The hill was just the right level of difficulty for my 10 year old self. Steep enough to be a thrilling coast down, but not so terrifying to worry about skinned-knees. My sisters and I would ride down this hill again and again over the next few days.
Our favorite campsite was just a less than an hour from home, so the anticipation of arrival was short. Once we drove around the camp loop (sometimes twice if we missed our number), my dad would slowly back in the pop-up trailer, and we knew we had arrived.My parents would get right to work popping up the camper, and we sometimes stuck around long enough to unpack the coolers, lawn chairs, and other camping gear. But, once those bikes were removed from the top of the van, we were gone.
If we were lucky, the parks and rec would have just black-top paved the camp loop, so it was smooth sailing (also great for when we became proficient roller-bladers as teens.)
My sisters and I would check out the beach, find the “good” bathhouse, visit the parks and rec booth for their weekend activities and events, wave at our new neighbors for the weekend, and generally visit our favorite spots. This first initial stake-out would usually last about 30 minutes before we found our way back to our site.
I remember the feeling of pulling into our spot, knowing my parents had done the heavy lifting to make this our home away from home. The camper was up, food was set out, sleeping and duffle bags were placed in our sleeping quarters, and a fire was lit.
It was the smoke coming from the campfire I remember most vividly. There was a feeling of comfort in knowing Dad had the fire lit, and we were officially settled. It was usually too early to grill supper, and definitely too early for s’mores, but the fire was started anyway, standing as an open ceremonies for the coming adventures. Most often, it would be lunch time and Mom had sandwiches, chips, and fruit ready at the picnic table. The clothesline was up, and the hand-washing milk jug-with-pantyhose-soap was attached and waiting for our use. After a good soapy lather, we were ready to eat before heading to the beach or hiking trail with dad.
Those hot summers seem so far away now, but the memories are stuck in my mind like honey. I can view it all in my minds eye, and only now as a parent of small kids, do I realize the sacrifice and work it took to make these camping trips pulled off (mostly) without a hitch. Our family bonded on these longs summers, and I can still picture my mom in the lawn chair reading her magazines, and my dad’s excited and goofy energy when he’d hop on his bike to join his girls on their next ride around the loop. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving us the life-long memories of camping with you. We will never forget them, or that hill that was just the perfect combo of thrill and comfort.