Memory Monday ~ More Vacation Memories…

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

 

Once again, it’s Monday, and time to join Judy @ Retired-Not-Tired for more memories.  This week we’re continuing our travels down the road entitled More Vacation Memories

Last week, I wrote about our family vacations with the children, and how we bought a camper, and camped for two weeks, every summer, while the children were young.  Some of my all-time favorite vacation memories are from those eight years of camping, but I have many other good vacation memories, as well.

One vacation habit Ed and I established, fairly early in our marriage, was scheduling our vacation during the week of our wedding anniversary.  This meant, for several years, we celebrated our anniversary while on vacation with three children–in a camper!  It was a ‘cozy’ celebration, but we didn’t mind.  Ed and I also established the tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on every anniversary, because that’s what we ate for our first meal as husband and wife.  So, no matter where we were, or what we were doing, we knew we’d be eating KFC on our anniversary night of the vacation!  Good memories!

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a recent anniversary picnic [alone]on the beach – notice the KFC boxes on the table!

After our children grew up and left the nest, Ed and I went on a couple of vacations by ourselves.  At first, it was strange being by ourselves, after so many years of being surrounded by our children, but it was good to finally have time alone to reconnect with each other.  We quickly adapted:)

The most memorable vacation trip that Ed and I ever went on, by ourselves, was a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2005.  I booked a room for us in the historical section of Charleston, and we had a wonderful time exploring all that Charleston has to offer–and it has a lot!  You could say that our Charleston trip was almost like our second honeymoon, but Ed and I never even took a first honeymoon!

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me, at the hotel, before going sight-seeing in Charleston

Two or three years after the Charleston trip, Ed and I decided to go in together with our daughter and her family, and rent a condo at the beach together.  All of us had so much fun on that vacation, we vowed we’d vacation together again!  After that initial trip, a new tradition was born–vacationing with our grown children!

Anytime Ed and I rented a condo on the beach, we’d usually invite our children and families to come and join us. Often, our condo only had a couple of bedrooms and one bathroom, but we always made room for company. Our motto was “the more, the merrier!”

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a family picnic, during one of our trips

One particularly memorable trip was when ten of us slept in a condo that had only one bedroom!!!   Talk about ‘togetherness’, we had it going on!!!  Some were on beds, some were on a futon, and still others were on air mattresses…  Our oldest son swears that my son-in-law and I had a “snoring competition” going on all night!  I guess it’s a good thing were both sleeping in the room away from everybody else! Ha!

 

100_1013enjoying the condo pool…

Another time, Ed and I split the cost of a three bedroom, three bath condo, on Fernandina Beach, with our two oldest children and their families.  The condo was huge and beautiful.  Everybody had their own bedroom and bath, which was especially nice, since we had a baby and a three-year-old vacationing with us.  (It also meant we couldn’t hear each other snoring!)  The condo came with its own grill, and the men really enjoyed that, while the women and children enjoyed the pool!

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just returning from a family vacation… and we all look tired!

The last time all of our family planned a vacation together was in 2010.  It’s our most unforgettable trip of all–but not for any reason you could imagine.

One July, our grown children, and their families, along with Ed and me, decided to rent a cabin in the mountains of Helen, Georgia, for three days.  Our youngest, Brad, hadn’t married Jennifer, yet, but they planned on coming on the family trip, as well.  It took forever to find a cabin that all eight of us could agree on, but we finally settled on one–and, best of all, according to some, was the fact that the bedrooms were far apart!

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traveling on our last family vacation together…

On the evening before our trip, everyone was packed and ready to leave on the six-hour journey, the following morning.  Unfortunately, our telephone rang very early, on the morning of the trip, and it was bad news.  It was our son, Brad, telling us that Jennifer’s mother had passed away, unexpectedly, during the night.  We were all stunned with disbelief!  How could this be?  It was absolutely unbelievable that Jennifer’s mother’s heart had simply stopped beating, while she slept, and now she was gone!

