For many years, we would rent a cabin at Chain O’Lakes State Park just northwest of our house. Cabins in the summer can only be rented for the week, which was probably the right amount of time for Matt and Alex and about 5 days too long for me. I had never been a camping person. I like the outdoors. I like taking walks in the woods and feeling the sun on my face. But I just have never figured out the adoration for camping. Maybe it was growing up in a house where the nature kept making its way inside. Maybe it was my allergies to everything from cut grass, tree pollen and warm-blooded animals. Maybe it was the emotional scars from Girl Scout camp and the daddy long legs on the faded yellow/gold tent canvas. Not sure, just know that my mother was greatly disappointed that I did not inherit her love of camping.
We own a tent. Alex has camped in our back yard with it and maybe with friends one time? I have not camped in it and do not feel my life is lacking for this oversight.
Chain O’Lakes seemed like a good compromise. It was a cabin, rustic but had warm/cold running water, indoor bathroom, small kitchen with stove and fridge, beds with thin alleged mattress and a lovely porch with a swing and screens to keep out the bugs. It has a lake with a small beach, canoes and kayaks you can rent and a small store that sells ice cream.
I found these trips a tad stressful as I needed to remember everything; pots, cooking utensils, all the food, containers, condiments, bedding, towels, shampoo, clothing, candles, trash bags, and the list goes on and on. I would invariably forget something and then kick myself for not remembering. Each year it did get a bit easier as I had my old list and I would frequently jot down things I forgot for next time.
Like so often happens, the best memories were those that just happened. One of the first trips, Matt and Alex went out to get the grill ready for the burgers. Now both of these dudes have a healthy appreciation and love of fire. The blaze coming off the grill might have been seen from the moon and Alex’s eyes were as big as dinner plates, through out the evening he would recite the tale of lighting the grill and the woosh it made. We made a small fire after dinner and toasted marshmallows, some finding their way into the flame. We hiked and found geocaches back when they were the rage. And took many a canoe ride around the lake and back some of the channels, sometimes getting stuck depending on the water level. The first time we went a fire was made in the wood burning stove… which while fun also made the cabin (it was summer time) somewhat close to the temperature of the sun.
One time we went, about night two the alarm for the sump pump went off. Of course, this started in the middle of the night, so there was a great deal wandering around the cabin looking for the source of the horrid noise. Once we realized it was not our cabin but outside, we pondered. We are in the wilderness, and while probably safe from mountain lions, bear and pumas, there were still pretty good odds of running smack into a tree, falling down a hill or twisting and ankle as it was crazy dark outside, what with being in the woods and all. Matt prowled a bit outside while we waited for word. He located the direction of the sound, but real inspection happened the next morning. We spent the next day joking about running over the alarm with our car to beating it with tree limbs.
Would I go back again if they wanted to (it has been years since we have gone)? Yes, very much yes. So many great spontaneous memories were made there.