What was your first camping trip?
Here is the story of my first camping trip:
The year was 1978. My father just replaced his 1970 C10 with a newer 1976 C10. Both trucks he had purchased used. I now realize why we purchased vehicles used. Even though we were a family of 4, dad was the breadwinner for years. My mom did get a job as we got older. But in 1978, dad was the sore provider.
This year instead of the usual trip to Hampton Beach and spending the night in a hotel. Dad decided to rent a pop-up camper. We would spend a few nights in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire then off to someplace called “Papoose Pond” in Maine. My brother and I surprisingly could not wait for this new adventure.
Dad rented the Colemen pop-up camper from a local camper sales. He picked it up on the Friday before our trip. My brother and I were so excited to sleep in the camper. Dad set it up in our driveway so we could sleep the night in it.
Over the weekend dad took us to KMart and Big N to buy new fishing poles along with other camping supplies he thought we needed. We didn’t care what he got, we both got new Zebco push button fishing poles. The fun part of the weekend was watching dad play Tetris getting everything in the camper. Of course, we got to get our seats ready in the bed of the truck. Back then it was no big deal to ride in the bed of a pickup without a seatbelt.
Sunday morning came, off we were bright and early. From our home in Richmond, Massachusetts it was about 3 hours to the Wakeda Campground in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. Dad had set up an intercom between the cab of the truck and the bed, which was cover with a cap. This way they could hear us when we started to fight. In the of the truck, dad had bolted in 2 old bucket seats. We had our games and mom packed us a few snacks for the ride. The bikes were also packed in the back as well. We looked like a family of gypsies on another road trip.
We arrived at the Wakeda Campground sometime in the afternoon. This was going to be interesting. Dad was the kind of man that had a ton of mechanical background. He was a welder by trade, a backyard mechanic and could swing a hammer with the best carpenters around. But he was not much of an outdoors person.
Well, the setup went flawlessly. Dad had our room for the next few nights all ready to go. Mom set up our beds while dad took us for a bike ride around the campground. I have to say, dad did surprise us on his knowledge of the outdoors. I have a feeling the guy where he rented the camper gave him a few pointers.
A few days and nights in New Hampshire included meeting up with family vacationing in Hampton Beach. The first-night mom got up because she was cold. She and dad were sleeping with only a few blankets. My brother and I were nice and warm in our new sleeping bags. No, the campers back then did not have heat or air conditioning, those where optional upon request. Dad figured it was mid-July, we shouldn’t need heat.
After a few nights of learning how this camping thing works, it was time to pack things up. Our next stop was this “Papoose Pond” place in Maine. New Hampshire was nice, but time to head north.
So the trip to Papoose Pond got interesting when dad somehow got us lost. In the 1970s there was no GSP or smartphones to get your location and some directions. All we had was a few paper maps, a gas station, and dad’s memory. If all are working together we will find our way. A few more turns and a couple of extra stops we finally arrived in Maine. This place is going to be GREAT!!
I recall the campsite we had was huge. Set off the main road some distance with a bathroom and shower building (Papoose Pond calls them Kitch-n-Bath Shelters or Half Moon Shelters ). There were wood areas between our site and the sites on both sides of us.
After a week of camping, we had memories that will last a lifetime. Dad took us fishing, we rode our bikes for miles, and we spend tons of quality family time. This is what camping or RVing is all about. Spending time with your family to grow and add stories to pass on from generation to generation.
Although this trip was many years ago I do remember some highlights other than the few I already shared. One of the best was the second night in Maine. I had to go to the bathroom. The camper we had did not have a portable toilet. So I had to use the outside shelter. Off I went at about 11pm, a young kid, in the wild for the first time.
While in the shelter I heard a noise. To me, it sounded like a bear. So I shut off the light, hide under the sink and waited. After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, there was a bang at the door. You guessed it, my mother coming out to see if I was ok. She reminded me there will be strange noises out here. To this day she tells me it was just a small animal. But I still recall it as a bear.
Hope you enjoyed my little story. Please feel free to add a story of your own for others to enjoy.
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