Maddie and Jordann and their campfire
I love this photo our son Jeremy sent while he was camping out with his girls, who are 8 and 6 years old. They have always loved campouts, complete with tents and cooking over the fire. But recently they began what Jeremy termed "glamping" after their family acquired a travel trailer which allows them to have most of the comforts of home (indoor shower and bathroom, beds with mattresses, and a small kitchen.) They can enjoy being outdoors and still sleep cool and snug.
When they were here this past weekend, Maddie invited her Papa and me to come camping with them - and they would "give us the best bed!" I asked her if I had ever told her the story of when we camped out in a buffalo herd the first year we were married. Her eyes got big and she said no, I had not told her that story, and she was properly shocked as we told what had happened to us.
In July, 1964, (after our December 28,1963 wedding), Joe worked as a geophysicist on a seismic crew for Petty Geophysical. We lived that blistering hot summer in a small apartment in Duncan, Oklahoma. The crew received word of being moved to Sherman, Texas so we planned a weekend to go there to look for an apartment. We thought it would be fun to go camping at Lake Texoma, so we borrowed gear from another crew member. On that Friday, we had air mattresses and coolers already loaded into our tiny Karman Ghia, and I had already prepared food to pack at the last minute. At lunchtime, Joe came home and said the crew move had been delayed for several weeks. Crestfallen, we cancelled our camping plans since we couldn't afford to go find a place to live there and pay double rent for a month.
But when we were eating dinner after Joe got home that evening, we thought of a Plan B! Lawton, OK is only a little over 30 miles from Duncan, and northwest of Lawton is Mount Scott, a prominent mountain in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Why not drive over at there instead? So we rechecked our prepared gear and food and headed out.
The closest I had ever come to camping was a weiner roast with my best friend's family or sleeping in a bunk bed at church camp! So I wasn't much help other than being a good sandwich maker. Joe thought it would be a great geology field trip! Arriving after dark, as we entered the roads leading toward campsites, I did notice warning signs for wildlife, including some cautions about buffalo, longhorn cattle, and snakes. After all, it was a wildlife refuge! Evidently alot of other people had the same good idea about a weekend campout, because all the campsites in the common area were already occupied. Joe drove down to a grove of trees that looked perfect, we inflated our air mattresses and enjoyed the cool breeze, so different from our apartment that had no fan or air conditioner. We left the coolers in the car, and as I walked back to the car to get water, I looked out toward Mount Scott with a full moon rising over it and smiled. But as I stood there, I felt a twinge of uncertainty. There were what seemed to be round dark shadows moving in this landscape. I called Joe and pointed this out, but non-plussed, he said they were "just rocks," Quickly, I made up my mind - whatever this was, it was moving, and moving toward us. I told him I was getting in the car, and soon he joined me as the first large animals lumbered by. A small herd of buffalo thought our grove of trees looked inviting too! Or maybe they were just curious and wanted to investigate our presence. I remember laughing to the point of hysteria! If I had rolled down the car window, I could have scratched a hairy belly! And we couldn't just drive off and leave our borrowed gear on the ground! Joe discovered if he turned on the car's headlights, the animals moved away from the light. So he told me to move the car back and forth and he ran for the air mattresses. Unfortunately, inflated air mattresses do not fit well into Kharman Ghias, adding to our nervous hilarity. We drove around for an hour, but never found a spot we (mostly me) found acceptable, so we drove back to our hot apartment and finally went to bed.
Later we learned that the designated camp area was surrounded by a moat to protect campers from Buffalo visitors. We didn't stay in Duncan long enough to repeat our attempt to camp at Mount Scott, and years later when we finally did pitch a tent for a family camp out at Lake Texoma, Jeremy, who was then a small boy, had his own camping adventure when he picked up what he thought was a big ball on the trail and it turned out to be an armadillo!
Glamping might just be OK!