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Camp or Hotel, That is the Question!

As soon as we pulled into the campground, John began crying hysterically. "I don't want to be eaten by a bear tonight!"

Our family recently went on a twenty-one day vacation to California. Along the way we saw many sights. If you happened to see a big red van with lots of heads in it, it was probably us. (Or a local church bus) We began our travels with a twelve-hour drive. We were planning to sleep in the van at a rest stop, but I'm a wimp and don't really enjoy sleeping sitting straight up under the lights of a rest stop. I convinced Steve that it would be better for the children to spend the night in a motel. It is not easy finding a place to sleep to accommodate eight children without spending a fortune. So we spent half a fortune on a suite.

The next morning we arrived at Devil's Tower in Wyoming. We had one of those old-fashioned pictures taken. It was quite fun getting dressed up in old-fashioned clothes. When the owner handed Bryan his rifle he said, "A daddy squirt gun!" He was thrilled, but somehow forgot to smile for the picture.

I began to think I might have a little problem on our trip when I took Erica into a porta potty at a park. When I took Erica into the porta potty she looked down the hole and began to scream hysterically. She then promptly wet her pants. Well she actually wet my pants.

We arrived for our first camping time just East of Yellowstone at a place called Bear Creek Campground. As soon as we pulled into the campground, John began crying hysterically. He finally managed to sob, "I don't want to be eaten by a bear tonight!" The older girls kept teasing about bears until they had managed to scare themselves and wouldn't even walk to the bathroom without an adult escort. I let Steve escort them. Shortly before going to sleep we discovered the previous campers had discarded a watermelon right near the camp. I would say that is asking for a bear visitation. Everyone slept that night with one eye open, some because they wanted to see a bear. And some because they didn't want to be eaten by a bear. In the morning everyone walked down to the creek and found REAL bear tracks. I offered up a praise that they stayed by the creek.

We quickly loaded up and headed for Yellowstone. Most of the excitement for us at Yellowstone was the animals. It began with a moose just outside of the park, followed by buffalo crossing the road. A motorcyclist even tried to touch one of the buffalo. I told the kids not to watch!

While hiking on a trail we encountered a mother bear and her two cubs. Bears don't look quite as scary when they are just sitting down eating berries. We later had the experience of seeing a live grizzly bear along the roadway.

As we later drove in the car we realized that every time we sang "As the Deer", a deer would appear. We really wanted to see another moose, so we began singing "As the Moose panteth for the water…" It wasn't effective, and didn't seem to produce the same worship feeling.

The second night in the tent I managed to sleep about two hours. Hey, I was making progress.

The following day was "geyser day". I overheard a man watching a geyser say, "You've seen one geyser, you've seen them all." Why is it the wonders of our creation and our Creator become commonplace after we've seen them for awhile?

The following night we camped "near" a lodge. I longingly looked at the lodge, knowing that inside were nice bathrooms, a fireplace, and walls.

When we finally arrived in California, Erica went into Grandma's bathroom and said, "Do these toilets flush?" They flushed for the first couple of days anyway. After roto-rooter came, they once again flushed.

After a week of fun filled days with family and friends, we left the flush toilets and showers for the "great outdoors" once again.

Heading back east, we went through Yosemite. We had a great time playing army there. Steve decided that we needed a couple of walkie talkies that were on sale, so we thought we should put them to good use and brush up on our "tracking the enemy" skills, just in case we might need them some day.

After leaving Yosemite we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with a near empty tank of gas. We approached each town, only to find everything closed. We all prayed that we would not run out of gas. We finally coasted into a gas station, while everyone shouted, "Hallelujah!"

That night we again stayed in a motel. We had been unable to find a campground. The motel was a refurbished 1800's hotel, complete with a flush toilet. However it was the kind with a box up on the wall and a pull string. It was quite interesting, but still scary for a four-year-old.

The next few days were spent camping and viewing some of the most beautiful and breathtaking sights I had ever seen.

We went to The Grand Canyon. It was marvelous. Of course I had to tell the children about the time Daddy and I went to the Grand Canyon together and about the storm in the background. I had to tell them how I could wave my arm and could see light following my hand. I had to tell them about Steve coming up to me and getting quite a shocking experience when he reached for my arm.

As we went out on a point, we could see that someone's hair was sticking straight up in the air. Some of the kids were frightened by the feel of electricity in the air.

I told them to stand at the edge for a picture. You can't see the Grand Canyon and not get a picture, even if the clouds are threatening to dump massive amounts of water on you.

I whispered the "smile" word to the kids then counted to three. "One…Two…Three!"

"Electricity!" They all yelled in unison, creating a beautiful smile on every one of their faces. It also produced a roar of laughter from the crowd that had assembled to watch the eight kids get their picture taken in the midst of a storm.

By the third consecutive night of camping I was just plain sick of it. Steve sent me to register our site. It was about a mile walk to the registration area. As I walked the tears flowed down my cheeks. I paid the money and hoped that Steve would change his mind and get a motel for the night. As I walked back toward the tent though, something miraculous happened. I was the one who had a change of heart. My attitude was the one that needed an adjustment, not Steve's attitude. We had a good time that night. We played a game with the older kids while the little ones slept in the tent.

The following morning we headed out on what is arguably the most scenic highway in the U.S. That night we ended up in a MOTEL!!!!!

We swam in the pool, sat in the hot tub, took hot baths and showers and even slept in clean beds.

The next morning Steve took a poll. Almost everyone wanted to just get home. So we drove fifteen hours, arriving home late at night. During the drive Steve talked about our next camping trip next year. I thought to myself, "at least it is a year away."

I'm thinking if I change my name to Terri Hotel by next year, then I don't have to go camping.

Of course if I changed my name to Terri Hotel I wouldn't have people asking me if I'm married to Steve Camp.

I am married to Steve Camp, just not the singer. I'm married to Steve Camp the totally awesome dude who on many occasions has put up with me being a raving lunatic.

We are blessed to have Terri as a member of HomeschoolingBoys! Terri is a popular speaker and author of several excellent books. Read more about her at!

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