later, as we children grew older, the trips took us further from home. Twice we went to California at Christmas and one summer we drove all the way to Alaska. We wandered many of the backroads of British Columbia and camped in all sorts of out of the way places. On one of my favourite holidays, we chartered a small plane and flew into Garibaldi Lake with all our camping gear. We hiked out a week later. I climbed my first mountain on that trip.
The heavy canvas tent that first went with us to Okeover Arm continued to be our home away from home until the Yellowknife years when my father built a cabin on a small lake 27 miles from town. When Richard and I married, we bought a tent of our own. An experienced wilderness camper, Richard didn’t think we needed a camp stove but on our first trip, after a night of heavy rain, we couldn’t get a fire started. We had to go to a restaurant for breakfast! After that, we traveled with a Coleman stove.
We camped that way for several years. I clearly remember our first trip with our daughter, Janina. She was just a year old. The first night out, we tucked her into her miniature sleeping bag, said good night and left the tent. A few minutes later, we heard the zipper open and out popped her smiling face! After putting her back to bed several times, we decided to join her in the tent. Richard lay in front of the door to keep her from escaping and she happily crawled over us and played for what seemed like hours before finally falling asleep!
By the time our youngest child was born, we’d purchased our first tent trailer. Though it had a stove, we continued to carry the Coleman and do most of our cooking outdoors. We’d moved up in the camping world, however. Now we had a fridge!
The old trailer took us to many places including the northern tip of Newfoundland where, even in August, it was very cold at night. The canvas, which had been repaired many times, was wearing out and we began to think that the next trailer ought to have a furnace. It was then that we began to look for the ‘gypsy wagon’ which served us until this summer.
Now, we’re pulling a full sized trailer! It seems a long way from the canvas tent on a rocky point overlooking Okeover Arm. It has a queen size bed and better kitchen facilities than we had for the entire year that we lived in Japan! The main reason we decided to upgrade, however, was the bathroom. We no longer camp in the wilderness and use the bush to do our business. We don’t have a problem using campground bathrooms during the day but we’re both in our 50s and getting up during the night is becoming the norm. Those nocturnal walks across dark campgrounds were taking the fun out of camping. So, the way I look at it, our new trailer is a bathroom on wheels that just happens to have a kitchen and bedroom attached!
Though the trailer looks big sitting in our yard, it looked small next to the many larger units on the RV lot. I don’t foresee us ever wanting or needing anything more, however. While we were trailer shopping, I looked into a few of the bigger units just for fun. Believe it or not, one of them had an indoor gas fireplace! Our trailer may have a fridge, a stove, a microwave, a furnace, an air conditioner and a three piece bathroom but our campfires will always be outdoors!