Let’s Go Camping with Leigh Duncan

Hi everybody! It’s  Cynthia D’Alba here! Today I have the pleasure of hosting my very good friend, Leigh Duncan, here on ENLR. Leigh and I met way back in 2006 when I was just starting down the “author road.” She has been unfailingly supportive and helpful to me. Her next book, THE DADDY CATCH, is all about fishing but contains a serious message about our environment and the threats assailing it daily. I’ll tell you all something reallycool..The review of THE DADDY CATCH won book of the week at the Long and Short Reviews! ! AND…THE DADDY CATCH is a recommended read from DearAuthor.com WAY TO GO, LEIGH!

Without further ado, here’s Leigh….

Leigh Duncan

When I was a kid growing up in Florida, camping was as much a part of my life as spending long summers on my grandmother’s farm.  Most weekends, Mom would pack food and linens into a huge plywood chest that Dad loaded into the station wagon just before he hooked on the pop-up trailer.  Then, it was off for a weekend of adventure.  Swimming.  Fishing.  Hiking.  S’mores and songs around a campfire at night.  Bacon crisping in a frying pan on the Coleman stove in the mornings.  One summer, we camped all the way from our home on the east coast of Florida to the Grand Canyon and back.

So, I grew up thinking I knew a thing or two about how to camp.  Apparently, college and the early years of marriage robbed me of those memories because the first—and only—time hubby and I took our kids camping, disaster struck.

First, we borrowed a tent.  One that came with a gazillion poles and pegs, but no instructions.  By the time we drove five hours to a state park and selected a site that looked reasonable, dusk was turning to dark.  Things got tense while we struggled with canvas and rope.  So tense that our neighbors—the ones with the mammoth, air conditioned Winnebago—brought us a cake and offered to help out.

“Dinner first,” I protested.  Lighting charcoal in the campsite grill, I plopped hamburger patties on the grate.  Do you know what happens when ground beef heats up on a grill if the slats are too far apart?  Just about the time the meat sizzles and a wonderful smell fills the air, just about the time your mouth waters, the patties collapse through the grate and into the fire.  Out of two pounds of ground beef, we wound up with one lousy hamburger to share between four people.  Good thing we had that cake!

That night, we learned why erecting a tent on a hill over an ant bed is a bad idea.  At two AM we woke to find all four sleeping bags in an ant-infested pile at the bottom of the tent.  We spent the rest of the night in the car.

Undaunted, hubby and I took our brood fishing the next morning.  Which would have gone so much better if someone hadn’t slammed the car door, breaking the rod tips off all fishing poles.  If the power boats that sped past our rented canoe hadn’t created so many waves that we all got sea sick.  If there’d actually been fish to catch.  And if I hadn’t been holding the heavy ice chest with one foot planted on the dock and one foot still in the boat when the canoe drifted away.

My glasses went overboard, making it impossible for me to help with the long drive home.  On the plus side, I could no longer see the spiders in the public bathroom.  Or maybe that was a minus, ‘cause one bit me.

Exploding bottles of fermented orange juice and an ice chest that leaked all over the car added to the general mayhem.  This was capped off when our two kids refused to dip their toes, much less anything else, in the water at the swimming hole.  They took one look at the roped off section of the lake and scampered back to the car, screaming that they wouldn’t swim in the same water where fish pooped.  Even though we hadn’t seen a single fish all weekend.

We limped back home (literally, since a huge splinter led to an infected toe), vowing never to camp again.  And since he had to buy all new fishing poles anyway, hubby replaced them with fly fishing gear.  Done well, fly fishing looks like effortless poetry.  All that grace doesn’t happen overnight, though.  Before he learned to place the fly in the water and not—Whap!—up against my back, I considered buying one of those padded outfits fencers wear.

