How Long Until Camping Season?

According to all of the major weather services, this lovely Fall we’ve been experiencing here in Michigan is about to end. We’re currently under a Winter Weather Advisory, with three to eight inches of snow expected between tonight and Sunday. That makes today one of the saddest days of the year for me: The official end of camping season.

imageOkay, truthfully, we winterized our camper a couple of weeks ago, but with temperatures in the 60s, I’ve been tempted to get out one more time. If only the packing, unpacking, and planning didn’t take so long.

Speaking of planning, tomorrow’s blustery weather gives me a great excuse to start thinking about next year’s camping trips. This is where I’ll be starting my Camping Season 2016 planning:

  • Pinterest’s Camping Section: How many different ways are there to roast a marshmallow? I can spend hours looking at the clever things people have come up with for outdoor cooking and outfitting their RVs. I also spend far too much time looking at pictures of national parks and campgrounds.
  • Camping World: Who doesn’t need a new zero-gravity chair for relaxing by the campfire? I’m always amazed at the things this place sells that I didn’t know I needed–but now really, really want!
  • Families on the Road: How do families who travel the country in an RV survive? Okay, so I don’t think my family is ever destined to join their ranks, but I love to read the adventures of those who do.
  • RV Life: What’s boondocking? Why do I need a generator? A lot of the information on this site is geared toward full-time RVers, but I’ve picked up some useful tips from the pros.
  • Michigan Campgrounds & RV Parks: Where’s the best place to camp in Michigan? Since we spend a lot of time wandering around our home state, this Pure Michigan resource is a must.

So what are your favorite resources for planning next year’s camping season? How will you while away the time until it’s time to head out again?


Using Word Choice to Establish Place

imageI love writing about my home state of Michigan. Although I’m new at writing fiction, I’ve been very consciously trying to place my writing in the places I know best. As far as I’m concerned, it’s some of the most amazing scenery this country has to offer, and I’m proud to call myself a Michigan writer.
True though that may be, I find one of my biggest challenges as a Michigan writer to be word choice. Now, don’t misunderstand me; I’m great at using a thesaurus judiciously and have a vast vocabulary (just ask my dad who spent years trying to make me talk a little less). My problem lies in trying to come up with original ways to describe the things I love best about my state—namely the weather these days.
The old joke used to be that Eskimos had a thousand (or whatever number your version of the saying included) words for snow. Well, I wish I had that kind of vocabulary when trying to describe the different ways the snow has appeared outside my office window just this winter alone. Right now, for example, there’s a fine but persistent snow coming down, making the sky appear more gray than clear. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a word for that kind of snow—something like “smist”?  I’d also take a great new word for the kind of snow that comes down in big feathery flakes, twisting and twirling on the wind—maybe “sheathery” would work for that. Then I could just write, “What had begun as a sheathery afternoon soon turned smisty” and dig on into the plot of my story. Instead, I have to puzzle over words, searching for the perfect accretion of adjectives to convey just the right atmosphere. Words can be so confining!
Or can they be? As any who have suffered through a high school English class might remember, Shakespeare had a knack for inventing new words. Scholars pore over his works, marveling at the ways he changed grammatical structures, added prefixes or suffixes where they hadn’t been before, and even created words no one had ever used before. Did you know, for example, that Shakespeare created the word “friended” long before Facebook made it popular? And I think Shakespeare may have met my husband a time or two before he crafted the word “forgetive.”
Similarly, who can question the preeminent word creator Dr.Seuss’s use of words like “zizzer-zazzer-zuzz” and “fiffer-feffer-feff”? Where would the world be if we didn’t have the lorax and the grinch? Seuss certainly never let words constrain him.
Perhaps the lesson here is that if the sky is looking smisty, then that’s what I need to write. I’m not Shakespeare or Seuss (or Geisel either), but I know my setting better than anyone else. If I own the word, maybe someday my readers will be looking up at the sky remarking on the lovely sheathery snow.
What are your favorite new words from things you’ve read or written? What is your greatest challenge when it comes to word choice?