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Yesterday morning I make a deal with myself: clean the kitchen, do my monthly paperwork and fold last week’s laundry, then go camping. It is difficult to believe that someone my age has to make bargains with herself to get chores done. It worked, though, and when finished, I scoot to the grocery store to buy a steak and some Noosa (full fat) lemon yogurt, my camping treats.

As I drive to the state park, I have second thoughts. It is 4 PM and the shadows are long, the setting bleak, brown, eerie. I think about where I am headed, a protected spot with thick cottonwoods that should be heather-orange. The thought of completely missing the chance to observe the season change close-up is what keeps me going.

Thankfully, my destination is welcoming. The trees are lovely and the ground is still green in some places. I see patches of snow around the empty campground, but nothing serious. The temperature inside the camper is 65 degrees without the heater, and I anticipate a pleasant night.

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Patch of snow in the campsite

After winterizing the camper I do not have running water, but this is minor. I feel smug knowing I have a kitchen and a heater. Indeed, my camping accommodations have improved from my days sleeping in the open desert.

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Steak for dinner on the RV-Que grill that attaches to the side

The night temperatures are in the 40s, but I am comfortable without the heater all night. This camper is  warmer than the metal van where I used to sleep. I try out my new toe warmers and they work perfectly. I found them for the first time, next to the regular hand warmers in the store where I stock up each year. The toe warmers are just like the others, but curved around the top to conform to the foot shape. Also, the toe warmers have adhesive strips, so they stick to my feet. This may sound silly, but many nights I have slipped hand warmers into my socks, and in the morning my feet are cold and the warmers are a waded up mess in the bottom of my socks.  If you are thinking about my anti-materialism and simplifying posts, please just ignore them for now (smile). Toe warmers are an exception, and a grand testament to American progress.

A pair of owls entertain me periodically through the night. If people were talking all night I would be upset, but the soft owl sounds—hoo-hoooo—are so delightful I do not mind waking up over and over. I suspect they are scolding me for camping in their cottonwood grove. They will just have to share for one more night.

I put birdseed on the picnic table as I set up last night, but nothing comes by. Except for the nocturnal owls, the birds are gone, and the silence is a contrast to the rousing bird chatter of summer. So quiet this morning, although an occasional gust rustles up the cottonwood leaves, creating the only melody today.

That reminds me about the trains. About two miles back towards the Interstate, runs a major train artery. I am certain they are heading to nearby town that has a large train yard and lateral tracks that  run off to the south and east, perhaps the same tracks that eventually parallel I-80. In addition to the owls, I hear trains most of the night. Some sound heavy, rumbling, fierce, others, light, swaying, gentle. I decide that the heavy trains are full of coal from the mines in Northern Wyoming and heading south. The others must be empty and heading back north.  This morning the train sounds are gone, but I anticipate a repeat tonight. In the far distance I  hear some highway traffic, that long low rumble that stretches on forever, sometimes punctuated with the snort of a semi.

After my breakfast of Noosa and Crestor, Tango and I will wander off with the camera. Tonight, the temperatures will be in the thirties!

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