Tag Archives: The Weather Channel

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?

Once Upon a Blizzard

This post first appeared on January 13, 2016.

We Midwesterners share a rich heritage of blizzard stories. Deprived tropics dwellers can’t appreciate our anticipation when The Weather Channel threatens wild winds, arctic cold and snow up the wazoo. Nor do they understand the joy of swapping lies — er, stories — of bravery amid Snowmageddon. A lifetime Hoosier, I have plenty to share.

A preschooler during my first blizzard, I recall my mother’s positive thinking. Despite three days in a two-room apartment with three little ones, she described the trees as “chocolate with white icing.” The Frosty we built resembled a malnourished alien, but we waved at him from our window. It seemed a friendly blizzard.

The second blizzard wasn’t. Winds howled like wolves, savaging electricity for several days. Cupboards emptied. Fortunately, shivering neighbors brought groceries when they came to enjoy our gas heat. Thirteen shared our three-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Survivor had nothing on us.

But we nine kids — playing infinite games of Monopoly, Candy Land, and the unofficial but essential Freak the Grown-ups — considered it fun. Our parents, with extended therapy and medication, finally recovered.

A young married couple when the Big One hit in 1978, our car refused to navigate three-foot drifts. My medical student husband hiked to a police station, catching a ride to a hospital. For three days, he, another student, and a young resident physician — aided by stranded visitors — cared for little patients on a pediatric wing.

Meanwhile, I baked bread. A nearby fellow medical student wife, whose husband also was missing in action, helped eat it. Walking home, I foundered in a sea of snow-covered landmarks. Only a faint traffic signal in ghostly darkness sent me the right direction. Then a tall shadow blocked my way.

Gulp. The only rapist crazy enough to be out in this?

“How’s it goin’?” he rasped.

“F-f-fine.” I squeaked.

He passed by. I slogged home. When the snow finally stopped, my husband appeared, fell over like a tree and slept.

Not content with that harrowing weather, we moved north near South Bend, Indiana, where blizzard stories abound even more than blizzards. Babies and emergencies ignored storm warnings, expecting my doctor husband to show up. How rude.

School snow days brought hungry hoards incapable of studying algebra, but well able to conduct snow wars outside our house. Once, I was trapped with snow-dueling middle schoolers, teens armed with boom boxes, and soon-to-be-separated college sweethearts — along with remodelers who braved the storm to sledgehammer walls.

Blizzard days two decades later prove far less traumatic, but can stop our lives cold. Yet even if I must search for leftover Christmas candles to light my longhand efforts, I’ll do my usual January thing: tell blizzard stories.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite Snowmageddon tale?