Camping……an Ultimate Simple Getaway

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indi...

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indiana’s main intersection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view ...

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view from bathhouse on a nice sunny day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State...

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, In...

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided it was time to get back to the roots of my blog.  I want to let anyone and everyone know that life can be simple and yet still fun and exciting.  Camping is a good example of this. There is a wide range of camping options available.  The simplest being pitching  a tent and totally roughing it.  On the other extreme, one can buy or rent a drivable motor-home that is the epitome of luxury. My version of camping falls somewhere in the middle.

I am not professing to be an expert on camping by any means. I have only been a camping enthusiast for a little over a year. I have a favorite camping destination and it is the only place I visit.  My place in the Indiana Dunes State Park.  I live about 40 minutes away, and considering I hate driving it seems like the perfect destination.  The park has a beach, multiple walking paths and is close to a nice little town called Chesterton, Indiana. When I go camping I am not looking to have a weekend full of activities, but to have a restful period to enjoy nature and get away from it all.

My camping experience has been spent in a pop up trailer. In the past I have camped with my sister-in-law in her trailer.  This year I am planning on branching out and getting a pop up trailer of my own. The number one rule will be it has to be air conditioned. I like the summer, but I hate heat and humidity. My daughter also has asthma and if it is really hot she needs to be able to go to a cool place as needed. I am going to get a camper that sleeps seven because my daughter and son-in-law will be camping with me and of course we have to have plenty of room for the dogs. On a rainy day we need to be able to be in the camper together without being so cramped we want to kill each other.

When we are camping, we tend to only spend time in the camper to sleep, cool off or to change clothes. After all we are camping and want to enjoy the outdoors as much as we can. We cook all our meals either over the campfire or on a small BBQ. A canopy to keep out the sun is essential for us.  We have also been known to bring fans from home if it is going to be very hot. Now before you jump on me, remember I DO NOT like the heat and if I am camping I do want to be outside and not in the camper all the time.  Going hiking is a favorite part of camping for me.  I love going for walks at home, but hiking in the woods is far more enjoyable.  The kids love to go to the beach when it is warm.

In the summer, the town of Chesterton, Indiana has a European market in the town square every Saturday. We have found some of the best hot pretzels there. The art and craft vendors always have great food and gift items to please anyone’s tastes.  I am looking forward to getting a hot pretzel and homemade blackberry jam on my first visit in May. Since we only tend to go camping once a month, we try to make sure we hit the market on every trip.

Our dogs love the fact that they are allowed to come camping with us.  They enjoy being outside and going for walks almost as much as we do. I think they like the fact that their owners aren’t rushing around and just taking it easy and giving them love and attention.  My dog loves sitting on my lap every night for the campfire. When it is chilly, I have a huge towel that I wrap her in so she doesn’t have to miss any of the fun.

I love sitting in my camping chair and spending hours alternating between listening to music and reading a favorite book.  Having quiet time to myself is very important. In the evening we love to play games as a family. We have bought many games just for this purpose. Laughing and talking together without the outside world distractions keep us close and remind us that family is what is important.

I feel everyone should experience a good camping trip with their family at least once. Nothing can bring people together like enjoying nature to the fullest and getting away from everyday life distractions. My family is so looking forward to a summer full of camping adventures.  Stay tuned for updates…

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Dogs……Truly Man’s Best Friend

! Love My Dog(s) November '06 Mosaic

! Love My Dog(s) November ’06 Mosaic (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

 

 

I have written previously how I currently have two dogs.  To me they are so much more than pets, they are true members of the family.  No where else can I find the unconditional love they give me everyday.  Each day when I come home from work after a long day they are so excited to see me. No matter how long or terrible my day at work might be, I know when I come home the dogs will be waiting for me with all the love I can handle. They don’t ask for much except to be fed, be  let out on command and to be petted and loved at least for a little bit each day.

 

My dogs know when I am sick. They are always extra good and want nothing more to be by my side. When I am upset they can sense it.  Any time I cry, they are right there to lend kisses always.  How can one keep crying with a dog giving them kisses?  I do admit to spoiling the dogs like crazy.  Right now they are all I have and I depend on their love as much as they depend on mine.  They could be considered my best friends.  I spend more time with them than anyone else. I am a firm believer that a dog not only enriches your life, but can also extend it. I am proud to be a dog lover!

