Category Archives: camping

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

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Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

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Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?

Sleeping Comfortably with Big Agnes

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the Mother of Comfort…

No Silly! My Honey is fit and cute—Big Agnes is the name of her sleeping mat.

Sleeping comfort is probably the most important thing to get worked out. You could argue that staying warm in winter and cool in summer or that eating for sustained energy is the most important…so maybe it’s a tie with a bunch of other stuff but it is nevertheless super important.

Getting it right is a process that may take trying a few different kinds or having a different kind for different types of outdoor adventure. But being comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep is a top priority. You will also need to think about how far you are willing to carry how much weight. What size is the mat when rolled up in your pack and how will it fit in your tent. Does it have a surface you will slip off of? Will it make a squeak or crunchy sound when you roll over? Will it keep out the cold from the ground below you?

I’ll give you the condensed version of my sleeping mat journey and I hope it helps:

1.I slept in my sleeping bag on the ground without a mat at first. This is the toughest sell your brain will have to do to your body to keep doing it after the first few nights. My buddy Walt did it for a while too and left the shape of his sleeping body in the melted snow beneath him under his tent. It was funny to look at the next morning but he didn’t sleep well. If you are like me, you will have to try it for awhile. I had to know that I was tough enough to sleep on the freezing hard ground…not sure why but I had to find out. I think I had a bit of a romanticized notion from the characters of Zane Grey westerns and Ernest Hemingway’s life in my imagination. After I got that out of my system, I went looking for an improvement.

2. I borrowed a full length mat that was light weight and had a little insulation effect but was very thin. I liked it well enough that when my friend, Randy, got a better one and offered it to me, I received the gift eagerly.

3. I finally broke down and went comparative shopping on line for myself. I hate to shop but I was ready to spend a little money and up my comfort. I learned that the left overs from two seasons back can be bought for about 70% off and my favorite place is sierratradingpost.com.  I settled on the “mother of comfort” a Big Agnes Dual Core 25” wide and 78” long. The outer rib on both of the long edges is bigger around and helps to keep me on the mat when I roll over. It weights just at 3 lb. This is a huge mat for long hikes but I just suck it up and bear the weight for the comfort. I will go back to lighter method but for now because I had endured the cold hard ground for so long, I’m happy with my 3 lb. luxury.

4. I am currently dreaming of a much lighter one with the latest improvements in insulation and only about a pound. I’ll let you know what I decide on…partly because my Honey “hijacked” my Big Agnes:) I happily passed on my greatest sleeping comfort to have her on the trail with me!

Also remember that a rule of thumb for cost is—the lighter weight the higher dollar. In backpacking mats it really is true that money buys quality. Tougher, more insulation and lighter weight will all drive up the cost. Big Agnus has improved their mats each season and if you can splurge get the latest. If you need to be frugal, shop the discounters on line and go a season or two back.

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Do you have a funny sleepless night story? Could you improve your sleep or your Honey’s by getting a better quality sleeping mat? Sorry if you hate to shop but this one could be worth it!

Fantastical Fireflies—His Perspective

 

If you want to see a fantastical phenom, win a pass to go see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest just behind Elkmont Campground. It is like walking into C.S.Lewis’s Narnia gone SciFi. It was whimsical, magical, spectacular, awe inspiring. We walked in expecting something grand and God did not disappoint! What a cool creation!

Several years ago I hiked up to Mount Leconte by myself and sat on the side of the mountain. It was raining so I sat on the back edge of my poncho, pulled my knees up to my chest and sat dozing in the twilight bliss of the rain splattering on my hood. One of the things that was dancing in my mind was wanting to see these fireflies I had heard so much about. I decided that I would get back here to see them the next year.

One thing led to another and year after year went by and I didn’t make it.  This year I was determined to get in and was foiled once again by my timing. You see, the park only gave out 1800 passes this year for viewers and the lottery had closed already when I logged on.  They give out 225 for each of the 8 days of the event and we missed it again!

