Tag Archives: camping

Ode to an Air Mattress

An air mattress is very convenient.  Something I know didn’t exist when I was a kid like it does today.  Nowadays you can find them in about every shape and size and for every possible need known to man.  We own quite a few between camping, traveling and having company stay at the house.  We even have two twin-sized air mattresses that came from the inside of our old Select Comfort air mattress that we had for a very old waterbed frame.  Now that’s the way to sleep on an air mattress!

It’s Labor Day weekend which for us means camping.  We’re at a fantastic campground just north of Richmond, Indiana called Grandpa’s Farm.  Nicely secluded and lots of trees for shade.  We’ve got some very good friends with us on this trip.  They love to camp but currently don’t own a camper, so we put all four kids in a tent (they have two boys and so do we) and us adults stay in our Coleman Niagara pop-up camper.

As you can imagine, pop-up mattresses are not comfortable…..at all.  We’ve slept on an air mattress on top of the pop-up’s mattress since we’ve owned the camper.  The last one we had didn’t last long at all before getting a leak in it.  This led us to trying to get by without one.   (So far, this line of thinking has not panned out very well.).  This other couple–Jason and Patty–have slept on some memory foam on top of the pop-up’s mattress.  But alas, they have had the same result as we’ve been experiencing:  Sore everything.

This particular trip found Patty insisting that they bring their air mattress for them to try on top of the pop-up mattress.  Jason felt it would sit too high, but she still wanted to try it.  And he, being the good husband that he is, respectfully relented his position on the subject and loaded it in their vehicle (all the while committing to keep to himself the words, “I told you so”).

Now, it is important that you know a key fact regarding the bunk-ends on our pop-up.  Ours being a Niagara, it has everything we wanted in a pop-up:  Fridge, toilet, shower, microwave, gas oven and lots of space.  This means that the bunk-ends are both King-size beds with lots of head room at the far end of each bed.  Well, as Jason began inflating the mattress, it looked like it might actually work for them.  But then it kept inflating.  And inflating.  And growing larger and taller.  Thus ensued a conversation or two, first between me and Jason:

“Ummm…..Jason?  I don’t think this is going to work.  You’re going to scrape your nose against the roof of the bunk-end.  That could hurt.”

“Yeah.  Go get Patty.”

“Yessir!”

When I went out to get her, my wife heard about what we were doing and went in to see it.  I could hear her laughing from where I was standing at the campfire.  Then I followed Patty in to where the mattress was and witnessed the next conversation.

(Patty):  “Oh wow.”

(Jason):  “I know.”

(My wife):  “You should get on it.”

At which point Patty did.  At first, though, she posed for a picture:

Then my wife insisted that Jason get up on top of it.  He was initially concerned about the thinner air at higher altitudes, but we assured him he would be fine.  Here’s what we saw:

Needless to say, they didn’t use it and promptly deflated it.  But it sure made for a memorable Labor Day camping weekend!

Popcorn On The Ceiling

“Popcorn on the ceiling.”  A short little phrase that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense by itself.  Except to people who own a pop-up camper.

To these folks, uttering those four words evokes every memory of every time they’ve camped when it has rained.  Fond memories of trying to sleep with the ever-present POP-POP-POP popcorn sound the rain makes on the camper roof (the bunk-ends too) pounding all around.  Glowing memories of family time around the camper table playing card games.  This, of course, involved using sign language and baseball signals since the rain on the camper roof was so loud that no one could hear each other speak.  Throw in a couple arguments from the kids about whose turn it is or the very outspoken opinion from one that the other didn’t do something right, and memory-making opportunities abound.

As true as these things can be, they come with many other memories and events that are truly worth the popcorn on the ceiling.  Especially when experienced with other families.  We are camping this weekend with Rick and his family (yes, the very same Rick you’ve read about in other stories–particularly the one involving Grape-Nuts).  They own a pop-up as well, so the popcorn on the ceiling that we experienced last night was also experienced by them.

This is our first time camping with them.  Something we’ve tried to make happen for a couple of years now.  We met in the middle, so to speak, both families driving upwards of two hours to meet at a campground in northern Indiana.  Sure, it’s inconvenient that it’s raining off and on this weekend, but being with them more than makes up for any whims of the weather.

