Friday, June 17, 2011

Itasca, My Love

Between all of the parental retirements and everything that entailed--cleaning out Mom's classroom, organizing Dad's commitments, etc.--I wanted to make sure I got some Scamping in, because all of my plans to bring the Scamp down to Lincoln fell through. So, I was resigned to leaving it up north for another summer. But I wanted to get at least one camping trip in before I headed back Down South. And because of the looming government shutdown in Minnesota, it's unlikely that the state parks will be open after July 1st, so time was a factor there as well. Last week wasn't exactly the most ideal weather, but you have to take the good with the cold and clammy. At least the windows aren't leaking anymore.

But back up a week: the week before, I went down to Minneapolis to visit K2M, K3, and C. during the annual neighborhood garage sale that's always huge. I had cash in my pocket and that was my limit. By the end of the day, I'd basically redecorated my Scamp for $9. I found a brown and light blue curtain to make camper curtains out of for $2, a "wall of drapes" for $6 (and it really is a wall of drapes--in the same brown and blue as the first curtain I found), and a white curtain to sew onto the back for privacy and light control for $1. Mom and I ran out of time to make the curtains this summer, but they're packed into a space bag, ready for next summer. I'm pretty excited about them.

So I packed up the cats and the Scamp and headed north to Itasca, remember two years ago when Maeve didn't do so well with the windy road. And I was also remembering how rough the main road into the park was. When I got into the park, though, the pavement was absolutely perfect, repaved into a work of art in the last two years. I appreciated it, on so many levels, but mostly because my back teeth didn't snap together every time I hit a frost bump. The yellow lady's slippers were out along the sides of the road, but no pink and white ones. The weather was cool and looked like rain, but we never got any--thank goodness.

I got set up in my campsite with no problems and I remembered the last time we were here and Maeve got out and ran around the campground, me chasing her in what must have been an amusing fashion. We didn't have to deal with that this time around. I went driving a little, but the Wilderness Drive was getting repaved, so it's closed. They said they try to open it on the weekends, but I was there during the week. It's okay. I'll get there next year. As a result of that, however, I did not see any loons or eagles.

When I got back to the campsite, my mother texted, wanting to Skype (don't you just love modern camping??) because I think she wanted to see my face when she told me that I could keep my Scamp at a friend of Dad's secretary's, down in Lincoln--I get to take my Scamp home with me!!! That just made my entire summer.

Back at the campsite, I built my fire (don't need no steenking firestarters!) and proceed to put my dinner into foil when the coals were ready. I made potatoes from a recipe my mother gave me that called for cheese and Worcestershire sauce, and I put the frozen kabob meat from my mother's freezer into another foil packet with garlic and herbs. After a while, I checked on the meat, opening it carefully, and while it was the color of meat, it was the consistency of applesauce. No, it wasn't meat at all. It actually was applesauce that Mom had frozen in an ice cube tray. At least the potatoes were very tasty.

I was worried about rain, but we never got any. The mosquitoes were out in force, though, only held off by the puffs of wind that were cold when they blew. It was a classic no-win. If the wind wasn't blowing, you got eaten alive. If it was blowing, it was freezing. So that night I spent reading inside the camper. The next morning, while sunny and chilly and gorgeous, I made it an hour outside before I needed to go back in the camper and warm up. I was reading Sebastian Barry's 2002 novel Annie Dunne, which was excellent (it's on my reading list for my PhD comps) and I actually finished it and started on Stephen Jay Gould's Ever Since Darwin, which is on my reading list for my fall independent reading.

I spent an unfortunate part of the day inside the camper, but it was okay. I had the curtains open and the windows partway open, so it could have been worse. The cats were very content, which always makes my life easier.

The next morning, I drove to the headwaters early and took a couple of pictures, but there are no original pictures of the headwaters. I took some great ones of dragonflies, which I will post when I have a chance. I picked Gram up on my way back through town and took her back to my parents' house, where we kicked off Dad's retirement weekend. On the following Tuesday, Mom, Gram, the cats, the Scamp, and I headed for Minneapolis for a stopover on our way to Lincoln (and the parental trip out west--Dad would come down the next day with their camper). We had a bit of a mishap when Gram fell on the way into the house and broke her collarbone and is currently still in the hospital, so the adventures continue. Our trek to Lincoln has gotten pushed back until Gram is more stable.

But there are three Scamps--counting mine--in our campground right now. That's pretty exciting.