End of an era

At some point in the late 1970s, my parents decided to purchase an old camper bus.  By that time, six children had come along and figuring out affordable ways to recreate and travel in the summer months had become challenging.  Fitting us all into the 1976 Ford Torino had developed into a math problem.

I believe the "camper", as we called it, was a 1956 International bus.  By the time it came into our lives, it was already 20 years old and had been converted into an apartment on wheels.  It had a dining table, fridge, stove, bunk beds, sofa (of sorts), bathroom, and lots of cupboards.  There was a place for all 8 of us to sleep.

Going on long trips with it was always an adventure.  It couldn't go as fast as other vehicles, so the traffic would pile up behind us.  Watching the temperature gauge was always mildly entertaining, as it tended to flirt with the danger zone.  One year, we went west, all the way from east-central Saskatchewan to Peace River country in northern Alberta.  Another year, we went east, and all the way up to Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Mostly, we parked the camper for weeks at a time at Madge Lake Provincial Park and wiled away our summers playing at the beach, in the water, and in the forest.

At the end of the season, it would get parked in the backyard.  Dad would jack it up to get the weight off the tires.  Eventually, it ceased to be used as a traveling camper and instead became a Kamsack fixture and a playhouse for score of kids from several generations.

I have fond memories of sleeping out there when I had friends over.  We had silent bomb contests well into the night, laughing until it hurt.  It was our little piece of freedom and independence, just 30 feet from the back door of our house.

On Thursday, my mom was working in the front yard when a young lady walked by.  They struck up a conversation, as people in small towns are wont to do.  At some point, the lady made an observation.

"You have an interesting bus back there," she said.

"If you want it; it's yours," said my mom.  "All you have to do is get it out."

Later that same day, her husband came by to check it out and made a plan to tow it out and back to its new home near Hyas, Saskatchewan.

It is with mixed feelings that I saw this picture of the bus being towed out of its spot in the backyard.  I know it's the right and best thing, but it feels a little like the end of something magical.  However, when I shift my thinking to the three boys under the age of 7 who are getting it and the hours of adventure they are about to have, I realize that it is not the end at all, rather a continuation.  The camper has been given a fresh start with a new family.  That makes me happy.


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