Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Is It Okay to Cancel That Camping Trip?

I have the utmost respect for campers who push the boundaries of their camping experience--extreme cold, extreme heat and humidity. I also have been camping long enough to know that full-time camping, although a romantic on-the-road concept, isn't always easy when the rubber really hits the road. This is especially true for tiny trailer campers. The tiny space becomes even tinier in extreme conditions, even for one person, much less a couple.

That's why my wife and I have cancelled our planned week of camping in these dog days of August. When we originally reserved our campsites, the projected high temperatures were in the mid-80s . . . but the temperatures kept rising and are now in the mid-90s. We had reserved five nights at a local state park, then a weekend on the Des Moines River at a county park, and then five more nights back at the state park. (That's right, the weekend sites were booked at the state park far in advance.) It was a nice plan--spending ten days at a site with good shade and then spending a weekend at a campground on the river, a place my wife had visited but never camped at.

However, since my wife works online during the week, her options were for her to swelter outside or for us to be cramped together in our tiny trailer, and even though it's a standy, that's a pretty tight space when we're working. My wife puts it this way: it's not so bad to work together, but when I get tired and take a nap and start snoring . . . it's a bit much. And when she has to talk to a client on the phone, it's like, "What's that noise?"

Extreme conditions can be draining on the body, too. It's one thing to be out of a couple of nights, but another to deal with extreme environments for a prolonged time. In the Midwest, summer sun heats the lakes, which then tend to scum up, so even swimming can lose its appeal. Scummy water, bugs (chiggers, ticks, and mosquitoes), air conditioners maxing out . . . well, my point is that sometimes it's just okay to cancel that camping trip and stay at home.

We've put off our trip a week, cancelling the first seven days and keeping the last five-day reservation at the state park. Right now, highs for those days are expected to be in the 78-82 degrees range. Not bad! We are planning to be gone for at least a couple of weeks, now that school has begun for our grandchildren. We've been "sharing bubbles" of social distancing in our family but feel we want to take some time away in order for there to be more empirical information regarding how returning to school will affect COVID-19 infections. We don't want to get sick, of course, but my wife and I also realize that the last thing we all want as a family is for parents and grandparents to both get sick at the same time. Who would take care of the grandkids? The kids will be busy and excited, and it's just a good time for us to take a break and get away and do some camping. Also, thank god for Facetime!

Full-time living at Tails of Wanderlust--no pain in this photo!

Camping is supposed to be fun, and I personally feel no macho need to press through and experience discomfort if I'm camping locally. Camping does include times when we have to deal with more extreme situations like a thunderstorm, and that's part of the fun of camping, but it's not necessary to bring tornado-chaser mentality to the camping experience. I'm never planning on hiking to the top of Mt. Everest or to the North Pole, either.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Camping with a tiny trailer as opposed to camping in a tent does definitely extend and expand the camping season. Even the tiniest camper provides more protection from the elements. If I'm camping locally and the thermometer is maxing out, though, then I'm perfectly comfortable, both literally and figuratively, staying at home. I don't mind coming home happy and exhausted, but heat exhaustion . . . no thanks! And, yes, those explorers to our North and South poles made history with their firsts . . . those that lived, that is. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with being a hobbit and staying in the Shire.

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