Once the shock of the news sank in, our family had a decision to make. The cabin had already been paid for, and it was too late to get a refund.  Everyone had already taken time off from their jobs.  There wasn’t a thing we could do, if we stayed home and forfeited the money we’d spent.  So, after much discussion, the rest of us decided to refund their part of the cost to Brad and Jennifer, then go ahead and make the trip to Helen without them.  Needless to say, it wasn’t one of our better vacations, but we did the best we could under the circumstances.  We stayed in constant contact with Brad and Jennifer, the entire time we were gone, and came back early so we could attend Jennifer’s mother’s funeral.

Helen Trip 2010 155a father-son game of corn hole, in the mountains of Helen (our cabin’s in the background) 

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relaxing beside the mountain stream

Seeing the picture above reminds me of something I’d nearly forgotten.  Some of us got an unexpected “bonus” from that trip to the mountains.  Our son and I came home with a bad case of ‘red bugs’, apparently, from sitting on those rocks beside that mountain stream!  Not a good souvenir to bring home!

We’ve all talked about planning another family vacation together, but, as of yet,  we haven’t done so. Our oldest son, our daughter, and their families have taken a couple of trips together, but Ed and I have stayed behind, so far. You see, these days, Ed and I are pretty much stuck at home, caring for ten chickens, twelve aging cats (and that’s not even counting ‘Trouble’), one very old, nearly blind and deaf, dog, and 167 goldfish who share the pond in our yard!   I guess, for now, it’s a good thing we have lots of vacation memories to sustain us 🙂

 

 

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Published in: on January 12, 2015 at 10:47 am  Comments (8)  
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Memory Monday ~ Vacation Memories…

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Once again, I’m joining Judy @ retired-not-tired for ‘Memory Monday’.  Today’s prompt is vacation memories.

Vacation.  Now there’s a subject that’s near and dear to almost everyone’s heart!  However, growing up as children, neither my husband, Ed, or I experienced a lot of  family vacations.  Ed’s vacation experiences consisted of, occasionally, visiting family in Florida, and my vacation experiences were… well, actually my vacation experiences were very similar to Ed’s!  We wanted life for our children to be different.

After Ed and I were married, at first, there wasn’t a lot of extra money for vacations.  We’d take an occasional two-day trip somewhere, but not very often.  One trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, with friends, comes to mind, as well as a short trip to the mountains of north Georgia and Tennessee, with a different set of friends.  Both of these trips were taken before we had any children.

Ed and I had been married for about thirteen years when he first brought up the subject of buying a camper.  He’d seen a good used one, and thought he might could buy it for a decent price.  At first, I balked.  When I heard the word “camping”, staying in a tent immediately popped in my head!  I didn’t like that idea, at all.  Then I looked inside of a camper, saw it had all the comforts of home, and changed my mind.  There was a stove, refrigerator, twin sinks, air conditioning, even a shower!  Ed bought that camper he’d seen, and our camping adventures began!

Keep in mind, I’d been a stay-at-home wife and mother for about eight years when we bought our first camper.  We had three children–a seven-year old, a four-year old, and an eleven month old.  There were not a lot of activities we were easily able to do, at the time.  I felt like I’d been let out of jail, that summer, when we took our first vacation trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia!

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early camping adventures…

We camped that first summer, and for the next seven summers, afterward.  Every summer we would take two ‘week-long’ vacations to different destinations, which were usually within a couple of hours of home since none of us liked to ride long distances.  Even after seven full days of camping, I was never ready to go home at the end of those vacations, and, sometimes, I’d convince Ed to stay an extra day.

Staying in campgrounds was relatively cheap, back then, so we could afford to do more activities with all of the money we saved on lodging.  In addition to enjoying campfires, playgrounds, fishing, and swimming, we’d play putt putt golf, and visit all of the near-by tourist attractions.  Our children greatly enjoyed just watching cable television in the camper, too, something we didn’t have at home.

Sometimes, we’d invite our parents or other family members along to go camping with us.  We always had a lot of fun during these times, and still have lots of great memories.  The saying, “The more, the merrier”, always proved to be true, for us.  It’s funny, but a lot of our good times centered around eating!

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sharing camping adventures with family…

While camping, we stayed on Jekyll Island, several times, as well as on Blythe Island, in Brunswick, Georgia.  We went to St. Augustine, Florida, to Fernandina Beach/Fort Clinch, Florida, toured many of the Georgia State Parks, in the upper part of the state, stayed on Hilton Head Island, and in the Stone Mountain Campground, near Atlanta. One summer, we even left our camper at Clark Hill Lake, near Augusta, Georgia, while we traveled, by car, to Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s amusement park) in Tennessee.

