Camping is not for the faint of heart, even in the “posh” conditions of a travel trailer! Having a trusty companion or two and the right tools can make the difference between success and failure. For me that would be the guard dog, handy husband, jugs of water, and very long extension cord. Gotter done!
I am grateful for our Camplite (aka Tin Can Ranch) that allows me to go places with my hubby and stay in a mobile “clean room,” away from the hazards of hotels and limited choices of restaurant menus. Preparing for these trips is an incredible amount of work all by itself: just about the same amount of tasks need to be completed for a week-long vacation as an over-nighter. I have a sense that we won’t be doing the latter again anytime soon! Regardless, I rallied the strength and off we went with great expectations to the Illinois Beach State Park north of Chicago, Illinois. I was to attend the day-long Designs for Health: A Prescription for Wellness seminar at the beautiful Chicago Botanical Gardens and Steve was to tackle the surf along Lake Michigan. Later we planned to meet up with some friends for dinner on the north side of the city before heading south around the city and back to NE Indiana into the wee hours of the morning. Whilst the latter plans were complicated by severe rain and traffic issues for all parties, it turned out to be an “easier” part of our itinerary!
Our wacky adventures began soon after we pulled into the campground along the shores of Lake Michigan. Up first: hooking up the electrical. Not! For the next several hours we battled a worn breaker system that kept tripping no matter what we did to avert the issue. Was it the breakers in the trailer that were overloaded? The eroded contacts in the refrigerator switch plate that requires a few minutes of babysitting to turn on? Figuring this out required much problem-solving with wifey-poo dressed in early Spring/Winter garb, very weary from travelling and following orders from the friendly but not-so-helpful front office staff. To sort this out, we ran our extension cord to a few adjacent sites to no avail. Very likely it was the campsite breakers that were worn and not our camper since everything had worked fine at home the day before. Too bad the real on-site expert had the day off!
Finally my husband figured out two work-a-rounds: 1) hooking up our battery charger to the battery to run the water pump and 2) running our 100-foot extension cord to a 3rd campsite and through the kitchen area window to run the electric heater. In the morning I disconnected the heater and attached it to my blow dryer to make some order of the bed head that came with the morning. What about just taking a shower you ask? Well don’t! That didn’t happen . . . for me anyways. The campground did not have water or sewer hook-ups so we had filled our modest, 30-gallon water tank at home thinking it would be enough for bathroom needs with quick “Navy-style” showers. We were wrong. Steve did get a shower . . . then a paddle in Lake Michigan . . . then another shower in the only open bathroom facilities in the campground. I made the most of things and had a quick cooooold sponge bath before heading out to the seminar! Oh well. I was definitely AWAKE for the day of lectures to follow!
A few other tidbits further enhanced our experience such as Steve gashing his lip on the rusted breaker box in the midst of trying to figure out things! So glad for our first aid supplies! Then there was the brand new hot water pot that I had plugged in through the cord dangling in kitchen window to make some hot tea ended up not working; I used an electric frying pan instead! Additionally I took every remedy that I had with me to ward off noxious symptoms from ongoing illness and to consume before-and-during the seminar (with copious amounts of food-n-bacon, of course). And guess what? The seminar was incredible! Steve had a great time paddling our outrigger canoe 7 miles along the lake shore and the pup got in a few long walks at the beach. Cool beans.
Forrest Gump logic applies very well to almost all of our camping experiences these past 3 years: you never know what you are going to get! This trip was no different. We are now home and pooped. Massive loads of laundry and cleaning are now underway to decontaminate everything for our next adventure having something to do with trailer demolishen derby races or something. With our luck, let’s just hope we don’t end up on the figure-8 track. Should be fun. Or maybe not. I’ll be sure to letcha know. Eeeeek!
No, he didn’t die. He just goes away for large swaths of time as soon as the forsythias start their yellow bloom season up north here until the crimson leaves begin to fall into the local waterways. Then he “comes back to life” again when I need him to keep me warm when the snow flies, that’s all. Such is the life of a kayaking widow!
