Saturday, September 19, 2015
Camping With Mikey
Mike and I are just back from an overnight camping trip to nearby Winton Woods. When the sheepdogs were younger I’d regularly take both Mike and his brother Duffy on camping expeditions. Then Mike’s arthritic hips got worse, and, because he had trouble going on longer walks, I’d just take Duffy by himself. Since Duffy died in late June, I haven’t gone camping much, and when I did it was by myself. Katja suggested I take Mikey along. I was uncertain how it would work out, but decided to give it a try. Winton Woods, one of our Hamilton County parks, has personal meaning for me because it’s less than a mile from where my dad lived when he moved to Cincinnati at the end of his life. He and I used to go on occasional weekend outings to Winton Woods, and those were enjoyable occasions, if bittersweet. Now Mike and I were returning there, with me quite a few years older and Mike, at age thirteen, close to the end-stage of his life. Our trip turned out to be enjoyable for us both. Here are some photos that tell the story.
Mike got excited as he watched me pack up the camping gear, and he looked happy as could be when I brought him out to the SUV.
Despite its suburban location, the Winton Woods campground is set in a large grove of 60-foot pines, and we could well have been in northern Wisconsin.
On an uncrowded weekday we picked out one of the best campsites, right next to the lake.
I set up Mike's shaded playpen the very first thing. It’s a safe and comfortable den, and he stretches out and watches the goings on.
Mike did get restless as I was putting the tent up some thirty yards away, and he tried to get out the pen by pushing his head through the slats. His head got stuck, and I was frantic when I was initially unable to pull him back through.
Once our dome tent was set up, all the world was back in order.
Here is the lake view from our campsite.
Mike likes being in the playpen, but the tent is definitely his favorite.
After lunch we took a short hike around the marina.
Mike didn’t show much interest in the ducks, and they weren't intimidated by him or me.
It’s not fair but sheepdogs are prohibited from riding in kayaks.
Mike looked over one of the big RVs. Perhaps he was wondering if they’re more comfortable than tents.
Suppertime is the best time to be in one’s den.
By 8 p.m. it was almost dark.
I watched the campfire flickering and pondered old memories while Mike was fast asleep.
Inside the tent Mikey looked rather eerie by lantern light.
On the other hand, I looked like my normal self.
With a sagging air mattress, I had a fitful night. But Mike slept like a log. Here he is at 7:30 a.m.
After breakfast we went for a walk on the Kingfisher Trail.
There are lots of good things to sniff in the forest.
We took one last stroll around our campground before I packed up our gear.
Mike was happy to be back in the car. Camping is good, but nothing is as good as being at home.
I’m glad we went on our trip. Mike was a good companion – patient, cooperative, curious, happy to be with me, friendly to other dogs and people. Our hikes weren’t as long as they were years ago, but we took more of them, and we relaxed at our campsite as well. In a couple of weeks Katja and our friend Donna will be leaving for a two-week trip to France, and I’ll be in charge of Mike and Donna’s sheepdog, Sophie, Mike’s younger sister. Maybe Mike, Sophie, and I will do a longer camping trip. I think we’ll have a great time.