Hi-Ho, A Camping We Will Go

I’m itchin’ to hit the trail and go camping. But, when I look out my window, all I see is snow drifts. So, for now, day-dreaming about it will have to do. Are you itchin’ too? If so, saddle up your horse, lace up your hiking boots, hitch up your camper, load your bikes on the SUV and lets go on a virtual camp-out. I’m so outta here!

Americans love, love, love camping trips, whether it is for the weekend or a much longer stay that requires much preparation and quite a bit of gear … pannierds, pack horses, wall tents, rifles, stoves etc. My opinion: I think the pioneer spirit of our forefathers (and mothers) has something to do with our hunger to go on “walk about”. It wasn’t just settling this country that drove people into the back country. No, the wilderness drew them. Breath taking beauty, the quiet, the majesty, the solitude, the sights and smells, the sheer fun of adventure and the freedom … the freedom. We’ve never outgrown a healthy lust for the great outdoors. Fortunately, there have always been inspired conservationists who are called to protect the next generation’s right to enjoy God’s wondrous creation. I think they should be called Preservationists. Anyway, there have been many, but here are two famous gentlemen that really got the ball rolling in this country. They were also friends: John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt. Think of them while you listen to the loons from your cabin porch in Minnesota. Think of them when you stand awestruck below the Grand Tetons. Think of them as you squeeze lemon juice on that trout caught in a lake that few to this day have ever seen. Think of them and how they inspired many others to pick up where they left off. Think and be thankful.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But He cannot save them from fools.”

” The mountains are calling and I must go.”

~ John Muir

There are a thousand ways to enjoy the great outdoors and a place for everyone: a cot in a cabin, a real bed in a lodge, a sleeping bag under the stars, a camper parked by a lake. You can enjoy a traditional breakfast in a cozy inn or cook your own over a fire … after you get back from gathering wood near your campsite. Families eager to go camping created the camp trailer market … and a huge one it is. There’s every shape and size imaginable: from pop-ups to tiny tear-drops, from truck mounted campers to remodeled school buses, from modest motor homes to monster motor homes. The newest craze is getting your vintage luvin’ hands on an itty-bitty camp trailer that needs a little sprucing up and retro decorating. They’re a red-hot fashion statement for the modern outdoorswoman.

The postcard in the collage above is one of millions sent from happy campers to friends & family back home. It reads, “Dear Son, We are all ok & hope all is well at home. This is a fine park. Seeing all kinds of wild game. Went fishing but no good. Mama is standing the trip fine. Love to both, Papa”The postcard was sent from Yellowstone Park in 1908.

Fishing. I want do more of that this summer. The last freshly caught fish that I ate was a Cutthroat Trout at Emerald Lake in the Big Horn Mountains (about 3 hours to the north) six years ago. The elevation was around 9,000 feet. We drove in as far as we could, then unloaded our saddle horses and pack horses and rode the rest of the way to the high country. It was the middle of June and we only saw two back-packers the whole trip. We camped for 5 days. I hope we can find the time to go horse-camping again this summer. We keep saying we’re going to and then “life” happens. A ranch is really hard to get away from.

Luckily, we’re just a hop, skip and a hooey from the Black Hills (above images). The lodge is the old Latchstring Inn located in Spearfish Canyon. I count myself lucky to have memory of the tiny restaurant and bar. The bar seated about ten people. The red checkered curtains hung lazy-like on string. Nowadays, a grand lodge sits on the same site. It is big, bold and beautiful, but I’m a sentimental sap. Impressive just can’t replace charm … for me. The “hills” as they’re casually called by those of us who live in these parts offer so many different kinds of camping options that are just a couple hours away. Going on horseback treks in the “hills” this summer is another goal of mine. My farmgirl pals caught the vision too. Three of them are not avid riders, but I’ve got gentle horses that will offer them a comfortable, safe ride. We’re so looking forward to our “expeditions”. Ok, so we won’t be roughing it. We’re going to “cabin up” and stable the horses. I’m over being the rough & ready mountain goat girl. My old North Face back-pack (circa 1975ish) is now just a ‘memory relic’ in my trunk. If my husband and I do go to the mountains this summer, my pack horse will be carrying a “miracle foam” mattress! Frankly, I love amenities and creature comforts. That is one of the reasons why I dream about spending a few nights in a MaryJane’s Outpost wall tent. I bet many of you do too. Confession: Of the three MaryJane books, “Outpost” is my favorite!

Above: trail riding in the Black Hills with some gal-pals. I’m the one sitting next to my horse. We were on top of Cement Ridge near a fire lookout tower.

Below: Images of horseback day trips with my friends to Moskee (Black Hills in Wyoming) and Custer State Park. The two gals are my farmgirl friends, Anita and Brenda. Both of them (and their husbands) are actively involved in “Search and Rescue”. They were honing their map and GPS skills that day. Me, I didn’t care if we got lost.

Below: The reason I can still cover a lot of country: horses. Here, Rosey was resting in the shade of Quaking Aspen while we ate lunch. My saddle and blanket are parked next to her.

