Tales from the Cabin
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Rustic Camping

A man accustomed to room service heads into the wild    

By Paul Sullivan
Published: May 14, 2010
Photo by © stockxpert.com
Shortly after my late wife, Pat, and I married, I discovered she loved camping. And not just the kind of camping where you head up to a cozy hike-in cabin for the weekend, but rustic camping, roughing it, cooking over an open fire – the whole nine yards. If there’s one outdoor activity I thought I’d never enjoy, it’s camping.
The first time my sweetie suggested we go camping for a three-day weekend, she said, “I know just the place. I’ve always wanted to camp there. And now I get to go there with you.”
“So, how far is it to a restaurant?” I asked.
“No restaurants, no hot showers either,” she said. She promised it would be rustic camping at its finest, just the kind she liked. We’d only been married for three months at the time. I had no choice but to be all-in on this rustic camping thing.
As we pulled into Pat’s perfect campground, I saw that it was nothing more than a wide spot in an old logging trail on a high sand bank overlooking a lake. We had the place all to ourselves. I had to admit it was a beautiful site. It might turn out to be a great weekend after all.
The next day, we took the canoe out. Pat caught a nice northern pike she cooked for lunch in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. Fresh out of the lake, it was mighty tasty. Better than any fish I ever had.
At 2 a.m., a gaggle of partying teenagers woke us up. I actually appreciated that because we got to see a stunning display of shimmering northern lights, art more splendid than in any gallery. After the kids finally left, I went back to sleep. Until I heard thunder. Then cold water dripped on my face. I tried to move away from the leak.
Then Pat rolled over into the leak. Ever the experienced camper and problem solver, Pat got out of the tent and upended the canoe over the leak, propping one end of the canoe in a tree fork. Leak fixed. Problem solved.
I woke the next morning as dawn’s rosy fingers splashed color in the sky. Camping really is nature’s free art show. Pat was at the edge of the woods picking blueberries. When she came back to camp with a bowl full, she made us fresh, wild blueberry pancakes. I decided right then that rustic camping was way better than slow room service.
We later compromised on a cozy cabin with no leaks – but plenty of blueberries and great views of the northern lights.

Paul Sullivan, who has never met a cabin he didn’t like, has met a few campgrounds he wasn’t particularly fond of.

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