“Ok,” I said to my Honey, “we are going anyway.” “The fireflies don’t know when the event is and they don’t know they have to mate in this one spot.” So we decided to go near the date of the park event or during it but come down the trail from a primitive campground nearby. I began calling different ranger stations to gather intel about which trail might lead through potential firefly viewing locations and what primitive site was near by. It became obvious that we would be spending a long night on the trail hiking with headlamps out and back from a primitive site and those were booking up fast too.

Discouraged, I tried one more time on a “oh wouldn’t it be nice if” moment and logged on to try to book at Elkmont Campground  in a car camping campsite. What to my bleary eyes did appear? Two sites for one night each during the event! I quickly booked one of them. I told the reservation form that we would have two cars and five people just in case my daughter, Andrea, her husband, Justin,  and our granddaughter, Blakely—that live there—could at least come up and picnic with us.

The visit turned out well too because they had just taken our granddaughter, who was five-months-old at the time,  camping the weekend before and they all loved it. She would now be coming camping for the second time in her first six months with us! They brought a tent and some supplies and met us there.

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I have the baby and everybody else is setting up camp…hehehe!

We pitched a 16’ Kelty Noah’s Tarp as an artificial sky and then pitched both tents, set up chairs and a briefcase picnic table under it. It rained and rained and rained…but cleared up long enough for us to go see the fireflies—just one more “coincident” number three. With baby Blakely in a shoulder supported carrier we  went looking for the fantastic.

Around 9:30 as it really got dark the display picked up tremendous energy. If they had been musicians in a symphony it would have been the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein performing Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (I was really into that sort of thing in the 80’s). It was jaw dropping awesome. My Honey picked up on the rhythm on the fireflies right away and would quietly count 5,4,3,2,1 and for about 8 secs they would flash like crazy and suddenly go dark…5,4,3,2,1 and bam! they would light up the woods again like 4th of July sparklers gone Fern Gully!

We came out of there stary-eyed and in awe of God’s creation one more time. Wow!

For my Honey’s perspective read her guest blog here:) It’s really good:)!!

Here is a video of a Ranger telling about the event.

Here is a time lapse video of the event one night.

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Pondering Your Path—could there be a little firefly in your life that is really putting on a spectacular show? Definitely go see these guys like we did but don’t miss the spectacular little things that are just as star studded if you look closely enough.

Thousands of Fireflies Make the Woods Magical

A Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Something magical happens when you don’t know what to expect and an experience ends up being far better than you could have imagined. We happened to get lucky and snag the last campsite in the Smokey Mountains at Elkmont campground, in an area where around 1,800 people flock to see the synchronous fireflies once a year during mating season.

I was excited to go and see some fireflies because my husband would be there and we would get to spend time his daughter, son-in-law and our baby granddaughter, but I was concerned about the weather—thunderstorms were predicted. Bears were also on my mind—after all, these mountains are where Smokey the Bear got his name—especially with the baby around. We didn’t have our bear can with us. But, once I saw that the campground looked very well used, my concerns about bears were allayed.

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The Fantastic Five—from Pop’s (Seth’s) perspective!

To deal with the weather, we put up a Kelty tarp, which we borrowed from a friend for shade on our recent beach camping trip. I’m so glad we had that tarp. It’s awesome, and we I’ve been miserable camping in the rain before. But this tarp fixed everything! We could stand up and walk around and gather at a table and hang out with hot beverages and smores without an issue. We were content in our dry campsite, and honestly we thought it might be rained out and there would be no fireflies to be seen. Seth’s daughter wasn’t sure she should wake the baby because it was so late, but her husband coaxed her along.

I also really didn’t feel well. Oh the joys of being a female and the monthly curse. But at least there were facilities here.

All these reasons would have been reason enough to stay cozy in our rain protected campsite instead of walking a short distance to check out the fireflies. I’m so glad I didn’t fink out. If I wouldn’t have gone, I am not exaggerating to say that I would have missed out on an one of the most amazing experience of my life!

I’m so glad we went—WOW! I have honestly never felt more like a little girl in an Alice in Wonderland story. How old was I? Was I in a dream?

