The pounding of hammers and the buzz of saws outside our house were the busy sounds of home maintenance--new siding replacement. The solution for escaping the hubbub was a week-long camping trip to Lake Sugema Campground, about thirty miles from home. Soon we were rolling down the highway, sun shining, field birds singing, trees a glowing green in that first blush growth, the sun warm upon our faces.
Well, no, actually. Our drive out was to the possibility of snow showers, which never happened, happily. We were well prepared for the possibility of cold weather, though, and the first morning was a couple of degrees below freezing. That was no problem. We had regularly hiked during the winter in freezing or near-freezing weather, and because we had dressed warmly, our hikes had be a lot of fun--no over-heating, no bugs, and great exercise. The sun burned through the haze, and wind blew away most of the cloud cover, so the day warmed as the day progressed. My wife and I settled in, cooked a good meal, I enjoyed some photography. Our sleep the first night was too hot, the second night too cold with only a cotton thermal blanket--then too hot when we added the sleeping bags. I felt like Papa Bear--to hot, too cold, what about just right?
Day four turned so windy that we had to break down and put away our awning. All day the gusting wind had acted like a sail, rocking the tiny trailer, causing some of the suction cups to break loose with heavy gusts, allowing the awning to flap. It was cloudy,and thunderstorms threatened for the night. It rained that night but not a violent rain--peaceful. For two nights we hadn't used our oil heater at all and slept much more comfortably.
Our fifth morning, though, we woke to temperatures in the upper 40's and switched on the heater for a little comfort. We also enjoyed the fact that with the cloud cover and lower temperatures, the clothes we had packed were perfect. This trip I haven't done much hiking except shorter walks with my wife after she shuts down business for the day in her mobile office, aka the Green Goddess. What I have been doing is duplicating our home meals so that there isn't the physical shock of suddenly easting heavier, less fresh food. That's been working out well--baked vegetables, curried vegetables, toast over the fire, lot of hot tea in the morning.
This is our first camping trip of the season, so reaffirming our camp routines and reminding ourselves how it all works has been a great boost to our confidence. The only glitch we've had in our camp routine was when we first arrived and were unhooking and setting up. A camper walked by with his dachshund and hung around, talking. He stayed on, and I was trying to remember all the little details--and discovered after unhooking that I had forgotten to check the lateral level of the trailer. Luckily, it was only a little off, so no worries. That's been our running joke this trip--if we only had a dachshund, we'd be reaaalllly kicked back campers!
We're finding, though, that as we stay in one place and the time extends more, we have more free time to either relax or to try something new. We aren't taking a good part of the day setting up or packing up. Last year I managed to identify a number of campgrounds with good cellphone reception, so this year we'll be able to head out more frequently, Sandy and I, to mix her work during the day with good meals, energetic yet peaceful hikes, and snug nights in our tiny camper. Tomorrow we're driving four miles to the city park and playground in Keosauqua, which is right along the Des Moines River, where we will meet and play with our grandchildren. Yay!
Plan change! I'm at home right now, two days later (the day we had actually scheduled to come home). Wind was the culprit for our early return home. Too windy for our sun awning, too windy for a day of play in the park with the grandkids, too windy for campfires, wind drying the sinuses and causing nosebleeds--we decided to come home, having enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and not feeling the need to force our pleasure. We did dodge the wind long enough to have three campfires in six days. We did enjoy cooking, especially getting to know how to use our induction hotplate--which is awesome to use in the wind! And Sandy and I did enjoy spending some time together alone.
Most of all, though, we enjoyed how easy this experience was--and the idea that we have a whole season of camping ahead of us. So, for the second time, YAAAAY!