To The Land Of "No Service"
With only three days until we depart to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), the planning and packing is in full swing. As I think of things, I've been packing them away, to try and minimize the drain of the last minute headless chicken panic packing that sometimes happens. The older I get, the more obsessed I get with the details. It's not a trait I'm particularly fond of, but it's me. I can't help it. I just have to deal with it, I guess.
The packing frenzy reminds me of the craziness of those late night packings with the brothers of long ago. Those after hours trips to the Big Top grocery or Rainbow Foods where the week's worth of staples were purchased in a single trip to the store. We'd fill a cart with more dry goods than is healthy for any person. Most of our meals came to life with a cup or two of boiled lake water, a pinch of salt and a whole lot of wood smoke. Urban voyagers out for a big adventure and a big fish.
This year we're returning with the same group as in 2009, with the exception of Rob. My nephew Nick will serve as the third adult. I'm not sure he has ever been to the BWCA before, so he's really looking forward to it. I think as much as anything, he's looking forward to being with the rest of the family. These trips are great for forging family bonds and memories, and I think he'll enjoy being a part of it.
Getting back to Rob, I'm sure this will be a different trip without him along. I know I'll miss him and his teasing. He absolutely loved the area and the experience, and it will be the first time I'll have been there without him in more than 25 years. One of the things I promised him was that I would try and keep his girls active in outdoor and travel adventures. Alison, (and to a lesser extent Amanda), loves to fish, so that's a good fit for me.
More importantly is to instill a love of the area into the next generation. I still think of the BW as one of the last (relatively) untouched areas of our country. Kids need to see the isolation; to experience the isolation. A place where the wind in the trees and the call of the loon and the crack of the thunder are the loudest things you'll hear for 4 days. No traffic, no iPods, no airplanes, no TV, no XBox, no YouTube, and best of all no cell phones. (Manic/obsessive texting is the malaise of this generation - Quote me on that.)
Instead there will be deep(er) conversations, great books read, card games played, crayfish caught, fish landed (YAY!), canoes paddled, jokes told, horsing around done, campfires lit and no doubt a foot or two dunked in the lake by accident. It is these kinds of thing that I remember best of trips past, not the rain or the bugs. It is the kind of stuff my kids remembered from the last trip and the reason they asked if we could go back. And so we will.
Rob would have wanted it that way.