Summer downtime

and exploring the great outdoors

It’s June – the unofficial start of summer! Summers are short in Vermont, and I am determined not to let it get away from me, this year – determined not to spend every minute of every day at my computer, determined to allow myself as much downtime as I need.

“Let’s go hiking!” I said. “Let’s go camping!” I said.
And so – we packed up the truck with our old “three-person” backpacking tent, backpacking sleeping pads, a cooler of food, my camera, and a box of wine 🙂 and headed to one of the many stunning Vermont state parks.

Climbing to the perfect picnic spot –

Letting nature do its thing –

Then – racing to the nearest REI for some cushier sleeping pads and a larger tent – because, seriously, I don’t know where that third person was meant to sleep, let alone a sprawling, nearly-eighty-pound labrador retreiver!

And I know what you’re thinking –
Karen, at your age, you should be “camping” in an RV.
Surely you jest! We have a spacious new “six-person” mansion of a tent for our next adventure. I mean – I can even stand up in this palace – color me giddy!

Yea… we’ll see how it goes. Next week, we’re exploring Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

about that pesky mystery manuscript

Last month, as planned, I wrapped up a round of revisions on my manuscript, followed by an unplanned step back for some unscheduled learning time. I took a course on self-editing and played with writing exercises – just for the joy of writing. You can read more in my latest newsletter – Muddling through the Murky Middle (yep – the title’s a clue).

And now – armed with new knowledge, a plan of attack, a refueled tank, and a rekindled love for words, I am ready to battle this beast – no self-imposed deadlines, because it’s summer and we have a new tent and lots of mountains to conquer.

my eclectic reading stack for June

As always – I’ve queued up a stack of books for the month. I had the pleasure of listening to Chris Bohjalian (Vermont author 🙂 ) speak about his new book, Hour of the Witch and couldn’t resist adding it to my tbr pile!

I hope you’re doing well – I always love to hear from you.
Do you have plans for this summer? Reading recommendations?

Until next time – take care!


13 responses to “Summer downtime”

  1. Barb Avatar

    Hi Karen, You put a smile on my face with the story of your camping adventure. Now you have enough gear to pay for a 5 star hotel! When I was in my 50’s (long,long ago), 4 women friends spent 7 days backpacking through the Grand Canyon. My friend Sue and I slept in a tiny 2 person tent. (Luckily she is quite small….) Some nights before falling asleep, we’d make up scenarios about how we could be airlifted out by a rescue helicopter. I have never been so dirty, smelly, and uncomfortable in my life, but that 7 days now makes for great memories and stories. It sounds like you’re keeping busy with the novel, but you’re also determined not to waste summer on the computer. I always love seeing your to-read stack of books. I just finished Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House and will read Run next. Prior to that, I read Barbara O’Neil’s No Place Like Home ( Pueblo, CO setting). I liked both books (very different in plot) which were both about generations of blood family and chosen family. Have a great summer exploring your beautiful state, Karen!

    1. Karen Avatar

      Haha! I love the story of your backpacking adventure – I can imagine it makes for some funny memories. My experiences in a three-person tent tell me that two people in a two-person tent would be quite cozy! I have never actually backpacked – we used our backpacking equipment for bicycling trips. I’m not sure I’d ever really want to hike with a big pack on my back. I’m impressed that you did, and the Grand Canyon, no less!

      I’ve been wanting to read The Dutch House – and need to look at the Barbara O’Neil one! Thanks!

  2. Lynne Avatar

    Long time since I’ve stopped by . . .
    Makes me wonder why . . .
    Refreshed I am, once again, by you.
    You triggered my memories of winter camping,
    making igloos and snuggled cozy keeping warm.
    I will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts
    of your new stand up person tent and adventures.
    Thank you for the “read” titles . . .
    My lists of “gotta read” are so long, I will never finish,
    although I keep pecking away at it when I am not
    tending to my flowers, vines and ferns . . .
    I always enjoy a visit from you Karen . . .

    1. Karen Avatar

      Sleeping in an igloo! I haven’t tried that one, but would like to. I’m so glad you stopped by – I always love hearing from you. And I completely understand how that “gotta read” pile gets long. If only I could read as fast as I add titles. But I’m always interested in what everyone else is reading too!

