Camping at the lake has been a wondrous experience.
Hubby set up the camper on Thursday evening. He was able to place it in our favorite getaway spot at the lake, on a hill crest that overlooks the lake.
The last campsite to the west has a wonderful “side yard” with lumbering spruce trees, and great surround trees for north, south and west wind block. The view from this site is a 180 deg spectacle of lake, dam, trees and wide open skies.
Downhill to the east, there is a boat dock and fish cleaning station – both just far enough away that the camping experience is not spoiled by sound, sight, or smell.
Downhill to the northeast, there lies a primative camping area that flows north along the shoreline, with majestic cottonwoods and prairie grass galore.
North, south and west of the campsite is a mix of varied trees, shrubs and brush, with patches of rolling prairie to free up the density. Wildlife abounds in these areas: it’s quite common to see many deer, and wild turkeys.
We were able to arrive early Friday evening.
Just before we reached the turnoff to the campsite, we were welcomed by a small group of wild turkeys. Jersey and Rugs were both intrigued.
After the camper was settled, I scoured the countertops and crevices and floors, in order to feel at home in the neglected camper.
We ate a campsite meal of leftover beef hot dogs with Cheetos and cottage cheese – mine had fresh garden tomatoes as well.
The water lines in the camper are in need of repair, so we haul in the water for a primitive feel and make use of the camper waste functions for that true camper experience there’s just nothing quite like your own portable ladies room, and a bucket flush takes care of the missing water lines.
As the sun went down, we moved outdoors. Hubby had built a fire, and we were set to drink a few beers and spicy V8. We called for the pets and walked down with them to the primitive camping area near the shoreline.
The breeze was coming off of the lake as the heat of the day dissipated. It was a perfect walk to end the day. On our return walk to the camper, we noticed a cumulous cloud off to the southeast. As we mused on its vicinity, flickers of color began to light up the various complex shapes that comprised the cloud.
We kept the cloud in sight as we neared the campsite and realized that there was a bank of scattered clouds, each one in its own parody of flickers. We sat after sundown, enjoying the ambiance. The fire was to our rear, crackling and warming our work weary bods, and the spectacular light show in the skies performed ahead of us.
Jersey sat point, with Rugs at her back, both turned as if watching as well. We were all mesmerized with the changing colors and differing flickers and displays. It was a most awesome experience. The flickers turned to flashes and the muted colors and speed intensified with an awe inspiring crescendo. It was reminiscent of a symphony done by a Master. Bravo!
I thought to myself that YHVH was making His noise, although we could not hear it.
I was inspired to make noise, so I began a howl, to which Hubby joined in. The mood was changed and the animals lost attention in the display and reacted to us as we chuckled, amused with ourselves. We retired to the camper to wind down for the night.
In true camper freedom, we had opened the windows and turned on the air conditioner in order to air out and cool off the stuffy shut-up camper. It was effective. The cleaning and airing made for a comfortable fresh scent and the air conditioner and night air had done the job of cooling the space, almost too well.
I shut off the air and reveled in the sounds of the outdoors. The crickets were in full fervor and the breeze was rustling tree leaves as an apt accompaniment. I felt the week shed from my previously tensed shoulders.
Hubby put in a movie for us. It was a brainless spoof, starring Woody Harrelson as Defendor, a do-good simpleton. We watched for a short time and found ourselves yawning and stretching toward the bed, so shut down the movie and retired for the night.
I never sleep well in the camper, so it was easy to hear Rugs when she pressed open the easily sprung latch of the screen door and took a 2 am stroll. I was easily awoken when she determined that she was ready to return to the camper at 3 am as well, although at first I was surprised to hear the cries of a kitten outside and wondered groggily how a kitty managed to show up outside our campsite. It only took a few more cries to recognize that the kitty was Rugs.
Hubby awoke to the alarm at 4:30 and made coffee to prep himself for the trip home to shower and go to work.
I lounged until he was ready to leave, then got up to have coffee and browse thru a magazine. I breakfasted on homemade granola and a banana.
It was a comfortable wake up as the pets and I awaited the daylight. As the first gray hints of dawn appeared, we walked down to the boat dock area to see the panorama. That’s when I realized how chilly it truly was, so we returned quickly to the camper so that I could dress more appropriately.
I walked the “kids” over to the primitive camping area, but the wind began to pick up enough that unhindered, it roared thru the cottonwoods with the sound of a raging waterfall.
I was awed, Jersey was unaffected, and Rugs was terrified. Rugs stopped at the first tree and watched as Jersey and I continued. It did not take her long to begin a plaintive howl, low and continuously crying for us to notice her distress.
