We leave Sunday for our annual camping trip. The name of the campground we go to is called Grover Hot Springs, but we just refer to this trip as Markleeville. Markleeville is the little town just outside the campground. It’s about 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe, and it really isn’t much more than a wide spot in the road to most, but to me it’s one of the best places in the world.
In the late 50s, early 60s, my uncle got a summer job working for the state parks. They sent him up to Markleeville. He fell in love with the place. He had also fallen in love with my aunt and when he proposed, he brought her up there to do it.
The first time I went to Markleeville was in 1969. I was 2 years old, and (according to my mother) it was one of the first times I ever got dirty. Apparently, dirt and I became good friends.
Grant takes after his mama.
We go with a big group of extended family and friends and we have had as many as 30 people in “camp” at a time.
The campground is fantastic… gorgeous scenery, a creek that runs through it, a pool and a natural mineral hot springs… As a kid, the best part for me? Markleeville General Store.
This is one of the first things you see as you pull in to town and as a kid, one of the worst things that could happen was that you missed out on a trip back in to town. The grown-ups would get ice, fish bait, whatever. We kids? Archie comic books, baby! There was a spinning wire rack that had several different Archie comic books. They were all probably a year old or so, but since we only read them once a year at camp, we didn’t know the difference.
We’d pool our money or beg the grown-up (depending on the grown-up) to buy as many as we could. Those comic books floated around the different campsites and at some point, every kid, every cousin, had read them several times over.
The General Store also had an amazing array of bad candy. Now & Laters, AbbaZabbas, Laffy Taffy. Complete crap that I could not get my hands on back home, whether is wasn’t available or my mom thwarted my efforts, I am not sure. But I was on top of Sugar Mountain when we went camping.
When we weren’t eating junk and reading crap, we were in the creek.
There is a natural rock slide. I wore out many a bathing suit bottom on this rock. I cannot tell you how much I love to see my kids playing here.
And no trip down to the creek is complete without building a dam.
So to answer the question for this week – my top 5 things about camping? Well from a child’s point of view, it would be:
- comic books
- the creek
- the hot springs
I have so many great memories of eating fantastic dinners (we don’t eat so well all year as we do when we are camping. Steak? Linguine with white Clam Sauce? Gourmet burgers?) Anyway, an amazing meal, then a walk to the hot springs.
Soaking in the warm water.
A few laps in the cold pool.
A nice walk back to camp under stars and a moon so bright it throws shadows.
Sleeping like a log.
Waking up the next morning to the smell of frying bacon and starting it all over again.
Life is good.