Hi,

Did I mention that we’re sleeping in a tent?

It’s not really the first time in a tent for either of us, but it’s hardly old hat. I did a fair amount of backpacking and rafting in the desert country and in the Cascades when I lived in Oregon. Seems in a way as if the memories belong to a different person. Denise’s starter husband was a mountaineer of the first water, and she naturally absorbed some of the overspray. But it’s been thirty years or more since either of us spent much time sleeping on the ground. We’ve had a few instances of snow camping or otherwise in the intervening time but mostly have been indoors.

Neither of us has ever really spent any time “car camping,” if you discount my week or so of “commutin” to Portland from a campground at the base of Mt. Hood when looking for a place to live in the early 70’s. If you didn’t know, Car Camping is entirely different from backpacking in many important ways.

First, you can take a whole lot of stuff with you when you car camp. This is can be quite convenient. Camping with a car you can enjoy banana-shaped ripe bananas, you can drink cold fuzzy water, you can carry a propane stove and brew coffee with the greatest of ease. You can toss all of your accumulated sleeping, cooking, camping stuff into the vehicle without the thoughtful arranging that is necessary in a backpack. This last can be a considerable disadvantage as well. I imagine that you know how quickly and easily one can trash the trunk and backseat of a car if not attentive.

That’s part of the reason for our current expedition to Canada. It’s sort of a shake-out cruise, to see if we can really sleep on the ground all the way across country. (It appears that we can) and to learn how to organize gear, food, and ourselves before setting off for 6 or 8 weeks traveling across country. It’s not rocket science, but some of it isn’t perfectly obvious either.

So, we’re learning what to leave at home and what to add. We’re also figuring out that there are considerable differences in car campgrounds, and that some owner-operated small motels in smaller towns are nice and cheap and that others are just cheap.

Some of the things I’ve figured out so far:

1. If the car camp site is miles from the road traveled it can be as quiet as the most remote wilderness site, and the stars are likewise in evidence.

2. If you’re going to choose owner-operated motels, always ask to see the room in advance. (I’m pretty sure that this will bear repeating before we’re finished.)

3. Do take the time to listen to the locals. In the past few days we’ve found half-price theater tickets, an improbable olive oil store in a little town in the middle of nowhere, a wonderful campsite on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, a magnificent flower walk along the shore of Lake Huron, and several pretty swell places to picnic. That’s just for starters. We also shared some wonderful conversation, not all of which was about Obama.

4. I am still looking for that honest person who will tell the truth about the homemade fudge. None of it is as I remember. At this rate I’ll soon stop looking. Maybe I’ll just save up the sugar jones for when we return home and make fudge myself.

When was the last time you made fudge at home? Yeah, me too.

We’ll stop for a bed and shower and a good look at Niagara Falls tomorrow before lazing home through central NY and the middle of PA which will end this trial run.

Let me know if there’s anything in particular we should peer at this time, or that we should take a look at next month when we launch the real road trip.

I’ll keep you posted.

Bill

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