 I walked through a dark forest, holding my husband’s arm to guide me, knowing potentially hundreds of people were around us and yet, we couldn’t’ see a thing. Everybody walked fairly quietly and orderly. Then we started seeing a few fireflies light up. Then a few more. A few more steps and then we turn around to thousands of twinkling Christmas light looking fireflies lit up, buzzed, cracking like sparklers. Their lights covered the forest floor, all lighting up at once.

 It was so spectacular. I wish I could describe what happened in a better way for you. After thtey lit up, we began to see a pattern. We would count down…3…2…1 and they would all light up again for a second or two. And then it would go dark again. Then three seconds later, the Christmas lights would appear again.

 We watched them for about an hour within a fairly small area where we were walking around. And it was an hour that I will never forget. Absolutely amazing.

I tell everyone who will listen that it was truly one of the most magical experience of my life.

My mind linked the experience to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church, which is always my absolute favorite part of Christmas. It’s so beautiful when that dark room at church lights up with candle light—representing the hope of Christ if we all acted as He did toward one another. I had that same hope and peace during that magical experience walking among fireflies—in awe and wonder at God’s creation.

If you want to go see the synchronous fireflies, you will have to do some planning—and some praying, because there is a lottery, and only a fraction of the people get in. But, if you book your campsite in advance at Elkmont, you are automatically in. Try a weeknight for best success.

I promise you it will be well worth it. You may even find it magical—like I did.

(Read my husband’s account of the same experience...it’s so interesting how differently we remember the same event!) That’s one reason why everyone should write. We all have a different take on everything we do! If you would help writing a blog, article or book, please visit cowriterpro.com, and contact me

Princess Loral Loves Part Primitive

My Honey is part princess—the kind that you would normally think of—glamours dresses, jewelry and makeup. She is also the princess who can rule over her feelings and desires to endure some hardship to get to see the beauty out in nature that she loves so much.  Read her guest blog for tips on how to make it work—successfully see beauty and still maintain a necessary level of comfort.

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doing the check list before our original primitave adventure—ta dah!

She loves beauty so much that we have had rewarding nights in primitive locations. Primitive meaning no facilities, no water, no electricity and only what you can carry for your needs. The reward for such hardship is going to sleep under a full moon, a starry night or the waves crashing on the sand melodically twenty yards away. Or getting to experience a romantic sunset and fire on the beach completely alone—just us. No neighbors, no noise, no city lights and no interruptions.

We have been doing component adventures where we practice as little as one piece at a time of an epic adventure.  We are still putting together all that we need so that I can take her, for example, for 8 days in the Yosemite Wilderness. I want to retrace the steps my buddy Randy and I did so she can see the breathtaking beauty that I did. We are working our way toward epic one component at a time.

There are many aspects of a grander trip that we are now combining as we increase our collective skill. We did our load plan and carefully filled our backpacks to be gone for 48 hours of completely primitive fun. The trade off for my Honey was sand, beach and gulf waves. But we have a total melt down the first night, packed it up the next morning and hiked back to the car…not sure what to do to fix this failure. After a good meal and some soul searching, we decided that with God’s help we would try again and have fun—and we had a blast. What a perfect experience on that beach that night!

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Beach camp fire deep in the sand

After this experience we coined the term partial primitive. We plan to do it again for three nights or so next time because it combines multiple one day loops and time in town. I get the hiking, making camp and living out of our packs in 20 hour chunks at a time; she gets to spend a couple of hours in town dressed in a cute sun dress being taken out to eat. Then we hike back in for adventure and romance alone for the next 20 hours in primitive land.

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back in town for a meal on the beach

This method we found to be inexpensive too.  No fee or a low fee for each night which gives us frugal hikers some wiggle room for a meal in town each day and a cheap hotel if a huge storm comes through. What a wonderful accidental discovery that is now another “our way” of doing some of our outdoor adventures.

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What compromise could you work out with your Honey? Do you have a fun “our way” of doing things that is parts of both of you?

Why Do I Want My Honey on the Trail With Me?

