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SOUDER: One family’s pursuit of the Call of the Wild

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By The Staff

Last weekend my family went camping.

Now, I am aware that there are those who love the great outdoors. For those people, the sights, sounds and smells of nature are the closest things to heaven on earth that they can find.

There are those that love to camp in tents, to be at one with creation, to go to sleep with the sound of the crickets and frogs in their ears and wake to the feel of the dewy grass under their feet.

For these people, the walk across the campground to take a shower in the bathhouse or to go to the restroom if you need more privacy than the close quarters of an RV allow is all a welcome part of the experience.

My family is not that kind of people. Though both my wife and I had gone camping a couple of times in our teenage years, in our nearly 20 years of marriage we had never done so.

Our children, ages 11 and 9, had never been camping. Our idea of roughing it is staying at a Motel 6 instead of a Holiday Inn.

Further, because of our son’s aversion to bugs, we can barely get him to go on a picnic or even eat outside on the deck.

Yet, knowing all of this about our family, my wife scheduled the trip anyway. In previous columns, I have mentioned that my wife is almost never wrong.

It is decisions like this that are the reason for the “almost.”

Now, those of you who fit into the category I described above may judge us harshly and think that we are soft, spoiled people who don’t like to be without the comforts of home. And you would be right.

Even worse, I am aware that those of you who love to sleep on the ground, cook your food over an open fire and go to the bathroom in the woods will say that what we did doesn’t even qualify as camping.

We were actually the guests of our good friends, Rob and Mary, who have a very nice RV, complete with carpeting, a toilet, a refrigerator and even cable TV.

They were excellent hosts and did everything they could to make us comfortable.

Mary made all the arrangements, brought all the food, and planned our daily excursions. Rob set up the campsite and started the campfire. Their kids showed our kids the ropes and helped them feel comfortable enough to sleep in the tent while the adults stayed in the RV.

Their family did everything they could do help us catch the camping bug. However, I’ve long suspected that there are two kinds of people in the world – those who camp and those who don’t – and that our family fell into the second category.

In spite of that, we managed to have a good time participating in the many activities that tour guide Mary had scheduled.

We arrived at the KOA in Corbin late Friday afternoon, set up camp, grilled chicken and hot dogs, made s’mores and enjoyed time around the campfire.

Next morning, we headed farther into the great outdoors to hike and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

We started out at Cumberland Falls, which, if you’ve never been, really is beautiful. From the parking lot, you take a scenic walk along the river to the visitor’s center/gift shop/refreshment area, and from there it is just a flat 75 yards or so to the overlook for the falls.

There was a rainbow because of the mist rising from the falls, and the informational signs told us that on clear nights with a full moon the mist produced the Western Hemisphere’s only “moonbow.”

(The large man drinking beer and fishing in a homemade boat at the bottom of the falls only added to the natural beauty.)

After ooh-ing and aah-ing and taking lots of pictures, our next stop was Eagle Falls. Parking at the beginning of Trail No. 9, we embarked on what the sign said was a 1.5-mile hike to Eagle Falls.

About 37 miles into our 1.5-mile hike, I came to the conclusion that whoever puts those measurements on the trail signs is an idiot. I suppose it might have been 1.5 miles – as the crow flies. Unfortunately, we were not flying – we were hiking. And hiking. And hiking. And hiking.

Don’t get me wrong, the scenery was nice, and I’m sure the exercise was good for us, but a little truth in advertising (or an escalator) would have been appreciated.

We eventually made it to the falls, and there were large rocks to climb, a nice pool of cold water in which to soak tired feet, and a cool breeze to refresh us. And fortunately it was just a short, 1.5-to-37-mile hike back to our vehicles.

The rest of our day included hikes to the Natural Arch and Yahoo Falls (which at 112 feet is the highest waterfall in Kentucky) and a visit to the World Chicken Festival in London, which proved to be an entertaining venue for one of my favorite outdoor activities – people-watching.

Sunday brought a trip on the Stearns’ Scenic Railway and a tour of an old coal mining settlement, which was both interesting and educational.

Then, in a bit fortuitous timing, we returned to the campsite for a much-needed rest just as the Colts game was beginning.

After the game, instead of cooking over the campfire, we decided to eat supper at the Sonny’s restaurant around the corner from the campground.

Now we were speaking my language: a late afternoon football game and supper at Sonny’s – that is camping I could get used to.

We were scheduled to go canoeing on Monday morning, but that night temperatures dropped into the 50s and began to rain a couple hours before dawn.

This put an end to the canoe trip, which (just between us) wasn’t terrible news. After a lazy morning, we headed back to Shelbyville, having had fun but looking forward to the comforts of home.

I suppose it is possible that one day we will hear the “call of the wild” and become avid campers.

But it will have to call more loudly than our beds.  

 

Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org.