Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It has been exactly one week since we returned from our nine-day excursion to south-central Utah. What a wonderful excursion it was! This may have been the most scenic and most relaxing vacation I have ever had.

Last year, we drove 11 hours to southwest Oregon and spent time seeing the Oregon and California coasts, Redwoods National Park, and Crater Lake National Park. Very beautiful but very exhausting. It felt like we did all three of those over consecutive days, even though I know we did not.

Compounding that was the fact that I was anticipating a possible new job, the offer for which came during our trip to Crater Lake. That meant an unplanned additional day's driver to find a Kinko's from which to fax back my acceptance of the job offer. Needless to say, when we returned I was exhausted and felt like I needed another vacation in order to recover.

Not so this time, even we did as much if not more sightseeing. Our campsite, in Fish Lake National Forest, was at 8800-feet, which led to cool, crisp nights and some great sleeping weather. The days were mostly cool and often wet, but we did not let that stop us from making road trips to three national parks, each perhaps more spectacular than the one before.

During our nine days, we made visits to, in order: Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Parks. We managed to put at least one day of rest in-between each park, which allowed us time to recharge our batteries. That spacing made each park more enjoyable and more picturesque, as evidenced by the fact that we took more than 500 pictures, and our son took nearly 200 additional pictures. (I promise to post some as soon as I get a chance to organize them.)

There are some wondrous sites to see in this country, and I hope to see more of them in the coming years. For now, just let me say that everyone should travel to see some of these wonderful places in Utah, and if you do go, be sure to try the buffalo burger at the Burger Bar in Roy, just north of Salt Lake City. Their shakes are fantastic as well.

And if you happen to be driving through Koosharem, a small town of fewer than 300 people seemingly in the middle of nowhere on Highway 62, 156 miles from Salt Lake City, be sure to stop by the Koosharem Cafe and have the Country Fried Steak meal. Very good food at a very good price.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Few Random Questions

Why is it that, as most men get older, their waistline expands even as their hairline recedes? Is it something to do with quantum physics? Perhaps in a parallel universe an alternate version of me is really thin.

Did you ever wonder why the louder you speak the harder of hearing your children seem to become? I can literally yell to ask Christopher to do something and he'll say he didn't hear me. But I could be on the other side of the house almost whispering, and he'll catch every single word - especially if none of them were meant for him to hear. Someone please explain that to me.

Do you think there might be a special place in Hell for people who race to pull out in front you even though there are blocks of empty space behind you and then proceed to drive well below the speed limit? I sure hope so.

Where is the reality in reality TV? Seriously, do you personally know anyone who does some of the stupid things these people do in some of these shows? I don't. With the exception of Survivor, of course. I mean, there is nothing contrived about putting 16 strangers on a deserted island or in the middle of the jungle and rewarding the person who does the best job of lying, cheating, and stabbing the other 15 contestants in the back. Oh wait, I'm confusing Survivor with climbing the corporate ladder.

Do you ever wonder why someone would take the time to write about what he thinks or feels when few if any people will read it and fewer still will comment on it? So do I, but I guess I'll keep doing so.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Camping Season

This year, my allergies are the worst they have been since moving to Idaho in 2003. I've spent a great deal of time sneezing, reaching for a tissue, or trying to gouge my eyes out to stop the itching. If it isn't one of those, then it's the problem of trying to stay awake and alert after doping myself beyond the recommended dosage in a futile quest for relief.

In spite of these miseries, I am as happy as I have been in several months. Why? Because it is camping season once again. We already have three trips under our belt this season, with our big trip coming in less than two weeks, an eight-day stay in Utah. I am really looking forward to it.

This year, despite the allergies, camping is in many ways more fun than in years past. One key reason is that I am finally coming to terms with some of my demons that have haunted me for years. Another key reason is the addition of Oliver, our beagle, to the family.

The addition of a dog has changed our camping experience for the better. Oliver is an instant four-legged icebreaker. On our last camping trip, one of the volunteer camp host couples pulled into our campsite, apologized for the intrusion, then told us how much they admired our beagle.

We've spoken to several other beagle owners about owning perhaps the most stubborn breed in the canine world. We've had other dog owners apologize for the behavior of their dogs even as we have been compelled to apologize for Oliver. As a lifelong introvert, the whole transformation caused in the amount we interact with other campers simply by adding a dog to our family has been incredible.

I have come to truly love camping, even the setting up. I enjoy cooking at nearly all times, but it is even more fun when camping, especially when I can surprise with whatever I create. The food almost always seems to taste better. The wine most certainly does. The sunsets seem more spectacular, the stars seem brighter, and the moon seems closer.

Teresa calculates that, based on the amount of nights we already have scheduled and reserved this season, we will top the 100-night mark in the tent trailer we bought in June, 2006. With a little luck and perhaps a fall outing or two, we might push that number closer to 110. Most of them have been truly wonderful. We've been to some really lovely settings, and we've only scratched the surface. One day, we hope to make such outings a full-time adventure. I can't wait!