So anyway, back to that Boundary Waters trip…
Most notable, with the exception of the mutilated lip, was the marked absence of mosquitoes. I dunno if y’all have spent any time up there, but if you have, at least in the summer, you might note how remarkable that statement is. In point of fact, our last trip into the wilderness was cut short specifically due to the attacking hordes. Never have we pulled the plug in the face of those vampires, but that year we did.
A usual year up there in paradise, from our experience, requires certain precautions to be taken. You make camp early. You get dinner done and cleaned up early. And when you hear the hum coming over the next lake, you dive into the tents, even if it’s 7pm. Then you spend a little time, or a lot of time, hunting down the infiltrators lest they drain you while you sleep. You play cards, you fall asleep with the sunset, and when you inevitably have to pee in the wee hours, the headlights come out again for a rerun of the hunt upon your return. In the morning, you break camp in a fury, and swat wildly whilst downing your powdered milk and granola. You shove off into the water as soon as possible to escape the terrestrial blood-suckers. There’s a rhythm.
Midday is usually a reprieve, but the bookends, they’re treacherous.
Last time, however, those beasts weren’t content with the twilight hours. They were incessant all day long. In the sun. In the driving wind. In the sun AND driving wind. ON. THE. LAKE. There was no escape. Dejected, we admitted defeat on Day 5 and paddled home earlier than planned. It was a sad day.
But this year… THIS year… I think I could count the mosquitoes I saw on one hand. Dusk. Dawn. Midnight at the latrine. It was fantastic.
What’s that? How is the lip?
Well, I’m happy to report that I can smile! The deepest burn has yet to heal over completely, but the meat is covered over with new skin, and even the nasty little trouble spot along the lower left lateral incisor is getting there. I expect by Sunday (Day 18 if you’re counting) I might have a smooth topcoat. It is still a bit too painful to kiss my bewhiskered husband, but he’s learned to zero in on my forehead, and we’ll be just fine.
Also, four different varieties of zinc lip block are adorning my bedside desk, waiting to be called into action. Amazon may have benefited from my hasty and desperate shopping binge when I was in so much pain I couldn’t do anything else but hope that retroactive sunblock purchases might quell the flames.
So, a mosquito-free trip. Yep, that was nice. We could enjoy the sunsets, even.
And relax just a little bit more than usual.
The chair, it should be noted, is a new addition to our gear. I’ve been eyeing those pricey Helinox jobbies for years, and just couldn’t justify the coin. Sittin’ on a log was better than dropping that much dough on a chair. A few years back, we started bringing a wee little camp stool, to aid in the camp-stove-tucked-behind-a-rock-for-a-windbreak cooking.
But this year… THIS year… This year the Colorado fam pointed out that there are now knockoffs on the market, for a fraction of the price. And I ordered me some. Because as these bones age, some concessions need to be made if we’re to continue this Boundary Waters insanity.
The stool in that pic? That’s the stool we’ve been totin’ for a while. Scott opted for it, rather than the matching comfy-chair. Because he’s tougher than me.
By the first night, he was not so firm on his stance. Dual comfy chairs shall accompany us into the wilderness henceforth.
And we got to duck in to play in Eddy Falls again…
We did make some logistical errors, and we don’t really need to rehash the indiscretions of the sun, but all in all, another successful trip. It’s hard to truly have a bad time in the Boundary Waters.
Lessons learned, non-exhaustive, and in no particular order:
- I try damn hard to have a bad time sometimes. It is best to look up, to take in the beauty, and to slap yourself around a little when you’re feeling down in a place like that. There is no excuse except clamped shut eyes, and ears, and heart. Breathe.
- It is impossible to keep everyone around you constantly happy, and trying to do so generally results in disaster. This one plays on a loop for me. We’ll call this Take #374.
- I am indeed getting old. This was a much harder year than those prior. If we are to continue on into our golden years in the wilderness, we will definitely be making different choices. In the realm of creature comforts. In the realm of time and distance management. I do believe it’s time to slow down just a little.
- And the Grand Poobah of Boundary Waters 2020 Lessons: Sh*##y lip block is, in all of its faults, still better than no lip block.
Well, early Sunday morning, Scotty and I will hit the road for our first-ever vacation without children. I refuse to count our honeymoon.
The last kid standing here at home was going to join us, as we burned up some of the COVID-casualty PTO, but given that she’s going back to homeschooling this year, and given that we are very close to the only people she sees in this pandemic landscape, she thought maybe, just maybe, the best kickoff to the school year would be a little time apart.
So here we are, about to dip our toes into what life will soon look like, as that last kid up and moves out in the coming year. I gotta’ be honest… there’s a little bit of pressure here. We did, after all, marry with seven children holding flowers and rings for us. We haven’t really known life without the munchkins.
We decided the other night that if this 9-day trip goes south, we’ll just have to mandate to our adult children that they’ll be rotating through our vacations until we’re no longer vacationing, taking turns acting as the buffer Mom and Dad need to not kill each other. Good thing there are seven of them.
If you need me, I’ll be in a tent somewhere. With my comfy chair.