When I was a little girl my family camped in a tent. We would often drive to the Allegheny Mountains, pull off of the road in the woods somewhere and set up camp. We dug a hole for a bathroom and used the freezing cold waters of the Allegheny River as both a refrigerator and a bathtub. If it rained a lot, we had to dig a trench around our tent to keep the water from rushing in.

The year I turned eleven my family upgraded to a pop up camper. No more river for a refrigerator. No more trenching around our campsite. And best of all, no more sleeping on the ground. The pop up was a huge improvement over roughing it in a tent, but still we dreamed of more. For many years, my family would visit the RV Show at the I-X Center in Cleveland. We toured camper after camper imagining what it might be like to camp in one of those babies.  Oh, the joy of having our own bathroom! Each time we would pass a motor home while out and about, my parents would vow that someday that would be us.

Finally, when I was in high school, our dreams became a reality when my parents bought a motor home. Hello cable TV and air conditioning – not to mention the joy of having our own bathroom. The camper wasn’t anything fancy, but we were getting a taste for how the other half lived. Now…I understand that some out there don’t consider this camping. People call it ‘RVing’ or if they are really bitter they might call it ‘glamping’, which is a combination of the words “glamour” and “camping.”  We did our time roughing it, and besides haters are always going to hate.

When my husband and I were first married, I expressed my desire to camp. My dear, sweet, misguided husband bought me a tent the next year for my birthday. After years of camping in a motor home I was spoiled. I had to politely explain that a tent is not what I meant by camping. We eventually bought a pop up and currently camp in a beautiful twenty-six foot travel trailer.

Our home away from home is not the only fancy thing about our adventures. We also plan fancy meals. No cooking hot dogs on sticks over a fire for us (although we have done that). We enjoy steak dinners, rice bowls, and shish kebabs, among other things. One meal that everyone in the family looks forward to is our annual camping tea hosted by Grampa and Gramma. This year my mom made Chicken Waldorf Salad croissants as a main dish. She got the recipe from the book Tea and Savories by Tea Time Magazine. Of course, I got that book right off of the shelves of the Chardon Library. The salad had a nice crunch thanks to the apples. It was tangy and delicious.

The dish also seemed appropriate since we were camping in the Thousand Island region of New York. We learned while touring Boldt Castle that this was not only the origin of Thousand Island salad dressing, but also Waldorf Salad, both of which were served in the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan that was managed by George Boldt. There are several books and DVDs featuring Boldt Castle available through the Geauga County Public Library if anyone is interested in learning more about it.

Roughing it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your taste buds. The library has shelves and shelves of cookbooks for tea parties, camping, and just about any other occasion you can think of – and that’s not even counting stuff available at other libraries through Clevnet. Until next time remember: Life is better around the campfire.

Michelle Rodriguez is a Circulation Clerk at the Chardon Branch. She is currently reading The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, which she thinks is an interesting look at the class system in India with a surprise twist she didn’t see coming.
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