When I remember all those years of camping, one thing always comes to mind–we took everything with us except the kitchen sink!  ‘Everything’ consisted of seven outfits of clothing for five people, a week’s worth of groceries, five bicycles, five lawn chairs, a large piece of outdoor carpeting, some party lights, and even our pet parakeet and guinea pig!  We’ve even been known to throw in a kiddie pool, occasionally!

Our camping vacations lasted for a total of eight years, before they eventually came to an end.  By that time, our children had grown older, and no longer enjoyed camping as much as they once did.  It was about this time when I first became sick with rheumatoid arthritis, as well.  Camping activities weren’t as much fun for me, either.  Ed and I ultimately decided to sell our camper and put in a swimming pool and satellite television, at home, thus ending our camping vacations.

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Ed and I owned three different campers before officially retiring from camping, for good.  Although, our next-to-the-last camper was much larger and nicer, we didn’t have nearly as much fun in it as we did our first camper.  I think, by then, the magic of camping was beginning to wear thin, even though we had a bigger and better place to stay.

Several years later, after most of our children were grown, Ed and I purchased one last small, pop-up camper.  We only used it a couple of times, then ended up selling it.  We found that camping, just like lots of other things in life, wasn’t quite as much fun without our children.

We can’t complain.  We managed to keep, and use, our campers for several years, and still get all of our money back (plus some extra, on the first one) when we sold each one of them.

Published in: on January 5, 2015 at 9:28 am  Comments (8)  
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Our Vacation Cabin…

our family vacation cabin in Helen, Ga.

The kitchen was the most popular, and most used room in the cabin!  I felt “at home” in the kitchen because I have this same dining furniture in my own house.  I also have black appliances.  We brought along plenty of food, and we ate almost every meal at the cabin.  I had one major complaint about the kitchen though.  It was very dark!  All of the bulbs were those energy-saving flourescent kind, and I could barely see my hand in front of my face!

  Most of the walls throughout the cabin were painted burgundy and hunter green which didn’t help the lighting situation.  I was truly “craving some light” by the time we left.

My oldest son and my daughter are pictured here, along with their children.  The little boy, Caden, belongs to my son, while the little girl, Madison, belongs to my daughter.  They were spending a few moments relaxing in the living room of the cabin. 

The cabin was decorated in a “bear theme”.  There was a fake bear-skin rug on the back of the love seat.  Madison was scared to death of that rug when we first entered the cabin!  My husband put the rug on his back, pretended to be a bear, then played with it as a puppet for a while.  After that Madison decided that she liked the rug!

My husband and I enjoyed sitting out on the upper back deck of the cabin–especially early in the morning.  The surrounding area was so beautiful and peaceful,  first thing in the morning.  We sat on that deck and saw four deer grazing across the backyard!   There was also a charcoal grill on the deck, and we grilled ribs and hamburgers one evening.

This is a view of the backyard of the cabin.  It was huge!  You can see the back of the cabin in the top part of the photograph.  Our family took our bean bag tossing game, and played a few rounds one evening after supper.  We didn’t have time to try out that huge fire pit. 

 Just on the other side of the backyard was the Chattahoochee River.  It was shallow all the way across, so the children could play in the water.  We didn’t have time to go tubing, but I bought a raft, walked up the river a ways, then floated down it several times.

We enjoyed sitting on these rocks, watching the river flowing by–along with a few tubers every now and then.  Unfortunately, some of us got chiggers, or what we down south refer to as “red bugs”,  from sitting on those rocks beside the river!  Lucky me!  I got the worst case of them–about a dozen total.  I’ve been scratching ever since I got home!  “Red bugs” are one souvenir that I really would have prefered to leave in the mountains!

