So you want to go camping do ya?

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!

Camplite, husband, kayak, Scorpius, rack, roof, outrigger, canoe, man, towing, camper, travel, trailer, home, Nissan, Frontier, camping

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.

woman, seminar, Chicago Botanical Gardens, flowers, planter, Designs for Healing, sitting

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!

JJ

I just gotta be me!

That's me in 2007

That’s me in 2007

Ten years ago would find me hosting a team of entrepreneurs at a job fair, working in healthcare four days per week, planning holiday travels, and riding my  bike or taking long walks in my neighborhood.  I lived in the west suburbs of Chicago and spent a lot of time in my car.  Traffic, you know!

Twenty years ago would find me learning to landscape my yard and live the married life, working full time, planning holiday travels, adjusting to a new diagnosis of a pain condition, and feeling glad to have my Master of Science degree completed at last.  Painting and decorating the townhouse would preoccupy the weekends in addition to long drives to a Christian mega church on Sunday morning.

Thirty years ago would find me finishing my fieldwork in occupational therapy at a State hospital in Michigan, beginning to search for my first professional job, and balancing family dynamics as a college graduate under my mom’s roof.  Time with friends and a steady boyfriend dominated my free time.

My how times have changed!  This past year I got sick with a serious illness, met the qualifications to become a Master Gardener, started a jewelry business, hosted a booth in two craft shows, took a hiatus from weekly kayaking in a performance surf ski, and learned the true meaning of love in the eyes of my beloved Steve.  The only things missing are the planning of holiday travels and spending a lot of time in my, er, truck.  No car anymore and no suburban living anymore!  I live in a small town near what they call a “big little town” and I like it.

Work is different too.  I work 2 to 6 hours most nights, in the middle of the night, for my online jewelry business and not in a clinic somewhere.  You could also say that I work to get well from Lyme Disease and its co-infections, requiring about 4 hours per day of various tasks that would bore you to list them right now.  (See the Survival Tips page if you’re interested!)  I’ve always valued “work” and have worked since my first babysitting job as a teenager.  Twice before I’ve started my own business.  The study of occupation has been with me and has helped me re-invent my career many times over the years.  I am grateful for most of it!

If I just gotta be me, then I guess I have landed squarely at a place that reflects who I am and who I have been all of my life.  I do believe my life is softer around the edges as the Lord has allowed many trials and blessings to shape who I am today.  There is so much more to learn, do, see, be.  In this moment, I am grateful for all the Lord has given me, good and bad.  After all, I met you didn’t I?  :J

Take this moment in time

To create something beautiful:

A world where we move closer together

With eyes for our Savior, Immanuel,

Where our stories speak with gentleness for

The paths taken and those we did not,

And the work of our hands makes a difference

In today and beyond . . .

For grace will be our companion

His love, peace, and joy.

Life becomes a journey worth the taking,

Yes!

Would we really want it any other way?

(Julie Lech, July 2006)