My 19-year-old son and I did a lengthy backpacking trip in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia that we completed just in time to set up camp before a hard rain settled in. I enjoy camping in the rain; I find the plunking on the tent over me restful. Maybe it's knowing I'm safe and dry, miles from any real shelter, while all heck is breaking loose just outside of my nylon cocoon.

But the rain kept my son awake. He's in a couple rock bands, though, and he found a pair of ear plugs in his pocket --luckily, he was wearing shorts he'd worn at a recent show he played. I was kind of surprised when I woke up and saw the orange ear plugs, but he was sleeping like a log.

I guess the lesson is to individualize your list of essentials for the outdoors. For me, I need a light read to relax before I turn out the light. For my son, it's ear plugs.

I never did ask him how he feels about crickets.

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