Tag Archives: Camping

Her-His Recall

Image by Tanseer Saji from Pixabay.
Image by Vachagan Malkhasyan from Pixabay.

In 1971, I scored higher than my academic-superstar boyfriend on our biology test. Now my husband, he remembers the questions were poorly designed.

Our brains record events differently. We should have realized that then.

Years later, during 2:00 a.m. phone calls, Dr. Hubby remembered how to calculate complicated medicine dosages and IV percentages.

When babies wailed at 2:00 a.m., however, he never gained consciousness. If he had, nocturnal amnesia would have occurred. “We have kids?”

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

Yet, I appreciate Hubby, my medical consultant in mystery writing. Once, though, while eating out, I pumped him about undetectable, fatal drugs — and forgot to whisper.

“Keep your voice down!” Hubby hissed as big-eyed diners moved elsewhere. “I don’t do that!”

I should recall minutiae of mystery movies we’ve watched umpteen times. I remember what the main character wore. Or if she was pushed off a high bridge (I loathe heights). But Hubby, who never forgets a plot, reminds me whodunnit.

Helpful guy.

The I-see-it-my-way-you-see-it-yours list goes on. And on.

Hubby remembers campsite numbers and lake depths from every park we’ve visited. Which is north or south of what?

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

I remember trees. Lots of them. Water. Lots of it, too. And that the sun sets in the west. Please don’t ask me about the moon.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

Hubby always memorizes his parking spots. Unlike me, he’s never meandered for hours in a dark lot with ticked-off kids after a rock concert. Think of all the exercise he missed.

On the other hand, I still hear my late, penny-pinching father, urging me to turn off lights: “This house is lit up like Alcatraz!”

Hubby must have been raised in Alcatraz, because all-lights-on seems natural to him.

He does remember to schedule our cars for oil changes.

What, cars have oil?

Lately, though, both our memories are suspect. Name recall’s the worst.

I say, “Who did we have dinner with yesterday? You know, the flannel-shirt guy and the woman wearing cute boots.”

“That was yesterday?” He muses. “Weren’t we in their wedding party?”

“And they in ours. …”

Together, total recall?

Eventually, we nail it: Ned and Patricia. My brother and sister-in-law.

So what, if married life now consists of playing 20 Questions. With both his-and-her recall, we’ll get it right.

As long as we avoid biology tests.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What differences have you noticed in male-female recall?

Camper or Motel?

Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay.

Recently, instead of camping, my husband suggested a motel.

I was stunned speechless … but that never lasts long. “Sure!

Afterward, I pondered: Did I prefer our pop-up? Or the motel?

Setting up campers takes time, but provides exercise. Motels offer fitness rooms, but did we go there? Well … nobody else did, either.

Image by Dorothée Quennesson by from Pixabay.

Neither a motel’s walls nor our pop-up’s canvas filter out arguments next door. But as a fellow pop-up owner said, canvas walls provide little nighttime reassurance when, within inches of your pillow, something outside licks its chops.

Speaking of wildlife, our family never encountered a raccoon-skunk war in a motel as we did at one campsite. Once, though, in a Florida motel, a Volkswagen Beetle-sized roach zoomed across our room.

Then there’s the I-can’t-find-a-thing-in-this-place dilemma, common to both motel rooms and campers. Motel light switches save electricity (and company money) because no one can find them. But camping takes the marital game of Twenty Questions (“Where’s my billfold?”) to record levels.

Both motels and campgrounds feature mysterious showers — also designed to save money, as victims — er, guests — must decipher codes to obtain hot water. Or, in the case of campgrounds, to receive water, period.

Hikes to campground restrooms, however, trump any motel inconveniences — though stargazers claim nothing beats views at 2 a.m.

In the past, motels won the prize for cleanliness. However, because of recent worker shortages, no one cleans up after us but us. Sad.

Bottom line: Comparison of pop-up and motel rooms rests on expectations. Sleepers on a camper’s table gripe about aches and pains, but they expected inconvenience. If forced to sleep on a motel’s table, though, I’d gripe about more than a few twinges.

Image by Angelic Cooke from Pixabay.

Especially pain in my pocketbook. According to Smith Travel Research, a hospitality analytics firm, a hotel room’s average cost has climbed to $149.90 per night. A state park’s campsite costs $15-40. Cheaper, right?

Sure, if we omit costs of the pop-up and truck to pull it. And the awning and canvas walls we replaced.

Ultimately, is our pop-up worth it?

Image by Joe Plenio from Pixabay.

Yes. In the woods, air is fresh as if God just created it, whereas in a motel, I cannot open windows. Camping banishes clocks with their coulda-woulda-shoulda tyranny. Plus, motel personnel might not appreciate my firebug husband building a campfire in our room.

I love camping in our pop-up.

However, if Hubby wants to book a nice motel again — especially in January — I’m game.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which do you prefer, a camper or motel room?

Spring’s Mixed Signals

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.
Image by Sergey Gricanov from Pixabay.

