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The Last Windrow: It's high time for summer camping trip

I knew it was coming. The low level "hint" that we go camping before the summer is over.

I just heard it this morning while enjoying coffee on the back deck, watching the rose-breasted grosbeaks shelling sunflower seeds from the now dysfunctional bird feeder. The dysfunction caused by a recent visit by the masked bandit, raccoon No. 100.

Yes, our pop-up camping trailer has been snugly housed over the past 10 months inside my daughter's former horse shelter. The camper sits there probably needing air in its tires and wearing a smattering of bird poop provided by the barn swallows that chose to nest above it. No doubt there will also be a yellowjacket bee nest somewhere in the vicinity, which will draw my attention when I move the camper from its roost.

My wife is a camper. She goes back to a time when her dad pitched a leftover Army canvas tent beside some of the local trout ponds. She grew up with the smell of DDT in her nostrils as her dad sprayed the surrounding area with a heavy dose of the insecticide.

Little did he know that eagles were keeling over in their nests from eating the stuff, but back then there was little to predict the disastrous effect of the chemical on the environment.

Camping life is unique to the north country. Growing up among the corn and soybean fields of Iowa, I knew absolutely nothing about camping. The closest we ever got to camping was to pitch a bed sheet between two poles on the lawn in front of our farmhouse.

Before 10 p.m. hit, we had been bitten by about every conceivable insect that lived in the grass. We came out of the tent with welts the size of half dollars. That was enough to make us wary of anyone who said they "enjoyed" camping.

But, when I awaited my bride coming down that church aisle a number of years ago, in the back of my mind I thought I was about to sign up for a camping trip. That thought came true.

So, over the years we have camped out to the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, Lake Winnipeg, we did the circle route around Lake Superior and we even ventured as far south as the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. We have camped near the Boundary Waters and at Minnesota state parks. I have the scars from deer flies to prove it!

But, overall we have enjoyed the smell of a freshly started campfire, the sound of waterfalls outside the camper at night, the calls of loons on the lake and the purple majesty of the mountains when we first stepped out of the pop-up camper on an early morning at Grand Teton National Park.

So, this week I will pull the camper out of its roost, grease the axles, open the camper to the air and get ready for another adventure. I married into it. And, I must say, it has not been a bad gig!

See you next time. Okay?