Now that he’s gotten really good at it, I appreciate this new sport of my husband’s.  I even wrote about it.  In The Daddy Catch, mysecond book for Harlequin American Romance, more than hooks and lines are in the lesson plans when an upcoming fishing trip with his new business partners forces thoracic surgeon Dan Hamilton to hire a feisty fly fishing guide.  Their temperatures rise faster than mercury on a summer day…until Jess Cofer learns the handsome doctor has his eye on more than her curves—he plans to steal the land from under her feet.

Fortunately for Dan and Jess, their fly fishing trips generate a whole different kind of heat than my hot-under-the-collar camping experience.  How about you?  Have you tried camping?  Or fly fishing?  Do you have an interesting story about it you’d like to share?

This is Cyndi again…I read THE DADDY CATCH from it’s first incarnation to final draft. It is a wonderful, heart-warming read

To buy THE DADDY CATCH, link on one of the following links:

B & N | Borders | Indiebound | Amazon | Powell’s | Harlequin

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49 Responses

  1. That was sooo funny. I’m sorry for your pain, but that was hysterical. Thanks for the much-needed laugh.

  2. Hi Leigh,
    I grew up in Las Vegas so we didn’t do much camping mostly because during the summer it was just too darn hot! Now I’m married to an army man who really prefers we not go camping on vacations since he gets to do plenty of that in the military! So…that being said, I’m really looking forward to reading The Daddy Catch so I can live vicariously through your characters! Congrats on the great reviews too!

    • Carlene, no camping in your future, lucky you! Give that army guy of yours a great big hug and tell him how much we appreciate all he does for our country!

  3. Congrats on your new book! I’ve always preferred roughing it at a Holiday Inn, and it’s stories like your first camping trip with your kids that reinforces that preference!

  4. Leigh,
    I too grew up camping (family, Girl Scouts, etc.) and always had a blast. I want to camp again sooo bad but my hubby only had rain storms camping when he was growing up. His experience with camping as an adult was when he did Team Spirit in Korea while he was stationed there for two years with Army. (This was during the winter time.) His idea of camping is an RV (most expenisve with TV, A/C, electricity for cooking, computer and all of his tech gadgets . . .)

    I want to camp to get away from all of that!!

    • Synthia, Maybe you could convince him that a cabin in the woods would make a good compromise. Not roughing it exactly, but away from all the techno stuff that intrudes on our lives. I know Cyndi, our hostess this morning, and her hubby travel about the country in a beautiful motorhome, but I’ve never seen the advantage to driving all day and still having to cook at night. 🙂

  5. Wow. We’ve got some early birds this morning! Welcome, Leigh.

    Camping…We did some camping when I was growing up, but it was never one of my favorite things. I did the “girl scout” camping in cabins with bonfires and dug latrines. Most of my memories are of sitting in a tent with the rain pouring down and a bunch of girls trying to stay dry. The only “fond” memories was of the mice in the cabins…so tame that they’d sit up and beg for food!

    Today “Camping” for me involves a 40ft motorhome with flat screen tv, DirecTv, king-sized bed, and a real toilet. “Roughing it” means I can’t pick-up the satellite signal for DirecTv!

  6. Cyndi, camping in Florida this time of year involves bathing in insect repellant and sun screen. Which is a little hard on the nose, if not the skin. Can’t wait till you drive that big ol’ motorhome of yours down this way again. I’m hungry for ice cream from our fav place.

  7. Take all of that and throw in horses, and the realization AFTER you reach about 7500 altitude in the Oregon wilderness that just because there’s a trail on the map, doesn’t mean you should ride there. I believe it was at the moment when Julie panicked and almost slid over a cliff on the way down, or maybe when we thought Vegas was colicking from the heat and thin air, that we decided to stick with excursions that did not require a pack saddle.

    • Kidell, skittish horses and a baby who can’t breathe?? No wonder you’ve sworn of taking a pack saddle. That’s not camping. That’s a nightmare!

