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Chronic Camp ‘Carnival’


Behold: ‘Home Sweet Home’ (from July 18 – 22). I kid you not!


My mother’s comment when we had returned safely from our camping trip was, “how did you do it”?! What a loaded question! (She knows that I have never done an adventure like this before and that tent camping itself poses all sorts of challenges for me health-wise). I will write more about all that in future posts. For now, let me just say that I was grateful for the opportunity to travel (something I do rarely) and I was also grateful to return home afterwards. We got some lovely photos that I’ll be sharing in future posts. Before I talk about the camping trip any more, let me digress just a bit for some ‘blog housekeeping’…


The month that I blogged the least ever (since I began writing online in June 2008) was last month. A quick peek at my archives shows just how much less frequently I have been writing lately. I realize some people may even be wondering if I have burned out or abandoned my blog since I have updated it so infrequently lately. I haven’t abandoned it. I have come closer than I would like to regarding burning out in recent months. Posts like this and this might have given that away to some of you. It will take me some time to get back on track but I’m working on it. At the same time, I am listening to my body. In the aftermath of the (sometimes wild) trip I’m beginning to write about today, I need to get enough rest. Thank you for your patience. A few of you have sent me messages asking if I’m alright. I appreciate your concern.

Anyway, back to the tent photo. For those of you who are campers, that may look like paradise. For those of you who are not campers, that tent may not look like where you’d choose to stay for a week in the extreme heat of July! (One day reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit – or 38.89 Celsius). With my heat intolerance (discussed previously here), the weather was a major issue for me. I’m not complaining. I signed up for a July trip. I was prepared to give it my all and hope for the best.


View from 1000 Islands Skydeck on a hazy 102 degree Fahrenheit/38.89 Celsius day


I had hoped to write about the trip to the 1000 Islands this past week but my body is still working hard to recover from traveling. This was in many ways the most ambitious travel, by far, that I have done in a great many years. So, it will take me some time to catch my breath (and multiple posts to talk about what it was like to travel the way we did when my health is so poor).

We knew going in it wouldn’t be easy. We also knew that tent camping was the only way we could do overnight travel because of my multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Besides, we couldn’t have afforded a hotel or motel anyway. (Another perk of camping: campsites are very reasonable). Food and gas were our main expenses for the trip. There were no worries about expensive lodging costs with camping being so affordable.


The last time we did a trip overnight, we tried staying at a Bed and Breakfast. Unfortunately, despite the pre-screening I did of the B & B over the phone, it became readily apparent that it was as dangerous for me as any hotel or motel would have been. (It was really a disaster). That B & B trip was our final attempt to travel overnight in such a manner. Last summer we abandoned the idea of overnight travel. (Having been burned the summer before by that B & B experience, we elected last summer to do an extremely ambitious day trip). On that trip, we fit far, far too much driving into one day. (That really should have been an overnight trip rather than a day trip). While the end result worked out in that case, we really pushed our luck and it could just have easily turned out much differently. It was way more driving in one day than it makes logical sense to do. That trip we got lucky. I’m not sure I’d ever do that much traveling in one day again, though.



Tent camping emerged as a way we might travel overnight more safely than by staying in chemical-laden hotels/motels and more safely than by packing way too much driving into one day’s time. We knew it wouldn’t be risk-free but we felt we had to give it a chance if we ever want to be able to do overnight travel. I certainly knew there might be MCS problems camping as well. The only way for me to find out whether tent camping is something that is safe for me to try (fully understanding that whether I have a reaction depends on who my campground neighbors are and what they are doing) was to just do it. (I should note that I am fully aware that this option would be totally out of the question for patients with more severe MCS, some of whom are home-bound because of the illness).


My husband packed our hammock into the van when I wasn’t looking. (Without my husband’s amazing hard work packing and physically preparing for the trip, it never would have happened). It worked out great one day when I had really had enough canoe time but he hadn’t. We got out of the water, he set up the hammock, and I rested while he went back out in the canoe. In this way, I was able to rest when I needed to and he wasn’t constrained to only canoeing when I felt up to it. The hammock was a nice surprise. I had no idea he had found a way to fit it in the very crowded van full of an air mattress, sleeping bags, a tent, bicycles, clothes, etc. We even had a cherry (oops – I mean a canoe) packed on top of the van for good measure. My husband really did an awesome job packing everything. We didn’t leave a single thing we needed behind. That’s not bad for a week-long trip! I was very grateful for his efforts. (Note to self: the downside of not paying attention during the packing process is not knowing where anything is without searching or asking – for the whole trip)! Anyway, there is much to tell about our week-long trip. Some of it was fun. Some of it was incredibly difficult. Some of it fell somewhere in between.



