Thursday, August 7, 2014

Camping and Boating--No Kids, No Relatives, No Friends. Is That Allowed?

Yes.  Apparently, it is.  Because I just returned home from a wonderful, fun, quick little camping and boating trip with DH.  Just DH.  And, as we figured out while we sat by the river on Tuesday evening, enjoying the solitude of a pretty much empty campground and nobody sharing our campsite, it is the first camping trip he and I have gone on in our entire 21 years of marriage that did not include at least one of our children, some relative, or a friend.

Wow.  Gotta love that!  Not lovin' that it has been so long since he and I claimed a tent site all to our selves, but lovin' that we finally were able to do so again.

It was kind of a snap decision, on Tuesday morning, that when he got home from work he and I would throw the camping and boating gear into the Suburban and take off for points northwest.  We would find a campsite at one of the National Forest Campgrounds when we got where we were going (hopefully before dark), then take his canoe and my kayak down the Little Manistee River on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I would get up and drive home (so, yeah, this little trip did require two vehicles), while he met up with a few friends for more canoeing and camping on another Northern Michigan river, then he and an increasingly larger group would move to yet another river and another campground for a big canoe/camp this weekend.  Two of our four kids (plus a few of their friends) are planning to head up Friday after work to meet DH and however many friends or relatives are there by then.  Saturday will be a big group float.

For a few weeks now, I have wavered back and forth over whether or not I was going on this Thursday throughSunday camping and canoeing trip.  Honestly, I'm still "peopled out", as I call it*, from hosting the family reunion, and the thought of being part of a group of 12-20 campers and boaters just didn't sound fun and relaxing.  Yet, I hadn't been in my kayak this year, and I hadn't been camping this year either.  Both of which I wanted to do. However, the whole group thing, with it's sheer body count and attendant noise and motion, and it's increasing lack of communication/order as the days got closer just was totally unappealing.

So, when DH called me from work on Tuesday and said he was thinking of heading out early for this trip, before anyone else from the group was able to go along, and did I want to join him for just a day or two, I jumped at it.  Taking a spur of the moment mini-vacation is one of the perks of not working this summer (I've only been working an hour or so a week at the horse farm since mid-June), and having kids old enough to stay home alone and take care of the homestead and animals in my absence.

We had a great time.  We found a beautiful campsite right on the Pine River.  There really were no other campers down in that 'rustic' part of the national forest campground on a Tuesday night, so it was like we had our very own wilderness and our very own river.  The sound of water gurgling over some rocks in the river lulled us to sleep.

our portable home

the beach/landing adjacent to our campsite

On Wednesday, we woke when we had had enough sleep (versus when the alarm clock went off to go to work, or when other campers woke us up with talking or activity--since there were no other campers!!).  We had a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola bars, loaded the small "river cooler" with beverages, venison hunter sticks, and cheese for lunch on the river, tossed a box of crackers in the dry bag, and off we went to the put in on the Little Manistee.

Many hours later, we arrived back at camp, relaxed, happy, and in my case, a little sunburnt (I forgot to pack sunscreen) from a day on the water.  We'd seen king salmon in the river, as well as a turtle, multiple types of dragon- and damselflies, several ducks, a muskrat, and a heron that just about kicked DH in the head because it took off out of the water so close to his canoe as he rounded a bend in the river.  We did not encounter a single other boat out on the water; so nobody to steer around or try to avoid being hit by, and without other boaters we saw more wildlife than when in a group.

Wednesday night's dinner was a cook-your-own affair involving brats, hot dogs, a hot dog fork and a campfire.  Slow, relaxed, no prep, no clean-up later, enough to eat for everyone, and no one fussing over not liking the menu. (Another benefit of not being part of a group, LOL.)

After dinner we sat by the campfire, enjoying the darkness, the quiet, the stars, until we felt sleepy enough; then retired to our tent for a great night's sleep accompanied by the sound of the river just a few yards outside the tent.

Ahhhh.  Definitely need to do that more often.

*"peopled out"  is a phrase I use with my immediate family when my introverted self has been through too much exposure to a number of people and I need to have some time that doesn't involve anyone I didn't marry (as in, DH) or give birth to directly or indirectly (my kids and grandkids).  A way of saying "hey, it's just us, or else I'm going to do my lone wolf disappearing act because I have reached the end of my ability to make polite conversation or otherwise deal nicely with people".

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