Camping Memories

During the 1960s and 70s our family had many memorable camping experiences.  In the summer of 1966 came the first of the family’s camping adventures.  We put a trailer hitch on our car and rented a tent trailer.  We stayed one night in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, our second night near Raleigh, and then seven or eight nights in the North Carolina mountains.  Each night was spent in a private campground, most notably at a place called Seven Devils near Boone, NC, and at another beautiful camp near the Cherokee Reservation west of Asheville.  Altogether, we were on the road about ten days, and the family seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.   There was hiking, swimming, sightseeing, and even one night of square dancing.  Food cooked under the open sky never tasted better, and everyone helped around the camp site.

In 1967 we rented another tent trailer and headed south, this time toward the Outer Banks.  When we arrived at the shore we drove all the way to Hatteras looking for a campground that had shade trees.  Those few that did were fully occupied.  With our very blond boys, we knew shade was absolutely necessary if we were to avoid their being burned to a crisp.  We drove all night to get off the islands, and we finally set up camp at Back Bay, just to the west of Virginia Beach.  It turned out to be a good campground, and it was a fun vacation.  One amusing incident occurred at Back Bay.  The family camping next to us was from Quebec, and when our three year old son Eric heard them speaking French he was completely mystified.

Over the next few years there were many family camping trips.  There was one trip to the Shenandoah, and several summers we traveled to Myrtle Beach and set up camp in one of the attractive campgrounds near the ocean.  In 1972 and 1976 we went to Disney World and camped in Fort Wilderness.

I remember those camping days with much fondness.  It was great for family bonding, and it gave us many wonderful memories of campfires, good food cooked over a camp stove or open fire, and sleeping under the stars.

In my post entitled “THE MISSING KEYS” I told about a camping trip the family took during our son Sandy Jr’s Air Force furlough in the summer of 1973.  Shortly after his arrival at our home in Columbia, Maryland, we attached a tent trailer to our car and headed for the beach.  We set up camp in a Delaware state park near the ocean and spent several lazy days enjoying the sun and the surf.  My wife Ann was a marvelous cook, and nothing could taste better than those delicious meals she prepared over a camp stove.  Our five sons did the chores around the camp, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

After several days in Delaware, we headed north to Pennsylvania and set up camp near the Susquehanna River not far from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The area still showed many signs of the terrible flooding during Hurricane Agnes the previous year.

While in the area we visited many of the Pennsylvania Dutch attractions and enjoyed some of the famous local eateries.  All our sons had rather prodigious appetites, and they could put the food away quickly and in vast quantities.  Also, while at the Susquehanna campground we travelled over to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, for a meal at the Washington Inn, a well-known smorgasbord style restaurant  Our sons lit into that food as if they hadn’t eaten in a month.  We almost closed the place down.  The next day the family decided that the food had been so good that we should visit the Washington Inn again.

The manager had a look of consternation on his face when we came through the door, and I heard one of the servers yell “They’re back!!!”

I believe there is no longer a Washington Inn in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania.  I wonder if we had anything to do with it?

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