A number of years ago…a little more than forty one, to be more exact, my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer purchased a cute little travel trailer from Mom’s sister, Evelyn and her husband George Hushman. I’m sure that to many people that fact would seem like an unimportant tidbit of information, but to my sisters and me, it was like taking a stroll down memory lane. Mom and Dad always loved to travel, and wanted to give their daughters as much of the world as they possibly could. I’m sure that sounds like most parents, or maybe to you, it sounds like we were spoiled children, but you would be wrong, if you thought that. To our parents, giving their daughters the world, meant showing us what a great nation we live in, and maybe even adding Mexico and Canada to that list of places we have been. As kids, we were viewed as very blessed, because we were far more traveled than most of our classmates. There may not have been tons of money for those adventures, but Dad and Mom always found a way to make it happen.
For many years we all slept in different areas of the station wagon they drove. Dad rigged it to allow seven people to sleep comfortably in that station wagon…an amazing feat in and of itself. Eventually however, we would really get to be too big to continue that sleeping arrangement, so they knew that a travel trailer would be needed. During that time, Mom and Dad had told Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George how much they liked their little travel trailer, so when they decided to sell it, Mom and Dad were the first people they thought of. Mom and Dad were so happy about buying that trailer. It was to be the next step in the traveling, camping, memory making kind of lifestyle they wanted. The kind of life they wanted to give their daughters. It was truly an exciting day for them.
The trailer has not been used now for about 15 years, sadly. Most of those years…the last ten anyway, were since our parents were sick, and since my dad passed away in 2007. Since Mom’s passing on February 22nd of this year, we decided to sell the trailer to my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his fiancée, Kayla. When we looked at the title, we took note of the date they bought the trailer. It was February 14, 1974. When my sister, Cheryl Masterson saw that date, her mind immediately pictured Mom and Dad on the day they purchased the trailer. She said, “And about the date of purchase, I can just see them walking out of the bank after signing the paperwork, and Mom saying, ‘Well, we got ourselves a trailer!’ And Dad saying, ‘Yeah. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mammy!’ And then they sealed that with a kiss! Can’t you see that?” Yes, Cheryl, I can see that. I can picture it very clearly in my mind, because that was the way they were, and the kind of love they had.
My dad loved camping. For him, camping and spending time with his family was the best thing to do in the world. I think that if he could have spent his entire life camping with the family, he would have totally loved it. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows in the evening, and of course, my personal favorite, having that morning cup of coffee. Coffee made over an open fire, is so good, and the smell of bacon and eggs cooking, mixing with the scent of pine trees and fresh mountain air…well, I can smell it right now. Those mornings were so relaxing, because my parents were never in a hurry to get going in the mornings. We were, after all, on vacation. I suppose most people, and I would have to include me and my family now, want to get going in the mornings, and so sleeping in and relaxing with a cup of coffee by the morning fire, are not common things anymore, but our family sure enjoyed it back then.
Those days spent camping and traveling around the country bring back such sweet memories. In fact, sometimes the memory of camping in the Black Hills is so vivid that I can almost see my dad standing around that campfire. It was a scene I saw so many times. We have always been a family of coffee drinkers, and I think we all agree that coffee around the campfire is some of the best coffee around. I don’t know, maybe the coffee is the same, but the atmosphere is what makes all the difference. I don’t know for sure, but I can say that there isn’t a one of us that didn’t love to sit and relax around that campfire.
Everyone has those old memories of days gone by. They are the ones that can be triggered by something simple that we might do every day…such as having our morning cup of coffee, the smell of wood burning in a fireplace, or thinking about going on a trip. Suddenly that memory is there, and you can see it all again, and for me, even taste that great cup of coffee. Life just doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Our lives are so hectic sometimes, and often, we forget to stop and smell the roses. Before we know it, the people most precious to us are either in Heaven, or too busy with their own lives to spend much time with everyone else. All we have left are memories. People need to slow down sometimes, and enjoy life a little, because really, there is nothing’ like a good cup of coffee by the campfire on a cool mountain morning.
Lately, I’ve been noticing the changes in our weather that are all too familiar this time of year. It’s a feeling of fall. Even though I don’t dislike fall the way I used to, I still feel a little twinge of regret that summer is over. Still, as much as I used to love summer, these days it just feels too hot sometimes. I have started liking the cooler weather of spring and fall…winter, well I think I’ll always hate winter, except in pictures, or from inside the house.
Liking or not liking the coming fall and winter aside, I nevertheless recall some of the trips Bob and I took in the fall. Our girls were small them, so school was not a problem. We really liked those fall vacations, because there were less people traveling then…less people on the road, and less people at the places we wanted to go. The changing leaves were pretty, even though we don’t get the brilliant colors that occur in other areas of the country.
The year Corrie was born, however, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit my Uncle Bill’s family. I will never forget the beauty of the Wisconsin fall. My only regret is that the cameras back them could not capture the beauty of it all like the ones we have now. Nevertheless, there was a definite red color. I thought back to some of the pictures my parents took of the area during their years of living in Wisconsin. The pictures are in black and white, of course. The only way to see the beauty of the multi colored fall trees, is to have been there and to carry the memory of the colors. That way you could look at the pictures and add the color with your imagination. That is the way it is with all the black and white pictures of that era…sadly.
Now that our children are grown, the possibility of fall vacations again presents itself. I know I would love to go to areas of the country that have the trees that turn a firey red, and some yellow mixed in. With today’s cameras, the pictures of fall back east would be stunning. I think I might have to plan just such a trip in the near future.