A Camping Engagement
By Kate Hutto- Ocean Pines, MD
It was 1966, and the Vietnam War was on. My boyfriend, Larry, had enlisted in the Air Force and was attending the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, while I was attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. In those days, we didn’t have cheap airfares or inexpensive phone rates. Larry and I were pretty much stuck with letters. But in the fall, through our letters, we decided to get married the following summer.
My parents had recently purchased an International Harvester crew cab truck with a slide-in camper. My mother took pity on us lovers being separated, and since Larry was going to have four days off for Thanksgiving, and I’d be on break, she planned a trip in the new camper to Disneyland in California.
In our family, we never took a trip with just a few people—we took the whole family. This trip included my mother, father, three younger sisters and even my elderly grandparents! Larry caught a ride with another serviceman from his base and met us at California’s San Clemente State Beach. It was a beautiful setting right on the Pacific Ocean (it’s still there!) and the perfect place for me to receive my engagement ring—Larry asked me to marry him on the front seat of the International Harvester.
Meanwhile, back in Tucson, my mother had prepared Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings for nine people, packaged it all in foil and put it in the tiny camper refrigerator and reheated it all in the tiny oven—no microwave in those days. Never has a Thanksgiving dinner tasted so delicious as that one in that little camper with all those happy people.
We got married the following June, his parents came down to Tucson and stayed in their new Terry trailer. We’ve had a wonderful marriage with many adventures over the last 43 years. Of course, many of them have been when out camping. We started with a little tent on our honeymoon, graduated to a popup trailer, a small trailer and finally to a 38 foot Mobile Suites fifth wheel.
Along the way, we’ve run a successful business and continue to manage it from the road. Each year brings wonderful new electronic devices for communicating with the home office.
It’s been a wonderful ride, and Larry and I are happiest being “on the road again,” waking up in a national park, planning the day’s hike. Those Air Force years kept us apart often, making us grateful for every minute that we have together. They’ve made us appreciative those families who serve today and endure much longer and more frequent separations than we experienced.
Submitted by Kate Hutto as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.