In normal times, walking into a bathroom, looking down at an odd dark spot on the tile floor and realizing that “spot” was a tiny green frog would have caused an epic meltdown. But these are not normal times. When I encountered said frog last week, I simply paused, calculated whether I was going to live-and-let-live with the slimy green creature and decided that answering nature’s call was more urgent than freaking out about, well, nature.

The same could be said the following morning, when I turned on the shower in the same bathroom and had a panicked moth fly right into my face. I barely cringed.

My. How times have changed.

In this “Year of Thinking Outside the Box,” my normal family vacation of staying in a comfortable hotel with a free breakfast buffet in a historic city has morphed into … nice, socially distanced camping.

When my husband and I first started talking about camping, it seemed like a wonderful idea, filled with the quiet calm of state parks, soul-renewing peaceful walks in the woods and family time. We bumbled around the world of camping equipment with no idea of what we wanted, or what was practical. Honestly, Yogi Bear had more smarts than us.

First, we bought an eight-person tent with lots of flaps, mesh and ropes. When we finally assembled the monstrosity, it gobbled up our small back yard. It was bigger than our first newlywed apartment.

Nope.

We gave it to our daughter, a dedicated camper. She said it was too big for her, too, but she’d still probably get some use out of it.

We bought a second one (don’t judge). It was smaller and billed as an “instant setup” tent, which turned out to be truthful advertising. We bought a queen-size air mattress and an indoor-outdoor rug and started researching tent air conditioners. Yes, there is such a thing. You have to make sure you rent a tent space with electricity, instead of the so-called primitive campsites.

Plans stalled. The new tent was gathering dust in the garage. And one day, talking to my colleague Maureen, I learned about small cabins that can be rented for as little as $55 a night at Kampgrounds of America. KOAs usually have pools and recreational activities. I researched and the parks looked really cute. The one-room wooden cabins, with knotty-pine interiors, looked cozy. They didn’t have kitchens or bathrooms, but pictures of shared restrooms looked clean and spacious. We rented a one-room cabin for two nights at Buckeye Lake and three nights at the Butler-Mohican KOA.

We left after one night at Buckeye Lake. The pool was gross (murky) and we just couldn’t find any nearby activities that interested us. The cabin was comfy, though. I didn’t have high hopes for Mohican, but we ended up having a blast. It is in the heart of Amish country. We rented a two-room cabin this time ($60 a night). The pool was open with crystal blue water. We rented a raft from a company called Mohican Adventures and spent a great four hours paddling 7 miles down the Mohican River. I probably hit about 10 antique malls and took dozens of pictures of Amish buggies clip-clopping past our cabin.

It was relaxing. It was … dare I say it? .. fun. Even with frogs and moths as bathroom companions.

Anyone care to buy a nice, unused tent?

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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