Monday, September 6, 2010

C is for Camping

We just returned from our annual Labor Day Weekend outing; Camping with The Village. We are blessed with an extended family of friends who have for years ventured into the wilds of various Minnesota State Parks with us for Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. (We did cross the river to a Wisconsin State Park last Memorial Day to accommodate some Illinois family members joining us with wee ones.)

Last Thursday afternoon several of us pulled into the primitive group site in Sakatah State Park, west of Faribault and not quite to Waterville. This particular site is situated near the boat ramp but far from the noise and light of the regular camping loops, as most group sites are. We have a beautiful lake view, a convenient place for putting canoes in and out, and easy access to the bicycle trail.

This weekend actually called for a smaller crowd than usual since we were missing the back-to-school collegiate crowd. My goddaughter Maria is the latest to abandon us for adventures in higher education. Dale and I also realized that this was the first time camping on Labor Day Weekend without either of our sons present in 18 years. Wow. They really do grow up!

It was a fantastic weekend with all of the predictable predicaments; cold weather, rain, hail, high winds, major mosquitoes, camp fire smoke in your face, stinky pit toilets, and a discourteous boater with a loud motor heading out for the Goose Hunting Early Opener at 4 am!

But we endure all of these challenges together in order to spend time cooking and eating and hiking and canoeing and biking and story-telling and laughing together. We play cards and ladder ball, dominoes and dice. We engage in coloring projects with the youngest and engage in shopping expeditions with the oldest, always in search of the latest camping gadget that we can't live without.

This time that we set aside twice each year is part of what anchors our friendships and sustains us through the busier times. Our pace of camping is cooperative and far slower than the pace of lives we live at home. We are all growing older, and we even have a regular granddaughter camping with us now. Our tents have increased in size to accommodate cots rather than sleeping pads or leaky air mattresses. Our kitchens and chuck boxes continue to undergo repairs, improvements and upgrades. We are learning more and more about the art of cast iron cooking with multiple dutch ovens.

I come home from these weekend retreats deeply thankful for my treasured friends. I may be a little bitten up from the winged critters sometimes characterized as the blood-sucking state bird, but I return rested, relaxed, and refreshed. My soul is at peace.

Thanks be to God.

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