For those of you who have taken a break from reading your cereal box and picked up your beloved’s issue of Canoe News* instead, this one’s for you! You may or may not be a paddler and that is o.k. If you are not a RACER, however, and HE IS then you are invited to join me in this paper support group! We are not alone! (He does eventually come home to sleep and eat, right?) I mean, I understand girlfriend.
So we must stick together, you and me, and figure out alternatives to dreamy picnics in the park with our men. It probably won’t happen. Our guys are either out fulfilling the requirements of their United States Canoe Association (USCA) membership or too tired and sore from the workout the day before to take a walk on the local Prairie Path on a Sunday afternoon. “Would you massage my back?” is more likely heard than, “the moonlight sure is lovely reflected in your hair tonight.” But I digress. Just focus on the other scenic benefits of being married to an athlete if ya know what I mean? J
And try these tips to get past the USCA Nationals in August at least!
- Go shopping. Spend wisely and no more than the amount he has invested in paddling gear.
- Try a recreational race if you can paddle some; offer to take pictures of the event or help out if you prefer not. Kids can come too if desired. He will love you for taking an interest in his sport.
- Leave a note of encouragement in plain view for your man to find as he makes his way out the door on race day before the rooster crows. Add food. Lots of food.
- Plan regular events of your own either alone or with like-minded “widows.” There a lot of us out there, left behind from various endeavors requiring testosterone. Pick ones that require lots of estrogen to enjoy.
- Eat chocolate and don’t share with anyone.
- Look busy when he comes home yet be sure to greet him from upwind.
Surely there are a virtual bevvy of strategies for us land-lovers as I am only getting started here. Actually I was a fan of boating under power when I met my River Bear. What happened? Who knows but her name might be “Stella(r)” or something like that! I would love to hear from you ladies (and possibly widowers?) with your best tips on making the most of the paddling season.
Until then, gardening anyone? JJ
*Published in the Summer 2017 issue of Canoe News
This wifey-poo gets it right at an Indiana race on the St. Joe River in 2012!
I wasn’t exactly thinking of baking a blueberry dessert when the little rascals from my Big Box Store shopping extravaganza were scrambling all over our driveway the other day! Oh dear. My beloved will probably be reading this. I washed them off Steve, truly I did!
Such is the caper of the rogue blueberries: I opened the passenger side door of my truck to a splash of little purple berries spilling out onto the concrete beneath my feet. I ended up stepping on one or two as I stepped back to figure out what had happened. Squish! They had rolled underneath the truck, in front of the door, all around my feet, down the driveway, and even past the sidewalk 20 feet away. Geez oh man! Good thing for cracks in the sidewalk or the courtyard would be a “hazy shade of Winter” too! Maybe they wanted the freedom from their cramped clam shell cave into the cloud-covered, 30+ degree air? I dunno. I was getting cold so I set myself to rescue all that I could quickly without crushing them . . . two by three. Blueberries on the loose are not easy catch you know!
Two days later I had figured out that the day AFTER Valentines Day would be a perfect occasion for putting my little treasures to good use. I didn’t even use a recipe and yet I was able to concoct a gluten-free wonder made with a stick of butter, chopped pecans, and slightly sweetened coconut cream topping that would seem to get along well together. Yes! It was yummy!
So let this be a lesson for bakers everywhere. If you want a great homemade treat for a special holiday and exceedingly wonderful someone, rough up the ingredients on the pavement first. The beating will soften them and you just enough to get your creative juices flowing. The delectable dessert prize surely will soothe your taste buds long enough to make you forget about your sore knees and the blue stains under your fingernails!
Your sweetie will like it too. ;JJ
Whenever my Dad’s mom was facing a setback in her health she had one phrase regarding her progress, “I am getting there, slow but sure.” She might be in the hospital with an exceedingly painful case of shingles but her response was just the same. Surely this attitude endeared many of the medical staff to care for her just a little more. I sure appreciated her more when she reassured me with these words over the phone 300 miles away.
I have decided to borrow this attitude for myself. Perhaps it will help with another temporary setback as I recover from a recent biopsy of my thyroid. My neck hurts! The procedures and resulting discomfort have triggered more noxious symptoms including those related to hormone fluctuations: temperature dysregulation, blood sugar swings, occasional tearfulness, etc. But it had to be done: my third round of biopsies over the years at least this time was performed under conscious sedation. Gratefully I did not have to be awake when they pushed that very long needle into my neck. Eeeeek!