Today, as I read my Honey’s blog that she posted last night at cowriterpro.com – her business site, I felt inspired to answer this question in the title of today’s blog. Here is what my quotable Queen said in her blog:IMG_2982

“So what can I do, today, to affect the spreading of love with a skill that I love—the skill of writing. I can encourage you to write to those you love. To tell them how important they are to you. To tell them that they are loved. Tell them about the two or three memories that you treasure. Tell them about how they made you laugh. Edit the part out about how they made you cry. Tell them about the good now because tomorrow isn’t promised. And Forgive.”

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Just knowing she’s there

There are many positive things I could say in response to this advice. I will try to only address why having her on the trail with me is so special – choosing to address just this part – because after all, this blog is about Hiking With Your Honey.

She makes the trail real.

I still like to hike with an athletic bent for speed and conditioning but I love hiking with my Honey because she sees every butterfly, snail, flower and water fall.  Now I SEE the real forest and the trees – through her eyes and mine. One day at Henry Horton State Park  I watched with joy as Loral stopped dead in her tracks to watch five butterflies. I laughed as I watched her try to follow them all with her head and eyes. She was the cutest bobble head ever.

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Bobble Head Honey watching butterflies

I love what we talk about

The deep thoughts and the superficial chatter. To hear her laughter and to watch her be silly. One night we hiked back in to the car and drove to near by Pensacola to have a nice meal and she dressed up in the beach bath house because she wanted to feel pretty. After dinner I had a hard time keeping up as she ran along the beach in her bare feet splashing in the surf, laughing, dancing, spinning and giggling at herself for this silly wonderful display.

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So happy spinning in the surf

And then I love her presence

Just being together quietly swinging in a hammock, sitting on a log eating snacks and looking out over a lake, snuggling by a fire. On our second night primitive camping on the beach on Perdido Key I woke up over and over because the moon was so bright. Waking up was magical though because each time I would marvel that she was there with me – sleeping peacefully in the gulf breeze.

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Just a swingin’

Loral Pepoon, I love you! I’m putting it in writing and giving it to you! Three happy thoughts with three special memories. Thanks for the inspiring post:-)

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Could you stop, write down an “I love you” thought, story or tender tribute? Then give it to the object of that affection? Sure you can – give it a try –  It doesn’t have to be eloquent, cute or funny – just be real and make it permanent:-) Who will the loved one be?

A Beautiful “Do Over” Moonlit Night

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“Our favorite time of light when the sun kisses the night”

“Fighting is terrible but at least you get to make up,” someone said to me once.  I’m not a big fan of this idea but when making up follows real resolution, I’m all about that.  Still seated in the coffee shop where we hashed out the 9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site…our skin was suffering from the hot air outside and the air inside was still warm from the fiery debate. But our hearts were aglow with the joy and satisfaction of having been heard and appreciated. Unsure what to do now with this hard earned vacation day, we just sat pondering over our useful solution to our ugly problem.

It was in the happy but tentative silence of that moment that my Honey quietly asked a question: “Is there any part of you that wants to try this again?” I immediately responded, “yes”.

Almost without words we committed to each other to do the same primitive night between the dunes and the waves of the Gulf that we had tried to do the night before. With the energy of excitement over certain success, we repacked all our gear and checked our supplies.

Back to Perdido Key we went. Our park pass that cost only $15 dollars for the week was still good so we whipped the car in behind the Ranger’s Station and filled out another primitive back country registration form.  We giggle as we drove in with that deja vu feeling…or maybe more like the movie Ground Hog Day where the main character got to repeat the same day over and over until he got it right.

We dove past all the public beaches, past the last legal parking spot and down to the end of the blacktop. We made a nest for Loral to soak up the sun and watch the waves and I drove the half mile back to park the car. I returned to kiss my Honey and help her into her backpack. We made silly puns and meandered along the shore looking for perfect sea shells.

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My Honey – so happy to be barefoot in the sand!

