My husband Steve had camping on his mind before we met. An unfulfilled desire to roam the country in an RV lingered in his heart. When he revealed this yearning to me, he was delighted to find that I liked the idea. I shared with him my tent camping experiences, which began in my childhood.
My paternal grandparents took my sister and me along with them several years in a row to visit our aunt and uncle at their campsite in Pymatuning State Park in Pennsylvania. These joyful relatives camped in the same park every year in an old trailer with a large screen room attached. They regularly entertained other couples in the campground, all friends of theirs who had agreed to meet with them to party together, and party they did. Continually.
My sister and I slept in a tent adjacent to their campsite. I remember my grandmother sitting inside the tent with us through a night of windy thunderstorm. We could see through the tent door the torrential rains blowing sideways as the lightning lit up the sky. She assured us we were safe. Perhaps I fell asleep during that time, because I don’t remember her leaving us during the storm. Even now the sound of rain pelting a roof reminds me of the rain pounding the canvas that night. Fond memories of childhood camping trips have stayed with me all my life.
My adult camping experiences were fewer but just as memorable. One year we camped in the off-season. What we didn’t know would happen during an off-season was this: The raccoon that lived in the park were accustomed to dining on the leftovers from many campers. Hungry from lack of food they became aggressive toward us few off-season campers. Not just a little aggressive, no, they were BOLD. They had chewed their way into a tent that was inhabited at the time. Even though the tent residents had pounded them from inside trying to dissuade them, they persisted until they got inside, took the open package of cookies and left! The campground employees informed us that we should keep all our food closed up and not attempt to feed the raccoon. We were warned, and we heeded the admonition. Nevertheless, the raccoon had their way with us! My husband caught a fish and locked it inside a wire-mesh container that was made to drop off the side of the boat to keep the fish wet. When we got to the shore, he laid the wire basket down for a moment. A raccoon grabbed the basket and ran away with it. My husband followed, but by the time he could find the basket, the raccoon had torn the wire mesh apart and half eaten the fish! Funny? Yes, but not at the time.
Steve has no desire to go tent camping. He has made that clear. He and his late wife Dottie loved camping at The Hilton on their vacations. That’s as close to tent camping they ever came. I finally had my fill of tent camping the year my husband Bill and I moved from Michigan to Florida pulling only a tiny u-haul behind us. We put up a tent and slept in it only a few nights until I was attacked by a swarm of fire ants. After that episode we slept on a mattress inside the van and used the tent to store our belongings. We camped only ten days before we rented an apartment. I haven’t wanted to tent camp since then. I’m ready for an RV with Steve.