Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 14, 2003

Roughing it

I'm not much of an outdoorswoman, but I realize that our family vacation to the North Woods of Wisconsin means that I'll see nature up close and personal. This includes sightings of cute little woodland and lake creatures such as chipmunks, otters, loons, raccoons and fawns as well as Wisconsin's state bird - the mosquito.

So when Art told me that our cottage neighbors had carefully sprayed their entire screened porch with insect spray, lit a citronella candle and then proceeded to slather spray on themselves, I had to chuckle.

Later I found out that another cottage dweller left after two days because the mattress was lumpy and she had to have tables and chairs instead of the stools and counter that furnished the kitchen in her cabin. I rolled my eyes. I thought if she'd wanted the Hyatt Regency or the Ritz Carlton, she should have just gone to a big-city hotel.

Even some of the kids complain.

"There are too many weeds in this lake," one young girl said. "Ew, there's a dead fish!"

Sometimes mothers can be the worst.

"Don't get too close to the water. You'll get your feet wet. Don't sit on the beach. You'll get sand in your shorts," they call out from their beach chairs.

I know I can be over-protective at times, but those moms beat even me on the over-protectiveness scale! Growing up on a farm gave me some common sense when it comes to these things. After all, chicken houses and barnyards can't be considered the most sterile of environments.

Having a husband who has been a trout fisherman for 50 years has helped my perspective, too. He gets decked out in his fishing gear - long pants, long socks sewn to his pant legs with dental floss, long-sleeved shirt, hat and hip boots - and slogs through marshes and up and down streams for his all-day adventure. He comes home dirty, fishy-smelling and wet from sweat, rain or both - but he always enjoys this outdoor sport.

I guess some people aren't cut out for outdoor activities - either that or they aren't willing to "rough it" even for a short time.

A writer for the local newspaper, The Three Lakes (Wisconsin) News, wrote a column in early August which included comments by people who have visited national forests.

In his column, Byron McNutt wrote:

"Every year, millions of people drive to the mountains or wilderness in order to hike, camp and get away from stressful urban life. Yet the following are actual remarks left on U.S. Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips:

*A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of popcorn. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
*Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
*Too many bugs and leeches and spiders. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
*Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter.
*A McDonald's would be nice at the trailhead."

It isn't just pampered Americans who think they want to rough it and then don't like it. Art talked with a tourist official in Wales who dealt with a similar situation. A woman requested vacation lodging at a "real" working farm in the country. She left after one day and complained to the tourist board that they had placed her where bleating sheep had disturbed her sleep.

Art cleaning his catch of trout.

2003 Index