  8. First…If I drive the motorhome all day, there is no way in the world I’m going to cook that night!

    Second…Ice Cream YUM<<<MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

  9. The Daddy Catch cover is adorable! I can’t wait to read it.
    I also grew up camping. We usually took the boat along and my dad hit all the Florida springs and keys. Dad was a scuba diver (he even did volunteer work for the Sheriff Dept. seach and rescue). I have fond memories of those days. My husband also loves to camp and when our kids were young we went often. The Smoky Mountains were a favorite spot and we used to meet up with friends. Our worst trip ever involved my god-daughter when she was four. We camped near a lake…and couldn’t find her. Frantic, we searched for what seemed like forever. After about an hour, her hysterical mom found her asleep BENEATH a cot. A sleeping bag was draped over the edges so we couldn’t see her when we had looked earlier.

    Now, I have to say I’ve out-grown camping, unless it’s in an RV. Or unless there’s a real reason to rough it, like a river rafting trip “with a guide.” I think I’d enjoy that. I LOVE the feeling of being in untouched wilderness, witnessing God’s beauty.
    I think fly fishing would offer that, too. My hubby wants to try it in Alaska.

  10. This is why I always tell folks I’m not a nature girl. 🙂 What a trip, glad you survived and found a way to share the laugh with us. 🙂

  11. Laurie, a missing child is always scary. I just finished reading A Father’s Quest, a Harlequin Superromance by Debra Salonen and I have to tell you, the scenes where the little girl in the story was lost in the woods were s-c-a-r-y.

    My hubby’s ideal retirement trip is a fly fishing excursion in Alaska. Maybe one of those plane trips where they drop you off in a remote location and come back later to pick you up. I told him I’d see him at the hotel when he was finished, but maybe your hubby and mine could go together. (But not for a few years yet. He’s not quite ready to retire. And I’m certainly not ready for that!)

  12. Avery, So good to see you hear this morning! Sometimes, when things go horribly, terribly wrong (and no one gets hurt), all you can do is laugh about it.

  13. Loved your story. I think everyone can relate. The first time I went camping was with my coworkers to NC. We were setting up a plan to take 60 juniors camping the next year. I stupidly (or rather naively) wore cotton. When I slipped and went down on my butt on wet rocks, I stayed wet for the next four days. It rained, out tent leaked and my backpack was my husband’s and didn’t fit. On the way back to Florida, I said NEVER again. After getting good equipment, I went back and for the next fourteen years led the trip. I found I love the woods so much, I bought 10 acres in NC. Moral? If the first time is terrible, learn from your mistakes and try again.
    Jean Mason

    • Good for you, Jean. Sounds as if you learned a lot from the mistakes of your first trip! I’m afraid, though, that our kids were so traumatized by our trip that pulling the chairs together in the dining room and spreading a blanket over them was the closest they ever got to camping again.

      Hubby and I, though, love, love, love NC. He heads up there for a week of fly fishing every year.

  14. I’ve experienced the tent on a slope effect before (minus the ants.) Although our “tent” was a tarp strung over a line between two trees. That was my dad’s idea of camping. Any wonder I now believe it’s akin to torture?

    • Kristen, the way we camped, it was torture. Was that tarp close enough to the house that you could sneak inside and climb into your comfy bed? Hope so!

  15. Great family story!! I can only relate to family camping from one mis-adventure we had when I was growing up. My dad, ever the planner–but never the implementer–bought up a bunch of Coleman supplies: tent, sleeping bags, stove, lantern, cooler. He practiced setting up the tent in the backyard. Yada yada. My mom bought camping food (whatever that was back in the day). We loaded the old truck and headed from my house in LA to start the journey to my Aunt’s home in Arizona. The plan was to camp out a couple nights along the way. For whatever reason, Dad drove straight through, non-stop except for potty breaks, to my Aunt’s, then after a few days there, straight home. He sold all the equipment and that was the end of that. So I guess every family has a camping trip saga!!

    • Karen, Ah “practice”, such a magical word. Maybe we should have practiced setting up the tent in the back yard, too. Then, like your dad, we might have opted to skip the whole camping experience.