I called to Jersey and we turned our course back toward Rugs and to return to the camper. Rugs crouched as we approached and then turned and made haste to keep up with the pace Jersey set in her joy to follow a now known path out in the open air.
The return to the campsite was perfectly timed.
As I watched, the dawn began to break in earnest. The skies were peppered with clouds in varied shapes and sizes and distances, with small puffball shapes overhead. The horizon to the northeast was lit in shades of lavender, mauve shapes with glimpses of pure blue water showing beneath and a powdery blue/gray backdrop. The horizon to the east was neon pink, with dark blue/gray shapes tinged with silvery gold tips at the top. The neon painted the bottoms of the cloud shapes in magnificent Zs, as the golden glow began to expand from the darkened land. As the glow increased, the colors shifted to an orange with purple backdrop. There were so many various cloud shapes and color tints scattered near the sunrise, with a full break in direct relation to the sun.
It was so inspiring that tears came to my eyes.
Only a Master could provide such a masterpiece. I thanked YHVH for the eyes to see such a sight and for the ears that could listen to the sounds of creation, and for the heart to feel such appreciation and wonderment. I asked YHVH to help me to be a better servant, as I just don’t quite know how. It occurred to me that I have a personal rule not to ask of YHVH on Holy days, and I felt a bit somber in the recall.
As the sun rose in the sky, I retreated into the camper to spend time reading Torah. I first reviewed the last week’s Torah portion, as I was left with questions that I never answered. Devarim is the reading, and I’ve seen many new commands. Most of them seem specific to living permanently in an enlarged territory it seems – that is how I’ve reasoned them for the most part. I’ve seen some commands that don’t seem to echo the original covenant though, so I want to give this difference more in depth attention.
I searched for myself to find, for one point, the command not to wear mixed fibers. It is stated just so in the earlier account, but in Devarim, it states only mixtures of linen and wool are forbidden. I wonder how such a difference could come into play? I did not spend much time with the ponderings, rather, I jotted questions and study points to further delve into at a later time.
Still in awe at the splendor witnessed so far, I began this diary. What pleasure to recap the wonders I’ve seen so far. Once finished, I set out for another hike with Jersey, the daylight now burst out in full.
Jersey and I marched to the northeast, thru an open mowed area. I spotted some large birds in bare trees just past the clearing and I wanted to see what they were. The birds were dark, and quite large, so I thought they might be golden eagles. As we neared, I recognized the red throat and bill specific to turkey vultures. They preened and nervously stamped as they watched me. I edged closer, and appropriately, they rose in flight to soar out over the water as they searched for a less habited location.
Jersey and I turned south to the thick tree stand just across the road from the campsite. We trecked into the shade, joying in the sights and smells as we high-stepped over fallen branches and chose paths around fallen logs and trees. I was awed by the enormity of one fallen tree. Upon close inspection, it was clear that this tree had been down for some time. The tips and base were thoroughly insect eaten, yet there were areas toward the base of the trunk that appeared to be burnt.
I wondered if the tree had been struck by lightning at some point. I walked around to the ends of one half of the tree – it had fallen both to the northeast and to the southwest, breaking at a vee in the trunk. The northeast half had fallen against another tree, much smaller, which had sustained some long ago damage during the fall. The small tree had changed its growth pattern, bending to allow the great fallen tree to rest against it in its death throes. I could see no sign of fire at the ends. Perhaps the lightning had struck at the vee, or perhaps some of mankind had made the burn marks.
We took our leave of the trees and began to walk back to the northeast primitive camp area.
I thought of the turkey vultures, and stopped in to grab a pair of binoculars for our hike. When we arrived at the grassy area parallel to the shoreline, I thought we’d continue along that and on our return, walk along the shrub line at the west edge of the camping area. I sang the first stanza of Shema aloud as we stepped along the way. I noticed a flock of large birds, flying almost in vee formation. The birds were white, with black wing tips, and quite graceful in flight.
I focused the binoculars, but not in time to get a good look at the details of these birds. That’s when I noticed large white birds in large scattered groups on the surface of the lake. Upon inspection, they appeared to be pelicans! How could anyone mistake the pelican style beak?
Jersey and I continued our trek, and found ourselves climbing down the embankment to follow right alongside the shoreline. Another flock of the large white birds soared past. This time I had them in my focus. They were the pelicans! They soared gracefully, their large awkward bills tucked up and back in reminiscence of crane flight. I was mesmerized.
These birds were some of the most beautiful in motion that I have ever seen. I turned back to watch the birds floating on the lake surface. I locked onto a pair of pelicans. In near perfect synchronization, the pair swam, turning their heads to match their directions, and dipping their heads to fish in unison. Beautifully matched, they mimicked swans. My previous visions of pelicans gawking and flapping and sputtering wharf-side in the Keys melted away.