My honey was barefooted, clad in her one piece bathing suit and 40 pound pack. She walked on the packed wet sand and let the waves tickle her toes. I have a bit of bad background with direct sunlight so I was in my hat, long sleeves, pants, boots and 60 pound pack.  I walked along in the loose sand and occasionally on the packed sand when I could dodge the waves.

We stopped and talked to fisherman and other campers while we covered almost a mile more of beach to get to a secluded spot. With all that we learned we discussed how we would set up camp satisfying all our practical concerns and her nesting decorating concerns. Camp was perfect and our meandering trip through the dunes carefully stepping around the protected vegetation was peaceful.

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The dunes washed in pastel light

We set up our tiny chairs on the other side of the key, got out our snacks and water and settled in to wait for the most glorious sunset we have seen to date.  The fish jumped from the water and the birds flittered all around as if celebrating our restored joy. As the sun melted into our Favorite Time of Light we held hands and gushed on and on about the beauty of what God had made.

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Wow!

We slipped back to our camp – which looked awesome as we approached – and throughly enjoyed our evening and night under the biggest full moon I have ever seen. We slept with the flaps open on the tent letting the gulf breeze blow through and carry away the heat and cares of the day.

The next morning we spent in our beach cabana reading our Bible and talking to the Creator. We watched the hermit crabs surface tentatively from their holes and scurry back at the least sign of danger. We watched the fish jump and the birds float on the air currents and then reluctantly left that happy time to pack up and break camp.

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Camp is ready and we are off to the sunset

Loral jumped in the water to prepare for the hot hike back and once again I covered up from head to toe to lead the way to the car. This chance to repeat what had been so badly damaged was such a special treat. Thank God we get the chance sometimes for a “do over.”

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Is there something you need to hash out with your Honey to get resolved and move on? Is there any way to get a “do over” to reclaim what was lost?

9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site

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Decorating Diva 🙂

What? Decorate? Who knew? Come on guys – tell me the truth. How many of you knew that pitching a tent was considered decorating? Or maybe I’m just the only guy that didn’t get this. My Honey and I used to fight or at least be at odds over setting up camp almost every time.  The tension was thick and when we camped with friends they would notice it too. We loved the whole of the outdoor adventure so much that we would smooth it over each time and move on to happier things.

One particularly awful fight over the campsite arrangements resulted in nearly ruining a perfect full moon night. We managed to still enjoy some parts of the evening but the next day, we packed up and hiked back to the car. We were almost ready to give up on the whole camping component of hiking. It was bad.

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Happy moment preserved! Warming by a fire built deep in the sand.

We drove to the nearest town, found a place to cool off from the heat and sort out our angry feelings. How can two people who love each other so much and love these adventures fight so heatedly over setting up camp?  What was wrong with us?

An idea occurred to my Honey about how to explain to me what she was feeling. It must have been a Divine whisper in her ear because it was so good. And I’m happy to give her big kudos for how she laid out this concept.  In a nut shell – she explained that she needs to nest – she needs to decorate. She went on to explain that she believes that since she is the artsy creative woman that it is her responsibility to make it pretty for me.  I tried not to let my mouth fall open as I listened to her as she carefully and respectfully fleshed out her point of view.

I am very practical when it comes to basic shelter and I value speed only second to staying dry. However, I wanted peace and fun in setting up camp more than I wanted to set new speed records for making camp. I want things done fast so we can move on to more fun but all fun was at risk with my current method…so I was very interested in her discourse.

She on the other hand is like a cat trying to get settled in a small card board box. You’ve seen it I’m sure. You can read about ours in Clivethecat.com my Honey’s blog. The cat circles and circles passing up many perfectly good comfortable positions until the magic one is reached. No one watching the cat can tell why or when the cat will settle down (I’ll tell you in a little bit just how very good her criteria actually is).

This difference between our views gets the infamous credit for why we are so often at odds when it’s time to set up camp! It was a moment of great relief as I began to understand what is going on in her magnificent mind.

As I asked questions and we talked more and more we fleshed out many criteria for nesting – decorating the campsite, if you will. There are more but here are 9 of them:

1. Is the location for the tent level? Sliding down into a crumpled fetal position over and over will really ruin a good nights sleep.

