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!

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