One Woman's Viewpoint

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Brings back fond memories

Now having moved to Storm Lake every time I see a boat out on the lake or catch the whiff of smoke from a campfire, memories of camping come to mind. My family did a lot of camping when I was growing up, mostly in a fold down camper but some tent camping as well. We've never camped in a motor home. Personally I think that takes away from the whole camping experience.

I grew up in Forest City which manufacturers Winnebago Motorhomes so I've seen my share of the big rigs. One we toured even had a door bell. Personally when I go camping I go to get away from people. We camped all over, Rocky Mountain National Park in CO, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Yosemite in California.

We've had several interesting experiences including cattle that got loose and wandered around the campground. We woke up one morning to "mooing." In one campground we noticed a few black and white colored bunnies hopping around. Then one year I rolled too far over in my bed and the bungie straps on the camper came loose and I ended up rolling out of the bed landing on the ground outside. My parents were a little confused when they heard a soft knock on the door and their little girl was standing at the door of the camper with her sleeping bag, pillow and stuffed buffalo, whimpering.

"What are you doing outside?" they asked. (maybe that's why they had a doorbell on that motor home.)

On one particular camping trip we were at Rocky Mountain National Park in our fold down. In the middle of the night we heard the lids on the dumpsters banging. "Who would be up at this time of night dumping their trash?" we wondered. "And making an awful racket?" Since we were all up mom and dad decided it would be a good time for us to visit the bathrooms, which weren't that far from our camper. On the way back we waited at the door of the camper as we each took our shoes off and crawled back into bed. All of a sudden, dad whispered "I see a bear by the bathrooms." Sure enough there was a bear waddling around the door of the women's restroom. Guess we knew who'd been helping himself to the dumpsters in the middle of the night.

We decided to go for a drive since we figured no one would be able to sleep knowing there was a bear wandering around and we had seen so many horrible pictures of cars and tents that bears had ripped open with one swipe. The next day we heard a gun shot go off. Someone in the campground had shot himself in the hand while getting something out of the back of his truck. Turns out he thought he would shoot any bears he saw to protect himself.

This wasn't our last bear experience. We went camping to Yosemite when I was in 7th grade, however, this time we were in our tent. During the night park rangers were leading the bear out of the campground and he lumbered right by our tent. YIKES! Good thing he hadn't gotten hungry, I was sleeping near the door of the tent.

Who knows, maybe I'll pitch a tent in Storm Lake sometime this summer. I'm glad to know they don't have bears here.

* Jennifer Nelson in a Pilot-Tribune news staff member.