  16. My idea of camping is a hotel without room service. You crack me up, Leigh. Great post! xo

    • Roxanne, I hear ya! What I really, really love is when the bellman knocks on my door at 0-dark-thirty carrying a tray of freshly brewed coffee and real cream. Ah, heaven.

  17. Hi Leigh, I’ve had my own fun camping, most memorably a trip to Assateague Island in Maryland with the wild ponies, and swarming mosquitoes. To escape the mosquitoes we went to the beach where we were promptly dinner for monster sand flies! Topped off by Hurricane Barry arriving and closing down the park, we drove all night, wet, sandy and scratching like crazy. The inside of our tent looked like it had been the scene of mass murder – which I guess it had! ;-). I think i donated more blood that weekend then I had my entire life up until that point! Still it doesn’t come close to your experience which had me giggling.

    I have read The Daddy Catch and I loved it. It wonderfully heart warming, the characters were so real I felt like I knew them, but most of all I loved the story and all the imagery. I was with Jess and Dan every minute, almost felt like I was standing in the water with them. Thank you for a marvelous story, one I couldn’t put down until I had read the last word. Brava!

    • Oh, Lynda, you’ve gotten me all teary-eyed this morning. That’s exactly how I wanted you to feel as you read The Daddy Catch. Thanks for the kind, kind words.

      And for sharing your camping experience. Sand fleas and mosquitoes! Ugh! Why do we torture ourselves?

  18. No camping history in my family – my Mom’s idea of camping was a hotel without room service. After reading Leigh’s post, maybe she had the right idea -lol. However, although I’m not a fisherman I’d be glad to go camping if I had one of Leigh’s books long to read. I loved The Officer’s Girl and The Daddy Catch is proving to be a great read as well. Thanks for starting off my summer reading season with a charmer, Leigh!

    • You’re so welcome, Pat. But excuse me a minute while I blot my eyes ’cause that was such a sweet thing to say. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed The Daddy Catch. That book went through multiple re-writes, and it was hard, sometimes brutal work, getting the story on paper. Through it all, though, I kept telling myself that If I could just let everyone see Jess and Dan the way I did, it’d be okay. ‘Cause theirs was a story that deserved to be told.

  19. Hi, Leigh,
    My family and I love the outdoors and usually camp several times a year. Most of our trips have been fun, but one trip, we lovingly call “The Trip to Hell”, was culminated by my daughter running through a large spider web, and subsequently being covered in hundreds of tiny red spiders – HUNDREDS! I still get the heebies thinking about it.

    Fly fishing always reminds me of my dad. He loved to fly fish, but didn’t get the chance to do it as often as he’d like. When he got sick with Alzheimer’s, I used to take him to a local fly fishing shop. It was like a field trip to an amusement park for him and is now a cherished memory for me.

    I too am a huge fan of your books and love The Daddy Catch. It’s a feel-good book for me in so many ways. Congrats on the “Book of the Week” from the Long and Short Reviews and the “Recommended Read” from DearAuthor.com. Much deserved!

    • Spiders! Even thinking of being covered in spiders is too much. I have to leave you now and go to my happy place. Da de da dum, da de dum. Da de da de dum de dum de dum.

      Okay, I’m back and that image-that-will-never-be-mentioned-again is banished from my head.

      Ahhhh, your dad loved to fly fish? And he thought fly fishing shops were like an amusement park? That’s so sweet, Carrie. I’ll actually be at The Fly Fisherman in Titusville tomorrow. If anyone’s going to be in the vicinity between 1 and 3, there’ll be an Open House with fly tying demonstrations and lots of fun. And, of course, me, signing copies of The Daddy Catch.

      • I’m planning on it and I’m bringing my son. The last time I took him to a Fly Fishing shop, he was too young to really appreciate it. Now, I think he’ll love it, especially since he’ll be heading to camp in NC in a couple of weeks.

