When I was jr. high/ high school age, my family and I did lots of camping, summer vacations, weekends away, etc. One year my dad decided to buy a new pop up camper with the extra outdoor room thingy. He/We couldn't wait to use it, so we went to one of the campgrounds in Indiana that we liked (I think). The setting is a little fuzzy, but the story is worth it. I promise.
I'm pretty sure it was late March. One of those times when the weekends could be beautiful warm sunny weather or it could be nasty yucky weather. This one was nasty and yucky. It was cold with snow flurries. Not perfect camping weather, or was it? I don't really remember what I did, but knowing me I sat around, read some books, and did some homework. Yeah I was that kid. A few things I do remember. The soup I had for lunch that day was AMAZING. It was Campbell's Creamy Chicken. It was hard to find, so I totally loved the fact that I got to have it. That night the raccoon that got in our trash loved it too because we heard him rolling that can and the others around on the pavement for a good portion of the night. That raccoon would become a rather legendary animal in our family and not just for his feats with of soup can rolling ability.
The most impressive thing he did was that night as well. He must have crawled under the camper to get into the 'outdoor' room we had. We heard him out there and it freaked us all out a little bit. My brother's first thought was for the steaks we had in the cooler outside. He informed my dad that the raccoon would surely go after those. My dad then informed my brother that he couldn't get to them, so we had nothing to worry about. The raccoon was still out there, so dad opened the door to scare him off. I'm not sure who was more freaked out when he opened the door because the raccoon was right there on the step. We were convinced he was going to be coming in. He didn't though.
He did run away and shortly there after I had to use the restroom. As a part of our package deal, we got a little port-a-potty thing. So I didn't have to walk all the way across the campground. Of course there was no way I was going out there by myself, so Mom came with me. While I was there, we were on guard in case he decided to come back. Thankfully he didn't. When we were out there we noticed that there was something sticking out of the cooler. What was it you ask? The steak packages! The raccoon took the steak and left the packages. I was stunned. I'm pretty sure Dad, Mom, and Jon were too. Well maybe not Jon. He might have said I told you so. I had no clue raccoons could open a cooler, get the meat out of the package, and then leave the package. He even followed his steak dinner with a little leftover soup. We weren't happy with that raccoon that night. I'm pretty sure he was happy with us though.
To this day, that is one of my fondest memories about our camping trips. There are a few others, but that definitely makes my top 5. Looking back on it, I wonder if my parents at the time realized what a great trip that was. Who would have thought it was with snow flurries and a raccoon eating our steaks? But it really was one of the most memorable trips I have taken with my family. I wonder if I would have the ability to laugh about a trip like that. I wonder if I would think that was a gloriously imperfect trip that would create conversations and memories years later OR if I would think it was a failure because it didn't go my way? I guess maybe my way isn't always the best way sometimes.