The morning broke early (thank you daylight savings time) and brisk. The sun was just cresting the Millwood Dam and the dark blues of the sky streaked with violet and amber as I emerged from our tent at our lakeshore campsite. Baron, our dog, watched me expectantly as I put my shoes on, knowing that a walk was forthcoming (he lives for his walkie-walks—which differ from a walk just to do his business) but first I had to do my business. As I headed for the facilities, I saw the sky over the lake and couldn’t help stopping to take a picture. This was beautiful. This is why people go camping.
Yesterday, we had a very nice day. The weather was nice, the sky clear and the temperature only a little too cold for my taste. It did warm up as the day progressed and when we went to bed, it was a very comfortable 60-odd degrees. We spent the better part of the day with my wife’s parents. They brought KFC for lunch and we visited with them and a good time was had by all. Michelle and I were both tired from the very cold night’s sleep we endured the night before, so we didn’t have the energy for too much more than that. But this is a vacation, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a day and doing nothing but visiting with loved ones.
Today, however, was another matter. I awoke ready to do something. After taking the dog on his walkie-walk, I showered, enjoyed some hot cocoa and sat watching the waterfowl play on the lake until my wife arose from her slumber. With the new sleeping bag we bought for her coupled with the warmer weather, last night was very comfortable for both of us. We fixed pancakes and bacon for breakfast and after enjoying it and cleaning up, we went on a short mile and a half nature hike around our peninsula of the lake. Baron had a ball looking for all the new smells that hit him apparently from all directions at once.
We saw turtles sunning themselves on the logs of the coast briefly before they darted under water again. We watched the geese frolic on the water. Very frolicky those geese. They honk and squawk and run back and forth on the water, then leap into the air to circle around and do it again. The path was well marked, if unadorned. There were benches and marker plaques, but the flora has yet to bloom, so most of what could be seen were dead or dormant trees and shrubs.
After we got back to camp, we made a big lunch—probably too big, but you can’t save leftovers while camping—before heading to the marina to rent a canoe. Now, I am no boatsman, but I can usually hold my own. I have rowed a canoe before—not often—but occasionally. Ok…maybe once or twice. Anyway, we got the canoe. We got in the canoe. We did not tip over. Oh, sure we rocked a few times—just until we got our balance figured out. But in the end, we spent two very enjoyable hours paddling around the shallows of Lake Millwood. We saw more turtles sunning themselves and diving as we neared. We saw the occasional fish jump. There were more water-strider bugs than I care to think about. There was even a spider’s web spanning the inlet of the lake. Now, that has to be an industrious spider.
I took a fishing rod and some night crawlers to try my hand at fishing. I am not too bad at casting, if I do say so myself. I am not bad at reeling in. I can bait a hook. I just can’t catch a fish. Oh, I can catch a tree with the best of them. Caught a doosey of a tree today. Big sucker. Oak I think. I threw it back. It was over the size limit and I didn’t want any trouble with the rangers.
Once we were paddled out, we headed back to turn the canoe in and retire to the campsite to relax. Baron took my wife for another walkie-walk (he doesn’t usually get so many, but, hey—it’s his vacation too) while I caught a few winks of a nap. The shadows are getting long and it is getting close to dinner time, so I will leave you with this thought. Why do people go camping? Is it to commune with nature? Is it to get away from the hectic, everyday drumbeat of normal life? Is it to do things that one normally doesn’t do?
There are things that we love to do, things that we wish we could do and things that we would spend every moment of our lives doing if we could. Camping gives us a small glimpse of all those things.