This post was written on Saturday, July 17th.
It has finally come. Our annual week-long camping trip. This year: Lake Bemidji State Park.
It was “dual driving” for this trip. Lake Bemidji is not entirely located on state park property so they do not have the “no wake” laws and we can go tubing and such so we definitely wanted to have the boat with for our week here. When we both drive, Allen takes the trailer with his truck and I take the boat with my Explorer. When we first started the dual-driving, I always led. I suppose it could have been a “ladies first” thing, but I think Allen was mostly concerned that if I had a problem he wanted to make sure he didn’t keep going if I stopped. Since then, we now have a pair of good walkie-talkies to communicate with each other (and now all three of us have cell phones too) but I still lead. As I drive, I spend my time singing to whatever CD is blaring, talking to Willy, looking ahead to where I’m going and in the rear view mirror to make sure Allen’s still behind me. Sometimes I get a little heavy-footed for him, so I have to slow it down. He is pulling over three tons, after all.
Saturday I was having trouble getting situated though. My back was bothering me and my little pillow just wasn’t sitting right (my automatic lumbar support doesn’t work anymore). We weren’t even into our drive 30 minutes, and I had to pull over in Lake Park to get myself “re-situated.” I called Allen on the walkie-talkie and told him what I was going to do and asked him if he wanted to pull over with me or just keep going and I’ll catch up. He opted to keep going. So I pulled over into a liquor store parking lot (what else is there in Lake Park to pull into?) and adjust my pillow and whatnot. A few minutes later I was on my way again.
It’s kind of funny. I figure when people see me, a woman, pulling this boat around, then they see a man pulling a trailer behind me, I think they automatically assume we’re together. But at this point, I was on my own. Just a woman and her dog driving down Highways 10 and 34. I always think they must be wondering what in the world a woman is doing with her own boat. As if we can’t own and operate such things ourselves.
Anyway, I got through Detroit Lakes and onto Highway 34 to Park Rapids but I still hadn’t caught up to them. I tried the walkie-talkie, but with the hills and trees, I didn’t get a response. Finally my phone rang and it was Craig. Just then, on a long open stretch, I spotted them about a mile ahead of me. We’d meet at the Casey’s store just as you enter Park Rapids. That’s kind of our usual stopping place.
Usually when I drive, I see a picture somewhat like this in my rear view mirror:
Now, of course it doesn’t look like this, but I didn’t think to actually take a picture of my rear view mirror for you. That’s probably a good thing because I really should concentrate on my driving a little more the way it is.
I kept driving and pretty soon I caught up to them and this was my view.
I was struck by the difference. As we (meaning Willy and I) kept getting closer, there was this feeling of anticipation…we were getting closer to our family. When we were close enough, I excitedly told Willy, “There they are…there’s Papa and Craig!” He instantly woke up and put his front feet on the console between the seats, looking expectantly out the front window. I kept wondering if he actually recognized the trailer. The rest of the way to Park Rapids I just kept thinking how different it felt to be the follower instead of the followed. Driving alone, I felt a bit out of place. Like I was missing something. But when I caught up to Allen and could make out the “Wildwood” on the back of the trailer, I thought, “That’s mine…that’s ours. That is where I belong.” I felt part of a matched set again.
After our stop at Casey’s, Allen offered me the lead again and we were off…about 50 miles left. I took our usual route through Park Rapids and I started the familiar pattern of driving, singing, talking to Willy and checking my rear view mirror.