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Here Comes Summer, Ahead of Schedule

Tom Kaiser
March 27, 2012
Filed under Blog

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Living in Minneapolis, one of the world’s coldest major cities, does not mean residents here enjoy the cold. But some of us do – especially those of us who also work on our company’s snowmobile magazine, Snow Goer. Like the rest of the country, we didn’t have much of a winter this time around, and our weather remains out of whack.

Carving powder near West Yellowstone was a great farewell-to-winter trip.

Here’s a personal example: last December some friends and I planned a vacation to Mexico and we purposely chose what is historically the crappiest, most soul-crushing part of the winter in Minnesota: March. I really do love winter, but it can get a bit rough near the end. March (and most of April, usually) is the time of year when we expect the climate to be getting warmer, but it seldom does. Late-season snow storms often provide excellent pre-spring snowmobile conditions, but are accompanied by the realization that warm weather and camping season both remain out of reach.

Not this year. One morning down on the beach in the Yucatan, I logged onto the Wi-Fi and checked the weather. Minneapolis was only 2 degrees cooler than Tulum, way down in southern Mexico. I knew I was still in good shape sitting in a chair on the white sand, but I was hoping to be tanning in the sun with the knowledge that a blizzard was ripping my house to pieces back home. Alas, Mexico was fantastic, and we explored ruins at Coba, Tulum and Chichen Itza, as well as the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum. Good times, indeed.

The ruins at Tulum prove that beach camping is a timeless activity. Check out the June issue of Camping Life for great beach campgrounds across the United States.

Back in Minneapolis, it’s still prematurely warm. Snowmobile season is long gone, so I’m now in pre-camping/swimming mode where it’s not quite warm enough, dry enough, green enough or late in the year enough for most campgrounds to be open. The ice is already off the lakes – freakishly early – and I got my first wood tick of the season last weekend, confirming reports that their numbers will be off the charts this year.

So instead of actually camping, I’m frothing at the mouth planning my outdoor adventures (see my last post about all the destinations on my 2012 wish list). I know I’ll be camping in northern Wisconsin, at least twice, but am also hoping to explore Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – some work, some play. Well, it’s all play… I’ve also made a pact with my friend Nick to catch a musky within the city limits of Minneapolis. I’ll keep you posted. I’m also wondering what are the good camping options around Cleveland and on the Ohio shore of Lake Erie. Any suggestions? If so, please share!

Working on the May (Gear Guide) issue of Camping Life was downright torturous for all its suggestions, and led me to make a few impulse purchases in the name of planning. I pulled the trigger on some on-sale Silver Ridge Convertible Pants from Columbia, which should be great for kayaking trips, and our camping chair roundup led me to make an affordable purchase at REI – the $35 Camp Chair. If this one doesn’t break by fall, it will be my first camping chair to survive a season. Hopes are high.

Possibly not the best choice for camping in wolf country, but this Field Candy Animal Farm tent will probably spur a lot of fun banter this summer.

I’ve already grilled out a few times, but have yet to use my most exciting product test of the season: the Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven With Grill. It’s a handsome little appliance, and certainly takes the idea of luxury car camping to the next level. I’ve also got THIS spectacular, hilarious tent coming from Field Candy. Yes, I will be the crazy guy camping in the sheep tent with an oven sitting outside. My cousin Reece asked me if I would be nervous camping in wolf country in a tent that looks like a sheep. I hadn’t thought of that.

As always, I’ve also been adventure walking near my home in Minneapolis and around my parents’ house in northern Wisconsin. As part of a hiking boot/shoe/sandal story we’ve got coming in the June issue of Camping Life, I am testing out a stylish pair of Patagonia Men’s Hog Tie hiking shoes that provide great traction. Their stiff (Vibram) soles prevent my feet from getting sore, which is nice for long hikes. I convinced my friend Mollie to get a similar women’s pair, and we’re planning a full-day urban hike around the Twin Cities. I can’t wait.

With several other plans starting to firm up, life is looking pretty good. It could’ve been a snowier winter, especially while I was in Mexico, and I am having a hard time holding off on camping until the parks open, but the grass is always greener whenever I look out the window. Spring is such a fun time of year for those who keep an eye on Mother Nature.

Tom Kaiser

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