I will close this particular post with a tidbit about something that happened on our very first day at the campsite. It is one of those stories that will most likely read funnier than it felt when it happened. It’s OK if you laugh when you read this. I’ll understand. You see… on our first day at the campsite, a bird decided that my head would be the ideal place to deposit a little “gift”. I felt something land on my head and I then bent forward slightly and asked my husband to check my head. Sure enough, he discovered the thoughtful “gift” that had been deposited right on top of my head and remarked, “only you, Jeanne” (in disbelief that of all the places this bird could have left the “gift”, my head would end up being it). Apparently, he thinks I have rotten luck.

He had seen blackbirds nesting nearby and believes it was a blackbird who presented me with this lovely “welcome to your campsite” gift. So, it was off to the the campground shower for me. Sigh. I wasn’t too thrilled at this inauspicious beginning to the trip. However, once I had showered and was ready to start the day (again), I chuckled to myself recalling that a few days before the trip I had read on a Facebook friend’s wall about her having had a similar experience. Her Facebook friends inundated her with comments about it being “good luck”. I’m not a superstitious person but I decided to Google it today, for fun, and see what would come up. I found remarks from the expected combination of people who swear it’s a good luck omen with people or who swear it’s a myth.


In any event, our trip was off to a very, um, memorable start one way or another. I tried to keep a sense of humor about it. Actually, I saw absolutely no humor whatsoever when it happened but post-shower and with clean hair again, I was able to laugh about it. (Did I mention that many years ago, another bird left me a gift as I was walking down the street and the name of the street was Bird Street? I kid you not). The fact that this was my second “gift” received over the years resulted in all sorts of hilarity with us joking around and trying to predict when the ‘third turd’ would make an appearance. Thankfully, this was a ‘one-bird-gift-only’ trip.

There were multiple osprey nests in the area. My husband kept cheering me up by saying, “just be glad it wasn’t an osprey that got you”. The ospreys were beautiful and interesting to watch. I was also grateful that it wasn’t an osprey that left me a “gift”. Those birds are huge!

When time and energy permit it, I’ll be writing more about the trip. So, if you’d like to learn more about how I slept in a tent for a whole week… stay tuned for upcoming posts. (Anyone who knows me in real life expresses shock when they hear that I spent a week in a tent in the heat of July). There were plenty of barriers to be accommodated on this trip and it was most definitely not easy. However, we made it through the scheduled time for our trip and we even managed to fit in some fun and some beautiful sights. Given the extraordinarily hot weather and my various illnesses acting up throughout the trip, I see this as an accomplishment worth celebrating. We could have bailed early but we decided to hang in there and I’m glad we did… even if I will be in “payback mode” with symptom exacerbation for weeks to come. Stay tuned for more about our camping adventure in future posts – a trip which truly did have a carnival-type atmosphere (and not always in the fun sense) at times. Let’s just say we were never bored!


This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.


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Reading: Chronic Camp ‘Carnival’

9 comments

1 Liz HamillNo Gravatar { 08.02.11 at 12:11 am }

I’m so glad you got to travel this summer!

I’ve decided that I want to camp again. I used to camp 8-10 weekends every summer (pre-endo), and I miss it terribly. So I’m in the process of dreaming up a “camping kit” that will take care of my physical needs.

I’ll be interested to know how you managed to stay reasonably comfortable in your tent, particularly in the heat!

2 AnnieNo Gravatar { 08.02.11 at 7:06 pm }

Wow, a week in a tent in July sounds like a challenge for anyone. So glad you were able to get out and have an adventure!! Looking forward to more posts with all the details.

3 Chronic Camping Continued: The Castle — ChronicHealing.com { 08.05.11 at 8:54 pm }

[...] tasks needed to make this trip happen and a leap of faith on my part. As I mentioned in the previous post, it is going to take me some time to recover from traveling. In this post, I am going to take a [...]

4 JeanneNo Gravatar { 08.06.11 at 12:32 am }

Liz:

Well hello there, Travel Queen. ;) Thanks! I’m so glad too.

I’m sorry you miss camping so much. I hope you can devise the perfect “camping kit” that will meet your needs!

