Last night our family said hello to a new friend. This new friend will take the place of a beloved piece of rusted metal. Rusted metal and canvas which has played a pretty big role in our kids' summer memories. Such a big role, that when we announced that we would be purchasing a newer-to-us replacement, not one of their sweet faces responded with delight. They were crushed, disappointed and as my oldest pointed out, "Isn't this just a bit too soon?" There were tears. I'm not lying. They were not ready.
"So is Max the next to go?" demanded Keira.
"No, kiddo, the dog stays. This is just the beginning of our future mountain adventures!"
"But, Mom, it has a toilet. That is not camping."
Maybe not, but in honor of our fallen friend, I am reposting this tribute to...Cousin Eddie.
Summer in the mountains arrives s...l...o...w...l...y. It seems to take forever. Then one day you realize that you've been wearing shorts more than jeans, even at night and voila! You know that summer has arrived. And with the arrival of summer comes camping.
Before kids, Sean and I used to backpack and tent camp. And when I say "used to backpack and tent camp" what I mean to say is we went backpacking up a really, really steep mountainous incline once. It was fun but the lack of an ice cold beer at the end was kind of a mood killer. And once we even tent camped when Ella was a baby. It was okay, but something about sleeping on the ground with babies and toddlers just killed the "camping is so fun and relaxing" spark.
So when Keira was born we knew it was our moment to sell out. You guessed it...it was time to enjoy the Rocky Mountains in a glorified tent-on-wheels. A pop-up.
With a baby and a toddler, we didn't want to spend a huge amount on our new camping digs. We were budget conscious and just a little bit cheap. After a brief search of craigslist, we found our mobile dream mountain home. A 1972 Starcraft camper for a whopping $500. It was older than us, had a floral pattern on the cushions that rivaled any Carol Brady dress, and was only slightly more expensive than the doll-size camper that comes with the "I love camping" American Doll. It was just our style.
This camper had been well cared for by its previous owners. Like a handsome older man, all of our camper's important parts were intact and functioning. And much like a young, energetic woman dating a handsome older man, we broke him. During our inaugural camping trip, the canvas which had survived through presidents, recessions, the Cold War, and the entire seasons of Seinfeld and Friends ripped in three separate places. Zippers which had zipped without fail for the previous 30 plus years suddenly became disabled and useless. Screens that had served past occupants well by denying mosquitoes, flies and bees access to the inner sanctum tore without warning.
After applying copious amounts of duct tape to all his tender places and affixing a large blue tarp upon the entire right side of the camper when threatened by a downpour, we stepped back, gazed lovingly at our camper and realized that the only right thing to do was to call him...
Cousin Eddie. You know, Cousin Eddie? That friendly, slightly embarrassing second cousin? The one who dresses inappropriately, belches loudly, has little to no social skills, and shows up uninvited on your front door for a "visit?"
Clark: So, when did you get the tenement on wheels?
Eddie: Oh, that uh, that there's an RV. Yeah, yeah, I borrowed it off a buddy of mine.
He took my house, I took the RV. It's a good looking vehicle, ain't it?
Clark: Yeah, it looks so nice parked in the driveway.
Eddie: Yeah, it sure does. But, don't you go falling in love with it now,
because, we're taking it with us when we leave here next month.
And so our family camping adventures began. We might not be the prettiest camper on the mountains (not pretty at all actually), but Cousin Eddie has served us well for over 7 years now. He pops up on demand, the heater continues to keep us warm at night, the hail-damaged roof stays in the upright position at all times - even during an intense wind storm, and most importantly, the five of us sleep comfortably and soundly all night long.
So now, every spring we hear the kids ask,
"Mommy and Daddy, we really miss Cousin Eddie....is it summer yet?"
Oh, yeah, it (almost) is.