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The great outdoors — expect the unexpected by Angel Perkins

June 26, 2012

Camping out, even with the finest in roughing-it luxuries and the latest in technology does not always mean things will run smoothly.
Generators will die; bulbs and fuses will burn out; someone will get sunburned (normally me) and knowledge moving through cyberspace from one place to another gets lost. No matter how much I open my mind, I cannot understand how a program can on one end, say it is there or that it was sent, and then on another, not be there or say it wasn’t received.
Where is it then? Is someone’s computer on the other side of the planet getting it and it’s going to their spam folder? Is it floating about in the air, my words and files now virtually invisible, floating around for 747s to plow through them? When someone creates a program or an app that can confirm that my recipient has what I sent them in their vision I want someone to let me know immediately. Steve Jobs and Stephen Hawking can’t or aren’t likely to be able to do that so someone should really step up to the plate.
Also when camping, you never know what you’ll get, or how long something will last. Take the campground showers or restrooms. You might get something that is comparable to the local shopping mall’s facilities or you might get a door that doesn’t fully close, with no lock, no paper, and a spider waiting to crawl from his web up your leg.
Showers, if you’re lucky enough to not have to wait for one, also are surprises waiting to be realized. You may find a wide shower stall, done in ceramic tiles and a shower head (or two) that would make your bathroom at home jealous. Or (and more typically) you that find a shower head that dribbles, and even better, that is controlled from a wire (that looks suspiciously like a bent hanger) that you have to pull to make the water spit out. And still better yet, when the water emits, it sprays to the left and the right but not actually ON you where you stand immediately under it.
You may also find that the showers have no hot water, or no hooks or benches within the stall to put your dry things. Other undesirable things you might find about your shower stall is the relative to that spider in the bathroom stall, a band-aid, or even more unsavory, a hairball that you are thankful to have recognized soon enough to not run out of the stall screaming from, because you first identified it as a mouse.
Another thing you can’t anticipate, though you should be able to, is that your space will be uninhabited when you return from running somewhere. Or that the chairs or wet towels or stack of firewood is awaiting your comeback from getting ice cream.
The main thing you can’t be sure of is not the weather conditions (but hey, if you’re in Indiana you can just wait them out), but how much fun you will have with the company with which you’ve chosen to keep. I’m not what one would call an athlete, I played softball as a child and was later a cheerleader which back then, didn’t take a whole lot of flexibility or strength like the squads of today with their aerial acrobatics.
In fact, I don’t like to sweat in general. But playing horse with my son on a basketball court, throwing sandbags (quite terribly I might add) into too-small holes, and whipping a Frisbee toward a goal I can’t even see from where I was standing - even in the 90-degree sweltering sun, is fun, when you’re doing it with (or rather against) someone you love (even if you are prone to losing - which I unashamedly am).
It can rain. You can miss the last call for canoe trips. You can find that “trails to hike” means about a mile of gravel driveway circle. You can get stung, scraped or stained.
You can have most any calamity - but when you’re with the right people, none of it really matters much. It’s almost like fate (God, luck, nature - fill in your preferred powerful force of choice) has decided that you need a little gloom and a handful of minor challenges to make up for the good you are wallowing around in.
One thing that IS a sure thing with any leisurely trip, whether it’s to a family member’s house for a two-hour visit or two weeks in the Bahamas, there is that melancholy on the return trip. You missed home, and are glad to sleep in your own bed and avoid your own hairballs, but the fact of the matter is, everybody wishes they had been given just a little more time ... and nobody likes unpacking.

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