God is good!  To have a great friendship in high school continue all these many years later is highly unusual in my book.  It is something I never thought would mean as much as it does now.  Friendship is definitely a gift from God to be treasured.

See you soon!

Sitting Around The Campfire

Sitting around the campfire has to be the highlight of any camping experience.   We’re camping this weekend and this time with friends has been no exception.

At the campfire last night, the subject of a certain memory came up.  I shared this memory a couple of years ago, but it seems appropriate to reminisce about it now.  Enjoy!

I would have to say that my fondest memory of camping with our friends took place about three years ago.  We typically camp with three other families.  Although it has nothing to do with a campfire, one of the wives of these families had a rather interesting experience when she went to take a shower at the campground.  (For the sake of everyone involved and to protect the identity of innocent parties, we’ll just call her “Patty”.)

It was around 7:30 in the morning and Patty decided she was going to the shower.  As she approached the building, she couldn’t remember which side of the building the showers were on.  But since she noticed men were going to and from the right side of the building, she headed to the left side, saw a door marked “Showers” and walked right in.  She thought it odd that the undressing/dressing area would be completely open like it was with the showers being off to the side in separate stalls, but didn’t think much of it.  She was the only one in the whole shower room, so she took advantage of it by taking her time undressing, showering, towelling off and getting fresh clothes on for the day.

As she started heading for the door, a man walked in, saw her and they both stopped in their tracks.  She gave him a compassionate, knowing laugh and said, “I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He, still looking at her like a deer in the headlights, said, “No, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  She, now feeling a little perturbed at him, said, “Nooo, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He then said, as he backed up and checked the shower sign, “Nooo, you definitely walked into the wrong shower.”  And she said, “Nooooo!” in complete shock, embarrassment and amazement as she walked to the door–a door that clearly said “MEN” under the word “SHOWERS”.  She took all that time to do all that she did in there without one man entering that shower room!

God is merciful…

Of Bears And Other Stuff

We’re camping on this Labor Day weekend.  Which is what we were doing up in Michigan’s U.P. during our stay in the backwoods wilderness of that beautiful country.  Which leads me to the black bear story…..

As I said before, we all stayed in tents both times that we went up there.  The cabin sat on a corner lot of sorts, with the lake straight out in front of it and a thirty-foot wide tributary from the lake that passed the cabin on the left and became a smaller lake behind the cabin property.  So our tents were on one side of the cabin and the tributary was on the other.  An old bridge made of railroad ties, as I recall (as was the main dock into the lake), spanned the thirty feet of water and connected the cabin’s mainland with an island on the other side of the tributary.  This bridge was a good five or six feet above the water (as a sharp 25+ year-old memory reveals) with a very old wooden rowboat on the cabin side of the shoreline.

If you recall my mentioning Nate and Jesse (the same Nate who went fishing for some Kelly in a previous story), Jesse was about four or five years old at the time of our first venture up there.  Even though we were told to stay away from it, Jesse somehow miraculously found himself standing in the old rowboat.  Then it started to sink.  And he started to cry….loudly.  His Dad was clear across the other side of the cabin where the tents were when he heard his youngest son cry.  He was a blur of arms and legs as he came sprinting across the property to where his son was in the rowboat (don’t be too concerned–the water was only a couple feet deep where the boat was).  He leapt into the water as he lunged for his son and whisked him right out of the boat.  Once Jesse was deemed safe and unharmed…..well, then the crap hit the fan for why he was even anywhere near the boat to begin with.

That same bridge, it was said to us kids, could possibly hold a black bear or two, which meant that there were possibly black bear in and around the woods that surrounded the cabin.  We didn’t see any, but I’m pretty sure I heard one.  The bathroom was a two-hole latrine about fifty-feet into the woods behind the cabin.  Not much of an issue during the day, but at night that distance became a very significant obstacle.  I remember one night making that very long trek through the fifty feet of trail that was surrounded by trees on either side, armed with nothing but the flashlight in my hand.  The latrine was within sight at twenty feet away, but just as I came within sight of it, I heard significant rustling behind me just off the trail on the right.  I don’t think my feet touched the ground those last twenty feet, and I certainly didn’t have to use the bathroom anymore by the time I found myself safely inside the confines of the latrine.  I have no idea what I heard in those woods just off the trail, but I wasn’t about to go look.  I waited a few minutes and then ran like I was shot out of a cannon those fifty feet back to the camping area where my parents and safety awaited  me.

