Canoe camping not akin to stay at Holiday Inn Express

Tri-City HeraldJuly 9, 2012 

It’s our annual canoe camping trip, so the mosquitoes already are buzzing in ecstasy.

For those of you who have the good sense to stay at the Holiday Inn, canoe camping is more than a journey to the ice machine.

This is a sport where sane people willingly sit upright for hours and reflect on their marriage vows. A time when couples spend days together reminding each other how they’ve shared the "better" of their marriage -- and now this is the "worse."

Fortunately, the canoe seats are at opposite ends of the boat, just out of hearing distance — and out of reach.

I remember one very long river trip where my husband, Bill, and I paddled for miles — and miles — setting up our campsites along a river that had flooded its banks. Without a doubt, it was one of the more trying vacations, especially when the maid didn’t show up to turn down the bed and leave mints on the pillow.

At that point, I knew something was definitely wrong with the picture. Mainly, that I was in it.

The picture included a dozen friends who enjoy the euphoria of the great outdoors. They’re probably the same group who used to inhale the aroma of ditto paper or school paste when they were kids. Now, they’re into DEET.

On this outing, slapping mosquitoes the size of helicopters was our primary form of entertainment. Often, when we didn't get enough of this on the waterway, we'd stop our canoes and wander into the bushes where mosquitoes buzzed the news that Granny's Buffet had arrived.

Then, at the end of a long day of rowing, I routinely uncoiled myself out of the canoe to help set up the tent. Before long, my camping skills improved to the extent that I could easily erect our tent on an incline. Or even better, on an anthill.

The thrill of the adventure was unending.

Each day at the crack of noon -- so we would be sure to not miss the heat of the day -- we'd inch our way down the river toward our final destination. It was more than 70 miles. Not far if you’re driving, which we were not.

I survived to tell this story, and now we’re about to embark once again on a canoeing vacation. This time, instead of a one-way trip up a river, we're camping at a lake.

Thankfully, we're all taking a good book. And of course, DEET.

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