So, where are you venturing off to this summer? Where would you like to go? Our great country offers an endless buffet of great places that are still wonderfully wild. One day, I hope to go to the Adirondacks in the summer. I’ve been enthralled with that region for soooo long. Fortunately, I live in a state that has a very long list of wonderful places where a nature luvin’ girl can enjoy the call of the wild. Heck, if I never leave my own state, I’ll not run out of places where I’ve never set foot. As you may know, I love music and when I think of camping, there is but one song that comes to mind: Four Strong Winds, performed by Neil Young. Here tiz’ … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfZes9fFmXc . When I was 21, I went to the Tetons with friends … on Harley-Davidson motorcycles allllll the way across Wyoming. One night in the Million Dollar bar in downtown Jackson Hole, I played this song over and over. Neil still had hair back then and mine was a dark brown braid that hung down the middle of my back to my … my… below my belt loops.

People may argue about where the most beautiful place to camp is, but I know one thing with 100% certainty. We would all agree that some guests are not welcome at ANYone’s campsite. No matter how cute she is, Miss Pewy is nobody’s buddy. Another confession: I’ve wanted a pet skunk since I was a little girl. When I saw “Flower” in the movie, Bambi, I was smitten. By the way, I own the movie and I didn’t buy it for visiting youngsters. There, I said it.

Wherever your wanderlust leads you this summer, have fun and may the good Lord grant you safe and happy trails.

~ Shery

  1. Debbie says:

    O.k! I’m ready to go! I’m always a fan of good old fashioned daydreaming… what else can you do when you’re looking at snow covered ground? We have been too! I grew up in the Great Basin of Northern Nevada and our family ( my dad mostly) loved to camp. So, that’s what we did for family vacations. As an adult I camped with my husband and our "pack" at the time before we all had kids and traded in our back packs and camp stoves for pack and plays and car seats.
    Somehow we never made it back into the mountains camping… Our son has camped with the Boy Scouts and has learned some important skills. Hubs and I have camped all over the Sierra Mountains, Zion National Park and we spent one magical snowy night at the Grand Canyon in a tent. We loved it! I’m aching to spread my wings out west and Jackson Hole has been calling my name. Now that the kids are teens we would love to take them, go on some hikes, fish, and ride horses…right now, it’s a day dream but ya just never know! As always, you have a way of taking a farmgirl for a fun trail ride where ever you go and the scenery is always fabulous!
    Thanks for the beauty and mini-adventure!
    Beach Blessings,

  2. Yep…been having that same craving Shery…wish I could be closer to you. We do it on foot, no horses (dang – always a dream of mine). Someday would love to meet you in person, or on the trail! We seem to have so much in common, but isn’t that the farmgirl way. And, the postcards and pictures and whatever all that beautiful stuff is on this blog absolutely has me yearning and wishing I could plaster my walls in all of it. Loved it so much. P.J. Robertson, Wild at Heart Farmgirl, Atascadero, California

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Hey Shery,
    Have you checked out what the FARMGIRLS ON THE LOOSE are doing this summer? "Kick Off" is in Baggs, WY on JUNE 28-29 . . . camping, horseback riding, hayride, all kinds of fun stuff on the WOMEN OF THE WILD WEST ROAD TRIP TOUR.
    Ya’ outta come join us. Check it out at http://www.farmgirlsontheloose.blogspot.com
    ‘Twould be great to have you there!

  4. Michele Kirkman says:

    Although I am in Michigan, I think we share a brain. All I’ve been thinking about lately is our first camping trip of the season, as I look out at the snow. We will probably be staying close to home this year and there are plenty of beautiful spots here in my home state. I think I’ll go make a mix tape to take and play by the fire and you can bet "Four strong winds" will be on it.

  5. Piper Davison says:

    I’m with you! I am so looking forward to Spring!! My husband and I are talking about our first camping trip this year. We are in Ohio and I’m looking out at snow right now but it wont be long and we will be getting out the tent and rest of our camping gear. Your pictures have made me long for it even more. Dreaming of a campfire, there’s nothing better.
    Peace and Blessings to you.

  6. Debby C says:

    I had a pet skunk named ‘Sweetie Pie’ when I was growing up and she was darling, much nicer than any other pet I’d had. I had just put a new picture profile on facebook of Pepe’s girlfriend (also Disney)as one of my monikers. She used to like to get under my Mother’s bed and push up on the springs on her back. If scared she would ‘display’ like she was going to spray. She loved catching bugs and followed us everywhere.

  7. April says:

    LOVE THIS POST! All the picture montages and the day dreamin’ goin’ on is enough to get a girl into trouble! I loved every minute of this post! I’ve always wanted to ride horses on an adventure and not just a trail ride – nose to butt – style. You have inspired me to start planning some camping for our family this summer and fall. Thanks for your day dreamin’!

  8. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    so true on so many levels…
    One of my dearest gal-pals stayed over night with us the other nite & we chewed the fat about our many upcoming Glamping trips, trailers and dutch oven recipes….and how we are sooo ready to camp,,,hmmm, could it be from this latest round of snow & snow drifts that have us ‘itchin to get hitchin…? lol!
    Funny how when camping, I can get up at 5:30am, put on a pot of java, and sit out by the rivers edge to watch mother nature come to life,,,yet at home I will grouss about wishing I could have an extra hours sleep…funny isn’t it.
    Come on Spring & Wagons HO!