My fondest memories, though, are God’s nature that surrounded us up there.  We had blueberry bushes all over up there, so one day for lunch, all we had were fresh blueberries in pudgy-pies (with sugar, of course); Todd and I took a canoe ride clear to the other side of the lake where a little nook offered us such solitude that the hushed tones of our conversation sounded like we were shouting; no sounds of civilization in the morning, just loons out on the misty water as the sun came up; and more than anything else, for me the very presence of God Himself to meet me there every day in His beautiful creation that was all around.

Should you get the chance to vacation in Northern Michigan–anywhere from the top of the mitten or higher–you will create for yourself a very memorable experience!

Heading North

My family and I are heading for the high country next weekend (also known as Northern Michigan).  We will be hauling our pop-up camper on this vacation trip to “God’s country”.  Of course, just mentioning our camper brings to mind some other camping stories that you really should catch up on (just type “camping” in the Search box and you’ll find them).

Those memories aside, this trip will be really unique.  We’ll be camping at a campground just outside of Mackinaw City–where the Mackinac Bridge is–on the Lake Huron side of the Straits with our campsite being in the midst of some trees right on the shoreline!  (To catch up on the importance of this, read my other entries about Mackinaw City–especially regarding fireworks!)

This kind of a trip also reminds me of the many trips my family would make to our family cabin up that way (again, great stories to read if you type “Paradise Lake”, “Carp Lake” or “cabin” in the Search box).  That’s really where it all started for me, and it helps to explain why Northern Michigan plays such an important role in my life.

So read up on some of these, my friend, and join me next time as I report “live” from the beautiful Straits area of Mackinac in Northern Michigan!

The Bus RV

Cindy’s Dad had an interesting idea one time that we all got to enjoy the benefit of for quite a few years.  (When this guy thought of an idea to get something done, you usually paid attention to it.  This is the same guy who helped my Dad equip the back of our van with that bench and table that turned into a bed.)  For a number of years, he was the township supervisor for Bath (the town that I have mentioned in earlier stories where I grew up).  It may have been during this period of time, but regardless, he got the news that a school district was getting rid of a school bus that was in decent condition.  His idea?  To have a number of families go in together on the purchase of this bus and make it into an RV of sorts that all of those families could use whenever they wanted to.  I have no idea how many families went in on it, but ours was one of them (I believe quite a few others from my parents’ Euchre Club that they were a part of went in on this bus-turned-RV as well).  Thus began an interesting process to watch this RV take shape…..

It was somewhere around my sophomore/junior year of high school when this project began.  It took at least most of the summer that year to do it, but I remember quite a few trips over to Cindy’s house to help work on this thing.  I remember being old enough to actually do the help of an adult, but only two things stand out in my mind about that phase of the project:  tearing out the green bus seats (which I totally enjoyed doing–there’s something about knowing I sat in seats like that as an obedient little kid that made me want to take all my aggression out on them as a teenager) and painting over the yellow color on the outside of the bus (again, pent-up aggression that probably came from waiting at the bus stop and seeing that yellow-colored beast coming down the road towards me to take me someplace that I didn’t want to go to be with a bunch of kids I didn’t want to be with….wait, this sounds too much like Calvin & Hobbes).

So when it was all finally finished, it really was a sharp-looking RV!  Some of the seats towards the front of the bus had been reupholstered and repositioned for bench seating at tables (like back-to-back restaurant booths) with the capability of the tables being lowered to the benches to become beds for sleeping.  I’m fairly certain that there was a small kitchenette of some sort towards the back, with storage for luggage, camping gear and food stuff on the opposite side of the kitchenette.  I don’t remember it having a toilet, so as much as us teenagers would have liked to give it a nickname like “The Rolling Turd”, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Quite a few of these families that went in on the bus-turned-RV were all part of an annual trip to a fantastic German/Austrian-based town called Frankenmuth in Michigan, which they did every first weekend of December.  They took the newly-constructed RV every year for that trip, and I remember joining them in the RV for the first time my first Christmas out of high school (and I seem to remember that that may have even been the last time the RV was taken for that trip).

