Saturday, July 21, 2007


Around this time every year, my dad took my sisters and me on our summer camping trip. We had a favorite state park above the coal region of Pennsylvania. One year we reached the campground only to find out there were no sites available. We were told sites would open up in the next couple days. Being too far away to drive home and return, we took the park ranger’s recommendation and went to another campground a few miles away.

I was horrified (and angry with my dad for his lack of planning) when we arrived. This so-called campground was nothing more than a field off the side of the road with tents and Vanagons set up every ten feet. There was no running water. The toilet facilities were stinky outhouses at the end of the campground. We begged our dad to take us home, to forget the camping trip altogether.

“It’s just for one night,” he said and unpacked our gear. “You’ll feel better after you eat something.” As we unpacked, we discovered we had forgotten the kitchen utensils and…toilet paper.

“No biggie,” dad said. He remembered seeing a store down the road. We could get supplies there. As it turned out, it wasn’t a store but a shack selling hot dogs and ice cream. The building was falling in on itself, and I was leery of eating anything that came from that shack. But my stomach was growling, and like my sisters, I succumbed to my hunger. Our bellies full, we drove to the next town to find a real store. He laughed all the way saying we were on an adventure. I was not amused.

Our spirits lifted when my dad built a campfire. We roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. The warmth of the fire surrounded me and made me feel sleepy. I turned in, feeling excited about going the state park the next day. I would not sleep that night. No one in the campground slept.

A couple sites away Foreigner blared from speakers atop a van. As the night went on, the campground grew noisier as other campers became stoned and drunk. I couldn’t bury myself deep enough in my sleeping bag to shut out the noise. Thankfully, my dad had had enough. We helped him pack up, and then we left and spent the rest of the night sleeping in our car at the entrance of the state park. The same time the following night, we were enjoying the quietness of camping, sounds of crackling fires and chirping birds. That year, I appreciated those nature sounds even more.

Freewrite about the vacations you’ve taken. What are your favorite destinations? Write about your most vivid memories. Write about the best and the worst. Don’t forget to include conversations and sensory details. Vacation doesn’t have to be about taking a trip. Write about what the word means to you. Describe your ideal vacation.

As always…have fun with it!
I've updated the Writing Practice page of the sister site, CSWriting Workshop. If you'd like more writing exercises, take a look!

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