Tag Archives: camping

Collective memory

Thanks to about a bazillion hours of painstaking work by my mother, my family has our complete collection of thousands of slides in digital form (see yesterday’s post for some prime specimens!). I am having a blast pulling photos out of the multi-DVD set to use for my own stuff. But the best part is that when I use one of these photos, I get a great story about it from Mom. Some of the stories I remember, but not always what picture the story belongs to and vice versa. So it’s a wonderful secondary effect to get these tidbits from Mom. She had this to say about a couple of yesterday’s photos:

“The first pic of you on the “horse” was taken in Granby, CO. We had nearly frozen our tutus off the previous night, camping at Shadow Mountain National Recreation Area, and stopped at a general store in Granby and while you rode the horse, we bought a green army blanket – sorely needed in Yellowstone.”





 “The second pic of you on the “horse” was taken in Red River, New Mexico and while you “rode” and I got a few groceries – and, Mark soundly slept in the station wagon – our tent was stolen. It was a very long day from there to home in Oklahoma City. We had to end the vacation as we couldn’t afford to stay in a motel. That evening, we did buy our one and only meal on that trip, in Shamrock, Texas.”


The Great Burton Westward Migration

In the grand tradition of the many years and the always adventurous and indefatigable Burtons, my folks are even at this moment traveling the newest chapter of the Great Burton Westward Migration. Coming out here from Columbia, Missouri to Fort Collins for a visit, they are probably nearly to their destination of the day, North Platte, Nebraska, and the Hampton Inn where they will break their journey briefly before continuing on tomorrow, to arrive in the early afternoon after a shopping spree at Cabela’s and lunch in Cheyenne.

So to mark this wonderful and quintessentially Burton occasion, I’m pulling some photos from past Burton Westward Migrations. Long may we all travel!

Map commemorating an early Burton Westward Migration (1963).

Granby, Colorado, 1963. That’s me.

Me again. We’ll continue to develop this theme. Not me. The horse.

Start ’em traveling young. That’s my brother Mark on the left. New Mexico, again, I think? I’ll have to check with Mom to make sure. 

Encountering wild burros in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Early 1960s.

… and again, this time in the mid-1970s. Bigger car, bigger kids. Me on the left, Mom in the middle, Mark on the right.

On our trips West to Colorado in the seventies, we’d drive the first day to Oakley, Kansas, and stay overnight at the Golden Plains Motel. This is Mark (foreground) and Dad at the swimming pool.

During Migrations, we’d stop to see amazing things. Usually National Parks, but sometimes Great American Attractions like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.

To me, horseback riding was one the THE BEST things we got to do during Westward Migrations. That’s Mom on the left and me getting ready for a family trail ride in Snowmass, Colorado, mid-1970s.

We always had wildlife experiences.

That’s Dad (left) and me on a scenic chairlift ride up Aspen Mountain. We were slightly terrified.

Dad, Mom and Mark exploring an old mine shaft in the mountains around Aspen, Colorado.



No Child Left Inside

The No Child Left Inside Coalition is an organization that sprouted up about a year and a half ago in response to the alarming decline in, well, kids runnin’ around in the woods and playing in nature. When I was a kid, we had the run of the neighborhood, which regularly involved going over the fence to play in the woods and fields around where we lived. We threw sticks into the creek and followed along the banks to see where they’d go. We’d build little Corps of Engineer projects and watch the water wash them away; we built forts, collected rocks, and probably tracked a lot of dirt into the house. Nature was a place where we found wonder; and where we also found ourselves.

I’m not a parent, but I know things are very, very different today. I know you can’t let your kids just run around like wild things anymore, and that’s a major drag. It’s also a major problem that outdoor activities are not emphasized in schools much anymore, either; too much “teaching to the test” and that sort of nonsense. Kids are being trained to watch and recite, instead of to experiment and participate. In Richard Louv’s wonderful book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” he writes:

Many members of my generation grew into adulthood taking nature’s gifts for granted; we assumed (when we thought of it at all) that generations to come would also receive these gifts. But something has changed … I think often of a wonderfully honest comment made by Paul, a fourth-grader in San Diego: “I like to play indoors better, ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”

It’s not just schools, of course, but the “family values” kids are growing up with thats puts them in this sad spot. I grew up in a family where camping was our summer vacation; my brother Mark went on his first camping trip when he was in utero. We spent days and weeks in the woods, and in the water, and we grew up knowing that nature was our precious playground. My folks in turn had a deep love for the natural world that came from their own childhoods and families.

Terry on a camping trip to Yellowstone, 1963

Terry on a camping trip in Lander, Wyoming, 1963

And this isn’t just an “ain’t-that-a-shame” nostalgia; if the kids growing up now are so cut off from nature, from the natural world, who is going to protect it, steward it, keep it all from being paved over? It’s strange that people can get so exercised over protecting a far-off piece of the world (Amazonian rainforest, or whatever) and at the same time have no visceral, get-dirty connection to the fields and forests and prairies and rivers that are right under their noses. Efforts like No Child Left Inside can hopefully make a difference and inspire schools and parents to keep getting those kids outside. Get dirty, y’all!

All of this makes me even more excited and thankful and really proud that Mark and my sister-in-law Katie are putting a lot of effort into making sure that Emma and Jack, my niece and nephew, are growing up with a connection to nature. It can’t be easy in this uber-structured and controlled world, but they keep finding ways. Katie is a Brownie Troop leader and is gettin’ those girls OUT in the woods, like my mom did when I was a kid. Just getting an “indoors” girl out for a one-night camping trip could really change her life. Katie recently took Emma and her friend Emily to a “Women in Wildlife” workshop with 14 other Girl Scouts at the Wild Haven Nature Center in Columbia, Missouri where they got to learn about birds, insects, and stream ecology from women scientists, outside, hands-on. It’s just so awesome and I hope that Katie will blog about it sometime (hint, hint). And we’re all looking forward to a massive group family camping adventure with them next summer, out here in Colorado.

I am incredibly happy that Emma and Jack will NOT suffer from nature-deficit disorder; it’s just about the most sad thing I can think of, that kids don’t have a chance or desire to play in the woods. Emma and Jack are incredibly fortunate to have parents, and grandparents (my mom and dad), who are teaching them the love of nature. I hope Carol and I can add to that too. It means everything.


Some photos from our camping trip west of Red Feather Lakes last weekend, July 12-13.

July wildflowers

Like most of Colorado, the high country west of us got a great deal of snow last winter and spring; it’s still quite wet up there. Upside: wonderful flowers. Downside: skeeters like you wouldn’t believe.

Rio and Molly

Rio and Molly



One of the greatest things about camping is VERY happy (and tired) dogs. A July snow bank can be a complete amusement park:

Molly and Pippin chase snowballs

A hike up through the forest (no trail, just bushwhacking) led us to a gorgeous spot.

Mummy Range

Mummy Range

That’s looking south toward Rocky Mountain National Park and the Mummy Range. And this is the way life should be:

My tribe

My tribe

It’s all about getting in touch with your less civilized side. Getting dirty is a big part of the fun.

The fierce fire goddesses

The fierce fire goddesses

[where:Red Feather Lakes, CO 80536]