To my parents, there were two kinds of people: the kind who camped in the mountains on vacation and everyone else. And everyone else was wrong. The group of campers was further divided by the ones who did it right – tents, sleeping bags, Coleman stoves – and the ones who did it wrong. The list of things that would send someone to the Wrong list included: sleeping on cots, using what we used to call “tent trailers,” using Airstream or other trailers, talking too loud in the campground, staying at a KOA campground when there was a forest service one available, and many other offenses.
My dad would, as often as possible, arrange his vacation days so we’d be camping during a full moon. I can remember many late-night treks to the campground latrine under a moon so bright that the Ponderosa pines cast shadows on the foot path.
It’s funny how those sorts of things can mark you for life. I don’t camp very often any more, and can easily be talked into a vacation on a tropical beach, but I still love the full moon.
My house faces south; none of the windows have blinds or curtains. Now I can get those same inky moon shadows on the living room floor.
When I plan my annual trips to Fort Davis, I look at the moon phase calendar.
During parts of the year, the full moon is still up when I drive to work – and I can watch the pale disk of the moon fade against the coming day.
And the other night, I set my alarm for 1:35 a.m.: I went outside and stood in my driveway to watch the peak of the lunar eclipse. By the time I went back inside, my neck was stiff and my face was slick with tears from the sight of the red moon glow in the sky.
All because we were People Who Camped Correctly When the Moon was Full.