Family Camping Adventures

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It’s an addiction, no doubt about it.  Ski season has barely passed and we’re packing up and going camping – again!

Of course not all trips are alike. 

On one expedition, a mere 24 hours after leaving home, we were tracing the route of early Mormon pioneers heading from Salt Lake City to settle in the southeast corner of the state. Dance Hall Rock beckons imaginative souls to ponder the camping style of the 250 people who spent six months, in 1879-80, waiting for crews to finish blasting a hole in the rock in order to lower wagons down to the Glen Canyon below. 

We set up camp above a dry streambed, donned hiking shoes and scrambled past blooming yucca to climb up a massive monolith in time for an evening sunset.  It didn’t take much imagination to think we were sharing this same view with the pioneers who’d come before us.  The experience stayed with us like a warm glow for the rest of our trip.

On another spring getaway, nestled in our sleeping bags in the overflow campground at Snow Valley State Park, I awoke to nylon brushing the tip of my nose. Our gigantic, 6 ½-foot high, family-sized dome tent was collapsing before my sleepy eyes. The wind had ripped the tie-down ropes off their pegs.  While we struggled to repair the damage, my daughter slept on. That experience stayed with us as laughter for the rest of that journey.

At the end of yet another annual trek, we were heading home. It was late and, although tired, we were determined to make it to a campground on the shores of Yuba Lake. At 10:30 p.m. we pulled up to the gate only read the sign “FULL”. No problem, we thought to ourselves, we knew there was random camping a little further down the road. We drove on – and read the “absolutely no random camping” sign in utter dismay. As midnight approached we gave up and pulled over on a side road and prepared to spend the night.

“Are all the latches undone,” my guy asks as he prepares to crank up the roof on our pop-up camper.

“Yup,” I reply while trying to roust my sleeping child from the backseat.

“Are you sure?”


Crank, crank, crank – SNAP.  One latch was still hooked. The cable broke. It was not a pretty scene. Ingenuity took over and by 2 a.m. we were snug in our beds with a thick wooden pole and several pieces of two-by-four’s holding up the roof.

The moral of these stories?  Family camping is whatever you make of it – whether in a camper, in a tent, or sleeping under the stars. We may not be pioneers, but we’re always ready for the good, the bad and the ugly – especially when it means we’ll be first on the trail in the morning!


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