We really weren’t very good at camping.
At some point when I was growing up, my parents decided we would start going to National Parks for vacations. Our first trip was to Yosemite, a short day’s drive from our home in suburban Los Angeles.
I remember arriving in our station wagon, loaded down with hundreds of items we didn’t need and lacking a few that we did. We picked out a campsite and got a quick lesson from my father in setting up a tent, which was a little bit like taking boxing lessons from Mr. Rogers. I don’t recall exactly what he told us, but our setup took most of the afternoon.
We didn’t like the idea of sleeping on the ground, and so we put cots in the tent and covered each cot with a sheet and blanket. It was a cozy arrangement, as long as the temperature stayed above seventy. It didn’t. My stomach stayed warm, but my butt froze. The next morning, my mother’s hot chocolate never tasted so good.
Breakfast was always a sit-down occasion in my family, and we weren’t going to let a few trees and squirrels change that. We set the table, ate a full meal of orange juice, eggs, bacon, and toast, and then cleaned up, just like always. Of course, we lacked a few conveniences of home, so it took a while.
At last, when the dishes were clean, we headed off to Yosemite Falls for a hike. And you know what? It was beautiful. When we reached the top, we looked out over one of the most breathtaking vistas on the planet, and we thanked our parents for bringing us there.
We weren’t very good at it, but I will always remember that view, and those thoughts, and that time together, almost camping.