Tag Archives: Camper

Classic Post: Look Out, I’m Pulling a Camper!

This post first appeared on October 10, 2018.

Pulling a camper is like being followed by a shadow that’s gained 2,000 pounds.

Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.

But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Han Solo, I’m not.

Especially as the rearview mirror is rendered useless.

My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.

That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.

Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?

Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”

Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.

I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”

My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.

Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.

Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.

Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.

My prayer life shot up several notches.

Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.

Jesus took the wheel.

Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.

He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.

Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.

We will hit the interstate again soon.

It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!

Prepare to grow in faith.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?

Camping with Cicadas

Last summer, my husband and I set up our camper in Versailles State Park amid southern Indiana’s lush, green hills. Beautiful weather. Perfect.

Except for an odd, reverberating hum whose volume increased every hour.

Ooooooo-mmmmmmm.

Hubby snapped his fingers. “Oh, yeah. Cicadas. I read the every-17-year swarm — this one’s called ‘Brood X’ — will arrive this summer.”

Image by Stefan Lins from Pixabay.

I recalled my childhood fascination with cicadas’ molting. My siblings and I giggled at our mother’s squeals when Dad tossed empty shells at her. We perched additional shells on the screen door for her viewing pleasure.

Nowadays, I enjoy cicadas’ summer evening concerts, but Brood X’s noise made me shudder. “Reminds me of 1960s sci-fi movies before aliens show up.”

“The Return of the Monster Cicada,” Hubby intoned in a Vincent Price voice and threw a shell at me.

Image by Parlansky from Pixabay.

The nonstop drone only hinted at Indiana’s bug invasion. According to Elizabeth Barnes and Cliff Sadof of Purdue University, up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre might leave their 17-year underground larvae childhood to climb trees and party.

I thanked God that multitudes of His interesting but noisy little creatures gathered on campsites elsewhere. Those insect swingers appeared so desperate for dates that they climbed anything resembling a tree. A few shinnied up our camp table legs. Up signposts.

Occasionally, on us.

“Get lost.” I brushed off would-be suitors. “I’m taken.”

“If we were survival camping, you’d ask them to dinner.” Hubby consulted his smartphone. “They’re low in cholesterol. See, somebody topped cookies with them.”

“I wouldn’t survive cicada cookies,” I retorted, “and neither would you.”

The Tyson United Methodist Church in Versailles, Indiana, was completed in 1937.

I suggested a walk around historic Versailles, where we read about John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raid and viewed a unique 1937 Art Deco church.

Ooooooo-mmmmmmm. The weird bug love song still sounded as if crooned into microphones. Piles of cicada shells grew beneath trees. We tiptoed along sidewalks to avoid squishing our fellow pedestrians.

Back at our campsite, I ignored ooo-mmms and gave thanks for bugless s’mores. For a fun experience amid beautiful, rugged hills, despite the swarm.

Fortunately, another Brood X won’t occur for another 16 years.

If I still camp at age 85, I plan to head north.

Our noisy neighbors swarmed the campground, the state park, and the nearby town of Versailles, Indiana.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever experienced a swarm like Brood X?

Classic Post: Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

This post first appeared on November 22, 2017.

No doubt, our Creator appreciates gratitude for freedom to worship Him, for family, friends, food and shelter. But my cornucopia also bursts with weird things for which I am thankful, including:

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay.

Avocados. As a missionary kid in Mexico, I picked them up like apples under big trees. I still am a guacamole junkie. How many other fattening foods are good for me?

Shots. Immunizations don’t rank as my preferred activity, and certainly not my grandchildren’s. But because of shots’ protection, holiday hugs and kisses induce only mild winter plagues.

Black, washable pants. They love sparkly holiday tops and simple ones. They’re immune to stains and grandbaby spit. Roomy in the rear, they don’t desert me after the holidays, as many of my clothes do.

My piano. I don’t own a grand or even a baby grand. But my little Baldwin comprised our first major purchase after Hubby finished medical school. I thought we should spend his first paychecks on practical items. He insisted, “You miss having a piano.” Whenever I play, it still sings a love song.

Our baby trees, whose lanky little branches and colorful fall foliage inspire me with lavish dreams for their future.

Image by lovini from Pixabay.

Our camper. The one Hubby purchased when I was too sick to fight it. Even sitting idle, it sets us free. Already, we picture days in the green woods and s’mores around campfires on starry nights.

