Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Perfect Camp Site

Three years.  It seems so long ago when I first saw The Perfect Camp Site.

My husband had suggested we take a vacation to an area where he had hunted for years.  A few days before we left I had met with a retired co-worker who had offered me a part time job as a consultant for his company.  It was a once in a life-time opportunity that would allow me to retire in my mid-50's. 

There were others waiting in line if I didn't take the offer.  I took it knowing the opportunity wouldn't come around again.  We had left on our trip knowing that after almost 35 years I'd be announcing my retirement when we returned.  I still recall the joy and disbelief of that decision and how the world suddenly looked different as we headed down the road.

I recall the 8 hour drive and babbling about my decision and also about Champ, our daughter's horse that I'd inherited when she'd headed off to college.  I had never ridden a horse like Champ.  I didn't know how to work his buttons and was in the midst of taking lessons to learn how to ride correctly.  I was planning on riding in my first horse show and would be missing Champ and my lessons while we were away. 

On our first trip we had stayed in a little cottage on a lake.  The lake was beautiful but the cottage was run down and literally falling apart around us.  After a long drive and sleepless night, my husband had taken me into the mountains so that he could show me his favorite areas.

We'd come across this beautiful camp site.  I recall asking my husband to please stop and pull over so we could check it out.  I stood there in awe of the surroundings, intensified by my change in life decision.  We had pulled out our camp chairs and spent hours sitting in the silence of the woods.

When the time came to leave we didn't want to return to the run down cottage on the lake but we had no choice.  We made a pact to return the following year with our camper so we could stay in the woods.  For the next twelve months we talked frequently about The Perfect Camp Site.

Year 2.  With Hank the Dog we had loaded the camper on the truck and headed back to The Perfect Camp Site.

This drive had been somber.  I was retired and enjoying my new life but Champ had died six weeks earlier.  I was still reeling from the sudden loss. 

I had purchased Poco two weeks before losing Champ.  I'd bought him as a horse for my family and novice friends to ride along with Champ and I.  Now Poco was my only horse.  I had no idea where Poco and I were going.  I felt numb and lost.

We arrived to find The Perfect Camp Site empty and waiting for us.  Stepping out of the truck I felt my sadness falling off of me like old skin.

During our stay we never saw another person.  My husband told me were "cold camping".  No power with the exception of our quiet little Honda generator, no water with the exception of what was in the camper, no cell phone service, no fire due to fire danger.  We loved it.

We did find ourselves camp bound and if it hadn't been for the Red Ryder BB gun that my husband had grabbed as we'd left I think we would have gone stir crazy.  We spent a lot of time hiking, taking turns shooting the BB gun and throwing the ball for Hank the Dog.  When it was time to leave we agreed to come back again the following year.

Year 3.  This year we brought our 4-wheeler.

As we drove to our now familiar destination, I commented on the changes in the past year.  Still working part time and happily retired, but this year we once again had two saddle horses to ride thanks to the purchase of Bob at the end of May. 

Where Champ had been a challenge and Poco was steady, Bob was fun.  He pushed me a little and allowed me to grow.  As the miles passed by I was already looking forward to getting home and riding Bob.

During the past year we had often commented on how The Red Ryder BB gun had been a hit.  This year we had collected the tops of dog food cans so that we could make targets and have a little shooting competition.  With fishing line, magic markers and a hammer and a nail, we were set to create our targets when we unpacked.

As we neared The Perfect Camp Site we once again assured each other that we would be ok if somebody else was already occupying it.  We reminded ourselves that there were lots of other nice spots where we could stay.  But both of us knew that none of the other spots came close to The Perfect Camp Site.

We arrived to find The Perfect Camp Site once again waiting for us with open, although very dry arms.  We jumped out of the truck and turned to grin at each other.  We were back!

It was amazing how quickly we got unpacked and set up.

We set up a tripod for our targets. When the breeze picked up they sounded like a wind chime.

Hank the Dog, a typical Lab.  If there's water around he's in it.  We loved listening to the sound of the water in the little creek.  We could hear it gurgling inside the camper and periodically a fish would splash.  What a nice way to fall to sleep.

The Perfect Camp Site

Before we knew it the time had come to pack up and head for home. 

Goodbye Perfect Camp Site.  See you next year!


  1. A lot of changes from one year to the next. What a lovely piece of tranquility you have found. Something to look forward to one year to the next.

  2. A wonderful post ! I think that camp site may kick everyone else out so you can be there on your own strange how every year so far it has been empty and waiting for you guys ! Looks and sounds like my kind of place! Have a wonderful eve.

  3. How wonderful to return to the same place over & over and then mull on the changes that have happened since your last visit there. A place of growth, relaxation and rejuvenation. Great post!

  4. The perfect camp site is a place for reflection each year. It awaits your arrival. Everyone has a perfect campsite in their life. Thank you for taking us along on your trip.