My last memory of that RV is when our family went with Cindy’s family in the RV down to Cedar Point in Ohio and stayed in the campground that’s right there on the funpark grounds.  It makes a world of difference staying there on the grounds vs. a hotel somewhere close by!  You can stay in the park right up to closing time and not have to drive anywhere–just walk back to your campsite.  Then you can get up in the morning and enjoy some breakfast and still have time to be one of the first through the gates when they open.  If you get an opportunity to do something like that, take advantage of it!

Funny thing about that trip, though, is the fact that my Dad never got on any rides.  He never did like that kind of thing.  I can remember plenty of times at the county fairs where he just walked around and watched us kids have all the fun.  I believe he did the same thing at Cedar Point.  In fact, he may have just stayed back at the campsite and took it upon himself to be the official fire-stoker.  Of course, Cindy’s Dad would have gladly joined him in shouldering that responsibility and probably did.

That’s a good memory to end the RV with…..

The Jamboree Campfire Skit

Do you remember me mentioning the  Boy Scouts when I shared some camping stories?  Lots of fond memories about the Boy Scouts.  One of the best involves a “Jamboree Campfire” that was held during a fairly important scout outing.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking your average campfire here.  During these big campfire outings, the scout leaders would build a big five-foot-tall tower of firewood called a “fire tower”.  It was built with the largest logs on the bottom, each layer criss-crossed to the other and of a slightly smaller size, with the top layer being the smallest pieces of firewood.  It was lit at the top at the beginning of the campfire and, with very little else needed but some babysitting, it would gradually burn itself down to the bottom layer of large logs with hardly a thing needing to be done to it.  It was very impressive.

The scout leaders would start the evening with the lighting of the fire and then a variety of things would happen, from various skits thrown together to some unknown talent hiding among the scouts (long before “America’s Got Talent” was even thought of) to some form of a campfire song or two.  Every one of these fires had an “MC”–someone who helped gel everything together by talking inbetween events and introducing the next “act”.

Well, one night during one of these jamboree campfires, the MC was mc-ing and doing his thing to introduce the next skit.  The firepit area was decently large to contain all of us scouts, but it was surrounded by woods.  We all suddenly heard a big commotion in the woods off to our left.  We couldn’t see anything because it was already dark, but we could hear what sounded like someone being chased by someone else and a whole lot of yelling going on.  The thing was, it sounded like they were coming right toward us!  They ran right in front of us through the campfire area, the guy being chased hollering out things like, “No!  Help!  Don’t touch me!  I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean it!  Help!  Somebody help!”, while the guy doing the chasing was yelling out, “I’m gonna get you for that!  I can’t believe you did that to me!  Wait till I get my hands on you!”  And they disappeared into the woods on our right.

We all looked at each other in amazement, our mouths hanging open with what we had just seen.  Even the MC looked surprised and asked some of the leaders if they knew what was going on.  Well, they had the next skit and the MC got up to introduce the next one.  Wouldn’t you know it, these same two guys could be heard in the woods off to our right again, coming our way!  They went tearing through the campfire area again, yelling things at each other, neither one gaining any ground on the other as they disappeared again into the woods on our left.  By now,  the MC was looking a little peeved and sent one or two of the other leaders off to put a stop to whatever was happening with those two scouts.

After the next skit was over and before the MC could even begin, the same two scouts could be heard yelling and running right towards us again from the left!  But as they came into the campfire clearing, the guy being chased stumbled and took a fall, right in front of the fire.  The guy that was chasing him slowly walked up on the guy on the ground.  As we all watched this drama unfold in front of us, every one of us was on the edge of our seats to see what would happen next!  I looked at the “chasee” on the ground and could see the look of horror on his face as the “chaser” slowly bore down on him with obvious evil intent, muttering, “Now you’re mine!  Finally, the time has come!”.  As the chaser got closer to the chasee,  I heard the chasee say, “No! No, don’t do it!”, as he raised his arm in a helpless effort to fend off the chaser standing over him.  At the same time that he said that, I saw the chaser raise his hand up in the air!  Did he have something in it?  No!  But what was he going to do to him?

