As I’ve learned over the past six years living in Oregon, if we’re lucky summer usually lasts a glorious, but fleeting three months.–if we’re not, it ends shortly after it started…if it ever really started. It seems like this summer, like the last, is going to be of the latter version. Only a couple days has the temperature reached 90 deg in Portland and has usually hovered in the upper 70s to low 80s. Much too cold for my Hawaii-born tastes. So, in an effort to take advantage of this unpredictable summer season, our little family tries to get out as much as we can to enjoy “nature”, the “quiet” and the “fresh air.” I add the quotations, well, because when we’re car camping we’re not really as close to nature as we could be, it’s never really that quiet (dogs barking, kids throwing tantrums…ahem, Laird, and chainsaws blasting away), and it kind of stinks when the person across from your campsite smokes. But, I’ll stop complaining. 🙂
A few years ago, when our nephew came to visit us from Nebraska, we discovered a set of lakes at about 6400′ elevation and camped for a of couple nights at one of them. We had such fond memories of the lake that we decided to drive the 3.5+ hours back to the high desert near Bend after I got off of work on Thursday. One thing I hate when camping is setting up in the dark. Thankfully, it has only happened a couple times, but it is absolutely miserable. I can’t see anything, I’m usually hungry, tired and trying unsuccessfully to chase away mosquitoes. This night was very similar. Except now I am pregnant and hormonal. We arrived at the campground at 10:30 pm (our latest arrival ever). As Curt effortlessly put our tents together, I unloaded the car and got Laird ready for bed. Mosquitoes were everywhere and I just wanted to scream or cry (did I mention the hormones?). We finally tucked in after 11:30 pm.
On friday, we woke up to a beautiful, cloud-free morning and would you believe that Laird actually slept in? We scoped out the area around our campsite and were a little disappointed that we couldn’t see the lake from it. After Curt made some amazing banana pancakes we drove around this particular lake, as well as another to find a better campsite. By the grace of God, we happened upon one that was unreserved and up for being claimed, as the family was leaving later that day. It fronted the lake and was somewhat secluded as well. We quickly packed up all of our stuff and relocated. For the rest of the three days, we relaxed on the beach, paddled around in the kayak that our friends graciously lent us and embraced the beauty of this place.
Laird was eager to test out the kayak and went on a couple of short rides with both Curt and me. He also made some friends on the beach and probably some enemies as well by singing at the top of his lungs in his tent first thing in the morning. We ate some delicious meals by the lake, endured some cold swimming sessions and feasted on mouth-watering smores by the fire. At night, the stars lit up the sky, as we watched for meteors and gazed at the constellations.
When Sunday afternoon rolled around, I was sad to leave, as is typical when we go camping. There’s something about camping that’s utterly exhausting, but equally as exhilarating and rejuvenating. I believe it’s the lack of distraction, as we aren’t able to use our cell phones or internet. And so camping becomes a rare opportunity for us to be together, to focus on one another, to restore the foundation of our family, and to savor the incredible beauty of nature together. All these things create lasting, life-long memories to treasure. So when I reflect on whether the packing, preparation, setting up (in the dark), taking down and lack of sleep is all worth it…of course it is.