Selected Excerpts from Chapter 5 - A Test is Worth a 1,000 Opinions

Exploring the nooks and crannies of a lake or river can make an afternoon seem like a world away. Most of the places we dragged that old canoe were within a 15-20 minute drive of home. I have vivid and fond memories of sitting with Diane, silently paddling up a glassy creek inside a lush tunnel of overhanging foliage. Other than the whisper of the little ripples around the rocks and the chattering of birds, there were no signs of the suburban world that was only five minutes away.


When Reid was younger and a little more portable, we attempted camping a few times. We bought a dome tent that was described as being “six-man” only to discover that the “six men” would need to be in a weightless environment to all fit. Despite this setback, we all crammed into the tent, along with my son’s medical equipment, and tried to camp in a variety of places. It wasn’t a complete disaster but it lacked all the hoped-for charm. We tried weekend camping at a local campground and it was like pitching a tent in a busy parking lot. All night long cars rolled along the gravel road just feet from our tent site. Once traveling became more difficult, I still hoped to find creative, outdoor activities to do with my growing girls but still being able to care for Reid. That is when we stumbled on deck camping.

Our dome tent is free standing and can be set up on a deck just as easily as the ground. With the tent set up on the deck, we are able to drag a variety of cushions and mattress pads out from the house to make the interior like one giant bed. A few sleeping bags and a pile of favorite pillows and we have the wimp’s version of wilderness survival camping. The gas grill allows for some campfire treats, like s’mores and fifteen feet away is a delightfully clean bathroom. It is surprising how much nicer it is than our campground experience. On our deck we have privacy, quiet and the long conversations that make sleeping in a tent so meaningful. It was a superior alternative to the crowded camp-o-rama’s, it was free and, did I mention, it had cleaner bathrooms.

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