In the spring of 1960 youth pastor Don Nelson invited me to join the 4th Baptist youth group on a Western Camping Trip to the mountains of Wyoming. I was intrigued and jumped at the opportunity. Our family spent every summer in northwestern Wisconsin at our summer cabin, which I enjoyed immensely, but I always dreamed about traveling to faraway and adventurous places.
As the trip started I was assigned, with several other guys, to ride in the back of an old hearse that was loaded with duffle bags. It was a great place to stretch out and lounge, and do what young guys do – goof off. We were traveling straight through from Minneapolis to the Black Hills, and so as nighttime came I drifted off to sleep. Sometime in the wee morning hours I was rudely awakened at a rest stop and ordered by Nelson, “Carlson, you drive!”
I will never forget driving that hearse, with the wind blowing through an open window, and desperately fighting to stay awake. But I was hooked! This was adventure and I loved it. Still do.
Connie’s family had traveled on vacation several times out west; including all the way to the west coast. She was already intrigued by journeys to the mountains and ocean; even if it meant being crammed into the backseat of her family’s two-door coupe. Going on a two-week trip with her friends in 1960 was right up her alley. And it was on that trip that we met, and Connie trusted Christ as her savior. Our grace journey began.
Since that time Connie and I have traveled all over the U.S., Canada, and a dozen foreign countries. Several years into our ministry we borrowed an older tent camper and journeyed to the southeast. In a few years we purchased a pop-up camper and have owned five different trailers since. With those towable units we’ve gone from sea to sea, and from Canada to Florida, and many states in between.
As our family grew we introduced our children to traveling and they have continued the tradition with their families. Then we also introduced to our kids the love for bike riding that both Connie began as youngsters. In the 1970s we incorporated bicycles into our family adventures.
Through our lives we’ve ridden over 4,000 miles and it all started exploring the eastside of St. Paul with our kids.
Through the years our little family has visited many historical sites, the mountains of the west, and many states across the country via automobile and later camping trailers. In 1983 Connie’s parents invited us to join them in Florida for spring break. They had a small RV and would spend their winters in various places in the warmer climes of Florida. Little did we realize that on that trip we would stay with them in a campground that is less than 3 miles from our present home at Maranatha Village.
In 2002 Connie finished her teaching career and joined me in the ministry of Positive Action Bible Curriculum. On a ministry trip to the Midwest we purchased a new camping trailer and pickup truck for a tow vehicle. Over the next 12 years we owned three different trailers and used them to travel to various conferences and events to promote ministry materials and connect with customers.
Every time we left on a trip we would hitch-up our traveling home, and then stop for a moment of prayer in our driveway before heading down the highway. Our prayer was always, “Lord, give us ministry opportunities along the way.” It became a matter of blessed curiosity to wonder at that juncture what the Lord would bring our way.
On one occasion we were in Elkhart, Indiana, and discovered a truck accessories shop where we purchased an item. While in that store we met a man by the name of John who was from Canada. John was a contractor who hauled travel trailers from the northern Indiana factories to Canadian RV distributors. He was a friendly guy, with a loyal dog, and we could tell he was lonely. We were able to witness to him and give him a book with gospel truth. That was one of those unscripted spiritual appointments.
We’re praying about celebrating my 80th birthday next summer by hitting the road again for a road trip to visit family and friends in the north. This will require the finding and purchasing of another kind of RV. As a result, we are in the market for a smaller drivable motorhome. If the Lord gives us the health we desire to continue our ministry of travel next summer and I am calling the projected trip – Target 80. We would appreciate your prayers for this potential venture.