Wherever you go, you take your illnesses (and in my case, my Parkinson’s disease and obstructive sleep apnea) with you.

I went camping this past weekend. It was actually a good experience – as far as factors such as: good weather, a good campsite, and a lack of annoying biting or blood-sucking bugs, etc.

This camping trip was the first time I have needed electrical hookups next to my tent, in order to plug in my nightly CPAP machine (which keeps me from having episodes of not breathing in my sleep).  So this need for the use of a machine that uses electricity required me needing to bring: a huge extension cord, a surge protector bar, and a jug of distilled water. This machine, along with my bag of meds, and other assistive devices were painful reminders that vacations, especially camping trips are now altered due to accommodate my affliction.

For this camping trip, it was me, my wife, my 14 year old son, his friend, and then all the stuff: two tents, sleeping bags, medical equipment, camping gear, and tons of food.  I was able to fit all this stuff and people, being as a few days prior, I traded in my little Honda Accord for a used SUV (a black tough looking Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×4).  I figure that if you are going to have to rely on affordable used vehicles in early retirement, and if you no longer have to worry about spending gas money for commutes go work, ya might as well go in cool tough style.

I discovered the value of trek poles. These are those hiking sticks that are basically ski poles for hikers. In some parts of Europe, I hear that these trek poles are very popular among the older and those with disabilities, preferred over canes and walkers.  More and more people with disabilities in the United States are also using them for stability, but not any of the places that I frequent.  If I wouldn’t think I would get stares from looking too strange with the hiking sticks, I would prefer using these over using a cane for the following reasons. For one, you can have these trek sticks sized (or you can adjust them if they are the twist adjustable kind) to where they come up higher than a cane (so no leaning forward or to the side).  Secondly, having two of these with straps helps with uneven ground, such as inclines that are rocky, muddy, or just plain slippery. I felt secure and the trek sticks prevented what would have surely been some falls in areas that we went to in order to fish or get to other parts of the campsite, the fishing areas of the lake, and to the restrooms.

I actually was able to get better sleep in the tent outdoors than at home. I did wake up due to some condensation in my CPAP mask, which resulted in my feeling like I was drowning. Also, getting up from an air matress when you are stiff and have trouble coordinating is a major challenge. Zippers on the tent seem like they are impossible for me to do one handed, and were somewhat frustrating.

It could have made a good comedy skit to watch me try to go pee in the middle of the night, as I clumsily had to: turn off my CPAP, find my flashlight, climb out of the matress, navigate the tent zipper door, and find a tree, without tripping over something.  I managed the task, but it required waking up my wife for assistance and some good laughs along the way.

Despite needing some workarounds, I loved the time outdoors with experiences such as: witnessing some bald eagles fly over the lake, enjoying the campfire, watching my youngest son catch a fish, etc.

Camping is fun and yet it is more of a challenge than going to a hotel (where I have had smaller challenges, such as finding a good place to set my CPAP, finding a free electrical outlet to plug the machine into, finding open available handicapped spots or sometimes even regular parking spots, etc.).

It was good memories, and I could handle camping again soon.

Next weekend, we are taking a long drive to see my daughter at college and go to a university football game.

We may be too tired to drive home that evening. We will…

Stay in a hotel!

Keep on!