Multi-Generational Camping

Uncle Brian and Pops taking Tom’s son on a short hike into the small aspen forest along Cave Creek, upstream from Cave Lake. It was breezy and the aspen leaves were performing their ceremonial twisting in the wind, which resulted in a rustling sound. My grandson asked, “Pops, what’s that sound?” I explained that aspen trees were referred to as “quaking” aspens because their flat, broad leaves are attached to long, narrow stems such that they twist in the wind making a quaking or cracking sound. Did you know that aspen stands like these are often created by stems arising from long lateral roots? The result is many genetically identical trees, which in aggregate are called a “clone.” There appears to be some disagreement over which state has the largest clone aspen stand, but one such clone in Utah’s Fishlake National Forrest covers 106 acres and contains an estimated 47,000 stems (see The Gazette article on Utah’s claim).

I know several grandparents who have experienced camping with their children and grandchildren. All of them expressed the joy of passing on the liberating experience of camping to their descendants, whose opportunities for learning appreciation and reverence for nature continue to diminish over time. Getting out of our urban cities to dwell in nature for a few days seems to free our souls. We leave behind our to-do lists and the technology that drives so much or our waking hours, replacing it with the freedom to soak in a deep, satisfying peace. We are released from our daily routines, free to explore and discover without restrictive agendas governing our daily lives.

I suppose the most obvious benefit of camping is learning an appreciation for “being” outdoors. Understanding the complexity of the natural world, and its delicate ecological balance that we so often disrupt, sometimes irrevocably, helps us to see our stewardship role in the world God gave us. When we witness firsthand the distinctly awesome birds, animals, and plants that live together in unique harmony, we can better understand why their eventual depletion or even extinction is a tragedy, usually with bad consequences for the people who follow in our footsteps. We become more complete human beings that can advocate for all things wild when developers blindly push for projects that are driven solely by economics.

There are other benefits to camping. Learning to work as a team to accomplish tasks like setting up and tearing down camp, preparing meals, and cleaning up afterward is valuable to all involved. Clearly teamwork is necessary in an urban environment, but in nature, where nothing gets done without the effort of the campers themselves, the sense of inter-dependance is more immediate and profound. Camping also builds a sense of self-reliance, a confidence that we can solve problems using our collective ingenuity. What does one do when the ground is so hard-packed and riddled with rocks that every other tent stake is uselessly disfigured by the pounding of the flat-end of an axe, leaving the tent unsecured? What is to be done when you discover that a specific tool like a can opener is forgotten at home and dinner remains locked within the tin?

Learning to understand and embrace nature, that it is not to be feared and avoided, develops a sense of character and confidence that can carry into other aspects of our lives. I am pleased that my grown children enjoy the outdoors like I do, and that they are ensuring their children, nieces, and nephews are exposed to the wonder of all that nature offers in a way that develops them into more complete human beings.

I hope you can sense my liberating joy reflected in the following photos and their captions. This was my eldest grandson’s first overnight camping trip, and he tackled it like a champ. His dad, Tom, and uncle, Brian, helped to plant the seed that should produce fruit to come. We set our tent in the Lake View Campground of Cave Lake State Park, and used the two days to explore and make adventuresome memories.

Cave Lake State Park

Pops (as my grandchildren call me) and grandson taking a rest after setting up camp, discussing what we might do next.
I am embarrassed to say that I did not research the fire restrictions for Cave Lake. Like many of the western states, Nevada has restricted campfires in its state parks to gas stoves; wood fires in their existing steel fire pits are not allowed. So, the fire you see in this photo was extinguished after a well-meaning camper informed us of the current rules. We killed the fire with water in sections so that we could quickly toast a couple marshmallows for my grandson’s first taste of wood-fired s’mores. We dubbed this the “non-fire” that never existed.
Grandson pondering his attack on the s’mores…
Tom and his little man.
We drove down to the parking area near the inlet for an evening walk across the meadow above Cave Lake, over the Cave Creek bridge, and into the aspen forest. I clearly remember my first hike through a dense aspen forest; I felt a sense of mystery and adventure, and I am fairly sure my grandson felt the same.
Wouldn’t you find this trail mysterious, and wonder what lies ahead? Maybe if you walked quietly you might come upon a deer bedded in the grass or an owl resting in the trees… you will never know without taking the walk.
The little man taking a rest before moving on through the quaking aspens (Pops, what’s that sound?).
My son Brian, his nephew, and Lucas the Spider with the extra eyes.
We came across this lone pronghorn antelope doe while driving up the road to Cave Lake. She was alone as far as we could tell, and she eventually crossed the road and ducked, rather than jumped, the fence on the right side. Usually after winter the pronghorn mixed-sex herds break up and the young males (bucks) form bachelor groups, females (does) form harems, and adult males live in solitary. We were not harassing her, but driving very slowly until she eventually crossed over to the south side of the road. My grandson was too young to appreciate how wonderful and unique for an urbanized person to witness such a sight.