Gummy worms. Incredibly lifelike, they possess magical powers. When decorating a grandson’s birthday cake, they enable me to resist eating it.

Our brown sofa. Thank God, Hubby talked me out of buying a red one. Otherwise, after eight years, it would present a less-than-artistic mosaic of peanut butter, jelly, pizza, mustard and gravy stains. Because of, um, the grandchildren. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My neighbor’s yard. Raked and pristine, it gives me a goal to shoot for when I grow up.

Free chips and salsa. A highlight of dining in Mexican restaurants.

Image by Lilly Cantabile from Pixabay.

Laid-back drivers. People who drive sl-o-o-ow-ly on two-lane highways annoy me to the point I pray aloud to occupy mind and mouth. They even force me to notice the loveliness I miss when whipping by as usual.

Accelerators. Cars wouldn’t be much good without them, right?

Ditto for brakes. And headlights.

Paper towels. While living in Ecuador for two months, I missed them terribly. (Thank goodness, Ecuador did manufacture toilet paper.)

Our grandson at the beach.

Baby smiles. They always ruin a bad day.

A critic might protest, “Your list goes on forever!”

True. I never run out of weird things for which to be thankful, because my Creator never, ever stops giving.

He’s weird that way — and wonderful.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd reasons for gratitude pop up on your list?

Camping Afterthoughts

Riding home from a camping trip, I have way too much time to review the whole outdoor scenario.

First, my body takes its revenge. Before vacation, it sat for months, completing a novel. Now, after days of hiking, cycling and kayaking — all just to reach the bathroom — my achy-breaky physique rebels. When inserted into a pickup, it freezes in sitting position.

When we stop for supper, Hubby pries me out with a kayak paddle.

Though near journey’s end, we’ve chosen to eat out of town, so no one will recognize us. However, we have a sneaking suspicion our lunchtime fast-food place in Illinois posted an all-points Internet alert about us. Every restaurant we’ve approached this evening has put out a bait shop sign. Then locked its doors.

We took showers while camping, though given their condition, I wondered if we were adding layers, rather than washing them off. After riding 200 miles with 23 bags of dirty laundry, maybe we’ve absorbed their ambiance?

“Do I smell funny?” I ask my dearly beloved.

“No, you’re good.”

He’s good, too. I worry too much.

Hubby glares as one more restaurant pulls down its shades. “What’s with these people?”

When we open the truck doors at home, however, our shrubbery wilts. We realize the sad truth: while it’s good that we accept each other, camping smells included, others may deposit us into the nearest landfill. Thus, after we unload, two-hour showers follow.

We’re recovering, but after several days at home, we still:

  • Search the house for flashlights instead of flipping on lamps.
  • Pore over Google maps to find grocery stores — when there’s one down the street.
  • Feel uneasy driving a car that isn’t dragging a 3,000-pound camper behind it.
  • Follow The Weather Channel as if it imparts the Gospel.
  • Check the fridge to see if the ice is sufficient.
  • Stir morning coffee with a plastic knife, forgetting a whole drawerful of silverware is available.
  • Reorient ourselves each day to a house we don’t have to park.

Hubby must adapt once more to sleeping through the night without accompanying me to the bathroom as Chief Executor of Unwelcome Wildlife.

If out of clean underwear, we remind ourselves that we own a for-real laundry room. We don’t have to use a hairdryer to make emergency hand-washed items wearable.

Given all these adjustments, is camping worth it?

Yes! When we enter the woods, the Time Tyrant vanishes. Bacon-and-egg breakfasts taste 10 times better. The wonder of our world keeps us spellbound. Even a 3 a.m. bathroom hike treats us to the Creator’s moon-and-stars display that outshines any human-designed light show.

So, we’ll camp again. And again.

And again.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have camping afterthoughts persuaded you to stop?

Growing Fat, Er, Fit with You

“I want to grow old with you.”

A romantic line whose meaning gets lost in the translation.

I thought “growing old with you” meant “growing fat with you.”

Not that my husband and I don’t try to stay fit. We walk, hike, and bike. On a class reunion scale of one to 10, Hubby and I generally score between six and seven. Good, but not obnoxious like those aliens who’ve maintained their graduation weight. No one over 50 should be without love handles. A small potbelly witnesses to the good life.

Unfortunately, Hubby and I took the good life to an extreme last winter. Love handles had turned to love tires, inflation dangerously close to maximum.

