Forgetful (But Happy) Campers


     I’ve purchased two new pillows and two pillow-cases.  I’m down in Roswell, half-way to the mountains from Portales, and driving down the highway in the dark this morning, realized I hadn’t packed pillows.  Not going “luxury camping” without pillows!

     It was a good way to kill time.  I’ve got four more hours to fill, so before I head into another store to buy the feast for tonight… beef jerky, trail mix and dried apricots… I’ve got the joy of a laptop and a shade tree.  Gary’s sitting in a class learning all about lead based paints, and what the EPA expects us to do about it, and when the clock strikes 5:00, we can head on down the road to Ruidoso and pitch our tent.  And while I’m out shopping for the things we forgot to bring, I’m having another one of those Laugh-Out-Loud moments, remembering another camping trip with things forgotten.

     Now this was a camping trip to end all camping trips.  We rented out our home on Guam for a year, flew to the States, and set out to see America with a little green tent in a little green Jeep.  Planning to see friends and family along the way, we were off to meander.  Day one into the journey Gary got this sinking feeling that the tent was still in the garage at my mom’s house in Taos.  Sure enough.  So she mailed it to Gary’s sister’s house in Arizona, we met up with the tent a few days later, and on we sailed. 

     Since we had family to see on these first few days of the adventure, we found ourselves in Mammoth Lakes, California, for our first night in the tent.  We were so excited!!  It was May and it was cold and we had to search for a place in the campground without snow.  We were the only ones there, of course!  We’re all for those romantic sleeping bags that can be zipped together when we’re car camping, and although it had been almost a decade since we’d used them, we knew the huge green roll we’d tossed in the Jeep was all we needed.  What in the Sam Hill???   What’s this???  Only one sleeping bag??   The term “Village Idiots” springs to mind, yet again.  How do you set off on a tour of America with one sleeping bag and no tent?

     We sampled the sleeping bag.  No possible way that we could just snuggle close and squeeze in.  We’re not very big people… and we don’t mind snuggling… but this was utterly absurd.  We were in this great mountain town, filled with outdoor outfitter shops, but it was past closing time, and the only thing open was a grocery store.  Jackpot!  They had sleeping bags.  The kind you buy for a kid to take to a slumber party!  I’m surprised it didn’t have action figures all over it.  But we were desperate.  And we realized we didn’t have a flashlight, so we tossed that in the buggy.  At the checkout stand we grabbed a bag of Peanut M&Ms for a midnight snack, and we were ready to roll.   It was freezing outside!  Freezing, I tell you!  And here we were checking out with these three pitiful little items.  The woman behind the counter sarcastically commented, “Gonna do a little camping tonight?”, and we just laughed out our “Yes indeed!”

     That was the beginning of the most amazing year.  We did see America from sea to shining sea, from the northern lakes of Maine to the shores of the Gulf coast.  What an amazing country!  I tear right up as I’m sitting here in a parking lot thinking of the words to America the Beautiful.

     And so tonight, with new pillows and pillow-cases, I’ll be sleeping in a tent on the purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.  Hey… thanks, I’ve clicked another half-hour off of the wait.  Now to go buy that jerky!  (Friday Afternoon)

     (Sunday Afternoon)  What a beautiful weekend.  It’s always so very much worth the effort to load up the gear and head for the mountains!  We arrived at our campsite just before dark, set up the tent with the help of our head lamps, ate our trail mix around the campfire, listened to elk bugling, hoot owls howling, coyotes singing.  Leaves were orange and gold, air was crisp and cold.  Gary made his favorite bicycle ride up Sierra Blanca, and I read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” – a marvelous book.  Life, indeed, is good!

2 Responses to “Forgetful (But Happy) Campers”

  1. Marcea Clive says:

    Your Mountain Man looks soooooooooo relaxed……….

  2. Sandy says:

    Yes.. my Mountain Man was having a wonderful nap after his 12 mile bicycle ride all the way up to the Sierra Blanca ski area. After I snapped the picture, I took my chair right over to that spot and finished my book. A perfect Saturday!

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