Publisher’s Letter: 2020 and Backyard Camping!

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Pre-pandemic, Publisher’s Letters were most often about my general observations. But with Covid and record-setting wildfires, I decided to share the twists and turns necessitated to spend quality time with my two young boys on weekends.

Like many parents forced to work from home with the kids, even now, not yet returning to full time schooling out of the house, I was seeking new ways to set aside weekends as special times to spend with my young boys in unusual settings. So as some of our readers know, I purchased a second-hand RV and we named her “Revela.”

Pulling the RV up the steep mountain road and onto my property was challenging but with the help of a friend, we made it. So figuring we were all set, to provide insulation as we move into fall, I built a skirt for the RV out of panels I planed from fallen trees — it was a lot of work but it turned out well and my boys and I were toasty warm by nightfall. Then, just as we were making progress on our weekend retreat, due to approaching wildfires, I had to quickly remove that wooden skirt and pull Revela back off the mountain. Even before we bought the RV, over the summer we had to evacuate the property 4 times!

While my property burned 12 years ago in the High Park fire, so far, this year it hasn’t burned — yet. But others in our area have not been so lucky and my heart goes out to families who have lost their homes.

Through all these adventures my family has been trying to make the best of it. Throughout the summer we spent almost every weekend up on the property — and if you want to get to know your kids in new ways — take them camping! Tough as this summer has been, we created countless memories of our time together.

After I pulled Revela off the mountain I was surprised to see how excited my boys were to see her safely at home (frankly, so was I.) I hadn’t realized how worried they were that if our mountain property burned so would Revela.

So I parked her on the side of the house and every night they asked if they could sleep out there. But due to too much fun encroaching on their bedtime, I decided we would stick to our summer schedule and have weekend campouts only now, in the wilds of our backyard.

I leveled her off — a much easier task on the flat ground at home, rather than on the mountain! Blackwater? Yuck. We just go into the house.

PHOTO BY BLAINE HOWERTON; Sometimes a candle will do amidst fire restrictions.

With current fire restrictions, a backyard campfire is out of the question. But we made due. My youngest son came up with the idea to build a fake fire around a large candle on our table. We read campfire stories and make dinner in Revela. We even do the dishes out there!

Thankfully, my neighbors have told me they love seeing us camp in the yard — they know it’s all in fun for two young boys who cannot be up on our mountain property this fall.

After a few weeks away and depending on wildfire activity, it’s time to go back up to the property and see how the writer’s studio we built over the summer fared in the snow. And then it’s off to the next adventure!

So, we are trying to make the best of it. And we consider ourselves lucky that at least for us, 2020 hasn’t been all bad. We still have our health and a year of some mighty unusual memories together.

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