Thursday, March 20, 2008

After CV 6

A year after moving to Cheyenne, our fourth child, Gretchen, was born joining Lynne 6, Brad 3 and Laura 1.

Wyoming has a lot of outdoor recreation which appealed to us. We both came from close knit families and wanted the same for our own children so it was important to us to include them in nearly all of our activities. This included hiking, camping, skiing, sailing, tennis, canoeing, back packing, ice skating, fishing [ugh!] and golf [double ugh!]

We started camping when Laura and Gretchen were babies, to make it easier for me we would rent a fold down camper and day hike carrying the girls in backpacks for babies. We tried to fill each hike with 'kid' information inorder to teach them a love of nature and to enjoy it.

In the campgrounds we soon got tired of the loud TVs and stereos [some campers would hang speakers in the trees], motorcycles roaring in and out and the running of their air conditioners day and night.

As the little girls got older we would make them walk a while on each hike. We always carried crackers, cookies, candy, gum and their favorite 'backpackers grub' [M&Ms, raisins and peanuts] packed in ziplocks which helped a reluctant child along the trail.

By the time Gretchen was 3 she was capable of walking fairly long distances so we decided it was time to backpack and get away from the campgrounds. Before we left we practiced by hiking around town each carrying his own backpack loaded with canned goods and books to simulate the amount we would have to carry.

Our first trip was a 5 mile hike to a mountain lake we would stay at for 3 days. The little girls carried in their knapsacks their moccasins [we each wore these in camp instead of our hiking boots to prevent damage to the tent floor], one pair of extra socks and the snacks.

When you backpack you take only the necessities, this is not easy because you have to make sure you have everything you need. Besides what we wore we carried one change of clothes, moccasins, waterproof jacket, fleece jacket and a down vest. We also each wore a whistle around our necks for safety and fun.

Brad and Lynne had to carry their own sleeping bags, clothes and games etc. Walt carried about 50 lbs and I about 30 lbs. We divided up the stove, cooking and eating utensils, fishing poles, food, tent, sleeping bags, camera, flash light, lamp, first aid items etc.

After trial and error backpacking became our favorite 'sport' we frequently would hike 20 to 30 miles into a wilderness area. We would spend hours identifying the flora and fauna, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery, fishing for our dinner, telling ghost stories, trying to identify the stars, singing every song we knew and just enjoying being together away from all the cares of the world.

Some things were not in the guide books, such as the time a raccoon ate the tops of Walts and my expensive hiking boots, we had left them outside the tent because they were very wet. The park ranger said the raccoon was after the salt that had soaked into the leather from sweat. Having a bear come into our camp area, we abandoned camp and jumped into our canoes and paddled to the middle of the lake. This one is my favorite as I hate to fish!! Catching a trout in the coffee pot as I was washing it in the stream.

When the children were young we also discovered Mexico where we bought a condo on the Sea of Cortez. We spent every spring break there even after the kids were in college. We enjoyed snorkling, collecting shells, studying the sea life, sailing our hobie cat and then graduating to a 30 ft. sleep on boat which then meant deep sea fishing.

As I type this it brings back many wonderful memories of the childrens growing up years but it also reminds me of probably the worse too. First Lynne and then 5 years later Gretchen were both diagnosised with Atrial Septal Defect, hole in the heart. For me there has never been anything more frightening than having a child have open heart surgery!!! They are both healthy now.

Lynne is a Rheumatologist, Brad is in education administration for the US Army in Germany, Laura has her masters in social work and Gretchen is a Veternarian. We have 11 grandchildren.


Gary White said...

Your camping stories reminded me of many similar experiences when my kids were very young. One that sticks out was when we pulled into a camp ground that saw masses of mosquitos flying all around. When we remarked that we were going to be "eaten alive by mosquitos," my daughter, Stephanie, age 3 or 4, took us quite literally, and refused to budge from the back seat of the car!

"Thanks, for the memories . . ." (Bob Hope)

Phil Foust said...

Well, Nancy ... these wonderful family activities are greatly admired. You and your husband were so wise!

Jay (J.D.) Mills, HP3AK said...

Nancy, thanks for bringing back memories of camping out with the family in a number of places. My favorite was canoe camping in Minnesota / Canada west of lake Superior. 25 miles of flat water paddling and a few portages before setting up camp in the wilderness for a week. No campground, no neighbors, no noise...

wayne woodruff said...

Nancy, We also camped a lot, but not to the back-packing extent that you did. My wife also had her masters in social work. One night we were asleep in our tent, and the little dog started growling and we heard a bear rattleing the pans on the table. Diana got up, out of the tent and yelled at the bear, who promptly ran off into the woods. Guess that bear knew who was boss.

wayne woodruff said...

Another story to which you may relate. As a kid, Diana's family use to back pack up into the deep Cascade mountains to some "secret" fishing lakes that her Dad liked. If he caught no fish, they did not eat, so he would fish all day. One year when they went up, the snow and glaciers were frozen, but a week later when they started down, the thaw had started and the route/trail they needed to traverse was a rushing torrent. They had to detour for miles to find a way past the flood.