You’re reading this in September 2021, but I’m writing it in August 2020, a time when Lolly and I are very glad that back in 1963 we learned to balance the good with the bad. I thought you might enjoy reading about how we learned to do that. It helped us a lot during the pandemic.

Even though the first part of what we are going to talk about today was in some ways a trying learning experience, it will seem quite humorous to you — as it is to us whenever we think about it. On the other hand, there was nothing humorous about the second part of this tale, but it taught us that if you can hang in there and see the good with the bad, even the worst experiences may have value.

Back in August 1963, Frank and Marlene Barefield, our two best friends on Hill AFB asked us to join them on a one day camping trip to Christmas Meadows, located in the forested mountains of Utah. Since Lolly was six or seven months pregnant, I left it entirely up to her to decide whether or not it was a good idea. When she decided she would be all right, I checked Base Supply and was delighted to find that they would furnish us with the tents, blankets, and inflatable mattresses we needed to enjoy a comfortable time overnight in the mountains.

Early one morning, Lolly and I, and our 2-year-old son David, along with Frank and Marlene, and their two kids, Frankie, 5 and Kim, 2, plus the camping stuff and plenty of good things to eat were packed into their small station wagon. Expecting a relaxed hundred-mile drive to a beautiful state-run campsite, off we went.

Our first big surprise came when we discovered that getting to a campsite that was only 100 miles away in Utah involved driving 110 miles up to Evanston, Wyo., and then turning south onto 36 miles of road, much of it unpaved, to get where we were going.

A second, rather more hefty, surprise came when we stepped out of the car into weather we would have known all about if we had been making the trip today, and had checked the online site, which now says, “This campground is situated at 8,800 ft., so be advised that it can get cold at night, even in the middle of summer. Always be prepared with warm, waterproof clothing.”

Luckily, the old clothes that we had donned for the campout were thicker than what we normally wore in August. Good thing! The temperature gauge Frank had with him showed a chilly 37 degrees as we stepped out onto the campsite and began off-loading our stuff.

Want to picture something funny? Picture Tom Garrett trying to inflate three large air mattresses at 8,800 feet, where they keep sagging back down every time the warm air he puffed into them cooled back down.

Want to imagine something else that will put a grin on your face? Picture 2-year-old David wrapped up in his mother’s red checked shirt, with two small hands hanging out of two fat woolen, triple folded sleeves. He looked like he was wearing a full-length overcoat cut for a short fat elf.

Oh, well. He did better in that crazy shirt than I did dressed in an old pair of jeans and a blue checked cotton shirt as I scurried around, continually stopping at the fireplace to warm up.

More next week …

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