GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: Glamping Dreams

By on May 24, 2016

Enduring ‘the great outdoors’ with the family.

Here is Grandma camping in Kansas. She has the latest equipment—the horse is from Hertz Rent-a-Horse. (Photo: gallopin’ grandma)

Here is Grandma camping in Kansas. She has the latest equipment—the horse is from Hertz Rent-a-Horse. (Photo: gallopin’ grandma)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Once upon a time, an adorable if somewhat clueless young couple lived in a far northern state where it was usually cold and miserable. Think of it as Frozen with a football team. One day, the young man said to his lovely wife, “Let’s go camping.”

“What the hell is camping?” the wife asked.

Now this couple had very little money and three kids under the age of three, which is probably why they had no money. The husband explained that camping was free; they would be outside, eat and sleep under the stars, roast marshmallows, be one with nature, and besides, he added, “it would be fun.”

By now you must have guessed the identity of this dumb couple, so I explained to my husband that I did not choose to have fun; that our marriage license did not say that I would be fun, and he knew this. But he also knew that I could not resist his blue eyes and that I would give in.

We had a 1960 Nash Rambler at the time. It had reclining seats that could function as a bed, and we could sleep there. Unable to resist his charm, we dumped the kids somewhere and went camping.

Our destination was that garden spot: the Badlands of South Dakota. Out beyond the Wall Drug and the Corn Palace, it was a final resting place for dinosaur bones, whole T. Rexes, and all kinds of old stuff. I was hoping that there were no remains of previous campers.

In those days there were no freeways and no air conditioning. We arrived cooked in our Rambler but ready to become one with nature. We set up our American Motors campsite and waited to have fun. It didn’t take long. A truck full of campers arrived from Chicago. They had an entire kitchen cabinet set up in the back of their truck and enough canvas to cover the campground. Their leader had a bowie knife in his belt in case they were attacked by wild prairie dogs. Not a bad idea. You never know.

Eventually a couple of guys came by with a tiny pup tent. Evening came on and we went to bed in our Rambler, but all would not be well. In that area, storms can blow up at any time. We awoke to banging and crashing hurricane winds and horrendous lightning. I opened my eyes to see that the ceiling of the Rambler was about an inch above my nose and I thought I was buried alive. Terror and fright filled the campground.

There was a big blast of lightning and we could see our Chicago campers frantically hanging on to their acres of canvas now billowing in the wind and rain. All we could see were their legs extending below what seemed to be a circus tent in full sail. Suddenly, the little pup tent next to us got up and ran away. In the morning, all was gone.

After that, we went camping for years. No one would take our kids so we had to take them along. Other people had fancy camping stuff, but we always looked like the Joad family or the Beverly Hillbillies. Other people had camping toilets but we had to make that dark, spooky walk to whatever passed for a bathroom, knowing that lions, tigers, bears, and those guys from Deliverance lurked in the bushes.

Over the years, I became personally acquainted with most of the mosquitoes and many of the bears in ‘campingland.’ One grizzly bear even sniffed my head through the side of a tent. No one cared, but I paid them back by getting a migraine and throwing up all night. I thought it was fun, but they didn’t.

I find myself wondering if some day while they are digging up T. Rex remains in South Dakota, that they will also find the fossilized remains of a 1960 Nash Rambler with reclining seats and a Minnesota license plate. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. PJH

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