About Me

For those of you who are family or who have been long time friends you are familiar with the annual seasonal newsletter in rhyme.  I am departing from that style after one last salute to the sentiment.

There was a young man who wrote rhyme,

his journals a year at a time.

Switched over to prose.

Why? Lord only knows!

For this blog it should be more sublime

The Origins of wanderlust and thinking small

As a young person growing up in a family with four children I never learned to be extravagant.  We were making things work on my father’s high school vocational agriculture teacher’s salary.  This was a man who lived through the depression years of the 1930’s and never forgot it.  Yet we loved to get outdoors and to travel—often just a drive for a picnic (PBJ sandwiches & Kool-Aid in a gallon jug insulated with a newspaper wrap).  We also took some cross country family trips (we had to synchronize both cows’ pregnancies so they would be dry at the same time—finding a substitute to milk by hand was not easy).  We did not camp but we often drove late into the evening, my dad stopping at a Mom & Pop motel negotiating a lower rate so they could turn off the “Vacancy” light and get some sleep for themselves.  Still, we traveled on a budget!

In my high school years I attended various camps (FFA, 4H and NYS Conservation) where exposure to wildlife, canoe skills and the great outdoors made an impression.  In college I joined the Outing Club, learned about tent camping and began hiking in the Adirondacks.   Backpacking never was my cup of tea and then I discovered canoe camping!  Still small, still on a budget, still outdoors and discovering “what was out there around the next bend in the river”.

Between undergraduate and veterinary college five other college friends (one was my brother Hank) and I pooled our funds, bought a Ford station wagon, custom build a car top carrier and made a car trip to Alaska and back.  13,000 miles in seven weeks: boondock tenting along the way with lunch on the road consisting of dipping raw carrots into a LARGE tub of peanut butter.  Car-tent camping was discovered.  Now you should be getting the picture about my Modus Operandi. Here is a sample of the 400+ 35 mm slides I took on that trip.

A career in veterinary medicine did not provide a summer long hiatus to take extended travel adventures.  It did require continuing education which could be found in different parts of the country—or the Caribbean Islands.  Tack on a week after the conference and we had a fly-away-vacation.  Now I must tell you those were the days when airlines did NOT charge for extra luggage and airport security issues were basically nonexistent.  By this time I had a travel companion: Toni (my honey bun, partner, and significant other) has similar peregrination tendencies and is definitely on board with adventures OUTSIDE the categories of luxury cruises or destination resorts.  It did include west coast car camping in Big Sur and Napa Valley plus canoe camping in the Everglades. We would pack one duffel bag with all of our camping gear and for the Caribbean on St. Johns (now camping with two children at Maho Bay Camps) another with food for our family of four—still traveling on a budget and thinking small.

Although our children camped at a very early age and for many summers we often slept in a Native American Tipi in our back yard, they do not seem to have inherited the camping bug.  Maybe it was those Eastern coyotes that howled in response to the train whistle as it made its way up the White River valley at the bottom of our hill.  Maybe they had too much of a good thing when they were young.  There is still hope and if we can plant the camping bug in our grandson he may convince his mom to get out there with him.

Our first trip to Acadia National Park was over the July 4th weekend in 1980.  Toni had to twist my arm a little to get me to leave my budding veterinary practice for the long weekend.  It proved to be a wonderful escape as a mini vacation and we continued to journey to Acadia (and points north) nearly annually ever since.  Toni’s and my shared responsibility for vacations has evolved into a pattern: I focus on getting us to our destinations and she insures we have fun along the way—a workable partnership.  I write more about Maine Meanderings in the “Back Story” menu section.

In the years between family camping trips and recent travels we have had some good experiences at B&B’s and seasonal rentals.  On many of these occasions we have verbalized how much we like to hear the outdoor noises in a campground and get up to the fresh air of a the Maine woods.

We continued to tent camp into our senior years until the summer of 2016 when we upgraded from tents to a Little Guy Silver Shadow, teardrop travel trailer.  This is our bed on wheels with a kitchen in the trunk.  Luxury travel, on a small scale!

Stewart Ketcham, DVM, Retired.  Beginning another journey!

Read about our teardrop under the menu item “WHY TEARDROP”