Posts Tagged ‘camping’

“Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.” Terri Guillemets

My old raft's last tumble among the waves, July 2007, Snake River near Jackson, Wyoming.

Travels With Maggie

One of the great things about growing older is discovering that passion doesn’t always have to involve sex. It can be anything that gets your blood pumping, your heart racing and gives you immense pleasure.

My greatest passions these days include writing, family, friends, Maggie, travel, books, birds, learning new things and nature. I’m grateful for each and every one of them. They give both meaning and joy to my life.

When I was younger, passion had only one meaning – and it came with a lot of angst. It usually does when there’s another person involved in fulfilling your own wants and needs. And that’s especially true when you’ve made wrong choices about whom to love.

My friend, Kim, and I, sit in the raft -- filled with water as it always was after a big rapid -- one last time.

Thus it was in 1983, at the ripe old age of 44 ,that I found myself without the soul mate I always expected to have in my life – but didn’t. The five children I had with a non-soul mate had all flown the coop, and my second attempt at connecting passion with a soul mate had just ended badly.

I was totally on my own for the very first time. And then passion found me.

I was invited to raft down a stretch of the Snake River with a friend – and I fell passionately in love with white water.

Camping was always part of the rafting agenda. This photo was taken at the East Table Campground beside the Snake River in the Targhee National Forest

Within weeks I had bought my own raft, and for the next 20 years, it never missed a summer going down at least one stretch of white water, often more. There were always plenty of friends willing to help paddle.

And oh the adventures we all shared. We never tire of telling them again and again.

They all came back to me in a flash yesterday when I was sorting through my photographs. Among them was a file I hadn’t opened that my friend, Kim, had sent me of the retirement party that we gave for that old raft in 2007.

Many of those who had paddled it came for the celebration.

As I reviewed the photos that had been taken at the party, my eyes moistened. That raft was what taught me that passion had more than one meaning.

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The view of Lake Saint George in Maine from my RV window. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” Henry David Thoreau

Travels With Maggie

Some days when I’m on the road, I have reservations for where I will spend the night. Other days, I give fate a chance and wing it. And then some days I have reservations and cancel them because a place calls to me before I reach my destination.

It was this third kind of day a few years back when I was on my way to Acadia National Park. My route took me through a multitude of shimmering lakes and shady green ponds, all shouting an invitation to visit in my direction.

By the time I hit Lake Saint George State Park I could stand it no more. My foot lifted off the gas pedal and my RV, Gypsy Lee, made the turn into the park. Although I hadn’t traveled far and it was still quite early in the afternoon, I didn’t object. Nor did Maggie, who was letting me know she was ready for a walk immediately.

Lake Claiborne in Alabama, where I also sat a while and simply stared at the water. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The small park only had 38 camping sites and, no hookups, but the fee for the night was only $10 and it was cool enough that I didn’t need to use the air conditioner. My vehicle’s self-contained functions – water storage, battery for lights, and propane for cooking and refrigeration – met all other needs.

Our designated site was right beside the lake, and as soon as I turned off Gypsy Lee’s ignition, the sound of water gently lapping against the shore began calming my soul.

After a short hike around the area with Maggie, I got out my lawn chair, lit a small camp fire and simply stared at the lake a bit before retrieving a book, “Death in Holy Orders” by P.D. James, which I read off and on until sunset.

The dark brought magical fireflies with it. I saw these tiny, blinking specks of living lights often when I was a kid, but rarely as an adult. Perhaps it was simply because I hadn’t taken the time to look, I thought.

Sometime after the sky was pin-pricked with stars, and a grinning moon cast silvery shadows on the trees, I turned in for the night. I was asleep almost the minute my head touched the pillow.

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