If you’re like me, you’re relishing signs of spring that crowd your senses like April customers at a Dairy Queen.

Signs like a dramatic improvement in Mr. Fahrenheit’s and Ms. Celsius’s attitudes. Like the births of tender, green leaves. Like bevies of daffodils flaunting finery like little girls on Easter morning.

We are in love with spring, the only season when even joggers smile.

So do flocks of cyclists and skateboarders. Intoxicated with warm weather, they forget that narrow-minded laws of physics don’t care if it’s spring. They still insist the riders cannot occupy the same space as a car.

However, though Midwestern weather is always iffy, scraping windshields and icy roads are perils of the wintry past, right?

Surprise! Road construction and road closing signs, like the season’s first weeds, have popped up along every highway.

Are we still in love with spring?

Image by 00luvicecream from Pixabay.
Image by julita from Pixabay.

Absolutely. Apple and lilac blossom fragrances mingle with those of lighter fluid, charcoal, and hamburgers, wafting throughout neighborhoods. We have surrendered to the mad urge to clean grills for the first time this season (and the last).

Even the first smell of sunblock, now required for outdoor forays, becomes a portent of warmer and better things.

Image by Markku Vuorenmaa from Pixabay.

Spending more time in the yard, though, awakens us to the realization that snow no longer covers fast-food cups, broken pencils and soaked letters from the IRS. That hundreds of small stones, shoveled with snow into the yard, might cause sulky lawnmowers — already reluctant to start — substantial grief.

Are we still in love with spring?

Absolutely, as Hubby and I know the perfect antidote for home improvement commercials: getting away from it all, aka, camping. When the first ray of springtime sun penetrates March gloom, he begins preparations for our escape. Researching new camping gadgets — er, equipment — represses melancholy anticipation of yard work, repairs and remodeling. New purchases bloom on our Visa like dandelions.

Sadly, though, we give up winter’s comfort food to consume odd meals from the ice-encrusted freezer — such as Squash and Smelt Tortellini Surprise — as I make room for summer garden vegetables that, as of now, are only imaginary.

Image by Henryk Niestrój from Pixabay.

The smelt tortellini casserole wasn’t so bad. It beat the rhubarb-succotash dish, covered with ancient turkey gravy.

But we are still in love with spring.

Right, dear?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite/least favorite signs of spring?

Bunking It in Brown County

Years ago, our small church held an autumn retreat in the now-famous Brown County hills in southern Indiana. Once, my girlfriends and I persuaded the camp director — my mother — to let us stay overnight in a cabin without a chaperone. No volunteers, so she had little choice.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

That evening, we ate fiery cinnamon balls and SweeTartsTM until our teeth sizzled. We caked on blue eye shadow and painted our nails sinful colors. Transistor radios filled the cabin with crackly Top 40 songs. We posted a lookout for a boy raid.

Nobody. Stupid boys.

We debated who was cuter: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? We sorted boys we knew into categories: Hip and Drip. The church guys? Drips, of course.

The Beatles.

Conversation lagged. The wind moaned outdoors.

We rechecked windows. Those Drips would never pull it off. Losers.

“What if kidnappers come?” Janie quavered.

“Scaredy cat!” Laughing, I turned away so she couldn’t see me shiver.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay.

When someone attempted a shower, a hairy-legged centipede crawled out of the drain. Screeching, we scrambled to top bunks.

Then a mouse scampered across the beam over our beds. Screaming, we hit the bottom bunks with a championship diving team’s precision.

A faint light glimmered in our dusty window. Moonlight? The Drips?

No! Jack the Ripper finally had made his move!

We plunged outside into the dark woods, probably leaping over copperheads to escape Jack.

Image by Jacqueline Macou from Pixabay.

Mom, the little boys’ counselor, didn’t welcome us to their cabin. “Sleep, or return to your cabin alone.”

We slept. Sort of.

When my brother played morning reveille on his trombone (no trumpet player attended our church), we wished we’d never heard of Brown County. Given this cabin’s nonfunctional shower, we faced the day with greasy hair and back-to-nature fragrance.

Soon, though, we lost ourselves in stitching genuine Indian coin purses, eating hot dogs, singing and learning Bible lessons. Playing dodgeball, we smacked the Drips to demonstrate our everlasting hate and love.

All too soon, we said goodbye until Sunday school, when we would dress up and play nice.

Who knew that soon, Brown County church camp, with its fun-infested cabins, imaginary kidnappers and trombone reveille, would say goodbye, too?

For good.

Image by SeppH from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What camp memories do you cherish?

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?

Don’t Do This During a Storm

Image by sethink from Pixabay.

Television weather experts give us blow-by-blow advice, yet anyone knows that when lightning rips the sky apart, watching TV is risky. While tornadoes flatten Starbucks nationwide, viewers plaster noses to TV screens. They may fry or be blown to Oz, but they’re informed.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Once aware of severe weather, we should stop watching weather experts.

They never tell us that.