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 9:05 am  Comments (10)  
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More Crowds On The Fourth…

One of the funniest moments of our recent Fourth of July trip was bedtime.  Everyone got their beds ready, and settled in for the night–with five people sleeping in each room.  My husband and I shared the bedroom with our daughter, Brandy, and her family.  Each couple had a double bed, while granddaughter, Madison, slept on the floor on a small mattress.  We were talking back and forth from our beds when suddenly Madison said, “OK, you guys cut it out!”  We all burst into laughter.  Within a few minutes, all was quiet…except for the snoring of the two men.  It was a back-and-forth  “snoring concert”… suddenly my daughter and I burst into laughter once again!

It turned out that our snoring concert from the bedroom disturbed some of those in the living room!  I snore, too, so apparently I joined in the “concert” at some point during the night.  All of the snoring woke Madison up, and she got scared!  My oldest son said he spent the night getting up and down,  turning the air conditioning lower to drown out the snoring noise from the bedroom.  When we all woke up, the condo felt like a freezer!

After cooking and eating breakfast, our family decided that we would, once again, try to take the children to the beach for a little while.  It was  a little after ten when we arrived at East Beach–all of us driving different cars.  Our daughter’s family found a parking place in the parking lot, while the other three carloads of us did not.  The police closed the lot because it was full.  We parked down the street a bit, and were unloading our cars when some lady began yelling at some of us that we couldn’t park there!  It wasn’t posted, and many other cars were parked there, but we moved anyway.  We decided to reload our cars, and go back to Massengale Park because it appeared to be less crowded.

the grandchildren playing at the beach

We finally made it onto the beach around 10:30!  It was already getting crowded, but not as bad as the day before.  However, by the time we left two hours later, people were still coming.  We gladly gave our spots to new people, and went back to the condo for a bite of lunch and another swim.

Later in the day, after lunch and a swim,  half of the family left to go back home, while half of us stayed.  Some had to go to work on Monday, while others insisted that they needed to go home and get some rest before returning to work on Tuesday. 

Those of us who remained,  planned to attend the fireworks in the Village, down by the ocean, that evening.  We had been warned not to try to drive our car down there, and to get there early.  We parked our cars some distance away, and walked down to the Village around 5 o’clock that afternoon–four hours before the fireworks were to begin.

the crowd at the Village--4 hours prior to the fireworks

  Once again, we saw crowds of people everywhere–some of whom appeared to have been there all day long!  We quickly decided that no fireworks were worth fighting that crowd to see, and we went back to the condo!  The rest of the afternoon we watched a steady stream of people walking down to the Village–just as we had watched crowds walking to the beach the day before!  I shudder to think how many people were down there by the time those fireworks began!!!

Later in the evening, my husband decided to walk out to the road in front of our condo,  to see if he could see any of the fireworks.  He noticed a few people in lawn chairs across from our condo, and came back to tell me.  Sure enough, once the fireworks began, we could see many of them–and we didn’t have to fight the crowd to do it! 

The next morning we left that crowded little island, for the uncrowded sanctity of our little country home… There truly is no place like home…Fortunately, all was well when we arrived at home shortly before lunch.  Bobs, the cat,  seemed to have endured my absence a lot better this time, but she was still very glad to see us!

I’ve already decided that our next Fourth of July will be spent at home.  I prefer a backyard bar-b-que and relaxing in the country–over fighting a crowd in the city anyday!  Life here is good, and very uncrowded–and we like it that way!

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 9:22 am  Comments (1)  
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One Word Describes Our Fourth Of July…Crowded!

When I last blogged, I was getting ready to go on a two-day beach trip to celebrate the Fourth of July.  I  rented a small condo on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia for the weekend, and eventually invited all of our grown children to join us.  Saturday morning found four carloads of our family headed south to the beach!

Hubby and I were the first to leave, at about 7:45 that morning.  I woke up in a melancholy mood, because I hate leaving my animals unattended, especially Bobs the cat.  (After our trip last month, Bobs was so distraught that she threw up, then pulled out some of her fur.)  I was also reading the last chapters of the Nicholas Sparks novel, The Last Song, which is very sad–and I really “get into” books when I read them.

My mood peaked just fifteen miles down the highway when a coyote ran out the woods and onto the highway forcing my husband to run over him–despite Ed’s best effort to dodge him!  I hate that sickening “thud” sound!  I held my breath, as we stopped and checked the car for damage.  Fortunately, there was no damage to the car, but I cried  anyway, then we resumed our trip.  Strangely, I felt better after having my little cry. 