Comins Reservoir

The modest plan was to spend no more than 30 minutes trying to catch one rainbow trout for my grandson to reel in, or hold in the net, or just simply look it over before releasing it back into Comins Reservoir. Upon arrival at the little beachfront, I could see a few trout feeding on the surface, and small schools of five or so pan-sized trout cruising in the shallows… it seemed promising. Although I had landed 40 trout from Comins in one day just two weeks ago, I cannot say I was overly confident I could land one trout for him in 30 minutes; there are no guarantees in fishing. I did have three takes within the allotted time, but the hook would not set and so I was skunked. He was undaunted by Pops’ blank performance, but was rather distraught after he lost the yellow fish weight that detached and sank to the bottom of the reservoir, unable to comprehend that the toy rod from Bass Pro Shops was destined for failure.
Waters in the Great Basin attract a surprising variety of waterfowl and related birds. This bold bird was working the shoreline when it caught the eye of my grandson. My brother Bruce confirmed my belief that it was a female yellow-headed blackbird. Opinions to the contrary are welcomed in the comments.
Father and son.

Ely’s Northern Nevada Train Museum

The Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark is a 56-acre site that includes 63 buildings, shops, and structures, 3 steam locomotives (2 operating) and 6 diesel locomotives (3 operating), plus over 100 miles of track. An operating historical landmark, it boasts of a large Engine House where the mechanics work on the trains. In this photo the boys are walking to the Engine House.
Uncle Brian and his nephew entering the Engine House where it is gritty, dirty, and smells of coal, smoke, and creosote. My grandson loved it, and he even recognized the different types of trains. There are two shop cats, Dirt and DJ (i.e., Dirt, Jr.). DJ greeted us outside the door and followed us in. Mascots of the Engine House, Dirt and DJ are descriptive names for the felines.
Tom and son in front of a railcar. My grandson, a train aficionado, was in his element walking the railyard and visiting with the mechanics.

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Returning home on US93 from Ely, NV (a.k.a. the Great Basin Highway) gives you the opportunity to visit several notable places like the old towns of Pioche and Caliente (with a current combined population of about 2,250) and four Nevada state parks (Spring Valley, Beaver Dam, Cathedral Gorge, and Kershaw-Ryan). This time we chose to investigate Cathedral Gorge. My grandson was enthralled with its formations and arose to the task of exploring the canyons and caves therein. In this photo the boys begin their probe of one of many canyons in Cathedral Gorge.
The Fish Taco parked down on the road gives some perspective to the climbing my five-year old grandson accomplished with the encouragement of his dad and uncle.
Uncle Brian and my grandson at the end of a long Cathedral Gorge canyon.
A future rock climber like Pops… who knows?
My son Brian, grandson, and me (a.k.a. Pops and FisherDad).
In Caliente, NV, about 15 miles south of Cathedral Gorge, we stopped for lunch. Between a couple of seriously old, boarded-up buildings we noticed this truck trailer. It seemed an appropriate epitaph photo for the end of our multi-gen trip.

I have mentioned before that we have a family picture in our foyer that has this Bible verse printed on the matting:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

Psalm 127:3-5

Author: FisherDad

I am a Christian who has been married to my wife for over four decades, with six children and four grandchildren so far. I have retired from a string of successful occupations as a certified public accountant, a chief financial officer, and a registered municipal advisor. I have been a fly angler for almost five decades. My one and only article submission was published by Southwest Fly Fishing magazine (now American Fly Fishing). You can learn more about me by clicking on “About” on the top of my blog page.

14 thoughts on “Multi-Generational Camping”

  1. Mark , my eyes are filled with tears of joy, just getting to see my grandson do something I’ve loved all my life, thank you so much and the knowledge you will pass to him is incredible!

    1. He’s a wonderful little man. He did remarkably well given his young age. We had 30mph winds flapping that big ol’ tent until 6am, and our greatest concern was that he’d be frightened in the middle of the night causing us to implement our second or third bedtime alternative. Surprisingly he slept right through it all. And we’ll get him catching fish eventually, don’t worry about that. So happy you enjoyed the post.

      Blessings from Vegas!

    1. Thank you Judy. He’s so young he might not remember it as vividly as I will, but the blogpost will help him with that when he’s older.

      Pray you are well, and thanks for your comments, here and elsewhere.

  2. Mark, I loved seeing these photos and the stories of your adventure. What a wonderful time for all of you. The Vincent guys… so special. Love to you all.

    Aunt Suzanne

    1. Thanks Suzanne. I’m looking forward to more of these trips. I had to wait a little for my grandson to be more mature and independent before driving off 300 miles from home to live in a tent, know what I mean? But once they get there it can be rewarding for everyone involved.

      I’m thinking this is the first comment you’ve ever posted. I hope WordPress makes that easier and that you’ll share more thoughts in the future.

  3. Memories for a lifetime for a 5 year old AND a 65 year old???. In this world of 10 second Facebook commercials it is so refreshing to relax and enter the FisherDad world!

  4. This made me smile… a great trip,,,,,,, the first of many more to come,,,,,,,,. guess I need to start tying flies for our new angler addition!

    1. Hey Vince! So great to hear from you. You are still working at the City, yes? I’m sure things are well there, especially with Jorge at the helm.

      All my best to you and the team at the plant!

      – Mark

  5. Hi Mark,
    So wonderful to read about and see some of the men (both old and young) of your family. They’re so blessed to have been given a godly dad and grandpa to pass on the love of fishing, camping, and a devotion to the Lord. Your blog is a refreshing and encouraging platform for the Holy Spirit to touch lives. May God continue to grant you the desires of your heart in this lifetime, my Brother. – Randy

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