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It never fails.  Come January and February, I am so ready for summer.  While I can spend my time lamenting the weather, I prefer to use it to plan.  I’m excited and I have time.

I’ve talked about our bucket list for the year.  Most of it is filled with summer activities.  From festivals to places we want to visit, we have a growing list of plans.  The best part about starting now is I can discover little nuggets I might have missed if I planned at the last minute.

Let’s start with something I discovered just today.  We wanted to go to the Highland Games last year in Spokane.  We had known about them for about a month.  The date came at the worst time.  We forgot.  I wasn’t excited about driving up to Spokane super early in the morning.  So we missed it.

I didn’t want to miss it this year but how do I plan around the issues we had last year (and the same issues that prevent us from attending activities).  Well, one thing I decided for this coming year is to start camping.  We want to go blackberry picking – there’s a campground nearby.  We camp the night before and are there at the bushes early in the morning to pick before the heat becomes too much.

Could I do something like that for the Highland Games?  So I did a search – is there camping nearby?  Then I realized that the event is held at the fairgrounds.  I know there is great camping there because we camped there for a scouting event.  I contacted the fairgrounds.  For $8, we can camp there Friday night, be there early for the start of the games and go home when it’s all over.  We start the day fresh instead of after a two hour drive.  We don’t have to worry about finding parking because we are already there.  We just get up in the morning, pack up the tent and head over to the fun.  While packing up the tent doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, if we plan it just right the work will be minimal.

The best part is that it only adds $8 to the total cost of that event.

The same goes for any other camping events.  We want to attend the Walla Walla Onion Festival.  Guess what – there’s free camping near Walla Walla and it’s even in a park we love.  We can camp the entire weekend for no additional cost.  It might not be perfect but it will be fun.  If I start now, I might even find a place where we can shower or have other amenities that we might desperately want before we drive home.

All of this information goes into the planner.  I have a list of fishing holes, the start of fishing season, the prices and my goals.  I, even, took the time to list what fish are available in the various watering holes in our area.

I’ve got budgets and driving instructions.  All this might be something I overlook if I planned at the last minute.  More importantly, I can take a lot of the stress out of the summer activities.

I, even, made notes of when various fruits and vegetables are available so I don’t miss them.  I know that harvests all depend on the weather but a ballpark is always good.

Now that we have an idea of what we want to do, we’ll start pulling out equipment to see if anything needs repairing or replacing.  Right now I have time and desperate need to do something that feels productive.

The best part – we found a lot of camping supplies on clearance since the stores are starting to clean out the old in preparation for the new.

Winter is a great time to take a breath and make plans.  While it might not be perfect (since some websites haven’t been updated for the 2016 season), I can still figure out what I need to have a successful summer.  I can read the regulations for the parks (who knew that some had very specific regulations for camping equipment).  I can even make reservations to stay at a yurt or teepee some time this summer.

It’s the perfect time to find those little gems and make plans to visit them.  Hope you take my advice and start your planning now.  It doesn’t have to be a summer of big plans.  Take time to visit your local parks and rec’s website and discover what is in your area.  Plan to attend a local festival.  Discover festivals you didn’t even know existed.

It’s like pulling thread – once you grab hold, a whole bunch come out.

I find dreaming about summer and making plans makes winter less miserable.