As quickly as the chaser had his hand in the air, he brought it down hard across the chasee’s shoulder and hollered out, “TAG!!  YOU’RE IT!”.  The guy on the ground leaped up into the air in a fit of rage and took off after the other guy who had already begun running away in stark terror.  The air was filled with, “I’m gonna knock your block off!”, “No!  No! Don’t do it!”, “Wait’ll I get my hands on you!”, “Somebody help me!  He’s mad!  I don’t wanna die!”, as they disappeared into the night.

Never did find out what was going on….

More Camping Memories

My wife and I both grew up with our individual families going camping in pop-up campers.  So, it would naturally be inevitable that my wife and I would own a pop-up of our own.  But it didn’t start out that way…

Like most campers, we’ve done most of our camping on or around holidays.  We started with a five-man tent about four years ago and camped with some friends of ours who have a full-sized camper.  That’s where the camping bug first hit us.  That winter we discussed what we wanted to be–tent campers or pop-up campers–and decided we would commit to the work needed for being full-fledged tent campers.  We had a great set-up, too!  The family tent we bought consisted of three 8×8 rooms and an outdoor 8×8 canopy (so it looked like a big square of four equally-sized spaces).  The center room (which was ours) even had an opening in it for an air conditioner (which, of course, we also had)!  We then had our 5-man tent as the “kitchen” and a gazebo tent for the picnic table.

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But the first time that we set all of this up was  a very hot-and-humid Memorial Day weekend camping trip.  That was the first and only time that we camped as “tent campers”.  With the notion that camping is supposed to be relaxing, we set in on that trip with a whole lot of work getting everything set up.  Then we turned around a day-and-a-half later and did all that work again tearing it all down and packing it.  I was wasted.  And definitely not relaxed.

Lesson learned.

Then my wife found a great deal on a high-wall pop-up camper.  It’s beautiful!  And it’s got everything:  gas stove, microwave, toilet/shower, and a refrigerator (all things my wife realized she wanted after the tent-camping incident).  We had to replace our awning a couple of years ago and decided to go with a “Dome awning”.  So now, this what we camp with when we’re camping with friends and family:

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It’s also never boring when we camp with these people.  Far from it.  In fact, one of our buddies decided to surprise us last year and dress like Cousin Eddie from the “Vacation” movies (he’s holding a beer, but it is of the “root” variety):

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So far, though, I would have to say that my fondest memory of camping with our friends took place last year.  We typically camp with three other families.  One of the wives from one of those families had a rather interesting experience when she went to take a shower at the campground.  (For the sake of everyone involved and to protect the identity of innocent parties, we’ll just call her “Patty”.)

It was around 7:30 in the morning and Patty decided she was going to the shower.  As she approached the building, she couldn’t remember which side of the building the showers were on.  But since she noticed men were going to and from the right side of the building, she headed to the left side, saw a door marked “Showers” and walked right in.    She thought it odd that the undressing/dressing area would be completely open like it was with the showers being off to the side in separate stalls, but didn’t think much of it.  She was the only one in the whole shower room, so she took advantage of it by taking her time undressing, showering, toweling off and getting fresh clothes on for the day.

As she started heading for the door, a man walked in, saw her and they both stopped in their tracks.  She gave him a compassionate, knowing laugh and said, “I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He, still looking at her like a deer in the headlights, said, “No, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  She, now feeling a little perturbed at him, said, “Nooo, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He then said, as he backed up and checked the shower sign, “Nooo, you definitely walked into the wrong shower.”  And she said, “Nooooo!” in complete shock, embarrassment and  amazement as she walked to the door–a door that clearly said “MEN” under the word “SHOWERS”.  She took all that time to do all that she did in there without one man entering that shower room!

God is merciful…

 

Camping….The Boy Scout Way

How about Boy Scout camping?

Got some memories there, too. Learned a lot about roughing it that way, which I always liked (but don’t do now). We built some pretty cool things–an obstacle course, big tri-pods and a ten-foot high platform over our campsite trail, to name a few–using rope, knots and tree limbs.

I would have to say, though, that my fondest memory of Boy Scout camping would be the summer leading into my Senior year of high school. Our troop master took about 5 of us older scouts 3 hours up into the northeastern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula for a “survival weekend”.  He drove us up to one of the national forests up there that had numerous trails in it and had us draw straws. Why? We were to be dropped off at different trail heads–by ourselves–and hike 5 minutes or so into the trail and “set up camp”. Of course, this being a survival weekend, all we had was our sleeping bag wrapped in plastic (if we chose to bring one) and whatever we brought with us in our backpacks (if we chose to bring one of those, too). No tent, no food, just live off the land as best we could from Friday night to Sunday morning.

