Sep 6, 2016
In my earlier years I would go camping with my father and brother. These would be epic journeys in which we would face major mechanical, natural and personal challenges. We usually went for a week or two right around Labor Day. I was on the edge of the Boundary Waters when the twin towers were destroyed in New York City on September 11, 2011. I knew nothing of that terrible day until three days afterward when we began our journey home. Everything seemed subdued on the journey from Grand Marias and St. Paul then. The radio programs were focused on this terrible event and the threat of more terrorism was very present to anyone we talked with.
My brother (who is six years younger than me) longs for those days: but for me; as I have undergone two hip replacements and two knee replacements; while I treasure the memories, I have little desire to endure those moments again.
As a small tip towards his desire, I went fishing with my brother over the last weekend. We stayed at his brother-in-law's mobile home nestled into a beautiful piece of property on the Snake River. On Sunday evening we went out on the pontoon to take a tour of Pogekama Lake. I knew there was going to be trouble when I stepped onto the boat because the dock was much higher than the deck of the boat. After a very comfortable tour we arrived back at the dock and I found that I could not get out of the boat. Each time I tried to lift myself to the dock I could feel my leg give way. After a final lunge I tipped sideways, my leg giving way, and I ended up with my butt on the dock, and my knee bleeding. The dock was not wide enough for me to sort of climb up to stand erect so I had to scoot my rear end down to the end of the dock where I could put my legs over the side and finally stand erect once again. Once again in such a short time I was facing another personal challenge.
I have a bruise growing on my "lifting" leg and now getting up steps is even more of a challenge. I am coming to appreciate the safety of my house and my regular environment more profoundly than before. I remember my father telling my brother and me towards the last several trips with him that he wasn't so "hep" about our trips, but we would talk him into it anyway. In our last rip with him he tripped on the dock and went face forward into the boat. This was before we had any beverages that day, aside from the normal morning coffee. He was pretty mangled up, but managed to enjoy the rest of the week with us, but at the end he told us that it was his last time to go camping with us. I was disappointed then, but now I understand as I am arriving at the same place.
The worst of the weekend was that we spent all day Monday fishing and caught nothing; there wasn't even a nibble. In the quiet moments waiting for some action to occur I could feel my knee throbbing and my back stiffening. I found myself wondering why I was doing this to myself. I have great memories of those moments, but I think I have moved beyond the need to make those sorts of memories any longer. Next year it will be a week at a hotel, playing cards and touring some local sights somewhere, I can promise it will not be on a boat waiting for a fish I haven't met.