The very first question I had for my husband when he was looking online at campsites was “where are the rest rooms?” The location of the rest room definitely dictated where we scouted out a campsite. We were located about 500 feet from the rest rooms. So, it wasn’t bad when I needed to make that middle-of-the-night journey.

A small flashlight was a must in our case for accessing the rest room building. (It was a dark route to the rest room). I made the sleepy mistake of not grabbing my glasses one night when leaving the tent. (I am blind as a bat without my glasses). I made it to the rest room pretty easily with the help of the flashlight. The trip back was trickier. Even with the flashlight, I missed the turnoff to get to our tent. Oops! Luckily, I figured out what had happened relatively quickly — but not without some accidental wandering around in the campground in the middle of the night.

We were VERY fortunate in that we had about the most shaded campsite in the whole place. Thankfully, our tent was much cooler than I would have expected it to be in that heat. I’m sure if we had wound up with one of the many sunny campsites, the tent would have been much hotter.

When booking the campsite online, there was no way of knowing which sites were shady and which were sunny. I made a “note to self” that any future campsite bookings might better be done by phone so that we’d have the opportunity to ask about the shade/sun factor.

Our tent had lots of vents and we had a decent breeze since the tent was close enough to the lake that we could actually see it from the tent. Between the shade, the breeze, and the tent vents… it was better than I feared it might be.

Knowing that we were hoping to do a camping trip this summer, we bought a tent a few months back so that it could out-gas (so as not to trigger a multiple chemical sensitivity reaction). Thankfully, the tent we got had barely any smell from day one (a small miracle!) and we had aired it out (by putting it up in our backyard several times this summer).

The tent my husband has previously used was very old and there was mold in it. So, when the trip was still in the dream stage, I told him that we’d have to buy and air out a new tent well in advance. Thankfully, we lucked out and got a tent that didn’t seem to need extensive airing out. It is a Coleman 6-person tent. I’m not sure of the model number (and I realize they probably have multiple 6-person tents available).

It worked really well. The window vents did a great job of ventilating the air. I would definitely recommend the tent. (We were lucky enough to get no rain. So, we never rain-tested it there but in our own yard it was out in the rain one night and I didn’t see any evidence of leaks).

I cannot stand bugs. We were as speedy as we could be going in and out of the tent. I didn’t see a single bug in the tent the whole time. There were a ton of bugs atop the tent by week’s end but none of them found their way in. So, I think the tent is well-designed.

While it did get toastier than I would like, I think it could have been a lot worse. We were so tired by the time we returned to our tent each night that we didn’t have much time to notice the temperature. I fell asleep way faster there than at home. My body was so exhausted that I just collapsed. (It helped that I brought headphones so that I could listen to music while I was falling asleep). Had we spent more time awake in the tent, I might have been bothered more by the temperature. I tried to “sleep the heat off”.

Annie:

Yes, I thought the same thing (that it could be challenging for anyone). Thanks!! I’m glad too. I’ll have more coming up but I did do another post did another post today:

Chronic Camping Continued: The Castle

It was nice to be able to try something new that had inherent risks and have more good come of it than bad. It wasn’t perfect by any means but we made it work. So, I’m happy with that. ;)

~~~

Jeanne

5 Chronic Travel: Planning And Implementation — ChronicHealing.com { 08.12.11 at 1:56 pm }

[...] have written previously about a camping trip we recently took (see here and here). While I had concerns for how my body would handle such a trip (particularly how I would [...]

6 alohamorakatNo Gravatar { 08.27.11 at 9:17 am }

Jeanne,
Great pictures but did a bird really leave a “gift” on your head? Sorry you had to start your trip like THAT! Gosh! I’m glad you still had fun anyway! ;)
Alohamorakat

7 JeanneNo Gravatar { 08.27.11 at 9:21 am }

Alohamorakat,

Yes, I’m afraid a bird really did leave a “gift” on my head. It was an interesting way to start the trip. I guess it was good we got that out of the way right up front. ;) I’m glad you liked the photos.

Jeanne

8 alohamorakatNo Gravatar { 08.27.11 at 3:41 pm }

Jeanne,

It sounds like it was awfully hot!

Alohamorakat

9 JeanneNo Gravatar { 08.27.11 at 5:55 pm }

Alohamorakat,

It was definitely hot but we tried to make the best of it. ;)

Jeanne

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