"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but the opposition you have encountered and the courage
with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."

Orison Swett Marden

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vacation 2011

Because of the “idiocity” of the Minnesota state legislators, the state shut down for nearly three weeks: they couldn’t all agree on a budget. Among other things, what that meant is that state parks closed. And if you know me and my family, you know that is our life-blood in the summer. We had planned to mark the tenth year of week-long annual camping trips by returning to where it all started: Itasca State Park (that’s where the Mississippi River starts, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it). Instead, we paid five times as much and went to a private campground. We got some extras but it was still a painful bite to the pocketbook.

We ended up spending seven days just north of Bemidji, MN, at Summer Haven RV Resort. The swimming wasn’t the greatest but we got our own slip for the boat for the week and we had full hook ups. What does full hook ups mean? Water and holding tank space was not an issue. A bit akin to RV heaven, for me at least.

We arrived on Sunday, July 10th. Our son Craig brought his friend Tyler with us. He’d come along with us or a weekend before but never a week. Allen and I decided we were glad we stopped with our first one. Monday, our first full day, we took the boat out for a spin. I am trying to learn everything I can about the boat so I got it ready to launch while Allen was napping. Save for one thing he never mentioned and I never noticed, I got her ready to go just fine. Oh, and with no emergency room visit for me after getting in and out of the boat while still on the trailer. That’s always good. After our boat ride, we decided to check out the lake for swimming and headed to the beach. Unfortunately, while the beach was level and sandy as promised, it wasn’t the most beautiful. First there was the constant odor of dead fish because when there wasn’t one just laying on the beach like our first trip there, the fish cleaning house was right nearby. Can you say, ewww? Upon taking a couple of steps on the beach I was mesmerized, and not in a good way, by the number of snails lining this sandy beach and huddled in bunches at the bottom of the lake. I do have to give them the fact that the water was clear enough so I could see all those snails. Except the time I didn’t wear my glasses…it felt like shards of glass on my feet even when I was trying to avoid what little I could see of them. And then, when you finally thought you didn’t have to worry about the snails, there were weeds hiding the snails. Can you say, ouch? And Nancy doesn’t like weeds. Not in my garden, not in my lawn and especially not in my swimming area. Sure I grew up camping and I swam in lakes all the time, but I am also a city girl and I’m used to the concrete lake painted a wonderful shade of blue, perfectly clear water and nary a weed in sight. This not being the case at the time, how did I tolerate it? Floaties to the rescue! That’s me below with my famous noodle chair.

Craig got his inner tube, Allen took the air mattress and Tyler….well, Tyler was special. Tyler came on this trip with us with a broken wrist and a full arm cast that, of course, couldn’t get wet. We proceeded to put Tyler in the big tube we pull behind the boat and then tethered him to the dock with the tow rope so he wouldn’t float away. Pretty good idea I think. When at the lake, usually I get a burst of energy, albeit a small burst, to do some real swimming. We were out far enough in our floaties that I didn’t have to worry about weeds (as long as I didn’t let my legs go down straight) so I relinquished my noodle chair and glasses to Craig and set out in a crawl toward the middle of the lake. I did the breast stroke coming back to retrieve my noodle chair and glasses. I said it was a small burst.

I had a chance to do some writing on our last full day out. Here’s a sample…

“Last day at Summer Haven RV Resort. Heading home tomorrow. Today I determined I was going to do anything I wanted—despite kids and husband. Why didn’t I do this earlier in the week? The guys went to the Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji State Park. I’m done walking for a while. My foot doesn’t hurt a lot but it’s very tender because of my chronic pain problem (long name for it when “it hurts” will suffice).

“I started my most-grateful-to-receive alone time by doing some crocheting. I brought it outside to enjoy this lake front view we paid for. It’s humid but the temperature is tolerable as long as the sun stays under the clouds or I stay in the shade. I would never sit outside in weather like this at home but I’m willing to tolerate it—at least for a while. Especially since my kingdom will soon enough consist of a lot on the 1200 block back home and not lake front property. After crocheting a while, I decided it was time to write. I’m also going to enjoy corn chips and the cheese sauce I hid at the bottom of the cupboard. With two teenage boys around, I had to hide it if I wanted to enjoy any of it myself.

“Around me, over the hum of the neighbors A/C, I can hear some birds raising a ruckus in the woods on the other side of our trailer. Occasionally I hear a loon sing its beautiful song ( Loon song.  Here's a link to hear a sample of a loon song. Scroll down to Songs and Calls and Listen to Song to hear it). Willy, our dog, is in his usual spot—under the trailer. Just when I think he’s sleeping, I see those eyes moving, surveying his “property.” This has been a different trip for Willy too. Being at the end of the row of camper lots, he’s had little traffic of any kind to get excited about. Not sure if that’s good to give him a rest too or if that’s what he looks forward to. Here’s Willy taking a stretch break.

“I appreciate so much this kind of life and I have my parents to thank for it. Especially all the hard work it took my mother to get a family of five ready for camping—starting in a big canvas tent no less. When he was younger, my brother used to ask her, “Mom, why are you always so crabby when we go camping?” As youngsters, we had no idea all she had to go through. And while I have a pretty good idea why now (I get a little crabby myself), I only have a family of three. I have told my mom several times how much I appreciate all of her hard work. It instilled in me a great passion, respect and wonderment for the nature God created for us; respect for my fellow campers; thankfulness for being able to “get away from it all” for personal time as well as quality time with my family—immediate and extended; and the willingness to work unsparingly to have those few days away.

