Susan Mistrey Wells, NY

Senior Writer

The best Christmas gift Susan recieved was a printing press when she was ten years old. She began writing “professionally” when she edited her 5th-grade newsletter. After a stint as a newspaper reporter and public relations executive for private schools and colleges, Susan wrote about health, mental health, and homelessness for the federal government for nearly 30 years. She’s happy to say that did not stifle her creativity one bit! Her goal, going forward, is to help people tell their stories. She writes blog posts and speeches and edits books.

As a Story Terrace writer, Susan interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

The Zen of Camping

How does a person who prefers 5-star hotels learn to love camping? Now there’s a story!

Here’s how it happened. A dear friend bought a camper on a beautiful lake in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains. When my husband and I visited, he had to duck his 6-foot, 3-inch frame to keep from hitting his head on doors and cabinets. “This is not for me,” I could see him thinking.

But, as fate would have it, a camper near our friends’ place was for sale, so we stopped to look. It was 40-feet long and 8-feet wide, before you pull out the three sides. It had 8-foot ceilings. It had two bedrooms, a full bathroom, an inside electric fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, and a nine by 30-foot covered deck. “Now this is camping,” my husband could see me thinking.

We are not impulsive people. We don’t spend money easily. We made an offer on the camper the next day.

Neither of us knew the first thing about owning an RV.

We ran out of propane, and it’s cold in the Adirondacks at night. We had to learn the care and feeding of our black-water tank. We left our garbage out overnight, which provided a feast for the park’s feral cats.

But, lo and behold, we have become campers. We’ve learned how to build an awesome campfire. We’ve decorated inside and out with my trademark pink flamingos. We’ve taken long walks and read books on the beach.

Along the way, I’ve learned some valuable lessons, not just about camping, but about life.

First, you are never too old to try something new. When I bid on a cord of wood at a charity auction, I knew I’d added a whole new dimension to my life!

Second, you are doing what you are meant to be doing. When I sit on my deck in the morning sipping my tea, I am where I need to be.

Third, things will work out. The local gas station sells propane. We put in a flush toilet. We listen for the truck that picks up our garbage twice a day. For all other problems, the park handyman is only a text away.

“Not to worry,” I can hear my late father saying. I wonder what he would think about my pink flamingo lights!


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