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Is it camping season yet?

April 6, 2016
Amber Hovey - Staff Writer , Estherville News

As the weather warms, I get more and more excited for camping season! The enjoyment of the great outdoors, the relaxation of afternoon naps and the smell of grilled steaks.

Growing up near Decorah, my family was and still are avid campers. Ever since I can remember, every summer we would go camping. Most the time it was in a tiny town called Bluffton, about 10 miles from my parent's house. All that is in Bluffton is the Randy's Bluffton Store and Campground and about two dozen houses. Outlining the tiny town is the Upper Iowa River and towering bluffs. If you think Iowa is flat and corn fields, you just need to take a three hour trip to northeast Iowa.

On our camping trips, my brother, sister and I spent time playing frisbee, listening to classic rock or country music, and catching crawdads and baby frogs by the river. We always took one day canoeing the Upper Iowa River, which still today is the most beautiful place I know. Depending on how long we wanted to canoe, we would start at either what is known as Daley's Bridge or Chimney Rock bridge and then float down to the Bluffton campground. The canoe trip would last between three to five hours. Sometimes, if it was just my dad and I, we would spend the trip fishing for walleye or bass. My mother never had the patience for fishing. Other times we would just take our time floating down the river, only getting our paddle wet once or twice. Often times, I would find myself mesmerized by the beautiful, towering bluffs that lined much of the river or I would get excited when I saw a turtle, an eagle, a crane or some other wildlife.

As I have grown up, I still find myself drawn to that same area for camping. Ir often feels as if I have stepped out of reality and found a place full of serenity and tranquility. Perhaps it's the hugging of bluffs, isolating me from the bustle of society or perhaps the calming of the many joyous memories that I have with that place, but I have always found peace when camping in Bluffton.

This year, I am excited because we bought our first camper and this will be our first year camping with our daughter. This year, I can share my love for outdoors and my appreciation for nature with her. She can feel the dirt and sand between her toes as she splashes at the edge of the river. She can see the sky reaching bluffs and blue skies. She can smell the fresh country air and the aroma of food cooking over an open fire. She can hear the song of frogs and crickets at night and the soothing sound of the flowing river. While she may be too young to fully appreciate what the outdoors has to offer, it is a start for her to realize there is more to the world than just TV and phone screens.

Just thinking about the upcoming camping season has me itching to pack the camper, call the family and get my tank top, shorts and flip flops out!



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