  9. gerilynne says:

    I can’t imagine letting a summer go by without horse-camping! I am also watching the snowdrifts here in northern MN and wondering when they’ll melt. So far my favorite is Teddy Roosevelt National Park, but this year I am going on to MT also. We have great camping and riding here, too, so why do I feel such a wanderlust?

  10. Carlene says:

    Hi Shery!
    Nice to meetcha, I’m a Wyoming cowgirl too! Just found your blog, it’s a lot of fun, I look forward to reading regularly! I’m itching for warmer weather so I can ride my little mare Flossie again, it’s been months! I’m also tired of breaking the ice on the critters water tanks every morning…come on spring!
    Have a great weekend, and

  11. Laynee says:

    Hey Shery,
    We do have some awesome outdoor opportunities around us! We are so lucky to be able to fall off our porches and into some of the most beautiful places in the country! I really enjoyed the pictures on this post, I cant wait to climb into my kayak in my bikini this summer!!!!!!

  12. Carla zj says:

    We camped off and on for three seasons while I was growing up. Depending on the weather sometimes as early as April and as late as October.
    As I read the lines of Papa writing home from Yellowstone in 1908, I was thinking of what the Black Hills would look like in the early 1900’s and the trails available. Imagine my surprise when I read further of how close you live, and that you ride there. We were fortunate to visit off and on for 3 years while our son and his family was stationed at Ellsworth AFB outside of Rapid. We loved going there, so thank you for sharing the postcards from there, the photos of your rides, and geocaching rescue friends.
    We have had over 6 inches of snow in the last 15 hours, and it was real pretty coming down, snow globe like. At Christmas this would be great, but that was 2 months ago…so ready for spring, the smell of dirt, and planting my vegetable garden, walking at the beach, the smell of a gentle rain.

  13. Brenda says:

    I am listening to Neil Young as I type this and enjoying it so much too. We love to camp in our family. We had a 2nd hand old pop-up camper when our children were growing up and a tent for the extra kids we would pack along with us. But that old camper finally bit the dust and it was replaced with a newer tent. That tent finally tore up with a bad wind that came through a couple of summers ago when we sat it up in the back of our 10 acres where we have our fire pit for the littlest of grand children to lay down until we were done for the evening. Hubs and I have not replaced that tent because I just am not into sleeping on the ground even with a blow up mattress under me anymore. And I crave one of the old vintage campers and even have hubs keeping an eye out for one also. Great post!

  14. bonnie ellis says:

    Shery: You naughty girl…cabin fever is about 20 ft. of snow here in Minnesota and you’ve get me itchin to go up north. It’s hard to wait when you can’t get real warm weather until June. Ugh. But you’re right campin’s in my blood. Hope we’ll both be in the woods this summer. By the way, your blog is fantastic! Love the pictures. Thanks. Bonnie

  15. Kate says:

    This is my first day as an official farmgirl…..I am Kate from Fort Collins, Co……long time ago from Saratoga,WY and even longer ago So. California.
    We are searching all over our area for a house with acreage to build our dream; growing our own food and being together outdoors. No more homeowners’ association telling me I can’t have chickens or hang my sheets out to dry in the fresh air.

  16. cora jo ciampi says:

    Shery…I fished Emerald too! Love the Big Horns, course, I’m thinkin’ I’m biased having lived there for a while. Great job, as ever…you rock, as my granddaughter would say! Buck up, Spring IS coming.

  17. Melita says:

    This is the first time I’ve been on your site. Keep up the good work!
    I have been dreaming of camping out with the horses these days. My sisters and I are already planning the first trip out. We don’t have to go any farther then we can ride from the house for great camping. We want to haul out this year though. I can’t wait!!

  18. Cat says:


  19. Mary Rauch says:

    Shery, this is the 6th time I have come back here to re-read your, "Ho Ho A Camping We Will Go"…I love it.
    Also, I REALLY enjoyed your comments on "Planting Sugar" with Rebekah…Are you sure it was his NAME that appealed to you, or was it because he loved horses?…just thinking (grin).

  20. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    I just re-read your musings "rough & ready mountain goat girl" and quite frankly, (how did I miss it the 1st time?) I nearly spewed coffee through my nostrils! lol!

    Like Mary R. I too often go back & re-read your posts and am amazed how much I miss the first time…
    Thanx for the ‘visual’, mountain goat girl! lol!
    As much as I luv Glamping in my lil vintage trailer, it’s always nice to get home to a real ‘potty & shower’…and not trying to get dressed in a space the size of a closet…but I always look forward to my camping trips with my gal pals and all the activities & mischief that we get into.
    If Spokane were not so far(& gas prices so high) I would be knocking on your door saying, Take me with you on your horse packing trip….& do ya have a spare memory foam pad! lol!
    Happy Trails & Wagons HO!

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