Camping Can be Fun Part 2

23 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Our first family camping trip, with our new/used equipment, was to another one of the nearby Florida freshwater springs.  Now it was wonderful to be able to close up the tent to keep the insects out and have screened windows to let the breeze cool the inside.  The cots allowed us to sleep off the ground, and the awning helped keep the rain out of the tent.  We made many weekend family camping trips to several of the other Florida freshwater springs that year.  On vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains that summer we were not ready for the colder weather.  We discovered that we needed something between us and the canvas cot to keep us warm.  And, in Florida, when it rains the water just soaked into the sand.  But in the mountains of North Carolina the water doesn’t soak in, and we woke up with two inches of water on the floor of our tent.  We never did discover where the water got into the tent.  That trip was when we decided we wanted a tent camper that would keep us warm and dry.


A friend a work sold us his small pop-up tent camper that was just what we were looking for.  This was an older basic house shaped camper with a 2-burner propane stove, but no electricity. We had to use Coleman lanterns for our lighting and we had a small two-burner Coleman stove in case we wanted to cook outside. The camper had a small freshwater tank, which required a hand-pump to get water into the sink.

Photo by Bill Lites

Everything had to fit within the camper footprint as the tent portion opened straight up to a peak running fore and aft.  The small stove, sink and countertop were on one side, with an office size “ice box” (remember, no electricity) under the counter.  On the other side was a small fold-down table with bench seats for four people.   DiVoran slept on the twin bed that ran across the front with storage under it, and I slept in the other twin bed that ran across the rear with more storage underneath.  A swing-away bunk bed was located over each twin bed, and was pinned into each of the fore and aft upright tent supports and that was where our children slept.  It was a very compact efficient and arrangement.  When folded down, everything was flush with the top sides of the camper, with a canvas cover over the top.  This did not allow for anything to be carried on top of the camper.

Photo by Bill Lites

We continued to enjoy camping at the Florida freshwater springs and spent several summer vacations with that camper in the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the same campground we enjoyed that first year in a tent.  We even managed a to get in a wonderful six-week ‘Across America’ (Florida to California and return) family camping trip one summer.  I was between jobs, and it was an opportunity to show our kids some of the wonders of our beautiful nation, and to visit friends and relatives along the way.

Photo by Bill Lites

Over the years we pretty much ran the wheels off that small camper.  We tried a 6-person Starcraft pop-up camper for a while, but we were looking for something with a little more room and comfort.  We finally sprang for a new Colman Fleetwood 8-person pull-out tent camper with all the bells and whistles.  We now had all the comforts of home (with the exception of toilet and shower).  Running water, lights, four-burner propane stove, refrigerator, electric heater, and air-conditioning.  We were ready for anything with this rig!  Our camping experiences took on a whole new prospective after that.  That camper gave us total year-around comfortable camping no matter where we decided to go.

Photo by Bill Lites

A few years later, after some major surgeries, the rigors of camper setup and teardown began to tell me it was time to leave the camping to the younger generation.  Our son and his family were ready to enjoy some quality camping experiences, so they inherited the Fleetwood.  It gave them several years of wonderful Florida camping, and then they also passed the camper to others to enjoy.  And that my friends, is the short version of our camping experiences.  It was great while it lasted, and I can recommend family camping, anywhere anytime, for quality relaxation and fun.  I had some of my most memorable camping times as a kid in the backyard of my home.  So, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just a weekend away with the family.  Try it.  I think you will like it.

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

One Response to “Camping Can be Fun Part 2”

  1. ludyja June 23, 2021 at 9:35 pm #

    Bill, I remember you telling me that one time you had just gone to the nearby KOA for the weekend. But then you realized that you had forgotten the coffee pot, and drove the 10 miles back home to retrieve it! That’s a great way to be away from home, and yet close enough if you needed something. Great story!


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