Sep 19, 2013

Let us take Adventures: of Contentment & Chameleons

Well, you guys, it's happened.
School and the mad exhausting beautiful awful invigorating chaos of autumn has struck, and I've barely had time to breathe. 

Which is why I'm taking time by the horns and demanding that it listen to me, that I do too have time to blog even though I don't but apparently I do, cuz here I am. So there. 


This is the story of summer's last hurrah. The deep breath before the dive. The Sabbath rest before the Monday that is September.

**Photo credit goes to anyone and everyone who happened to swipe the camera. **

My oldest brother and his wife talk about their trips to the Boundary Waters (the lakes between Minnesota and Canada) constantly. They canoe and portage far into the wilderness many times each year. It's their joy. It's their vacation and adventure. It's their thing. 
And late in August we got to be a part of it!  
The whole crew included my oldest bro and his wife, my other brother, my sis-in-law's brother, me, and three friends (who are brothers. What is this, the Brotherband Chronicles??). Oh, and Pippin, the golden retriever pup. None of her brothers could make it. ;) 

Packing up the canoes! 

Aaaaand we're off.

At the first of four portages. This one was 50 rods long (a rod is the length of a canoe).

Between three guys each carrying a canoe and the rest of us with massive packs, we were able to carry everything across the portages in one trip! 

In the next lake, almost ready to go again.

Pippin and her personal puppy wrangler. :) 

Blue skies above, the sun baking us slowly and sparkling off the rippling lake, each stroke bringing us deeper into the silence of the wilderness.

Finally, after a long tiring day of paddle, portage, paddle, we arrived at our campsite. And by campsite, I mean legit campsite. No running water, no electricity, no buildings to run to for shelter, a hole in the ground with a seat on it being the excuse for a "bathroom."
It was actually awesome. ;)


The days started cold and early and were filled with filtered lake-water coffee, instant oatmeal in mugs, the subtle smell of long-gone campfires, sleepy eyes and raspy morning voices. 


And the days ended with fishing trips and golden light and mesmerizing ripples and hushed voices. Paddles lifted from the water, dripping a quiet rhythmic hiss. The occasional hollow thunk of a paddle hitting the canoe, echoing across the still lake.  

It didn't take long for the days to begin running together. A day trip to other lakes, sore shoulders, the paddling and portaging and people falling into a rhythm. Minds beginning to forget about anything but living and laughing and rocking in the sun.  "Fishing" trips that were really just weeding trips. A sort of foggy haze of just being, the kind where you live and don't think about living. 

Lilly pads! Which are obviously yummeh. Duh.

Reflections. Liquid trees.

Me'n' Pip are good buddies. :)

My favorite day was the day we just sat around camp, all worn out and lazy, puttering with nothing in particular. 

There were rocks to skip and mini houses to build out of pine needles and sticks and moss, and zero nagging responsibilities that would need forceful ignoration. There just wasn't anything at all on the back of our minds, and it was glorious.

And then there were manly men trying to make manly fire with manly bow drills but only succeeding in making manly smoke before the manly rope broke. 

There was a puppy chewing on trees (that dog has got to be part beaver, gosh golly goodness), and there was fish gutting, with the guts being thrown into the lake as we swam. There were rocks deep in the lake to stand on, and lake-water hair, and bar soap for shampoo. And there was singing and humming to fill the quiet, and Radioactive accidentally became the camp theme song. 

There were mosquitoes to slap and toes to annihilate on boulders, and leeches to sprinkle with salt (which totally makes them let go, fyi. This I know. First hand. Be jealous.)

There were knives everywhere: knife throwing and sharpness testing, and random carving action with flying wood chips to dodge. 

There was instant coffee and brother massages and the comparing of CrossFit squat forms. There was incessant teasing and a giant wolf spider to poke and a twenty-something guy to teach how to knit. 

Yep, that just happened.
There was a bear pack full of food and toothpaste to hoist into a tree, and there were late night Settlers of Catan games to play in the tents and trail mix to swipe from each other. 

