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

It isn’t camping unless something goes awry

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 . . .

DC3, air show, Oshkosh, 2016, Air Adventure

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

EAA, Air Adventure, air show, wife, husband, travel

Steve and Julie at the 2016 EAA Air Adventure