Every spring at Dad's birthday celebration up north, a family weekend that has become a great tradition, he tells my brother and sister and me that we're always welcome to visit on our own. Josh and Wish and I took him up on that offer over the weekend, and we are so glad we did.
On Friday afternoon we arrived at the campground where the RV is parked, a few miles away from Mille Lacs Lake. Rain fell on and off for a little while, and I watched it from the comfort of the zero-gravity chair in the gazebo. (More on this chair later, because I could write multiple book-length posts about this chair.) In between two periods of light rain, I walked over to see the clouds over the smaller lake adjacent to the campground. The rain clouds were sparring with bright sunshine, and it was beautiful.
I returned to the gazebo and found Wish watching for me. He'd keep an eye out whenever one of us left for a moment.
Well, he did a lot of napping, too.
If you can imagine Josh in the hammock and me in the zero-gravity chair, or vice versa, you'd have a pretty good idea of how we spent a lot of the weekend. I finished the last part of Americanah and read Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the Southeastern Conference. I also google-searched "zero-gravity chair" to see where I might find one for myself. No luck yet.
We grilled hamburgers. I made guacamole and ate a lot of watermelon. At night (and once during the day), Josh built campfires. We roasted marshmallows and listened to Twins games on the radio while we sat by the fire. I ate the red tomatoes off my dad's rainbow tomato plant.
In past trips up north, Wish has been scared of campfires, but he did so well this time and I was so proud. He sat a few feet away from the fire both nights and relaxed - definitely relaxed. It reminded me of how sleepy he was after his first obedience class. The outdoors can be a lot for a pup to process!
Most of the time, though, Wish was within arm's reach of one of us, and that was just fine with him.
On Saturday, we drove over to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, where Josh and I had camped and canoed several years ago. We had plans to take Wish for a canoe and hike, and in preparation, I'd even purchased a little dog life jacket for him. He loves hikes, but I really had no clue how he'd do in the canoe, since he's not particularly water-loving (contrary to his breed's history as Dutch barge dogs, he steps delicately around sprinklers).
We parked in a lot adjacent to the river access and rental canoes. I saw a magnificent hiking trail right next to the canoes and scampered a few yards in for a better look.
And then I scampered out a lot faster because swarms of mosquitoes had descended on me during my brief photo stop. We scrapped our plans for the hike and will go back in the fall.
Into the canoe we went, me in the front and Josh in the back, with Wish sitting on his own in the middle-back, and we pushed out into the slow-moving Rum River. Wish was getting a feel for the boat and All of The Smells in the river and nearby weeds, and he was shifting his weight back and forth and trying to move around the canoe. These are normal and natural activities for a dog who has never (to our knowledge) been in a boat before, and we weren't in any danger, but I plain old got scared. And my dear husband was patient and kind and paddled back to the boat launch area, and we switched spots so Wish and I could sit in the back of the canoe together while Josh paddled the whole way (from the front, no less).
We were a goofy sight to passersby to say the least, but everybody relaxed, and finally Wish did what I'd thought he'd do all along: lay down in the bottom of the boat. We actually had a wonderful time out on the water (Josh from the start and me as soon as I calmed down).
And then we were back to the campground for dinner and another campfire - and for me, one more peek at the sky over the lake.
We're already planning our next trip to this peaceful spot.