Friday, March 8, 2013
Spring Break Palpitations
An upside down palmetto bug
Every March I come down with a case of camping fever. It’s still too cold to sleep out in our tent, but I’m hopeful the temperatures will improve soon. Katja finished her winter quarter classes at the university on Thursday and has a three-week spring break coming up. It seems like a possible time for a camping road trip, especially if we head south for warmer weather. Persuading Katja, though, isn’t as easy as you’d think. We seem to have incompatible preferences. I enjoy roughing it in the forest; Katja likes luxury. She doesn’t worry about spending money, but I’m pretty stingy. I like familiar places; for Katja, the more faraway and exotic, the better. Katja would like to go on an African safari or a cruise down the Nile over spring break. My first choice is usually camping out with the sheepdogs.
I decided that if I could find a faraway destination for a camping trip, Katja would be more amenable. Nashville, Tennessee, seemed like a good choice, but, when I looked into it, the nighttime weather forecast there is stuck in the 30s for the rest of the month. Using Weather.com, I meandered downward through Alabama, but the March temperatures only got pleasant when one reached Florida. It’s a nearly prohibitive amount of SUV gas costs to do such a trip, but Florida did sound great. There’s a batch of state parks spread out on the beach along the Florida Panhandle, and I was sure that the dogs would enjoy it as much as the humans.
We had lunch after Katja’s last class to celebrate the quarter’s end. When our taco and burger arrived, I casually mentioned that a camping road trip to Florida over spring break with the sheepdogs would be a great vacation. Katja perked up momentarily at the sound of Florida, but only for a second. We couldn’t go camping in Florida, she said, because the campgrounds are infested with huge palmetto bugs. I’d never thought of that -- that sounded horrible. But then I decided that Katja was still traumatized from our recent Kentucky camping trip where we were plagued by hordes of flies. I pointed out that we’d spent a lot of time on Florida beaches over the years, and we’d never seen a single palmetto bug. “That’s beaches,” Katja said. “Campgrounds are totally different.” I said that we’d never seen a palmetto bug on the lawns, in the parks, at the malls, on the street, anywhere we went in Florida. There was no reason to believe that the campgrounds were infested with palmetto bugs. I completely convinced myself with this argument, but I wasn’t as successful convincing my spouse.
“What if I found a hotel that would take the sheepdogs?” Katja asked. “Would you be willing to do that?” It didn’t sound so good to me. “There aren’t any hotels in Florida that would take two large sheepdogs,” I replied. “I know that for a fact.” Actually I didn’t entirely know that for a fact. Two years ago I’d tried on the Internet to find motels near Milwaukee that would take two large dogs but had had no luck, so I was extrapolating to Florida. However, just as Katja didn’t know anything about palmetto bugs on Florida campgrounds and I didn’t know anything about Florida hotel dog policies, that didn’t stop us from having firm opinions. We simply invented facts to fit our respective wishes. “I’ll look into it,” Katja said. “I’m certain I can find a hotel that will take the dogs.” I nodded and said I’d check into the campground palmetto bug situation. Like the Republicans and Democrats, consensus doesn’t seem likely. We’ll probably wind up spending spring break at home. That’s always an acceptable option since Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once declared Cincinnati to be the Queen City of the West. If we do go on the road, we’ll probably find a hotel that accepts dogs. Undoubtedly some place more luxurious than I’d pick out on my own.
-Donna D (3-8): why not rent or borrow an RV?