Boxed Wine and Other Camping Essentials

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. In my contemporary romance, Luck of the Draw, my heroine is a widowed single mom running out of options. She finds herself in a strange place far from home enjoying pizza with a man that, despite it all, makes her laugh.

Which makes me think of camping.

You see, when we were still dating, Dearest Hubby and I went camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We packed his Chevette (I know. And it was yellow) with the essentials: firewood, lighter fluid, clothes line, marinated flank steak, sleeping bags, a romantic little two-man pup tent… and set off.

The weather was perfect puffy-cloud blue skies and July sunshine. We drove up to the mountains after work on a Friday, and while there were a couple sprinkles on the way up, the forecast said any rain would move out by morning. It’d be fine.

Fast forward a few hours as I huddled in the dark tent while DH emptied the lighter fluid bottle on a sizzling mound of blackened firewood as it poured. Even though I was ready to call it a day, he was determined we’d have a camp fire our first night. (Apparently he has a persistent streak.)

In the end, we couldn’t get the fire hot enough to cook scrambled eggs, we fought over the rules of backgammon, our tent washed into a gully in a flash thunderstorm while we were out sightseeing, and we slept, huddled in the middle of the pup tent accusing the other of causing leaks in the fabric by touching their elbow to the sides.

Needless to say, by day three of our trip the romance of it all had faded. DH and I were wet, dirty and eager for a hot meal. So we did what most survivalists would do: we drove an hour through winding back country roads to find the closest Pizza Hut. And there, we gorged ourselves, drank gallons of gorgeously hot coffee and laughed about our camping disasters.

We didn’t attempt camping again for years. Not until the children begged us to go to northern Maine. So, we filled the car again with flashlights and snack food and sleeping bags–and a much bigger tent–and drove the nine hours to get to our campsite. We arrived after dark. In the rain. But we were prepared this time around.

We had boxed wine… and a GPS that told us the location of every Pizza Hut in a 100-mile radius.

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