Picking out a campsite is an art in itself. It has to be level, not too close to neighbors, nicely wooded, and a big old pine tree doesn’t hurt. In fact, the more pine trees, the better! I love the pine needles- their color, smell and cushioning underfoot. The late afternoon or evening sun has a way of giving a special glow to a campsite, making it feel safe and warm…..until the sun sets!
My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”
It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.
We didn’t have water bottles- there was no sippy box, pouch or fancy energy drink. If you were outside playing, and you were thirsty, you would simply turn on the spigot, bend down a bit, wait for about 10 seconds until the cold water reached the end of the hose, then take a long, long gulp swallowing, swallowing and swallowing. Of course, you would then offer the hose to the next sweaty, out of breath neighborhood friend. If you were on your game that day, you might remember to turn off the hose. Or, your father might step in huge puddle and yell out ” Who left the dam hose on?”
Picking the perfect picnic spot had its own rituals. Where was the water? Is the table flat? Does the grill seem ok? Will it be sunny? Shady? Where is the bathroom? Is there room for the kids to play Frisbee? Once it passed all the checkpoints, it was time to unload the car. Coolers, lawn chairs, the lawn games-Jarts, croquet, badminton, volleyball…seems like we would bring more for a picnic than camping. Then there was the galvanized bucket filled with soda and beers for the day. The smell of the charcoal lighting filled the air, along with the drenching of Off. And so, a day of picnicking in Saratoga State Park would begin.