My days of roughing it in the great outdoors are over

Steve Lyon
Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of the summer vacation season.
 Kids are out of school and it’s a three-day weekend. Everyone wants to go somewhere and see some new scenery.
 Many venture to the great outdoors for the first camping trip of the season. It can still be a bit chilly in parts of Idaho. It’s not officially summer until June. 
 Between now and then, just about anything can happen with the weather in Idaho. One day it’s short sleeves and the fear of a sunburn and the next you’re digging around in the closet for the North Face parka.
 Memorial Day weekend was always the fishing season opener in eastern Idaho and the weather was predictably bad. I remember casting a fly on the Henry’s Fork with snow blowing sideways.
 When it does warm up, camping is an enjoyable and inexpensive way to spend time in the mountains, breathing in that fresh air and surrounded by towering lodgepole pine.  
 We’re fortunate to have access to a lot of great camping areas to the north in the Payette National Forest. You could probably spend a summer hitting each campground and not get around to all of them.
 Camping is the real, primal way to get back to nature. All you need is a tent, a sleeping bag and one of those nifty little stoves that burns propane when you can get it to work.
 There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows on an ink-black night with the stars sparkling above and a rustling sound coming from nearby trees that could be a chipmunk or a bear. 
 I can almost smell the bacon sizzling in the frying pan over an open fire with the sun popping up over the mountains. Fry up a couple of eggs and a pile of hash browns. That’s breakfast up the mountains and it can’t be beat.
 Only I won’t be doing any camping this summer, or any summer in the future for that matter.
 I can’t recall the specific year when I decided that roughing it with a tent and sleeping bag was no longer the fun Boy Scout adventure it once was. 
 Everybody makes a similar decision sometime in life: No more camping. It’s the entire basis for the booming RV industry. The term Winnebago actually translates as no more camping.
 Camping in a tent on the ground no longer has any appeal for me. There were fun times, certainly, as a kid having a blast in the woods – fishing, hiking, collecting firewood. 
 These days, I value sleep, and comfortable sleep on a soft surface. It seems like that was never possible when camping. No matter where you staked the tent, the ground was never level. 
 When you crawled into your sleeping bag exhausted at the end of a day of adventure, there was always a pinecone or rock jabbing you in the back. 
 Maybe you zipped up the tent with a couple of mosquitoes inside to buzz you all night long. The flashlight was outside when nature called in the wee hours.
 The sleeping bag was not warm enough and you shivered through the night. Someone always had to be the first up to build a fire. It usually was not me. 
 Really, I won’t miss camping. I’d still like to get up into the high country and breathe that mountain air, but I would just prefer to do it in a nice Class C motorhome with a stove, shower and TV.  
 Steve Lyon is the editor of the Weiser Signal American. Contact him at


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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