The bold sit outside, counting lightning hits in their yards. Some attempt the photo that will appear on TV. News flash: Lightning may agree to a selfie with you, but you won’t like the results. Storm chasers may not enjoy making its acquaintance, either.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay.

Did you know that according to The Weather Channel, men are six times more likely to be struck by lightning? Wives insist it’s because they never put their dirty socks in the hamper. However, the article ( https://weather.com/health/news/lightning-kills-more-men-women-20130805) suggests men’s favorite leisure activities — fishing, boating, camping, golf and soccer — make them favorite targets.

Ladies endanger themselves for social reasons, e.g., talking on landlines during thunderstorms. Determined brides risk lighting up entire wedding parties like marquees. And let mere funnel clouds change their romantic venues? Never!

I’ve avoided most feminine scenarios. However, Hubby, who preaches togetherness while camping, ensures that I get up close and personal with storms.

Image by Ralph’s Fotos from Pixabay.

Once, while setting up camp as lightning sizzled around us, he yelled, “Hold up those tent poles. Higher. Higher!”

Maybe he’d taken out life insurance on this human lightning rod?

A tip for grandparents: don’t babysit during storms, as what worked in “The Sound of Music” won’t work for you. Grandkids won’t sing “My Favorite Things.” They will not sleep. You won’t, either.

Their snickering parents, miles away, will.

Finally, while God may not take offense to references about His moving furniture in heaven or bowling with angels, we probably shouldn’t yell at Him, as Lieutenant Dan did in “Forrest Gump.” Again, what worked for Gary Sinise might not work off film.

The Psalms state that God rides the wings of the storm. His improvement on a roller coaster?

While He grants weather experts ingenuity to guard our safety, God doesn’t plaster His nose to the TV to receive Doppler reports. He can calm the worst storm with “Peace, be still,” (modern translation: “Knock it off!”).

I’ll always consult Him first.

Image by Felix Mittermeier from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you react to storms?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Another Lesson Learned

O Lord, You know camping in 30-degree weather is not my favorite pastime. But OMG, thank You that my lack of anticipation didn’t keep You from sharing Your incredible creation with us!

     

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Please Nix the Gnats!

O Lord, You know we love camping in Your wild, beautiful world. But this year, a gnat plague of biblical (Exodus 8:16-19) proportions swarmed us the entire trip. After we returned home, Hubby even sorted piles of dirty laundry in his truck’s bed, rather than let the pests infest our house. OMG, Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to You, but we want to know: was it something we said?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Is There Something He’s Not Telling Me?

O Lord, thank You for a husband who loves Your creation. But given his enthusiasm for a trail like this, OMG, has he taken out a life insurance policy on me that I don’t know about?     

How to Bail Out a Tent

Though Hubby and I now own a pop-up camper, we remained tent campers for two decades. As still-married experts, we offer advice to those planning to bail out tents.

A truly memorable experience depends on preparation.

  • Get away from it all, a hundred miles from the nearest laundromat. Confirm beforehand that hand dryers in the campground’s restrooms haven’t worked since 1979.
  • Pack anything that holds more than one teaspoon under your spare tire. Then forget where you packed your bailing aids.
  • Do not pack clothing and towels in waterproof garbage bags. Plan to stack them in your tent so during a deluge, every fiber will absorb its proper quota of water. Your clothes may sprout toadstools. Your towels will weigh more than chunks of firewood. But you won’t drown. You want to survive to do this again, don’t you?

Tips, once you’ve arrived at your site:

  • Place air mattresses under sleeping bags. These will promote comfort and dryness — unless the youth group that borrowed them wore cleats.
  • Store all food in your tent so 37 hungry raccoons will assist in your bailing experience.
  • Given that all bailing vessels are buried under your spare tire, a husband’s tennis shoes work well, especially if you’re mad because he talked you into tent camping.
  • If a nagging wife’s sleeping bag has remained dry while yours is drenched, use hers to sop up the flood.
  • A more relaxed approach: If spouses awaken to find air mattresses afloat, she can remind him he always wanted to go white water rafting. He can remind her she always wanted a pool. Add sunglasses and drinks with little paper umbrellas, then enjoy a facsimile of the vacation you really wanted.

The above assumes no children accompanied you. If they have, thunder will send them diving, slimy and screaming, into your sleeping bag. Remember, you and your spouse must set a positive example for future years, should they marry people with tents.

  • Instigate a family sing-along while you bail. “The Ants Go Marching” lends a steady rhythm to keep everyone working in the fun tradition of galley slaves. Avoid “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing.” Despite the song’s superior spiritual content, neighbors — also bailing — may not appreciate its profundity.
  • Start a water fight. You can’t get much wetter, right? (So what, if it’s 4:30 a.m.)
  • If water rises past kids’ knees, give them impromptu swimming lessons.
  • If water rises to your youngest child’s neck, enjoy sleeping in the car. Family togetherness — that’s why you planned this, right? Because you’ve always dreamed of sleeping, entwined with two kids, under a steering wheel …

And achieving that special marital chemistry that comes only with bailing out a tent.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What tent camping tips can you offer?