THERE MAY BE four months, 3 feet of snow and 30 days of below-zero weather in front of us yet, but my thoughts are already turning to spring and summer camping trips.

I have been lucky enough to enjoy in many ways the great outdoors of the United States and Canada over the years, but none have been more enjoyable than camping.

From a wool Army blanket stretched over a rope tied between two trees to form an open-ended pup tent to a pop-up A-frame camper with everything in it including the kitchen sink, I have camped in many states in our country and two Canadian provinces.

I made a first camping reservation for the summer of 2022 already. In July, my lovely wife and I will join our daughter and son-in-law for a few days of camping at Brunet Island State Park just outside of Cornell, perhaps our favorite Wisconsin state park.

I would have made reservations for at least two state parks along Lake Superior already, but Minnesota does not allow reservations to be made this far ahead of time. Nonetheless, I can guarantee you that the north shore of Gitche Gumee will see us come this summer.

I would very much like to get back to the Boundary Waters this summer to catch some of the walleyes I failed to catch last time. An early August trip there would center on picking quart after quart of blueberries providing the crop is better than the last couple of years.

Right now, my newly officially retired lovely wife and I are contemplating at least one longer distance camping trip.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been through the Black Hills of South Dakota. And an equally long time since we’ve camped in the Big Horn mountains, where on our last camping trip there, I caught trout from mountain streams, hiked 13,167-foot Cloud Peak and had an ice cream cone at Dirty Sally’s in the tiny town of Ten Sleep at the western end of Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming.

One of the most exciting and near terrifying camping experiences we ever had was the one we had while at Cheboygan State Park along the shore of Lake Huron in lower Michigan.

We spent a beautiful first day and evening there hiking trails along the lake. We retired to the tent we camped in back in the day with not a cloud in the sky. A few hours later, that all changed. Wind roared, rain fell in a torrent and a tornado ripped through a part of the lower peninsula a scant 30 miles or so south of us.

On one of our several camping trips at Lake Superior Provincial Park about 100 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, we watched one of the most beautiful, exciting and somewhat scary displays of Mother Nature on a rampage as a massive thunder and lightning show worked its way across many miles of Lake Superior toward us.

Not all camping trips are perfect. The first two times I camped and hunted ducks in North Dakota one of my partners was Jim, last name omitted to protect the innocent; a man known as one of the very worst snorers in the northern hemisphere, if not the world.

On the first trip the four of us made to North Dakota, three of us slept in an 8-foot tiny travel trailer with homemade bunks. Jim was banned from the trailer and even though he “camped” in his van parked 25 yards away, I swear we could hear a buzz saw emanating from that van every night for a week.

On an elk hunting trip to New Mexico years later, four guys slept in a canvas tent, complete with a wood stove in it to make it habitable through 25-degree nights. One of those guys was Jim and how anyone managed to endure five nights in the tent with Jim is beyond me. I was smart enough to park my truck 50 yards away while sleeping under its topper.

At that, all gentle breezes that might have lulled me to sleep were drowned out by the snoring coming from the tent.

My lovely wife and I have camped in too many places to even list. They include campgrounds in recent years where we can plug into an electrical outlet which comes in very handy when nighttime temperatures fight to fall below 75 degrees. Whether or not it proves we are getting soft in our old age, air conditioning is a very handy thing to have on such nights.

We’ll be back at one of those campgrounds in May as we make, what is for me, a highly anticipated and needed trip to the Bois Brule River country. We camped right next to the Brule last spring, but without electricity discovered 12-volt batteries get eaten up in short order when connected to an inverter that is used to power my wife’s CPAP unit.

Ergo, we’ll be camping this year at another new favorite of ours, a small, but very neat and well-cared for municipal campground in the North Woods town of Drummond. From that campground there are trails to hike, trout to catch from the nearby White and Namekagon rivers, and pike and bluegills to catch from small lakes I have fished for more than 30 years.

Where else will we camp this coming spring and summer? Who knows? All I know is that with the freedom of retirement for both of us the camper will be hitched to the truck more times than I can count on my fingers and toes.

I can’t wait.