We arrived at Massengale Park shortly before 10:00 that morning…to find the picnic area already full!  Fortunately, we spotted one last table, over near the bath house area–and we quickly grabbed it!  Had we been five minutes later, I am sure we would’ve been out of luck.  From the time we arrived at the park, which is located in a beach access area, there was a steady stream of people headed down to the beach

Before long, most of our family safely arrived at the park–except for Brad and Jenn, who came later.  We were fortunate that our picnic table was shaded by large oak trees, and a cool breeze was blowing.  We unloaded the supplies for lunch, as well as the bean bag toss game that we purchased on our last beach trip.  Some played bean bag toss, while others got lunch ready.  We dined on grilled hotdogs, chips, and goodies that Christina and I baked and brought from home.

Our original plan was to take the children down to the beach after lunch, and let them play in the sand and surf…that was before some of us walked down to the beach and took a look at the crowd…This picture doesn’t do  justice…We saw wall-to-wall people– from the sand to the water– as far as we could see…It was impossible to walk without stepping on someone.  I’ve never seen anything like it in my life!  I was so glad that I had my camera with me so I could take a few pictures. 

We quickly decided to just skip the beach, and head for the condo!  By then, we were just a few minutes away from check-in time anyway…but wouldn’t you know, when we got to the condo, the cleaning lady wasn’t finished!  Some of us sat on the terrace of the condo, while others headed for the cool, inviting,  water of the pool…

That’s our little family group surrounding granddaughter, Madison, who is wearing the pink swimmies.  The rest of us were either on the terrace of the condo, or sitting around the pool.

We had a wonderful time at the condo.  The unit that I rented was located beside the pool, it’s actually in the (above) picture of the pool– the second one from the left.  In addition to the swimming pool,  a lake, a gym, tennis courts,  and a children’s playground are all located on the grounds of Ocean Walk Condominiums.

Even though it was only a one bedroom, the condo unit had two beds in the bedroom, as well as a futon, couch, and a loveseat in the living room.  We brought along a blow-up mattress, and a small children’s foam mattress so everyone would have a place to sleep.  Being in the condo continued the “crowded” theme of the weekend, but we all had a good time being together, and we managed “being crowded” quite well!   Stay tuned for part two of our crowd-filled adventure…there’s more!

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Memories…Of Fun Times

I’m not feeling so great today.  I had a killer headache all day yesterday that never ended.   I finally took some pain medication and a sleeping pill and went to bed…I woke up at 6:15 this morning, and…let’s just say “today is a Pepto Bismol day”…So as I sit here sipping my Powerade –I’ll share a few more memories of our recent Fernandina Beach trip…because if I don’t,  I’ll forget what we did! 

Brad making new acquaintances

 

Do I know you…One day when we all went to historical downtown Fernandina, we saw a lady wearing a “Rotary” t-shirt.  Rotary Corporation is based in our hometown, so we decided that she must be from where we live.  My son, Brad, who rarely meets a stranger, walked over to the couple and asked them where they were from.  Sure enough, they were from our hometown, and the guy works at Rotary!  Small world, huh? (my daughter, oldest son, and daughter-in-law all have worked at Rotary in the past)  After I found out the guy’s name, I remembered who he was…He once dated a teacher that I worked with…he sent her a box filled with 100 roses–to school!  She wasn’t impressed, but I was!  How many people can say they received 100 roses at one time?  

Ed enjoys a cone...

 

Honey, I’m hungry…What is it about ice cream that is sold out of those huge tubs that makes it taste so delicious?  Maybe it has something to do with it being 90 degrees in the shade?  I don’t know, but the ice cream is always overpriced, but oh it’s so good!…Of course the entire family had to have a cone…only Ed and I were brave(or dumb) enough to eat our cones outside–the others stayed inside the shop!  Wimps, or smart, hummm…. 

Me and my pirate...

 

You see, there’s this guy…There are several “neat” pirates scattered throughout downtown.  I chose this one to cuddle with so Ed could take my picture.  The problem was…Ed didn’t know how to work my new camera.  So I cuddled, smiled, and cuddled some more while he tried to figure things out.  I furnished free entertainment for the crowd…I can only imagine what they were thinking! 

crashing in the bookstore...

