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Daddy Debrief: Mosquitoes and Meteors

We had our second annual camping trip with Finn last week. Erin and I have decided that camping is in a category of its own, separate from vacation.

The idea was to camp on the beach. It was late in the season when we booked the reservation so there was little availability. We would have to spend one night on the “bay side” and then we could move to the “ocean side” for the second night.

It would have been helpful if the website had mentioned that the mosquito situation on the bay side is beyond anything you would have ever experienced, nightmare or otherwise.

I got hundreds of bites (literally) setting up the tent in the 90 degree heat while Finn repeated “I want to go home” hundreds of times. We gave his suggestion a fleeting thought.

Once we had our camp set up we walked to the beach, which felt like a different planet. It was about 5 degrees cooler and windy, so no mosquitoes.

It was suddenly very pleasant. Finn no longer wanted to go home. He didn’t want to leave.

The beach, that is. We suffered through the night. The tent kept the mosquitoes at bay, so to speak, but the temperature was in the 80s all night so we had to literally sweat it out.

The next day, we packed up and fled to town for breakfast instead of battling the mosquitoes, who had decided not to sleep in. Our second night was in remarkable contrast. We had moved to a site closer to the ocean.

There was a gentle breeze. It was cooler. Fewer mosquitoes. And it just happened to be the night of the Persied meteor shower.

Setting up camp again was still a bit of a challenge. It was a walk-in site so we had to lug everything about a hundred yards or more from the car. But few things are more magical than lying on a blanket beside a campfire, near the ocean, watching shooting stars. Although Finn kept reminding me that they were not shooting stars, but meteors. He saw just one before he could no longer keep his eyes open. But it was his first, and a memorable one that he’s still talking about.

Erin and I got to see quite a few. Watching several streak halfway across the sky, I wondered how many shooting stars you have to see before they lose their enchantment. My guess is a whole lot because it didn’t happen that night.

I woke up later and saw several more. A silent light show, continuing with or without an audience. I thought about our little camping adventure and how it was such a mix of angst and joy. And how in the misery of the night before, we wouldn’t have guessed what magic was right around the corner.

We may rethink camping in August, and we’ll probably do more research on mosquito populations next time. But camping is definitely in a league of its own. And it’s probably best followed by a vacation.

David Dewitt is an artist, blogger, and painter who lives with his family in the Rondout Valley. For more, visit daviddewitt.com.