There were suspicious rustlings in the woods late at night, and wide eyes listening hushed, and flashlights beaming in the dark. There were giant night-time toads hopping across the path and lighting flickering during the darkest hours, thunder booming, the sound of a rain barrage on tent, fabric whipping violently in the wind. Cold air, damp sleeping bags, snuggling puppy.

And there was friendship and there was family, and the scent of pine and lake and pipe smoke, and all around there was laughter. 

^And there was Inna getting sentimental. :)


I have decided that my 18th year is the Year of the Chameleon. This is the year where I find myself taking adventures and being able to blend into almost any situation, much like that colorful critter.
I wonder which me is more me, the hipster one who loves cities and swing dancing and pixie cuts, or the one with a heavy pack pinching into her shoulders, the weight pulling her off balance, grinning gleefully at the dirt and the spiders and the leeches?

I don't need to know, not yet. I'll take my adventures and enjoy them, all sorts, with my mind open, and someday I'll find me. But for now, me is a girl who is a bit strange because you never know where you'll find her. She's exploring different personalities, and trying them on for size, and that's normal and that's natural and that's good.

"We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong."

Finally it was time to begin the long journey home, and we realized we had lost a paddle! After searching the campsite for twenty minutes or so, we finally had to leave without it. We packed up and paddled around the corner, only to discover the long lost paddle floating among the rocks on the other side of our peninsula! Apparently it had floated away, and what luck that the wind directed it into the path we would follow! *Whew* We didn't have to lose any of our muscle power after all. :)

Trekking through the woods, like a boss. (Okay okay, so I did have the smallest pack of anyone. But hey, I'm also the smallest person. I can still be a boss, right?)
When I told my sis how shockingly much I enjoyed it, she just smiled and said, "Of course you did. Women weren't made to be sissies."
I like that. :)

Right before our last portage ... tired eyes, happy people. 

And then finally but all too soon, we were back in the cars in civilization.
And then I discovered it, you guys. I discovered contentment.

Contentment is snoozing in the backseat, eyes closed against sunny air conditioning, a stomach full of fresh subway and cold root-beer, a hot puppy breathing hard asleep curled against your side, an iced latte to sip, the voices of family in front, a sunburned nose, mosquito bit legs and dirty clothes. 
On the way home from an adventure that has totally worn you out. 


  1. A wonderful post! It was like you took us along with you and I now feel like I have just had a wonderful vacation. Excellent story telling!
    Beautiful photographs too!

  2. This makes me smile in remembering, you really summed up our trip magnificently. It was a beautifully wonderful glad you could come and make memories with us.

    Few laughs for me: "none of her brothers could make it" hahaha! And "Women weren't made to be sissies" Amen, sista! :)

  3. This is pure fantasticness. Sounds like SUCH a cool trip! My friend & I want to do something like it.. we're just waiting for the right time. Seeing your photos makes me want to do it even more! So neat. :)

  4. That is so cool! I've never done extended bush camping (like, not for more than 2 or so days... I think 3 might have been our max). Such a great post. (Also, I knew about salt and leeches. Amazing, that. We used to live in a semi-rainforest-y area, so the leeches were no strangers to us. Shiver.) :)

  5. These pictures are beautiful, your words are beautiful, you are beautiful and Pip snoozing in the sunlight in the canoe is such a cute sight. I love this post. Your trip must have been so amazing, I'm quite jealous :)

  6. You have a very enjoyable wrinting style! I love canoeing and it is great to see your adventure. In the beginning of this summer me and a friend made a canoe trip in Sweden. It was amazing. Like you said, after a while there doesn't remain anything but living in the moment. The dust and worries of everyday life just fade away. You become content with simple things like laying in your canoe in the sun and eating breakfast on the shore. I love that.

  7. I don't really know what to say! Whenever I read your post I get speachless! your writing is so beautiful and enjoyable, and it seems you almost always answer my doubts and questions. Thank you so much for spending time writing your blog, Inna, I appreciatte that effort you transmit with your words!,

  8. Are you in Boundary Waters? We went there last summer. I reconized the first couple of pics as the starting piont. Great pics.


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