 

Hot and tired…Do you know what we do when you are very hot and tired of walking?  We take refuge in the local bookstore, and sit on their couch!  A couple of the guys browsed through some books,  just to make us look legitimate… There is a local author in the background, autographing and selling his books, but no, I didn’t buy one.  Thirty-five dollars was too rich for my pocketbook! 

what can I say about this one..

 

Time to go…We all knew that our time in historic downtown Fernandina must come to an end, when granddaughter, Madison, had a “meltdown” in the bookstore…some cool water, followed by lunch…just what Madison needed to improve her mood!  Don’t you just love how one finger in her mouth won’t do–it has to be two–always! 

And just like our visit in downtown, it’s time for this blog post to come to an end…Until next time, let me  leave you with this photo and a smile… 

what in the world...

 

What in the world…is he doing you may ask?  Brad appears to be “showing his inflatable boat some love” on the terrace of our condo…Actually, he was trying to squeeze the air out of it so he could pack it up!  Pictures can be deceiving, huh?  Have a great day!

Published in: on July 1, 2010 at 10:17 am  Comments (1)  
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You Want To Buy A What???

Way back in 1986, when I was still a fairly young mother of three, my husband came home from work one day and told me that he would like to buy a camper.  My reply was “You want to buy a what?”  I didn’t know a thing about campers.  I’d only had one camping experience (in a tent–on an oyster bar) and it wasn’t a pleasant one!

Then my husband talked me into going and looking at some used campers.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how they managed to tuck all of the comforts of home in such a neat, small place.  Cute little kitchens, indoor plumbing…I was convinced–I agreed to get a camper!

I don’t remember how or where my husband found our first camper, I just remember him coming home and telling me that he’d found us a camper,  if he could work out all of the details.  It was an older camper that had just been sitting for a long time.  It wasn’t even for sale at the time.  The lady who owned it didn’t have a title for it anymore.  My husband talked her into selling it, had a title search done, and bought the camper from her for twenty-eight hundred dollars. The camper was quite dirty when Ed arrived home with it, but with some elbow grease and a  couple of cans of spray paint, it soon looked almost as good as new. 

our first camper...in the early days of camping

The best part about that camper was its layout and design.  It had a separate bedroom in the back that had two sets of bunk beds.  It had a large closet in between the beds.  We designated the whole back of the camper as the children’s space.  At that time we began camping, our children were ages 7, 4,  and eleven months.  One of the bottom bunks we made into a make-shift crib with a piece of wall paneling.  The rest of the area was large enough to hold all three children and plenty of toys to keep them occupied.  There was even a second fold-down table back there, so the children could have a table of their own.

I loved the little kitchen in that camper, and I cooked lots of meals in it!  It had lots of cabinets, a four burner stove with oven,  a large refrigerator, and a table large enough to accommodate all five of us.  There was room to sleep 4 more people when the table was taken down and the overhead cabinets were opened.  The bathroom had a cute little shower in it, which was perfect for bathing dirty little bottoms!  Best of all the air conditioner worked great!

We owned two cars at the time, and neither of them had a trailer hitch.  My car was a mid-sized Mercury Monarch, and had the power to pull a camper–even though it wasn’t really large enough.  We decided to get a friend to add a trailer hitch to my car.  The camper came with a special set of towing bars that were designed to take most of the weight of the camper off the car, and shift it to the camper wheels, so we figured we’d be okay.

We kept our early camping trips close to home.  There is a state park located just seventeen miles from our home–in the same town where my husband, Ed, was working at the time.  When Ed was “on call” at the hospital, we would spend those weekends at the state  park camping beside a large lake.  We combined work and pleasure!  If Ed got called in to do x-rays, he was usually back within thirty or forty minutes, so we barely had time to miss him.

We did venture about eighty miles away to the beach for a few times that first summer.  There is a large campground located on Jekyll Island and we’d stay there.  My car did fine as far as  towing the camper, but if the weather was windy or if an eighteen wheeler passed us on the highway, the car would sway from the weight of the camper behind it.  It soon became obvious that we would need to find something else to tow the camper with if we planned to do much traveling–but that’s a story for another day… so stay tuned!

Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 10:53 am  Comments (5)  
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