The Last Windrow: We're still working on a summer camping trip

I gradually involved myself in the camping world after we were married. I was not an eager learner and drug my feet as best I could but eventually gave in to my wife's camping urge. We purchased a pickup topper camper and arranged a bed in the box.

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Water gurgled through the tent and thunder rumbled overhead. We were camping.

Camping has eluded my wife, daughter and I so far this summer. We pulled our pop-up trailer out of storage in April fully expecting to put it to use sometime during the summer. That didn't happen. The little trailer sits where it did after we placed it back in its shed after its spring cleanup.

Somehow planting the garden, staining the deck, mowing the lawn got in the way, and now we are approaching fall. The hot, dry temperatures we've experienced this summer did nothing to inspire me to camp. I've been in a camper without air conditioning when temps reached the 90s, and I found it to be a rather unpleasant experience.

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Camping was an unknown activity during my growing up years on the farm. The closest I ventured to camping came in the form of a bed sheet stretched between two chairs on our farm lawn. My brother and I crept inside but found the activity a bit boring when we could have been heaving dirt clods at the hogs or dangling from the inside of a barn's roof catching pigeons barehanded.

My wife's childhood camping experiences were quite different. Her dad prided himself in hauling off to some small trout lake and pitching an Army surplus canvas tent. She related to me that one of the first things he did after the tent was erected was to spray the area with DDT to quell the mosquito population.

In those days, DDT was looked on as a deliverance from flying pests. Little did we know then what ill effects it had on every living thing, including humans. But, my wife and her family enjoyed the camping experience even if it turned a bit dangerous when a roving black bear entered the campsite one afternoon.

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I gradually involved myself in the camping world after we were married. I was not an eager learner and drug my feet as best I could but eventually gave in to my wife's camping urge. We purchased a pickup topper camper and arranged a bed in the box. We headed for a nearby campground and were placed shoulder to shoulder with other campers.

Privacy was not a feature, and we endured a night of listening to kids swinging on a squeaky swing until 2 in the morning. I didn't realize that some campers get up for the day at 4 o'clock. Hence we got two hours of quietness. I made coffee at 6 o'clock with bloodshot eyes and a crick in my lower back.

Since then we have camped at many better campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada. Most have been pleasant experiences.


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One of my favorites included the Tunnel Mountain Campground in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Waking with a mountain as your front door is tough to beat. We ate breakfast with elk roaming the grounds and the aroma of mountain pines wafting through the canvas of our pop-up trailer.

It was great.

The other end of the spectrum was the tent we pitched along a lake in northern Minnesota with the hint of a storm on the horizon. Storm it did, and it was really fun to have water percolating through the tent and around our air mattresses as the trees bent under the storm's winds.

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To top off this wonderful experience, I found our fishing boat carpeted with mayflies in the morning. The tent since has gone unused.


I mentioned to my wife long ago that if God had wanted us to camp, he wouldn't have allowed us to create motels and bed and breakfast facilities. She ignored my thoughts completely and in her very next breath mentioned that she would like to go camping at least one time this year.

I'm working on that.

See you next time. Okay?

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