My recovery is coming along, slow but sure. Today I was able to be upright more hours than yesterday and hopefully I will be able to leave the house tomorrow for an appointment before my infusion of antibiotics in the afternoon. The latter continue 3x per week as they will very likely for the total of a year of IV ceftriaxone. We are trusting the Lord to provide for all of this; we have had to pay thousands per month ourselves for most of this year. With treatment by a naturopath and genetic coach, compounded medications and supplements, and every kind of co-pay there is, we should qualify for a medical tax deduction for the year without any problem!
At least now I am not failing unto death any more. What good would I be to anyone to allow my health to decline without a fight? I believe the Lord gave me a brain, five years, and an unusual provision of resources to get this job done so getter done I shall with my beloved Stevers leading the way. Slowly but surely this train will reach the proverbial “Station*” just in time someday with a little less baggage for having fought the good fight. And it looks like things may be looking up soon (provided the biopsy results indicate that the thyroid nodules are benign!). Regardless: God is good. All the time. God is good.
I hope that you know that to be true too, Gentle Reader. Feel free to tell me about it below . . .
This trip was much like any other in terms of the massive preparation it takes to go camping! There is always lots of kayak paddling gear to gather, packing, meal preparation for 2 distinct dietary requirements, mega supplements and meds to pop into pill boxes, “just in case” remedies to pack, and so on. The miles go quickly as we travel most of the day and into the night, with destinations generally east of the Mississippi. I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to catch up on the little things with my beloved Steve as he drives us along since it’s crazy busy getting everything else done before we leave! Add the last minute deliveries of my hubby’s side business as a Stellar Kayak rep and you will see how we usually get about 4 hours of sleep beforehand but alas, I’ll let him tell that story!
Our German shepherd got sick after taking herself for a swim in Lake Michigan when delivering a kayak on our way home. Two vent covers on the Camplite either blew off or severely cracked, respectively, on our way from Indiana to Wisconsin requiring a series of duct tape-style repairs. The placement of water and electrical outlets on opposite sides of the campsite required a creative workaround in the dark when we arrived at our destination. Sweltering heat and humidity nearly wilted me into a pile of mush until we found shade underneath the belly of a DC3 (airplane) on display along the air strip at the EAA AirAdventure. In addition, my usual pattern of nightly/morning convulsive spells continued every night and morning yet were no worse considering the increased activity level and exposures related to all of our activities. Two friends flaked on meeting us for dinner during our stay. Bummer dude.
But wait. There’s more! We ran out of propane and overflowed our gray water tank at the 2-day mark. A mysterious water spot left us sleeping on the bare mattress cover our last night that might be condensation outsmarting the air conditioner + dehumidifier combination we employed. And lastly, the rain chased us home a day early, allowing us to deliver the aforementioned kayak for Steve’s customer who was unable to catch a flight to meet us to pick it up. That became the reason for a 2-hour side trip to Door County from Oshkosh and the fateful swim for our pup, Elle. But hey, the landscaped gardens of their lake home were better than the magazine photos I had brought with me to pass the time . . .
Enjoying cool shade under a DC3
So when you decide to take up camping you also decide to take up flying by the seat of your pants! Little goes as planned! We have come to expect always arriving later than expected to our destinations, spending more on gasoline than meals/souvenirs/camping reservations, and getting out the tools or duct tape at some point before returning home. If you ask me, it makes the trip more fun! I’ll take the crazy stuff of life on the road any day to the ravages of battling a serious illness and am grateful that I get to do so with my River Bear in the Tin Can Ranch a few times each year. Now that the 9 loads of laundry are done, I just have to clean the CampLite. Soon I’ll be ready to pop the question again like the old Microsoft commercials use to say,
Where do you want to go today?
Maybe one day I’ll meet you on the road Gentle Reader. Please bring your own duct tape, just in case! JJ
Steve and Julie at the 2016 EAA Air Adventure