Another small group flew past, and I recognized the same synchronicity in their flight. I recalled a few years ago, Hubby and I had made a day trip to Horsethief Canyon, and had seen large white birds with black wing tips flying in amazing spiral dance patterns, flowing and spiraling in stupendously slow cyclone fashion, making sweet music with motion. I had determined then that the birds we watched were snow geese, but now I had to rethink that identification. Could these pelicans be the dancers who spiraled?
This will be a research point left for our return home. NOTE: the birds this weekend were American White Pelicans. It is still quite likely that the birds Hubby and I saw spiraling were truly snow geese since we were close enough that I would not have mistaken the great difference in their beaks.
Jersey and I continued along the shore line, peering into cracks and crevices in the bank and marveling over the differing sights and sounds. I would break out in the Shema stanza every so often.
Jersey was hesitant at the water’s edge, toeing right up to the water, then retreating hastily as a wave crashed ashore. My coaxing had no effect.
We turned and moved back toward the campsight after reaching a sand bar, along which we traipsed out to find a nice clearing where others had camped. The sunflowers were in sun gazing splendor along the open patches of the sand bar. As we trekked the incline, returning to the grassy knoll area that ran parallel to the primitive camp area, I heard voices nearby.
We spotted three large men, in camouflage, Jersey running point and sniffing curiously toward their direction.
She began to slow a bit and her tail rose in alarm as her fur began to bristle. I noticed a young boy join the men in their stance above us, just as they noticed us.
I murmured calmly to Jersey, and she slowed to match my pace, walking just ahead of me, unlike the ten yard distance which had separated us prior to the arrival of the men. I called out “Hello” and they responded in kind – each of us relaxed to find that there would be no confrontation between us. We talked briefly of the pelicans as Jersey and I hit the higher ground and continued our trek back to the camp sight.
We followed the brush line opposite the bank on the trek back, and Jersey sniffed joyously as I pondered each plant species along the way. At one point, Jersey rustled up a large bird or mammal, and a wild cry went out after branches and brambles creaked, snapped and groaned with the leaving. My thought was that it was a large bird, as I did not hear any crashing through the growth, or swishing through the tall grass.
As we continued, I spotted tracks, seemingly following the same path we were, directly back toward our camp. There were two tracks, one good sized and one much smaller, clearly a fawn and a doe.
We returned to the camp and released Rugs from her kitty jail camper.
I cut up the cantaloupe and had myself a feast of fresh cantaloupe, Cheetos, and tea. It was scrumptious. I set down to put more in the diary, still chilled by the cool of the day. The wind was still fairly strong and the cloud bank that had been part of the Master’s painted skies at early morning had blown closer, to create patches of sun and cloud, heat and shade. It began to mist, so I herded the pets back into the camper and we sat down to rest through the mist.
I opened the Tanakh and read through the Torah portion for the week (not in concert with Orthodox Judaism, as our group had missed one or two readings along the way). I mused, still, on the differences between Devarim and the earlier accounts, noting that the end of the Torah reading made mention of the added covenant. I made notes in the margins as I read.
As it would soon be time for Hubby to return from work, I set the BBQ beef into the microwave and let it heat, then put it on “hold and warm”. Rugs, Jersey and I returned to our outdoor relaxation.
I spread my favorite thick quilt/blanket on the ground, with a big poofy pillow on top and lay in a sunny spot behind the camper to enjoy the sunshine. The skies had cleared to a perfect blue, no clouds in sight, and a nice steady breeze was keeping us comfortable.
I lay on my back and enjoyed the contrast of the overhead tree branches and the deep blue sky. Birds and butterflies flitted to and fro and the bees occasionally buzzed by. A chickadee kept me guessing just where it might be “chicking” at me.
Just as I got completely comfortable, Hubby pulled up from work.
He sat back to relax for a short while as well.
We sat and ate BBQ beef sandwiches, as Hubby unwound from the morning and talked about how work went. He had brought some Carolann’s Irish Whiskey, so I poured the remainder of the cold coffee and mixed in some Irish whiskey. We sat as I fought off the flies to drink my drink. Once complete, I was ready to drive to the shower house to clean up and shampoo my campfire smoked hair.
Hubby decided that it would be a good time to stop and pick up a six pack, so he dropped me off at the shower house and he went on to the marina to buy beer. By this time, the day had warmed considerably. My hair was dry within 20 minutes of the shower.
We decided to take Jersey for another walk to the northeast primitive area. We set off, poor Rugs thoroughly put out with us as we shut her into the camper. Jersey was quite familiar with the path by this time and set off to lead the way, a spring in her step. We followed with smiles, chatting along the way.
