Oh, Wilderness

We compromised ... and took his dream vacation

At a weak moment, after romance-laced encouragement, my husband persuaded me to accompany him on one of his treasured wilderness trips to Canada.

"You'll love it," he promised.

I'd heard his stories of bear sightings, torturous portages over impossible trails, and the wilderness's version of a bathroom. What part would I love?

Snow fell softly on the windshield as we pulled into the parking area where we would officially leave civilization behind for a week. Snow. Not a good sign.

By day two, I'd settled into a familiar routine. He'd take off in the canoe early in the morning to fish while I stayed at our campsite crying miserably and scrounging every available downed tree branch and pine needle to keep the survival fire going.

This was not my version of a dream vacation. My dream vacation boasts sugar sand beaches, turquoise waters, and seafood delivered by a white-jacketed waiter. We'll wake at noon, not dawn. We'll sip iced tea with little paper umbrellas, not hot cider in tin cups whose main function is to warm frigid fingers as we huddle together. Our afternoons will be spent reading novels by the light of the sun filtering through palm leaves, not swatting mosquitoes and fending off hungrier-than-we-are grizzlies. Evenings? Moonlit walks along the beach, not spike-shoed hikes over glaciers.

But there I was: off the beaten track. Way off.

I wanted to love the trip and "adventure" as much as he did. The pristine setting. The clear lakes. The pine air freshener. A rock mattress. Hanging our food pack in a tree to keep the bears frustrated and unsuccessful. What's not to love?

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May 25

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