2. If it is just a very slight incline, which way should the foot box point so that our feet are just slightly down hill and not our heads.

3. Is the site free of roots, rocks and sticks?

4. Is the site free of poison ivy and holes that might be homes in the ground?

5. What is the view out of the tent door? Can we see the moon? the campfire?

6. Which way will the wind blow better through the tent in the heat and blow around us in the cold.

7. How does the site look and feel over all as one approaches it from a distance (this one is the one that sound most like decorating and almost completely escapes my comprehension). How does it feel when we are in it? Does it feel like home to her?

8. Will the heat and smoke from the fire cause any damage to our equipment?

9. Which way will the shade travel? How will that effect the temperature inside the tent and should we put up a shade tarp to protect from the afternoon sun?

This is all part of decorating to my Honey.  I suggest that you ask Your Honey what she is thinking because she might know more about this than you think. My camp site architect sure has ideas that make it better!

So happy together!
So happy together!

We used to fight and now we plan.  The fight method: I’d start to set up and she would ask a question. The answer could possibly lead to a slightly different angle or location of the tent or cooking area. It might really be a good idea or she might just be asking for a concession. We would try to process this conversation while tired most of the time and sometimes in the dark.  This would go from frustrating to maddening inside me until we would just fight over every detail. The plan method: Now we spend 10-20 minutes discussing all the influencing elements and then we build the camp. If we are exceptionally tired and/or it is dark, we have concluded that I whip up a camp quickly and we make adjustment in the morning.

So, there you have it…making camp IS decorating?

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What are some more things that you can share that are good decorating tips?

We Did it Our Way!

It’s not my way. It’s not your way. It’s our way!

Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!
Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!

Both of us are at least 40 and I’ll be 50 this December. We both have figured out by this point in our lives how to do all that need to be done. Our methods and strategies have worked well for us. So well that we attracted each other. There is no struggle to learn how to do things out of necessity. We weren’t learning how to do laundry, clean the kitchen, pay the bills, maintain a car or cook a chicken. We aren’t first timers at much of anything. This conviction that we have figured most things out is exactly what got us in trouble. When two people with deeply established life patterns get together, both of you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing without a crash.  It just doesn’t work for very long. Difference surface and sparks fly.

On a camping trip in Tennessee at Natchez Trace State Park our differences came to a boiling point. We had been carefully taking turns doing things my way one time and then hers another. We hit a point while making camp that night when neither one of us would budge. My method of picking a flat surface to set up the tent conflicted with her method. Maybe we were just tired. I don’t know why we got ticked off by this on this night. We had been so happy to be there. We were camping with good friends from church. It was going to be a great night…but…we both hung on to our way as the “right” way. It quickly brought on a rush of emotional water like being downstream when the Corp of Engineers opens all the gates on the dam at Rock Island.

After almost an hour of talking, we were exhausted and getting nowhere. My Honey tried one more time in the verbal chaos to explain what she was feeling. I listened carefully to her word picture. She talked of what our life could look like if we focused on doing this a new way—our way. She reminded me what it was like when I first joined the department I’m in now at work. I had experience and expertise that got me promoted but my way of doing things from the old department couldn’t be used here. Most of what I knew and had done was transferable but I had to work with my new team mates and develop our way of doing things. There was nothing wrong with my way and there was nothing wrong with their way. We just had to have a new way developed to get things done that would work for everybody.

I slowly got excited! A clear understanding was emerging as the fog lifted. This was a business…the business of love. It was not an indictment of me or my methods when she didn’t want to just do it my way! I wasn’t rejecting her when I didn’t want to do it her way. God was inviting us to a deep relationship as husband and wife achieved by developing a new way called “our way”—taking parts from each of us and making something completely new—a mosaic made up of both of us beautifully reflecting Gods light.

This water shed moment is one we will never forget. Every thing has become “before Natchez Trace” or “after Natchez Trace.” It was that significant when we learned to create OUR WAY.

Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad
Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad