My family used to camp. Rather a lot. Like, twice a year for long weekend trips, and then there was usually camping involved on our summer vacation. We also, usually, camped with my mother’s brother and his family. So, four adults and five children (six year ago different between eldest and youngest).
One of our favorite places to camp was in the Smoky Mountains. I think we were there probably every other year. One year, we were there for a week. It rained the first six days. We didn’t let that stop us! We played games in the dining tent* and put on skits in the van*. We blame Aunt K for the rain (I don’t remember why). We almost got smashed by a falling tree as we were driving somewhere (Either a hike or a nature program). The last day it was sunny. And all of us kids decided that was the day we were all going to hate each other. We couldn’t get along for beans that day! I think the other adults might have told Aunt K to bring the rain back.
A different vacation with those same relatives, we were doing three weeks Out West. We briefly went different directions, because Dad wanted to take us to the Badlands, and the other family had just been there the year before. So we’re driving along whatever that main expressway across South Dakota is called when the van broke down. We had borrowed a custom van from Dad’s brother, and it broke down. In pre-cell phone days. In the middle of the mostly uninhabited plains. We eventually got help from a nice family from Alaska who went to the next town to call us a tow truck and we got towed to Wall, South Dakota, home of the famous ice water. Where, as Mom likes to say, “We spent a week there one day.” I think we spent two nights there, which was approximately 40 hours too long.**
* I don’t know how the adults came up with the logistics they did, but whenever we camped, they put a larger screened in tent/canopy over a couple of picnic tables. Picnic tables were then covered with plastic table cloths. There was enough room to fit the camp stove, an electric griddle, and the wash area. If it rained, they’d affix tarps to the outside of the canopy with clothes pins. And the van was Dad’s full-size van. It was supposed to have two benches, but he would take one out for these trips and we’d put all the coolers in the back (to keep them away from the bears) and that’s what most of us kids would sit on as we drove around the park. We easily fit four children on the one bench for the drive down. Uncle D drove his pickup truck because that was the best way to fit all of the bikes (the fifth child sat in between her mom and dad in the pick-up truck).
**The part that had failed had been “bastardized”, so it was half van, half car. The carburetor, perhaps? The mechanic had to drive to Sioux City two or three times to get it right. I continue to stop there if I’m driving that way, and I have no idea how we managed to occupy ourselves for so long.