Hubby bought new scales.

I wanted to yell at him. But I couldn’t breathe; my jeans were too tight.

Torture enough, right?

Wrong.

Having recently retired, Hubby fulfilled a lifelong dream: exercise.

He put his money where his muscles were, hiring a 21-year-old personal trainer. A guy who doesn’t remember when bacon was considered healthy.

Surely, my crazed spouse would recover from this madness. Instead, sporting new exercise attire, Hubby went to the gym.

He returned looking like he’d kept an appointment with the devil, gray-faced and covered with sweat. He’d hauled 30-pound medicine balls and heaved weights. Did “planks” and sit-ups.

“That trainer should pay you,” I said.

I’d wanted to grow old with him. Now, I almost changed my mind.

Talking hurt him too much, but from his expression, the feeling was mutual.

Still, he refused to abandon his nightmare, er, dream. “I want to set up our camper without an Ibuprofen fix. Chop wood. Backpack in bear country.”

His potbelly shrank. His waistline tire deflated.

Meanwhile, mine threatened to explode. Would my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup habit hasten my demise? So he could grow old with an equally svelte blonde who could lift campers with him and backpack with bears?

Sad, but determined, I buried my Reese’s Cups deep in the freezer under ancient containers of grated zucchini.

At least, the trainer on my senior exercise video looks 35, not 21. He’s okay, though entirely too cheerful. If I’ve had it with Chirpy’s smiley face, I make him disappear. Click. Poof.

That’s the personal trainer you want. Not one who, during the COVID-19 shutdown, emailed even scarier workouts Hubby could do at home.

I made peace with the exercise bike by reading. During microwave numbers countdown, I stretch, hoping someday to recover a waistline.

My tire has deflated somewhat. My potbelly has diminished.

Hubby and I aren’t growing fat together.

Though some sweet day, the Reese’s Cups I dig out may change that. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you translate “growing old together”?

Look Out, I’m Pulling a Camper!

Pulling a camper is like being followed by a shadow that’s gained 2,000 pounds.

Sure, I’ve spelled my husband en route to nearby campgrounds. When straight roads send him to Lullaby Land, I save our lives by driving short stretches on state highways.

But brave roaring, dragon-like semis on interstates? Motorcycles whipping in and out of lanes at Star Wars speeds? Han Solo, I’m not.

Especially as the rearview mirror is rendered useless.

My husband installed extended mirrors. However, they warn that reflected objects are closer than they appear.

That’s nice. Even humble, and I admire humility. But sorry, nice mirrors, when changing lanes, I want accuracy. And if up-close-and-personal encounters with construction barrels throw you off, I really don’t need views up my nostrils.

Especially when parking. We often need to stop for gas, food, and/or restrooms. Those paltry reasons pale, however, as we focus on more profound questions: Will we find a place to park the camper? Afterward, can we get out?

Once, as I contorted truck and camper in my 100th effort to leave a convenience store, Hubby lost all hope. “Will we spend the rest of our lives behind Kwickie Mart?”

Not exactly the retirement we’d envisioned.

I tried to console him: “Living on Little Debbie® cakes and beef jerky wouldn’t be so bad.”

My attempts scared traffic to a dead stop. A hundred yards away.

Thus, we finally left Kwickie Mart.

Hauling a camper never bores us. Once, while I was driving down South, purple-cloud giants charged us. They spit lightning and smothered us with avalanches of rain that drowned car taillights ahead. If I had risked pulling over, my flashers would have disappeared, blown out like candles.

Did I slow down? Not much. Storm or no storm, drivers who never drive less than 85 mph — on roads, shoulders and in parking lots — can be found everywhere. Even in easygoing Mississippi.

My prayer life shot up several notches.

Hubby’s, already flourishing, set new records.

Jesus took the wheel.

Afterward, when He had guided us to sunshine, Hubby tried to talk Jesus into taking all my shifts.

He smiled and said, no, we needed to grow in faith. Together.

Though Hubby still had theological doubts about Kwickie Mart experiences, and I struggled with mirror-nostril crises, we indeed have learned to depend on Jesus and each other. With His help, we and our 2,000-pound shadow return home, safe and sound.

We will hit the interstate again soon.

It’s only fair I give other drivers advance warning: Look out, I’ll be pulling a camper!

Prepare to grow in faith.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever pulled a camper? Driven an RV?