So it was my turn for drop-off (#3 straw, I believe).  Dusk was beginning to settle in as I hoisted my backpack on and began hiking into my trail. Let me tell you something: To say that I was praying a lot is an understatement of the highest order.  A 17 year-old kid 3 hours away from home being dropped off alone literally out in the middle of nowhere to hike into an unknown trail as darkness is closing in….yup….definitely an understatement. Oh, I had a map, but that’s like putting a man in a sinking rowboat and telling him to bail it out with a coffee cup. Not much of a comfort. But God’s presence always is. And as I hiked into this trail, praying and looking for a place to lay out my sleeping bag for the night, I began to hear the gentle sound of water flowing. At the same time that I heard this, I could see a big stand of tall pine trees coming up around the bend in the trail ahead. As I rounded that bend and entered the stand of pines, I suddenly found myself walking into a northern Michigan oasis.  As I looked around, I realized that I was standing on an extremely thick carpet of soft pine needles. The trees were so tall that the branches didn’t start for a good 10 feet up.  Because of that, I could see through the trees to a small river that had a gentle rapids flowing through it. It was so peaceful! God’s presence was certainly felt that night.  Falling asleep to the gentle sound of the river and a light breeze blowing through the treetops above me was something I will never forget.

I fully believe God orchestrated that whole event…just for me. He knew which straw that trail would be. Sure, I’m the one who chose it, but that’s what’s sweet about following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. After a while, you get to know His voice pretty good and can tell when He’s prompting you in a certain direction–especially when you’re trusting Him to do so.

So, once again in my life, God showed Himself faithful.

Camping

Camping.

Ever done it?  I know–for some families, it’s just not for them.  But for others–like my parents and brother growing up and my own now–there are lots of fond memories that revolve around this pastime.

Like the family slide my Mom has of me and my brother standing next to my Granny and Grandpa by the pop-up camper we had.  They decided to join us for camping that weekend and cut it short–something to do with my brother and I peeing through our sleeping bags that first night.  Apparently the smell of what we did was bad enough to drive them out.  I don’t remember this one, but I’ve heard the story and seen the picture that proves it happened.

Then there was the time we camped at a campground in northern Michigan about an hour south of Mackinaw City (Grayling/Gaylord area, if you’re familiar with it).  I don’t know if my Dad knew about it at the time, but there was a military base of some kind fairly close to the campground.  So all night long we heard the rat-tat-tat and boom-boom of small-arms-fire and cannons going off.  That trip got cut short, too.

Might have been the same trip, but I also remember a dog a few campers down barking all…night…..long.  My Dad was not a happy camper.

What about pudgy pies?  You know what I’m talking about….cast iron pie-makers where you butter the outside of two pieces of bread, put your ingredients for the pie on one side, close it up and set it in the coals of your campfire?  We were camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan when I was a teenager.  We went out and picked a whole mess of wild blueberries one morning.  When we came back, we found some sugar and made wild blueberry pudgy pies for lunch.  That’s all we had for lunch that day, and it was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had.

My most vivid memory of campground camping has to be when our dog fell out of the camper bed–literally.  The pop-up we had at the time had bungee cords that kept the canvas attached to the outside of the bed frames.  The bungee cords had lost some of their spring and had become loose in places.  At the time we had an English Springer Spaniel that slept with Mom and Dad.  One morning, as I was beginning to stir, I heard a commotion on the other side of the camper.  I glanced over just in time to see our dog roll over my Dad…and right out of the camper.  I don’t think  I ever saw my Dad move as fast as he did then.  It didn’t take him long to work through that sleepy haze of being forced awake by something urgent as he proceeded to stumble out of the bed, out the camper and around to where she was–dazed and confused, but alright.  He carried her back into the camper and we fussed over her as any good dog owner would.  Needless to say, we didn’t get back to sleep.

Join up with me again and I’ll tell you about something unforgettable that happened to me out in the middle of a forest in northern Michigan….