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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Thank goodness camping season past

This writer isn’t sad to see summer go. Summer’s end means an end to camping season.

I am an anomaly in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with lakes around every bend in the road.

I do not camp.

My husband knew this when he married me, so when he brought home a state-of-the-art, six-man tent a few months ago, I thought he wanted a divorce. Almost: He wanted to go camping.

He decided he wanted to stay married, so the tent is still in the box, but I could tell he still was dreaming about camping. I listed the following reasons why this was not a good idea:

Motion sickness. Five members of our family suffer from motion sickness. In spite of our notoriously queasy stomachs, my husband can’t take a straight road anywhere.

Too boring, he says, Let’s take the scenic route!

My stomach does flip-flops whenever I drive by a scenic route sign.

Siblings in the car. Packing four children and two parents into a confined space is a bad idea. We don’t drive a fancy van with a DVD player; consequently we don’t drive more than 20 miles from home.

We’ve calculated the exact time when the car will erupt into a Vesuvius of electronically deprived children. Twenty miles is pushing that boundary.

Singing in the car. This is how our kids punish us for making them sit next to one another. They launch into “Ninety-Nine bottles of Coke on the wall” (they’re not allowed to sing about beer).

They progress into any song with the refrain: “12th verse same as the first, little bit louder, little bit worse.”

Then Zack pulls out his kazoo.

My husband wasn’t swayed by my list. He switched tactics when his parents bought a motor home.

“Look honey,” he enthused, “A bathroom! A kitchen! It won’t be like camping at all. It’ll be like staying in a hotel – in the woods!”

Reluctantly, I agreed to give it a try. We settled on a campground exactly 20 miles from home on a straight stretch of U.S. Highway 2 with absolutely no scenic route detours in sight.

Maybe this won’t be so bad after all, I thought. We were 12 miles into our trip when the first wave of a hideous odor assailed my nostrils.

The children denied being the source of the smell. I unbuckled my seat belt and started sniffing. I followed my nose to the bathroom.

When I unlatched the door, the odor that escaped was an almost visible green cloud.

My in-laws had bought a used motor home. They thought the waste tank was completely emptied. It wasn’t.

We were rolling down the road in a portable outhouse with no means of emptying the tank. When we arrived at the campsite, I sealed the bathroom door with duct tape.

I made the best of things. The bathrooms at the campsite were nearby and smelled better that the one in our RV.

We roasted hot dogs, and after dinner I watched our fellow campers boil water over the campfire to wash dishes.

Smugly, I returned to our camper to wash our dishes in my little sink. I filled it with hot, soapy water and began. As I ran the water, it sputtered and slowed to a trickle. Someone rapped on the window.

“Ma’am, you’ve got quite a leak in your water tank!” said a fellow camper, pointing to a growing puddle on the ground. I turned off my trickle.

We had no toilet and no running water, but as darkness fell and we gathered around the table to play Uno, I was grateful for the cozy indoor lights. Then they started to flicker.

“Uh-oh,” my husband said, “Looks like we got a short somewhere.”

Autumn came early to the campground that night. It may have been summer outside, but inside our darkened RV things were turning quite frosty.

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