Friday, May 25, 2007


It's the beginning of another Memorial Day weekend in North Dakota, and that means it is cold, wet and rainy. Even though the rest of May might have been nice, Memorial Day - which is the official kickoff to the summer recreation season - always seems to be nasty. That's what they get for changing the true date of Memorial Day - May 30 - to the last Monday in May. Pretty soon they'll change the Fourth of July to the first Monday in July so people can have their three-day weekend.

I have spent more Memorial Day weekends than I care to remember being cold and wet, shivering in blankets around a pitiful smoking campfire or trapped in a tent in a damp nylon sleeping bag. I like my camping warm and dry, with an inflatable mattress and a flannel sleeping bag. I prefer not to camp at all, actually.

Don't get me wrong, I love the great outdoors. I do have some wonderful memories, especially from the days when we lived in Grand Forks, ND. It took but a two-hour drive east to be in the heart of Minnesota. Those two short hours marked a remarkable transition that one small Minnesota town boasted of as being "From The Prairie to The Pines."

Nothing can beat the taste of fresh-from-the-lake walleye dipped in Shore Lunch and pan fried. Or tramping through the tamarack woods at Itasca State Park with my best gal pal on a girls only trip. I love listening to the haunting call of the loon or slowly motor boating on a Minnesota lake. Walking through the spring woods and finding trillium, lady's slippers and marsh marigolds was a highlight in this flower-lover's life. Just being in Minnesota woods and lake country is a treat for a North Dakotan.

The Mississippi River starts at Lake Itasca, just a little trickle with stepping stones spaced across it so you can say you "walked across the Mississippi." Four of us once took a pontoon trip down the Mississippi - small and manageable at that point. The day was hot, drowsy and lush, leading to a warm evening watching the sun go down over the lake from the vantage point of lawn chairs, sipping a cocktail and feeling the sunburn on our faces and the relaxed tiredness that comes from a day on the water.

But at the end of the day, I prefer a shower and a soft bed in that nice big stone lodge or rustic cabin, and a hot meal that does not consist of burned hot dogs, a can of pork and beans and soggy chips.

Even after we moved to Bismarck, we took a fabulous canoe trip down the Little Missouri River in the Badlands. Even though it started as a typical Memorial Weekend it ended up hot and sunny. I remember floating down the river coursing between the buttes, out of sight and sound of all other humans, trading my time between watching the wildlife and closing my eyes and listening to the desultory comments traded back and forth among the occupants of the four canoes. At night, we camped on the shore and enjoyed the camaraderie that existed among 10 close friends. No kids, no cares, no curfews, nothing else existed but the sound of the river and the sight and feel of the primal bonfire holding back the night.

Now, my husband works Saturdays and Memorial Day, so we don't even have to consider plans. It will be an ordinary, albeit longer weekend for us.

Now for some unrelated questions:

1. Would any of you book lovers like to receive up to 36 books just for mailing one already-read book of yours? If so, please let me know and I will give you the details.

2. Does anyone know of a catalog that offers cool, fun clothes (but appropriate for work) for a woman of a certain age and weight?

3. Regarding a previous post of mine, does anyone want to set up a letter correspondence?

4. A lot of you have digital cameras and post wonderful pictures on your blog. What do you think is the best digital camera for a not-exorbitant price?


Patty said...

Oh my, I'm heading out camping and hope it isn't wet lol. Your trips sound like a lot of mine over the years. I am already thinking Why am I taking a swim suit, it is going to be cold in the mountains.
Oh well, I hope you have a great weekend. Also how much money did you want to spend on the camera. I just bought a hp photosmart r725 for around 125.00. It is very easy to use for a small camera.

Julie said...

I was hoping to spent not more than $200-300.00 but I really have no clue. I want to have a telephoto lens so I can photograph nature, but am so inexperienced and lacking in knowledge!