By Keith Fisher
In our busy lives today, it seems it’s always (Some) time of year again. Whether its time to rake the leaves, shovel snow, or plant the garden, We have markers in our lives that keep us connected to the calendar and to each other. For many of us, springtime brings thoughts of getting our gear out, cleaning it up, and packing it in to go camping.
I know I promised to write about something else this time, but I feel the urge to talk about our ancestral need to get out into nature.
In our house, the first camping trip of the year usually coincides with the Spring Dutch oven convention. As you know from my blog last week, the event is held at the Davis County Fairgrounds, in Farmington, Utah. In the past, we parked in the parking lot. Now there’s a campground.
Its my shakedown trip, because it gives me a chance to see if anything is going to break down before I get into the wilderness somewhere. Camping in the city provides me with convenient auto and trailer parts stores. If I forget to fill the propane tanks, I don’t have to drive several miles to rectify the problem.
I need to admit, though, I got this idea from John Mckenzie, an old friend who we used to camp with. A group of us, used to go to Provo Boat Harbor in early May, before the mosquitos took up residence. Many a Dutch oven meal made our camping trips heavenly.
Anyway, after the shakedown every year, I’m ready for campgrounds, National Parks, and wild places. In Utah, that usually means the mountains somewhere. It also means reservations. I had a conversation with my brother once, when he predicted a day that we wouldn’t be able to use the canyons with paying a fee. Although I hated to think about it, I figured he was right, but I hoped it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime.
That day is here, so start now, plan your trips for this year, and get reservations early. Because of the economy last year, it was possible to get reservations, sometimes within the same week of your trip. That’s not always the case, and it won’t last forever. Get your reservations.
It is, still possible, however, to find open places for camping in Utah. If your pleasure is fishing, boating, and tourist attractions, you will need to camp in a designated campground, but if you want to make your own fun, consider the desert.
Wherever you go, don’t forget your camp kitchen. What a thrill it is to watch the sun go down over a mountain peak, while putting the finishing touches on your Dutch oven meal. Or, light a fire in the morning and roast brats for breakfast.
There is satisfaction in rolling your dough out before reveille, cutting biscuits to bake. Then, to watch your campmates stick their heads out to get a whiff of your cooking.
Camping for me is like a link to the past. My father loved to hunt and fish. I remember fishing trips and a vague trip to Yellowstone. As a child, I dreamed of the day when I could go deer hunting with my dad and brother. My uncles and grandpa would be there too.
When that day finally arrived, I was overwhelmed, but I think I fell in love with the camping part of it more than the hunting part. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the hunting, but I loved my grandfather’s camp cooking. He loved to make pancakes for breakfast.
Over the years, we went from Tent camping to a cab-over camper on the back of Dad’s truck. When I married, I bought a camper to get her off the ground. But I needed the truck for hunting, and I got tired of loading and unloading the camper. I bought a camp trailer. When my daughter was born, we needed a bathroom---well, you get the picture. Camping has been part of our lives and camp cooking has been part of the fun.
Now, I gaze at old pictures and marvel over the great campsites we used over the years. Sometimes we had a perfectly placed tree to hang our lantern. Sometimes we made camp furniture from fallen logs. Always, we had great discussions around the campfire.
Shortly after getting married, we started taking trips into the desert. It was a great place to get away from the crowds at Easter time. Now the ATV crowd is moving in, but it’s still a nice place to go. There are beautiful things in the desert, not seen at 25 miles per hour on the back of a four-wheeler. Keep in mind though, It’s a harsh climate.
Whether you hunt, fish, ATV, fly kites, or ride horses. Camping can be a great part of it. There’s nothing like riding into camp on your four-wheeler, or pulling your boat up to the dock, and sitting down to a hot Dutch oven meal. Cobbler tastes just as good in the mountains as in the desert. Your skillet works just as well in a motor home, as on camp stove, or campfire. Brats are delicious roasted on a stick.
Still, if you can't possibly get away, and work keeps you at home, there’s always your back yard, isn’t there?