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Gear Before and After Shakedown Hikes

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” ― Julia Child, My Life in France

In the 1970s my family packed up to embark on our first of many summer car camping adventures.  Car camping was sold to my parents as an inexpensive way to discover the USA and for a family of soon to be six to “Get away from it all.”  Mom became the navigator in the shotgun seat and used free state maps, Rand McNally Travel Guide, and AAA triptiks to identify where we would stay for the night. She was quite proficient at knowing the symbols that showed KOAs, state and national parks that had a flush toilet, showers and swimming pools and/or playgrounds (used to run off our pent-up car energy before bed).  My family traversed the country hiking, touring and exploring historical and unique and off-the-beaten-path sites, hiking on trails both in urban settings (e.g., Philadelphia Freedom Trail) and national and state parks (e.g., Redwoods State Park trails).  In hindsight, my parents maybe were ahead of their time by implementing “hands-on-learning.”  I just thought it was cool to stand in the place where: Clara Barton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, George Washington Carver, or Molly Pitcher stood.

On our first adventure, we pointed the car and gear trailer to Yellowstone National Park and the Badlands National Park.  My family spent the first night at a campground in Iowa and that night lives on in family lore.  Everything went according to plan.  Dad, my brother and I put up the evergreen Coleman canvas tent purchased at Sears.  My toddler brother jumped up and down in his wooden playpen. Mom cooked a “four square meal” with her new aluminum stackable pots and pans over a Coleman’s white gas, two burner stove.  Her recipes were made up from her Girl Scouts days and friends who camped, (Note: In 1975 Mom switched up her cooking by using Harriet Barker’s One Burner Gourmet Cookbook). It was a picture perfect camping experience, until it began to thunder, rain, hail and tornado (yes, I know tornado isn’t a verb.)

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October 4, 2023

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Beth Malchus Stafa


Hi from Grandma Gatewood’s hiking grounds, the Hopewell Culture’s Serpent Mound, and Lake Erie. We are Beth and Tom, trail names Dessert Queen (one who looks at the dessert menu first before the entrée) and Mr. Rook (one who plays chess), lifelong hikers who are setting off on our next adventure, a flip flop thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. Our journey begins in April 2023 as we willfully step onto the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway to cross the Potomac River with our backpacks filled with gear needed for this six month journey. We are embracing the spirit of the month and the characteristics of the Jungian archetype The Fool by demonstrating confidence, persistence, and courage. We believe that it is not too late to aim high, to practice joy and awe, to be curious and try new things and to face the unknown together.

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