Though the Gregorian calendar tells us that the new year begins on the first day of January and ends on December 31st, I have always marked the passage of time a little differently. In my world, the new year begins in August, when students and teachers return to school, and ends on the final day of classes. Here in Southern Boone County, tomorrow is that day.

Travis Naughton

Yes, I realize that by equating a school year with an actual year I fail to account for the three months commonly referred to as Summer Break, but it is my opinion that because those thirteen or so weeks do not obey the regular laws of space and time, (at least not for me), then they must fall into their own separate classification.

With the close of another school year, the Naughton family once again finds itself staring into the mysterious, terrifying, and eerily familiar void known as Camping Season.

If you are a long-time subscriber to the Journal, you have likely read an account or two of our family’s camping misadventures over the years. Hail-ravaged recreational vehicles, broken toilets, burst pipes, malfunctioning generators, dead batteries, burnt electrical cords, mouse infestations, burst radiators, second-degree burns, wrong turns, torn awnings, non-functioning air conditioners/furnaces, and noxious sewer gases are the hallmarks of a typical Naughton family camping trip.

Readers have told me on numerous occasions that out of all the columns I’ve written over the years, their favorites are the harrowing and hilarious tales of our family’s RV exploits. When we sold our battered motor home and upgraded to a new pull-behind camping trailer last year, readers were concerned that our camping trips would no longer be a comedy/tragedy worth reading about. As a gift to you the reader, our overburdened Chevy Suburban, pressed into towing service, gave me plenty of interesting things to write about—including an angry burn on my left hand and wrist.

This year, I decided to take pity on the poor Suburban. After replacing the worn-out radiator, water pump, alternator, spark plugs, plug wires, rear brakes, and tires, I decided to find the 19-year-old SUV a new family to give it the love it deserves.

Having searched car lots and the interwebs for a full-year—a remarkable demonstration of patience, if I do say so myself—I finally tracked down the next Naughton family truckster; a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 pickup equipped with the legendary Duramax diesel engine. Capable of towing a small planet, the new truck will be able to pull our 7,000-pound camper from Ashland to any future camping destination with ease.

My lowered, two-wheel-drive, regular cab, half-ton, 1971 Chevy pickup looks like a wind-up toy parked beside its four-wheel-drive, crew cab, three-quarter-ton, 2015 Chevy cousin. Because the words “Hammer’s Standard Service” are painted on the doors of the ’71, I gave it the nickname “Hammer,” and because it is big and powerful, I dubbed the new truck “Thor, the god of hammers.”

Because of course I did.

You might be wondering how a substitute teacher could afford a truck like Thor. Well, you might recall that until last week, I owned a 1957 Chevy Bel Air that I purchased with the help of my beloved grandmother who gave each of her grandchildren a share of the proceeds from the sale of her farm a few years ago. Grandma specifically instructed us to spend the money on something fun—not on bills. Naturally, I did exactly as she ordered.

Throughout her life, Grandma Sweetie Pie bought new cars as often as most people buy lunch, and she wholeheartedly approved of my hot rod purchase. As a woman who drove an RV well into her ninth decade of life, she also approved of my decision to sell the Bel Air in order to buy a truck that would pull our camper.

If my 95-year-old grandma says it’s a good deal, then it’s a good deal. Period.

I have already heard from concerned subscribers that a new camper and a new truck will result in a lack of misadventures to write about. Fear not, dear reader. Lest you forget, my last name is still Naughton, (a blessing and a curse), and I guarantee that I will find countless ways to fail, break things, and injure myself on forthcoming camping trips. When excrement inevitably hits the fan—or seeps out of yet another broken RV toilet—I promise to write all about it.

Thor’s first test will take place this weekend as the Naughton family makes its way to a campout at Smithville Lake. In one regard, I’m sad to leave my recent high school graduate Alex behind—he has work commitments—but on the other hand, if the god of hammers decides to forsake me, at least one of my family members will be spared from my wrath.

From my family to yours, I hope your summer break is filled with fun and adventure. I know ours will be.