  3. alakis27 Avatar

    Your camping adventures are delightful. It is the stuff that memories are made of. I have yet to begin my book. Perhaps when GrAmy and Popous’ Virtual School closes for the 2021 school year, I can begin the next great American novel. Now all I need is an idea and some inspiration!
    Try THE FOUR WINDS [Hannah] or perhaps CARNEGIE’S MAID [Benedict]

    1. Karen Avatar

      Haha! Who said anything about writing the next great American novel? Oh, no no – I’m just hoping to publish a really fun cozy. I’ll leave the literature to your capable hands 🙂 The Four Winds is in my tbr pile – it hasn’t made it to the top, yet, but now I’m thinking I need to bump it up. I haven’t heard of Carnegie’s Maid – I’m off to look it up – thanks!

  4. Helen Avatar

    Happy camping. We will be doing a lot of camping as we drive east next week. I hear you on the need for better mats… never would I have thought I would spend so much on my backpacking air mattress but it was money very well spent.

    1. Karen Avatar

      I can’t wait to hear more about where you’ll be camping. So far, we only have plans for state parks in Vermont, but wouldn’t mind venturing out a bit. I’m also curious about your sleeping mats. We’ll be trying new ones this week – fingers crossed!

  5. Beatrice P. Boyd Avatar

    Karen, I so enjoyed reading about your camping adventures, but honesty outdoor camping is not for me. I do appreciate being outdoors on our road trips, really I do, but night time in a nice bed after a shower is more my personal style. Our recent NE road trip to Stowe included lodging at the Field Guide Lodge. It’s great that you decided to tear yourself away from the computer and the writing to enjoy yourself because nice weather can be short-lived, it’s true. And, that’s what retirement is all about, no schedules. I appreciated that you, once again, shared your reading list, and to reciprocate here are some of my recent reads/listens. Perhaps you have also read some of these authors?

    An Extravagant Death – Charles Finch
    The Fifth Avenue Book Society – Rachel Hauck
    The Bookshop on the Corner – Jenny Colgan (audio)
    The Nature if Fragile Things – Susan Meissner
    The Darwin Affair – Tim Mason
    Playing Nice – JP Delaney
    The Secrets She Keeps – Michael Robotham

    1. Karen Avatar

      I get it – camping is not for everyone. I pretty much limit myself to 2 nights per trip because as much as I enjoy being outdoors and sleeping in a tent – I miss the private bathroom and shower. It always feels good to go home and jump in the shower and throw all the dirty clothes in the laundry.

      Thank you for your book suggestions. I am familiar with a couple of those authors, but don’t think I’ve read the books. I am hopping over to amazon to look them up!

  6. Carola Bartz Avatar

    HI Karen, I had to laugh out loud abour your tent “adventure”. We have that “cozy” three person tent as well and I don’t think it’s cozy anymore! We have used it so often that the zipper is breaking and it has become just too uncomfortable for me. I hope we’ll get a bigger tent because I love camping and I’m not fond of RVs at all (except a VW “bus” or the Westpahlia van). A tent where you can stand upright in sounds just about right!
    I know that you love reading mysteries – have you read the crime novels by Julia Spencer-Fleming? Not your typical detective people – he’s a police officer and she’s a priest for the Episcopal Church. Quite the pair! “In the Bleak Midwinter” is the first in the series. Apart from that I recently read “Nomadland” by Jessica Bruder (quite the eye-opener), “Belonging” by Nora Krug (excellent) and “Freckled”, the autobiography by TW Neal (who writes crime novels under her name Toby Neal, they take place on the Hawai’ian Islands). I’m currently reading “Where the Forest Meets the Stars” by Glendy Vanderah and am enjoying it.

    1. Karen Avatar

      We used out little three person tent for many years, also – but I’m so glad we got a larger one. It’s been great so far and feels spacious. I really do love sleeping in a tent!

      Yes! I’ve read all the Julia Spence-Fleming mysteries and love her police officer/minister duo! In the Bleak Midwinter has one of my favorite first lines of all time. I haven’t read your other suggestions and will look them up – thanks

  7. […] enjoying our palatial new tent – and the freedom of packing up the truck and taking off when the adventure bug bites – […]

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