We climbed down the bank and onto the shore line to walk along the waters edge. Jersey poked and sniffed, alternately leading and following. I tried again to coax her into the water; Hubby joined in, picking up rocks and tossing them out after calling for her attention. She showed interest, but would not go into the water.
Finally, we located a good throwing stick and showed it to her. She was alert and ready. I threw it into the water. Bounding and splashing and gasping and slowing – she sighted the target and made a steady lab-style swim to retrieve the stick.
You have to know Jersey’s history.
She’s a full breed black lab, but she lost the retriever instinct somewhere along the way. She would much rather play “get the ball, then run so you can try to catch me”, dipping and dodging and darting away as we get pulled into her delightful antics. Try as we might, we can rarely get her to retrieve one item more than twice in a row.
Jersey found her instinct.
She repeatedly brought the stick back – teasing momentarily with head shakes and tosses – dropping it near our feet and settling back with anticipation as she awaited the next throw. She loved the water stick game! It was a pure joy to watch her instincts kick in! We laughed out loud and clapped with delight.
After a while, we continued our trek, circling back to arrive back at the camp mid afternoon. We retired inside the camper to relax and cool off. A blanket on the couch allowed Jersey to join us to dry off bug free. I continued the diary while Hubby listened to the basketball game on the radio.
I made up some microwave nachos and we sat to enjoy snacks and more chatting. I had brought along both versions of the salsa from the garden and it was a perfect accompaniment to the nachos.
We went back to our outdoor relax spots and enjoyed a marvelous day. When the evening began, Hubby started building the campfire, which would serve to cook the potatoes and steak. We sat at the table in the camper, Hubby peeling and chopping potatoes, as I chopped up veggies for a crunchy fresh salad. Hubby made up a foil pouch of seasoned potatoes, onions and sweet peppers. I finished up the salad made up of cucumbers, avocado, tomato, sweet pepper, and carrot. There was sweet corn cob-ettes in the fridge, so I set water on to boil as Hubby set the potato pouch over the coals.
By the time the corn was almost ready, the coals had almost completely burnt out. We moved the steak to the cast iron skillet and cooked it up in butter. Our dinner was perfect. I joked to Hubby that my mouth was having a flavor orgasm.
After a quick dinner cleanup, we put in the movie “She’s out of my league” and reclined to watch. It was a pretty good movie. There were definitely good comedic sections. Perfect for continuing a relaxing day with a good laugh.
Once the movie was over, we strolled outdoors to check on the revived campfire, and to let the animals get some air before we retired. I moved out to the open area and was overwhelmed at the pure beauty of the night sky! The stars were out in full glory! With the new moon and wide open panoramic view, it was a sight to behold. I turned, with my head thrown back, pirouetting slowly in awe. Hubby joined me and we stood with our backs to each other for support, gazing up toward the night sky. A perfect end to a Holy day.
We retired for the night and I slept much better.
Upon wakeup, I started the coffee and let the animals out. It’s so nice to have pets that stay close to the site without much attention or supervision. They will come right to the door and paw it when ready to come in.
Just before dawn, I poked around at the ashes to find leftover coals in the fire pit. That’s my silly camping obsession, trying to start an early morning fire from the embers. It’s a hangover from the days when we primitive camped and I had to get the camp coffee pot started that way. It was no go this day. I did put up some pretty powerful smoke though.
Hubby joined me to watch the sun rise. The sky was mostly clear, with just a few streaks of cloud wisp here and there near the eastern horizon. A stretch of streaked scatterings marked the sky to the northeast and plane exhaust streaked the sky overhead. We decided to take the pets for a walk around to the west road, which was behind our campsite, as we awaited the sunrise. As we rounded the northwest corner, I noticed a doe and fawn grazing hesitantly off to the north as they kept us in clear view.
The rolling prairie yawned ahead of us, dotted by trees and scrub.
I noticed the sky had turned a light powdery blue and the wisps were beginning to pinken. As we continued around and back toward the south, I caught a flash of motion near the tree line ahead of us. Five white tails rose and fell like popcorn, two disappearing in the trees as the three remaining flashed to keep up. The grass and growth was tall enough that we could not get an estimate of the size, but the white tails were very clear.
We turned back to the east just as the glow at the horizon began. Walking toward it, I noticed the cloud swishes were softening and becoming more feminine in appearance, with curls at the end. There reached a coloring that was golden silvery white on the wisps. The sky to the northeast was now streaked with shades of pink and lavender, backlit with that powdery blue.
The glow of the sun did its metamorphosis from pink to reddish to orange, then golden to yellow then white. The clouds morphed to white.
Welcome a new day!