Memorial Day words with the Statue of Liberty

Memories of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special day for many reasons for many people.  First and Foremost, this day was created in remembrance of the brave men and women that fought for our country, our freedom, and made it possible for us to have the lives we live today.  We must never forget that nor take it for granted.  For without their actions and endurance, it would not be possible for us to have and do the things we have today nor enjoy our families and friends the way we know it to be……….. So PLEASE EVERYONE take some time throughout this day to reflect on these special people and the opportunities they selflessly provided for us.


As a kid, Memorial Day weekend was a send off for the summer.  It meant we were nearly out of school, and this three day weekend was our first taste of summer freedom and what was to come for a glorious 2 months of sun and fun!  To kick it off, my parents would take us camping and fishing.  My mom and dad and I, along with my three brothers would pack up the trunk of the Chevy Impala and head out to the Mashel River, up by Eatonville Washington.  Often times my grandparents would come along too.  There were old logging roads that we would “four wheel” through to get to our very primitive campsite that we had “discovered” and converted into a beautiful living space for our weekend.


NOTE:  We were always very careful to leave it in it’s natural beauty the way we found it. 


In truth our living space consisted of an old canvas tent, a pop out suitcase table, some lawn chairs, and a homemade fire pit.  The only other thing that we had was a big square of clear plastic we used for a rain tarp.  We didn’t have fancy blue tarps with gromets back then (more on that later).

The Mashel and the busy wild river.

Our campsite was situated where two rivers met.  There was a beautiful fishing hole right off the junction of the Mashel where the two rivers met directly in front of our campsite.  It was handy to fish from our campsite, but my oldest brother, Bobby and I found it to be much more fun to hike miles away and a lot of times straight through the river to find numerous fishing holes.  Sometimes we would do well and bring our catches back to the camp and sometimes we would get zonked.  No matter what we always had a fun and adventurous time.


Inevitably it would rain on Memorial Day weekend.  I remember our family preparing for our excursion weeks before the event.  We would put together our lists.  Camping gear, fishing gear, food, clothes, etc.  All the time realizing there were 6 of us in 1 car with 1 trunk.  It was a science my dad had down to a T when he packed the trunk.  Everything had a place.  All this preparation and excitement would come to a crescendo as we watched the upcoming weather forecast on the news.  Despite our hopes and prayers, we were often faced with the decision of whether to see our trip through or not due to rain.  As the threat of rain loomed, often times, the proverbial “family meetings” were called to discuss our decision to tough it out and I am proud to say that WE NEVER CANCELED A SINGLE TRIP!!

The closest we ever came was when we were half way to the river and it was absolutely pouring rain.  I mean I think it was even thundering with a little lightening!  It was bad!  We pulled into an old “eating establishment” called the “Elk Plain Café” to regroup and seriously think about this.  This café was off the highway 7 in Spanaway.  It’s close to where the Walmart is now, but back then it was in the middle of nowhere.  As we sat in the café, watching the lesser house flies flying aimlessly in circles in the center of the restaurant, and the rain continuing to pour down, I sadly felt this year’s camping and fishing trip was in dire peril!!!!  As we sat and prayed for a miracle, it happened!


The rain had stopped, momentarily,

…..and a sliver of clear sky was appearing!  It wasn’t much, but it gave us all renewed hope and a legitimate chance to cast our “yes vote” to carry on with our expedition.  With our stomachs full and the rainless black clouds looming overhead we all decided that if we were going to do this we had some serious ground to make up.  And off we went.  I don’t know why, but I recall that event so vividly, I can see it like it was yesterday.  The fact is, it rained practically the entire weekend, but we had a great time and we saw through with what we intended to do.  The campfire helped keep us warm and the rain tarp kept us fairly dry.

Our rain tarp was wisely donated to the cause by my grandpa.  He was a carpenter by trade and a very handy man.  Not that my dad wasn’t, but as mentioned before, there was no such thing as blue tarps back then.  So we weren’t really introduced to the idea of having materials such as this.  It was a pretty huge chunk of clear heavy plastic that covered the majority of our campsite (the tent and eating areas).  The only drawback was the rains would fill up in the low, sagging spots and we would constantly have to work the water away from the low spots and drain it out over the edges.  A small price to pay to stay relatively dry.


This weekend seems to come up so quickly now and our lives seem so busy that we don’t really make plans anymore.  Sure, we’ll probably have a barbecue and figure out something fun to do, but as I write this I realize just how much time our work, errands, home care (cleaning, laundry, yard work, etc.) consumes us.  I can’t necessarily change that fact, but I think this Memorial Day I’m going to take some time and reflect on the opportunities I’ve had because of the men and women that provided us this chance.

I’m also going to take some time and think about the loved ones I’ve lost personally, the good times we had, and the things they taught me that helped make me the person I am today.  Heck, I’m even going to think about the beloved pets I’ve had over the years. I’m going to take some time and remember a lot of things and think about what’s to come in the future and how I can make my life, and the people in and around my life a better place to be while we’re here.

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