Saturday, September 12, 2009

Retroactive Travel Post - Day 6 - First Day Camping

We finally got out of Dodge, or rather Omaha, and it was nice to hit the road, though no matter where you are, a certain amount of inertia inevitably sets in, making any sort of change more challenging. In fact, I was just reading an article about how fear of change is almost stronger than the desire for change, which goes a long way in explaining how many of us, including myself, work so diligently at maintaining circumstances that we loathe. Rather than make a change in our lives for the better, we live in a way we hate because we hate the alternative, which is change. How crazy is that? It's like Frank Sinatra said, "That's life, and as funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stomping on a dream."

We left Omaha late in the day since we spent about 4 hours at the zoo, all well worth it. In fact, for both kids it was the highlight of the trip. It was kind of funny because we camped all over the Southwest, hitting such notable places as Yosemite, the Black Hills, and the Grand Canyon. When people asked the kids what their favorite parts of the trip were, they always said "Nebraska," which must have come as a surprise. The reason is, we spent a wonderful day at the zoo, so it makes perfect sense.

Anyway, but 3:00, we were on the road and trying to cover as much of the state as possible. We were shooting for a national park in Broken Bow, but we ran out of time and had to opt for a state park along the way. Have to confess, the state parks are not as nice, or maybe it was just a Nebraska thing. Either way, it was dark by the time we got there, and the camp manager was gone. Not really knowing what to do, we drove around looking for a campsite before settling into one near the lake, or should I say, pond?

By the time R got the tent out and set up, it was pretty dark, a pattern that repeated itself throughout our trip, and we didn't have much time. Even still, the kids were having a blast, and we got everything together and made a quick meal of pork and beans and hot dogs in the dark. It was fun, though I wasn't sure where we were, and the place seemed deserted. Kind of strange, even if the summer season was winding down.

We went to bed and slept pretty well considering a few key things. First off, we only got sleeping pads for the kids, so R and I were essentially sleeping on the ground. Not only was it hard, but you lose more body heat when you're in direct contact with the ground. Fortunately it was warm in Nebraska, but this would come back to haunt us in the mountains. Secondly, we were four people sleeping in what was really a 3.5 man tent. Talk about togetherness! We were practically on top of each other, but what else is new? And finally, the kids are restless sleepers, so throughout the night was waking up with one of them on top of.

The funny thing is, even though it was a night of interrupted sleep, I woke up feeling good. In fact, I felt rested and refreshed. Maybe it's just the fresh Nebraska air or the fact that we went to be so early.

Anyway, I began what was my favorite routine, which was to get up first, make coffee, and just hang out and take in the scenery. The place wasn't so bad, all things considered. It reminded me of a suburban campground intended only for day use. In fact, that's pretty much what it was, though it was at one time a hot springs that people came from miles around to see. Not much evidence of this left over, however.

We also found out in the daylight that we were camping in the day use area, and there was a big sign saying not to camp in the picnic area. Oops! Not that anyone cared, or for that matter, was even around. We made oatmeal for breakfast and R mapped out the next phase of the trip. Just a quick note/criticism of Quaker Oats-they sell a lower sugar version of their instant oatmeal, but do not say anywhere except the ingredients that it contains Splenda. Completely lame, and I'm no longer a fan.

After breakfast, we explored the place a bit. There was a family staying in one of the cabins and they were out fishing at the crack of dawn. For my money, however, if you're going to camp, you gotta stay in a tent, not that I have so much experience in the matter. The kids ran over to the playground and I went to check out the pit toilets. As I've mentioned in the past, because it was always close quarters when we traveled, I used to set up my office in the bathroom. It worked out perfectly, so while everyone slept, I could blog. Unfortunately, when you're camping, your bathroom/office options diminish considerably. When it comes to pit toilets, they completely disappear, especially when the weather is warm, as it was that day. This goes a long way in explaining why I couldn't blog while we were camping.

We got our stuff together and hit the road for South Dakota. We did a lot of driving on this trip, perhaps too much in retrospect, but it was necessary to see the things we wanted to see. We'd like to go back and spend less time on the road and more just staying put, but that takes time and money. We'll work on that one.

The drive through Nebraska was more interesting than I'd anticipated. In fact, there's more to the state than most people realize, I'm guessing. And, as I'd learned on our homeschool learning trip, Nebraska was an integral part in the history of this country. The pioneers who settled the west started in Iowa (Council Bluffs) or Missouri (St. Louis) and went through Nebraska or Kansas. And, as you go west, the state definitely becomes more interesting, with rolling hills and trees. Very interesting.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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