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Up north with Elle King

Walkin'

This week’s column is written in the Dancing Bear Community room of The Lodge of the Whispering Pines on the edge of the Boundary Waters near Ely, Minn.
I have heard some murmurs in the trees, but mostly it’s been the rain that has managed to work its way into camp conversation four of the five days here.
This is my second camping trip this year. Several months ago, Sabra and I hiked into the Grand Canyon at Havasu Falls. On that bucket list trip, I had several near-death experiences, including walks on the edge of serious, you’ll get squashed if you fall off, cliffs. There was also an evening I almost had to go without dinner as the power was off in the town of Seligman, Ariz., for the entire day. The most dire of situations, however, arose at base camp near the falls. The company we hired to guide us provided only a three-person tent for the two of us and no cots. I did get a Thermorest but it popped promptly under my weight.
Not once, not twice, but three times I had to get up at night to answer nature’s call, and each time I thought it’d be my last as I struggled to put pants on in the confines of the tent and stand up while putting on shoes on the rocky ground.
That’s why I made the investment in a 10x14 foot Coleman cabin tent boasting a 60-second set up.
Ha, ha!
Despite being more like 60-minute, the structure has kept me dry. I particularly like the hinged door feature, which saves hundreds of tedious zips and unzips. Also working well, the double extra large cot, which was designed for Sumo wrestlers. Best of all, the floor is really waterproof as advertised; a good thing as the state’s 10,001st lake is gradually forming underneath.
Sabra is not along on this trip; she doesn’t care much for camping and really dislikes fishing. Not only doesn’t she like catching fish, but she mourns the death of each and every worm.
Two of my daughters, their respective husband and boyfriend, and all three of my grandchildren are here. Despite the rain and slow fishing, I’m having a really good time. Technically we’re not really roughing it as the campsites have electricity and running water but there is no cell phone service here and no TV. So, we’re actually doing things I remember from distant childhood like talking with each other, playing games and watching the campfire between downpours.
Fishing is slow, or maybe I’m slow to fishing. Besides the rain, it’s been extremely windy. It’s also my maiden voyage with “Skeeter’s Dream.” So far the experience has been mixed.
Years ago, I signed up to get a private pilot’s license. I’d been the passenger in a few single-engine planes before and enjoyed the flights. I was doing great in the classroom portion and set up my first in air lesson. We flew around for a few minutes with the instructor pointing out various controls.
Then he turned the yolk over to me.
Suddenly, every little dip or yaw a craft this size makes even on a calm day freaked me out. I was going to crash and die and, with my luck, hit an elementary school.
Not helping boating is the resort owner who helpfully pulled out a map and inked x’s in red to mark a dozen hidden rocks to avoid. This augmented the two hundred other danger areas already provided by the map. Then, using a black pen, he circled good fishing spots, which oddly enough, were adjacent to the x’s.
Oh! Oh! Oh! X’s and ohs!