Saturday, July 18, 2009

Feels like survival

I've spent most of the last week with my dad, aunt, uncle, and second-cousins (or cousins once removed, or cousins squared? I can never keep up with those labels). Sunday and Monday, my dad and I slept in a tent outside my aunt and uncle's house, which is currently in a process of major renovation. Tuesday through Thursday, the lot of us packed up and went camping at Little Girl's Point, a spot on the Upper Michigan end of Lake Superior.

I finished this the first day of the trip:

It's another Verity beret, this time done in my own handspun (my first project in it!), for my aunt Suzy. I had promised her one of these hats ages ago, started one and frogged it, and then woke up a few days before my trip and realized that the skein of handspun hanging from my bedpost was the colors of Suzy's favorite costume from when she was a belly dancer in Alaska in the 70's. It's even a little shiny because of the bamboo content - it's not sequins, but close enough!

I love the way the colors came out when knitted up.

So that was my first finished thing of the vacation, wrapped up in my aunt's cozy living room. The next thing was finished here:

That's my dad's spare tent. The one he and my mom honeymooned in, oh, thirty years ago? And no, that big pale canvas flap isn't original to the tent. It's glued and pinned in place as a makeshift front door because that little bit of zipper action you see in the photo is about as zipped up as the original front flaps get without prayers and human sacrifices.

Also, it has a worm hole in the bottom. And it leaks from the seams. And it's constantly trying to pull away from the ground. It was like sleeping in a really flat-bottomed moon bounce. But it beat sharing the new tent with my dad, who goes to sleep hours before I do, snores, and emits gasses unfit for discussion in this delicate internet. So he got a tent to himself, and I shared with my sixteen-year-old whatever-cousin Abi, who has a sleeping schedule similar to my own.

And HA to my dad. We got the view.

That's a drop-off overlooking Lake Superior, five feet from the front of the tent. At right: anti-wendigo device. (And yes, the mesh is actually zipped in that shot. Sacrifices were made. But whatever-cousin Jacob was ten and loud, so nobody will miss him that much.)

The first night at the campsite, it thundered and poured. Abi and I were up most of the night, laughing nervously about how the leaky, bouncing tent was going to either flip and crush us or drown us in our sleep. The weather gave us one short window to make a midnight run to the restrooms down the road, then rained diagonally in our faces so hard on the trip back that we almost couldn't find the campsite.

I think it's worth noting at this point that I had not been camping since childhood, when camping was one of my most loathed activities. Having survived tenting in my dad's ghettofabulous tent a thunderstorm, I say again: HA.

Speaking of survival, I had an enlightening conversation with whatever-cousin Jacob over the campfire one night. We were cooking hotdogs, and when his was done, he held it up and announced, "I like cooking my own food. It feels like survival."

"Really?" I asked. "You're a great survivalist?"

He nodded. When I pointed out that his hot dog had been bought by his grandfather and stored in an RV freezer, Jacob just said, "Well, I could hunt a wiener pig all by myself if I wanted."

"A wiener pig?"

"Where hot dogs come from."

Oh. Well. I did not know that.

So, there you have it: the true origin of hot dogs. Wiener pigs. By the way Jacob describes them, it sounds like they're running rampant in the wilds of Upper Michigan. Be careful hiking around Little Girl's Point, or the wiener pigs might get you.

Lake Superior is a pretty good place to get some writing done, improbable wildlife aside. I finished chapter three of Or Your Money Back while sitting on the rocky beach, looking out over the waves. Even though I'd just slid down a small cliff on my butt to get to the shore, it was very peaceful.

I'm not sure I like camping. The lake was freezing, it ate my flip-flops, and it tried to bowl me over with big groping waves when I tried to wash my hair, but it was so very pretty. And sleeping in the tent--well. My first night back I had a nightmare about the tent flooding and flung myself out the tent door, only to wake up as I fell out of my loft bed. Bruises everywhere.

It seems like my regular life is a tad more dangerous than camping. But at least in my apartment, I don't have to hunt wiener pigs for food.

(By the by, if any of you knitters are ever in Superior, check out Fabric Works on Tower Avenue. We stopped there on the way home, and even though I was in gross post-camping garb, the ladies there were nothing but friendly.)

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