  20. LOL!
    Awesome, funny story, Leigh. I loved it.
    I’ve also read The Daddy Catch and I love that too.
    Hugs,
    Lara

    • Lara, my friend, greetings! And congratulations on your latest release. His Warrior Bride is out today from Siren/BookStrand. In the mood for hot and steamy? This is one book you won’t want to miss!

  21. Welcome Leigh to the blog. I loved the story you shared.

    I am not a camper. I will stay in a RV or a cabin but I have to have a real potty and not sleep on the ground (tent or no tent). I also have to have a radio because i can’t stand the silence or crickets.

    The funniest time we went camping as a family was when they bought this small trailer that literally had a bed, a bed above it and the table that made another bed. that was it. As I said very small. My family decided we were going to New Orleans and we were going to camp. It was my mom, dad, myself, my best friend and 2 younger brothers all cramped in this trailer.

    My friend and I got to sleep in the station wagon rather than the trailer and got in trouble because we were hanging out at the bathrooms with some guys (we were probably 14-16). My mom was livid and we didn’t get to sleep in the station wagon again after that night.

    After that, my grandparents bought us a big RV for future trips.

  22. Wow, if you put all that in a book or movie, people would say it’s too much! No wonder you don’t camp. I’m pretty averse to it myself. Growing up, my parents funded our far-flung travel by camping on all of our summer trips.

    What do I remember about Italy? Cold campground showers. Mexico? The rocky beach that campers got instead of the soft, sandy one by the hotels.

    It was fun as a kid, but by my teens I was over it. My husband and I have still never taken the kids camping. I kind of feel bad about that, but not bad enough to remedy it… 😉

    • I barely scratched the surface of all that really went wrong on that camping trip, Gwen. When the agony of that week finally ended, my daughter wrote her grandparents a letter titled “20 things that went wrong on our camping trip.” We’ve laughed over that letter for years.

  23. So sorry about your camping experience. Ouch! We really enjoy camping. Not the tent camping so much, but we had an awesome trip to Yellowstone in our pop-up when the kids were younger. Even though we went in June, it snowed on us and a herd of buffalo walked right through our campsite. Talk about scary experience. We’ve moved up to a travel trailor with all the comforts of home now. I think it’s kind of cheating, but it’s so much nicer and cheaper than staying in a hotel.

    Thanks for joining us today! I look forward to reading your book! 🙂

  24. Melissa, snow in June? And buffalo? Really? I think you’re experience takes the prize. I’d stick to travel trailers, too, if I were you. Well, except if I were you, I wouldn’t go camping at all.

    Hubby said something to me the other day about hiking part of the Appalachian Trail. And maybe stopping to fly fish along the way.
    My glasses slid down my nose and I stared over them until he said, “What?”
    “Only if there are 5* hotels every few miles,” I answered. “‘Cause me and a tent? It’s just not going to happen.”

  25. Hi Leigh! Congrats on the release of book two. I think my worst camping trip was in England, on the side of a hill, in the rain. I thought the rain would never stop and feared the tent would be washed away. The tent stayed put, but the run off pouring down the hill made me wish we had slipped on down the valley. Just above the campsite…a field full of cows and cow manuere. Just remembering makes me want to hold my nose. 😉

  26. That was hilarious! Sorry you guys had such a bad time, but it’s an awesome story.

  27. What a great day on the blog today! We had 207 unique hits…Congrats Leigh. You are one popular author…well deserved. 🙂

  28. So many memories 🙂 I had forgotten about the fermented orange juice. My husband keeps telling me we should take the kids camping, but the farthest we have gotten is the kids and my husband camping in the back yard and me sleeping inside the house 🙂 Great blog Mom!

  29. Thanks so much for inviting me to guest on Everybody Needs A Little Romance, Cyndi. It’s been a sheer pleasure to visit with everyone. Thanks for the laughs and all the fun! Till the next time! Leigh

  30. Hey, Leigh. Sorry i’m chiming in so late on this. Congrats on your new release! 🙂

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