 

One is a Pet….Five is a Family

Growing up I was not allowed to have a pet. I always longed to have a dog, but my dad was very afraid of them.  After I got married, my husband got me my first dog.  She was an 8 week old tan pure bred Cocker Spaniel that I named Cocoa.  She was a very loveable and caring dog.  She could be let out without a leash and never run away.  When I had my daughter a year later, they got along beautifully.  I have many fond memories of Cocoa and our life together although it was very short.  Cocoa died when she was 5 years old from a blocked intestine.  Losing a family pet is a very sad experience.  My daughter was four years old at the time and couldn’t understand why her special friend died.

My daughter missed having a dog so much that a couple months later we decided to get another dog.  I did research and found that although pure bred Cocker Spaniels can have many health problems, a Cockapoo is often a healthier alternative.  After looking for a couple weeks, I found a litter of Cockapoos in Michigan a couple of hours away.  We did the drive to Michigan and purchased an 8 week old female Cockapoo that was totally black.  My daughter named her Copper because the movie The Fox and the Hound was one of her favorite movies at the time.  Copper was a great dog who loved us very much.  She tended to be aggressive toward little kids because my daughter was rough with her when she was little.  She had tons of energy and would think nothing of running away if given the chance.   Copper also was only with us a short time.  She died suddenly when she was six years old.

A couple years after we got Copper our next door neighbor was an adopted mother for a litter of puppies from the humane society.  There was five all black labs and one multicolored shepherd in the litter.  My daughter wanted the shepherd.  We already had one dog, but my husband and daughter ganged up on me and persuaded me to get another dog.  The mixed shepherd was the start of us getting only animals from the humane society.  After all there are too many dogs out there that need good homes.  Our shepherd was the color of sand with a little red mixed in.  My daughter named her Sandy.  Sandy and Copper got along pretty well considering their size difference. Sandy was the best watch dog you could ever ask for.  She loved to lay on your lap even though she was too big to be a lap dog.  When Copper died we waited a couple of months and then decided we wanted another dog.  We checked the humane society but they had nothing that caught our eye.  I worked with a guy whose wife ran a county animal control facility.  I told him I was looking for a small dog that was potty trained and good with kids.

After searching for about a month, they guy said they had taken in a dog that was found on the side of the highway.  It was a year old Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix.  I showed my daughter pictures and she said she wanted it.  We went and picked it up and my daughter liked it.  She named the dog Kissy because she loved giving kisses all the time.  Kissy got along real well with Sandy and they played together for many years.  Even though I got Kissy for my daughter, she ended up being my dog.  Jack Russell Terriers tend to gravitate to one person and bond with them totally.  I was Kissy’s person and to this day I am often teased that she is my “Velcro” dog.  Kissy would be by my side 24/7 if given the chance.  She shows me unconditional love on a daily basis.  Kissy is a very vocal dog.  She has been known to bark at anything and everything.  She loves other dogs most of the time and is always up for a cuddle on the couch.  Kissy has become even closer to me since the death of my husband.  She now sleeps with me every night and thinks she has to be touching me always.  We share a special bond that has only gotten stronger in the 6 years I have had her.

Sandy is the first dog we owned that lived a long and natural life.  She was almost 13 years old when I had to have her put to sleep last October.  She did pretty good right until the end.  When she got to the point that she could not do the 5 stairs to go outside, we knew we had to put her out of her misery.  I had my daughter come home from college and we took her together to have her put to sleep.  It was a hard decision to make to end her life, but ultimately we did not want her to suffer.  My daughter  wanted to help in picking out our next dog since it would essentially be hers.  We decided to wait until she came home from college for the summer.  She was to be married June 2nd.

In the middle of May last year, my daughter found the dog she wanted at a county animal control shelter. She saw pictures of the dog and fell in love.  She had her heart set on a lap size dog of 15 pounds or less.  When we went to the shelter to pick her up she was at another location but my daughter wanted to fill out the paperwork first and then go get her.  We did this and when we went to pick her up did we get a surprise!  She was not a little lap dog but a close to three foot long 40 plus pound dog!  She was a year old and black in color.  Believe it or not she is a Basset Hound/ Dachshund/Shepherd mix. I decided to give her to my daughter as a wedding present.  Her name is Sweet Pea and it really fits her.  She is such a sweet girl and just wants love.  She gets along well with Kissy.  They wrestle and play together often.  Most of the time watching them play is better than television.

Both of our dogs play a very important part in our family.  Our life would not be complete without them.  I know that one day in a year or so my daughter will be taking Sweet Pea with her when she moves away.  Until then I plan on enjoying both dogs to the max.  The unconditional love they provide at the end of a long day makes any trouble they might give me worth it.  I already know that once Sweet Pea is gone I will have to begin a new search to find that perfect addition to the family.