"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

The itch to camp propels family into the outdoors, where sometimes, adversity makes the best stories — afterwards

By on May 28, 2019 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
Three generations of campers (Linda and Ken Reid at right rear, plus their son, daughter and her two children) rough it at Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula for some family time together back in 2010.

By Linda Reid  

No one has ever asked me to submit a camping resume to prove my expertise but I am prepared, just in case it happens, which would be most likely at this time of year when outdoor enthusiasts begin to anticipate summer camping trips. My resume would go something like this:

First camping trip with my parents at age three in an improvised pup tent.

Subsequent camping from British C0lumbia and Alberta to most of the Western states, all done in a VW bug with a top-heavy, home-designed roof carrier. 

My future husband had to commit to becoming a camper before marrying into my family.

Our two children promised to become life-long campers after their first camping trips at ages 4 months and 11 months, respectively.

As fourth generation campers, our grandchildren promised to carry on this legacy when they were initiated at 9 months and 2 years, respectively.

In 2016, after many decades of tenting, my husband and I broke protocol and bought a A-liner, pop up trailer, although we still do at least one tenting trip every year.

We have plans to continue camping as long as we can still light a Coleman stove without injury, can find our way to and from our destinations, and successfully back our little trailer into our garage.

One of our criteria for choosing Wenatchee as our retirement location was the proximity of camping possibilities. The mostly reliable weather and the wide variety of natural beauty make it irresistible to us. 

We had spent a lifetime traveling across the Cascades to enjoy places like Lincoln Rock, Icicle River (Leavenworth), Lake Wenatchee and Lake Chelan, to name a few of our favorites. Now Lincoln Rock is 25 minutes from our front door. 

The memories we have over the decades make these places and many others our anchors to this part of the state. The sense of place they provided for us beckoned us to not only visit NCW but to make our home here. 

Now I invite you to step into a few of our camping stories that just might motivate you to create some camping memories of your own with your family or friends. 

Lincoln Rock State Park

We have been camping at Lincoln Rock since it first opened in 1981 when our kids were just three and six. It has become a place where we bike (now connected to the Apple Capital Loop Trail), walk, picnic during all four seasons and reminisce about one of our most unforgettable camping trips. We might call it, “The Itch to Camp.” 

We should have had the good sense to turn back to Seattle when our son, Jason (age 7), starting itching in Leavenworth. Not yet knowing for sure what was causing his distress and being the intrepid campers we were, we stopped and bought some calamine lotion and journeyed on. 

It soon became obvious this was the much-feared childhood disease of chickenpox. 

After a mostly sleepless night, we spent the next day having to carry Jason everywhere since the painful, itching blisters had spread to cover the bottoms of his feet. 

By late that afternoon we acknowledged we had been defeated, packed up our gear, waved farewell to Lincoln Rock and headed home. 

Camping adversities make the best stories later. 

Icicle River Road

The campgrounds on Icicle River Road are hard to resist, with hiking paths along the River and trails that climb up to pristine mountain lakes with perfect picnic locations. 

We took one of those lovely hikes and were ready to drive back to our campsite when we arrived at the trailhead and discovered a ruptured radiator hose in our 1977 Dodge Sportsman van. The only nearby water source was the river, so we filled the radiator, opened our first aid kit and bandaged the hose with adhesive tape, then “nursed” the van down the road (at least 10 miles) to have repairs made in Leavenworth. 

Camping offers you opportunities to be inventive.

Lake Chelan

The land for Lake Chelan State Park was set aside in 1943. I have a black and white snapshot of myself camping there in the early 1950s. 

We made numerous camping trips there when our kids were young. 

To this day, we love to take our tent and camp in one of those remarkable spots right on the Lake shore, especially in the fall when it is quiet and peaceful. 

One of our most memorable camping adventures there took place when our daughter, Kimberly, was about six years old. When Mom, Dad and little brother woke up in the morning, she was missing. 

She had decided to dress and quietly slip out of the tent on her own for an early morning exploration (perhaps thinking it would earn her the much coveted “Junior Ranger” badge). 

We flew out of the tent just in time to see her sheepishly climbing up the bank from the creek behind our campsite, soaking wet and covered with mud. Let’s just say, it was a moment to remember. It has always been a favorite camping story to tell her children. 

She learned that camping makes you a survivor.

Ken and Linda always find camping a way to simplify their life, connect with nature and recharge their batteries.

Entiat City Park Campground

This lovely park opened in its current configuration in May of 2015. 

We camped there with friends the weekend it opened. The landscaping was immature but it looked like it had been well thought out and had the potential for one day creating shade. 

The next summer we camped there with our kids and grandkids. They had a great time building an almost seaworthy raft from wind-fall branches and bungee cords. They also took advantage of the still-almost-new playground. 

That following fall we attended a lecture and film at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center and found out an interesting fact: right after the trees were planted at the Entiat Park, beavers planned an invasion and in one night’s worth of chipping away and chewing, they destroyed every little tree, all of which needed to be replaced and beaver-proofed. 

Camping helps you appreciate wildlife, seen or unseen. 

Lake Wenatchee and 

Crescent Bar

We are huge fans of Lake Wenatchee State Park, especially in the fall when we can camp surrounded by bright-red vine maple trees, with the additional advantage of it being too cold for the local population of mosquitoes. 

We also enjoyed the new campground at Crescent Bar last October. There were only three campsites occupied. Post Labor Day camping is one of the gifts I most appreciate as a retired teacher. 

I am guessing that some of you who have been reading this might not feel the same motivation to leave the comforts of home behind and follow “the call of the wild” to a campground, but we can’t imagine not having been life-long campers. 

Why is that true? 

There are many ways to answer that question, but the most important thing for us about camping has been the way all of those family camping trips bonded us to our kids through shared experiences that we still retell and pass on to the next generation 30-plus years later. 

I put a book of “Grandma’s Camping Stories” together for my grandchildren for Christmas when they were four and seven. The last page has a little poem I wrote for them, which I would like to also share with you. 

Why Do We Camp?

We love to sit by the campfire at night

And to sleep in our tent seems just so right.

Cooking outside and eating there too

Makes everything taste so good, it’s true.

Watching for wildlife and taking a hike

In the great outdoors, that’s what we like.

The mountains, the forest or right by a lake,

We love to camp and we know what to take.

Camping is something our family just does,

We do it together and that’s what we love!

Linda and her husband Ken live in East Wenatchee where they can drive almost any direction for about an hour and enjoy a camping experience. What a rejuvenating place to live.

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