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Going camping? It helps if you keep an open mind.

Campers like us, we've all been there. It's a lot of work. Doing the research to determine the location- how far? Should we head to the beach, mountains or forests? What do the sites look like? We sure don't want to be in the midst of an RV park, right? How far ahead do we need to reserve a site?

And what kind of camping- backpacking? car camping? bike camping? how about kayak camping?

I'll admit, I really don't like the planning for trips.

My husband will tell you it's true. And he's so good at it.

He will scope out places I'd never dream about and then plan how we'll do it.

There was the 75 mile kayak camping trip on the Potomac River. Three days of long paddles. Packing boats, setting up camp, tearing down camp, more paddling. It was my first kayaking experience. Pretty ambitious and exhausting but it had some amazing moments of peaceful stretches of water and campsites just to ourselves.

Then there was canoe camping below the Hoover Dam along the AZ/NV border. Escorted to the secured launch area and pushed to depart quickly, we paddled while keeping our eyes open to make sure we found the camp area hidden among the rocky coves. We discovered just how dark night can be with the exception of a million stars. We climbed a tall, wet, slippery ladder to reach hot springs nestled in the cavelike openings. And no cell service proved to be a relief.

There have been plenty of bike camping trips. Our packed bicycles usually resemble The Beverly Hillbillies with the numerous panniers, dry bags, backpacks and handlebar bags. But we're of the mindset that we like to enjoy our camp, so there will be cooking, hot coffee, wine and air mats. The C & O Canal in MD is a favorite, with its well maintained bike paths.

In northern Michigan, after a two hour ferry ride from Charlevoix to Beaver Island, we became part of a welcoming, remote community immediately. We can't wait to return.

A car camping trip or two, one to Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys where we arrived without our tent poles and experienced some recurring raccoon visits still proved to be enjoyable and memorable.

The other to Kiptopeake near Cape Charles, VA in July challenged us not to kill each other in 100 degree night temperatures but rewarded us with cherrystone clams fresh from local waters.

We never know how these camping trips will turn out. We understand many people can never grasp why we love it so much. It is a lot of work, no doubt. But when a sunrise of epic proportions wakes you up early, then you know why.

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