Summer is a perfect time to join your family in exploring Nebraska’s great outdoors. NPPD does our part by providing top-notch recreational opportunities for the public, free of charge. Across the state, NPPD’s parks, lakes and camping areas are ready to go. Earlier this spring, a call for camping stories was sent out to NPPD teammates. For the next several weeks, those will be highlighted on NPPD’s BYO (Behind Your Outlet) Blog. Enjoy, but when you’re done reading, go out and make some outdoor memories of your own.
Last fall, roughly a year after officially moving to Nebraska, I celebrated my newfound love of the state with a camping trip to Indian Cave State Park (located only a few miles south of Cooper Nuclear Station).
It is currently trendy to “unplug” and attempt an excursion into nature. This involves immersing yourself in the great outdoors and forgoing cellphones, laptops, and other fun technological devices. It also requires doing without the creature comforts of home that we take for granted (and which all seem to require electricity). The absence of these modern conveniences immediately becomes apparent once you unplug, and (let me tell you) these “luxuries” are missed!
The absence of these modern conveniences immediately becomes apparent once you unplug, and (let me tell you) these “luxuries” are missed!
Thankfully, I went to Indian Cave State Park with an experienced camper who knew how to do all the official camping things (such as setting up a tent and recognizing poison ivy) so my camping idyll did not come crashing down on me too quickly. However, I did eventually become aware of difficulties associated with unplugging.
For instance, did you know that certain early September nights in Nebraska can be surprisingly cold? This is particularly true if you are in a tent with only a flimsy sleeping bag to keep you warm. Turning up the heat at your furnace thermostat just a bit to keep the cold out is not possible when camping.
And while it may seem easy to start a campfire – and from my vantage point (a comfortable camp chair with a cool beverage in the cup holder) it did seem easy – it takes a startling long time to cook by fire. Potatoes, I quickly found out, take a long time to cook when an oven is not involved.
The biggest difficulty of camping was interaction with wildlife, which will occur with or without your consent. My fellow camper and I foolishly left some of the aforementioned potatoes out on the picnic table when we retired for the night. These, of course, attracted raccoons. I am obviously not an experienced camper, and so I did not immediately know that the sounds I was hearing on the other side of the tent were raccoons. Since I was in nature, I could not simply flip on a light switch and scare away whomever or whatever it was that was frightening me.
When I returned home after the exciting weekend of camping, I promptly plugged my phone in to recharge; took a long, hot shower; warmed some food in the microwave; and turned on Netflix. It was a pleasure to experience Nebraska’s outdoors and to unplug for a few days. Still, I was very happy to be able to return to a (raccoon free) modern dwelling equipped with contemporary amenities that I now realize I thoroughly enjoy, many of which depend on the public power NPPD reliably provides.
Mild hardships and raccoon frights aside, I consider my trip a success and I will continue to explore Nebraska through camping. In fact, I have started a bucket list of parks, lakes, and recreation areas that I want to visit in the state, including NPPD’s recreational facilities. In my opinion, unplugged and surrounded by nature has to be one of the better ways to learn about Nebraska!