“A lot of people ask me what it is about camping that I love so much. I talk about what’s mentioned above but perhaps what is most important to me is who I am when I am camping. The pressures of life can really get to me, especially with a mental illness. But, almost unknowingly, I seem to be able to leave a lot of that at home. In a way, I feel like I become the Nancy God intended me to be. I do what needs to be done, I’m not afraid to be friendly, I’m relaxed and can usually stay in the moment and sometimes I even feel a little sense of that elusive emotion of contentment. Especially after my quiet time today, I feel a bit of that peace. I’m so glad I grabbed on to that before I went home. It makes the thought of going home to the 1200 block more pleasant and I don’t feel so much remorse about leaving.


“Well, I just took a break and took the boat for a spin with Allen. I wasn’t up for a long ride but wanted to take Dad’s boat out for a bit. Whenever I say something about “Dad’s” or “Grandpa’s” boat, my dad always corrects me. “It’s not my boat.” Even though it’s been through my brother and now me, I still think of it as his boat. I remember how happy he was to get it. Riding in others’ boats had gone on long enough and he was ready to have his own. It is a Lund fishing boat and it’s pretty simple but it’s got four comfy seats, a steering wheel and a decent motor. We feel lucky to have it. Like most though, we wish for something more—something bigger and fancier. But if that ever comes, it will be after the trailer, truck and two credit cards get paid off. Might be a while. (Yes, I know the boat is still tied to the dock in the picture below. It was just easiest way to take the pic. I really do drive the boat.)

“So…last day. I think the only reasons I am looking forward to going home tomorrow are because I’m about out of energy to deal with two teenage boys and we can’t really afford this place. Despite the cost, it’s been nice to have the lake front lot and full hook ups. It’s been heaven to shower in my own bathroom. I know that probably sounds strange but other campers can relate I’m sure.

“Last day…what waits for me when I get home?

“Unfortunately the first thing I think of is bills. But we’ve spent all of our money on this trip so I can’t really do much about those right away. Oh well.

“Phone messages. We either have about ten or none. I sit there with my pen ready to take notes and most of the time there is nothing pressing so I never put pen to paper anyway.

“There is the inevitable: unpacking. This is even worse than packing and oh how I hate it. If the forecast is right, it’s going to be miserably hot. Won’t be fun. I’m so glad Craig is old enough to help out with those kinds of things now.

“Laundry. One of my least favorite chores. Thankfully I have a husband who is willing to do quite a bit of it.

“OK, I’ve done my unpacking, started laundry, checked messages and emails and such. Does anything positive await me?

“I hear it’s supposed to be hot all week. Thank heaven for air conditioning and the pool in the backyard. I can hear the pool just calling my name. Craig and I will make use of it. Maybe I can even my tan out a little. Here even Willy enjoyed the pool a little when he was a puppy. Yes, we spoil our pets.

“Friends. Yes, I actually have some friends to go home to. And Monday evening my book study group meets. It will be so good to have some female companionship!!!

“The computer and my Netflix. I love watching movies and TV on Netflix while I’m working on my craft projects.

“And speaking of crafts, I’ll be able to get back into my beloved craft room. I found some beads in Bemidji to make a unique necklace for myself and as well as one for a friend. I’m also in the process of making a necklace and earrings for someone with a birthday coming up so I need to finish that. When I get my gifts done, then I think I’ll switch over to sewing. I have a skirt to make and I’m going to be brave and make my own pattern from a dress I already have. I’ll make another one with some fabric I bought a while back. This, of course, is all dependent on me figuring out the thread tension on my sewing machine. I got so frustrated with it before that I put it all away. Hopefully a fresh start will help. I have a special tote bag project too that I need to get to.

“There is also my afghan. An afghan in the summer? you’re probably asking. Actually it’s a mini-afghan I’m making for the trailer. There are always one or two weekends when we’re camping and it’s cool, causing me to want to snuggle into an afghan so I thought I’d just make one. Plus, it’s really a good distraction and it’s relaxing when I’m all “ahhhhhh.”

“By far, the projects I look forward to the most are my jewelry projects. Like I say about my floral arranging, it is so fun to take a bunch of pieces and put them together in a way that makes them beautiful. And jewelry making is such a major outlet for creativity. Forget books with patterns, I want to make my own designs!

“Well, I’ve found some positive reasons to go home—but I’d rather stay at the lake. Especially being lakeside and in such a private area, I can’t really get this same feeling at home. And I like this feeling. This feeling of being who God intended me to be. Hopefully we’ll be able to make our planned trip to Itasca in a couple of weeks. It’s beautiful and there’s great swimming. While I’m doing my beading, sewing and crocheting, I’ll be praying for nice weather for so that we can celebrate our 10 years of camping trips."

2001 Itasca State Park
2002 Scenic State Park
2003 International Peace Gardens
2004 Duluth, MN
2005 Lake Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
2006 Lake Shetek State Park
2007 Scenic State Park
2008 Lake Carlos State Park
2008 Medora, ND
2009 Savanna Portage State Park
2010 Lake Bemidji State Park
2011 Summer Haven RV Resort, Bemidji

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