I was 17 years old when my grandfather passed away in 1998. Some of my fondest memories are of the delectable waffle breakfasts he would craft every Christmas and the times he would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I always enthusiastically answered “a photographer”. He had a great love of photography himself and the kid in me today would be giddy at the opportunity to tell him that I did indeed become a professional photographer. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered another passion that my grandfather and I shared. Truck camping.
One evening a few weeks ago my dad, Mark and myself began sorting thru boxes of old slides that belonged to my grandfather. Carousel after carousel full of hundreds of slides clicked thru the projector and lit up the dark wall of my dad’s living room, one by one revealing my grandparents, their truck camper and the open road. Each box of slides meticulously labeled-Zion N.P., Bryce N.P., Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Mammoth, Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, Crater Lake, Glacier N.P., the list goes on. I’d either already been there in my own truck camper or it was on my list of places to go.
The kid in me yearning to tell my grandfather that I’d become a professional photographer was now wishing he was here so that we could sit around a campfire together and share everything we loved about truck camping and the open road. While those conversations will never amount to more than day dreams, nothing can take away the fact that my grandparents and I have traveled down some of the same roads, swam in the same lakes and admired the same mountain vistas.
What I find so incredible about this is that thanks to our public lands, the open road and camping (one of life’s greatest pastimes) even with a span of 50 years, my grandparents and I can share the same experiences.
With our reliance on ever-changing technology and disposable goods, it will be impossible for a grandchild to connect with their grandparent in 50 years the way camping can bridge that gap. The beauty of camping is the way it draws our attention back to life’s basic fundamentals and simple pleasures. Eat, sleep, spend time with people you love. Discover and explore new places. Be inspired by the great outdoors. I believe this is what my grandpa loved about camping too.
Being one of the younger grandchildren, I never got the opportunity to camp with my grandparents (if I did I was too young to remember) but I was brought up around my parent’s love for camping along with nearly all my aunts, uncles and cousins. Obviously, that passion has been passed down to me and here I am focusing my entire lifestyle around it.
Discovering my grandparents love of camping has showed me that it all started with them. Had they never traveled and not passed their love of camping down to their kids I very well may not be sitting here in my camper beginning an entirely new chapter of my life. For that I am profoundly grateful. Thank you Grandpa.