Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Roughing It (or Adventures Through Space and Time)

Tents, camp stoves, canned food, grilled meats, and lots of hiking. Camping is a favorite pastime for many families, and ours was no exception. At least one weekend per month during the summer months saw us packing off to one of the area state parks to enjoy a few days communing with nature. And, as much as I probably would have issues with camping today, I really did enjoy the relative peace and quiet whenever we were out there. 

Really, the only camping experience that I truly did not enjoy was the one and only time I went camping during my short-lived time as a Boy Scout, which just turned out to be another place outside of school to be bullied. But, that's a story for another blog...

One of my most cherished camping memories was during an extended family vacation up north at Lake Itasca State Park in Minnesota. The headwaters of the Mississippi River are pretty cool in their own right, and the area up there is absolutely stunning. But what made it truly memorable was something that happened away from the park camp grounds.

We were on a supply run to the local Pamida in Bemidji. Outside of the store, someone had a box of the more adorable kittens you have ever seen. We spent a few minutes petting a cuddling them, knowing that we were 8 hours away from home, and adopting a cat at this point would have been difficult, at best. We went in, did our shopping, and started to leave. But, the allure of the cute furballs in the box outside was just too great. So, here we are, taking an adorable male kitten back with us to the campground.

Johnny, as he was dubbed by the family, was the best boy. He had fun running around in our enclosed screen tent. Even chased a small chipmunk who had the misfortune to find himself inside the tent, which was impressive, because as a just-weaned kitten Johnny wasn't much bigger that the little rodent. After he had played himself out, he curled up next to the kerosene lamp on the picnic table and took the cutest nap you've ever seen. Johnny would grow up to be a big boy, and would spend time with me as my first cat when I was able to have pets in my apartment.

Our last major family camping adventure was at Yellowstone National Park. After a two-day trip, we managed to get to the park after the main gates closed. Instead of turning around and finding a hotel in one of the local towns around the park, we decided to sleep in our cars and wait for the gates to open the next morning (along with a surprising number of other late-comers).

Once we made it into the park, we had an amazing experience. When you experience one of these national parks in person, you realize why they were set aside for preservation. The waterfalls, the geysers, the hot springs, each one is more stunning than the next. The previous year had seen a major forest fire in the park, and driving through the areas affected by the natural disaster was an entirely different type of awe-inspiring experience. Acres of burnt tree trunks where once was lush forest, but even then you could see new undergrowth pushing up from the ground. Nature renewing itself.

Of course, this particular trip was also the site of one of my biggest camping faux pas. Given the danger of bears in the park, we were told to keep all food stowed in vehicles to prevent the smell from attracting any of the ursine forest dwellers. So, we stowed all of the food in my car, and locked the doors. The next morning, with breakfast on the agenda, I went to unlock the car and retrieve the food. After a brief but frantic search, we realized that I had not only locked the food in the car, but my keys as well. Breakfast we delayed as we requested the assistance of a park ranger in opening the locked car. And Marcus didn't live it down for the remainder of the trip.

While camping isn't really an option for me any longer due to reasons, I still enjoy nature when I can. I think that "roughing it" (in a relative sense) really helped me to gain a level of respect for nature and our place within it.

Strip 87/166 - Oh, Furble, you kooky alien.

We've made it past the halfway point of Furble's run in the paper. While I was borrowing heavily from other franchises for story concepts, I'm still amazed that I was sticking with it, especially since I have such a hard time as an adult focusing on a single task long enough to complete it.

Strip 88/166 - Maybe try that again

Having access to a TV box that can travel in time and space should make it easy to travel anywhere you want, even lightyears back home. But, like the TARDIS, this particular TV box seems to have a mind of its own. Or maybe Furble simply doesn't know what he's doing.

Strip 89/166 - Perhaps Furble should revisit "foolproof"

Make something foolproof, and life will make a better fool. That's the takeaway.

Strip 90/166 - You are "here"

With Furble and FC finding themselves in the middle of nowhere, perhaps they should simply pitch a tent and make an adventure of it.

See you all next week!

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