Sunday, July 19, 2015
I can feel how heavy the car is even in the passenger seat. We have been driving for about 45 minutes, but still have over 100 miles to go before we reach Itasca State Park. I haven’t been camping before, and Bear tells me he hasn’t been camping without a “real adult” before. So in theory, neither of us know what we are doing. This will be a learning experience. Luckily we aren’t completely stupid. I have confidence in us.
A few hours later we check into the main office, campsite number four in Bear Paw Campground, very fitting for us. We originally planned to tow a pop-up camper, but decided to tent-camp instead. Armed with our brand new ten-person tent, bikes hanging off the trunk, and all our other awesome camping gear, Bear backs into our site. Our home for the next four days. I remove the coolers and backpacks from the back seat, Bear takes off the bikes and pulls the tent and tarp from the trunk. We practiced putting up the tent the other night at home, and it went smoothly. It doesn’t take as long this time, but we do manage to put several steak holes in the tarp and rip the tent at the door, and tear two of the steak hooks almost completely off the tent. But we get it up, and after we admire it for a moment we bring everything inside, besides the bikes.
Everything set up, it feels homey and cozy. Warm and slightly sweaty, I lay down on the air-mattress. Bear lays next to me, and without thinking our hands find each other. He looks sideways at me and smiles, and I can’t resist kissing him.
“I love you,” he says.
“I love you,” I say back.
Every moment I spend with him is special, but there are wild bird songs outside now and the shadows of leafs on the tent walls bounce with the breeze. We feel closer to nature, our life force is glowing brighter without the distractions of the human world. I can feel the tingle of it in the bottoms of my feet, the body’s road map.
Later that afternoon, we stroll down a beautiful but buggy wooden bridge, at least a quarter of a mile long.
Resting in nests of ferns under canopies of birch trees, there is very little sunlight. Bear and I were both raised in Minnesota, so naturally we already sprayed bug spray to help diminish the number of bugs attacking us. We reach the end of the wooden bridge and the paved pathway continues on. A picture perfect family of four bikes past us in the opposite direction, each one saying “hello” to us. I can’t help but smile wider as each passes, until an adorable little boy on a lime green bike brings up the rear. Minnesota nice at its finest.
We reach a small beach were dozens of people are enjoying the heat of the summer. Minnesota has always been known of its cold winters, but the summers can be equally as brutal sometimes. Hand in hand we stand near the sand, within reach of the cool breeze sweeping across Lake Itasca.
That night at the campsite, I insist on layering on the bug spray. Bear allows me to spray him several times even though I know he knows that I know he doesn’t care if he gets bug bites or not. Personally I fucking hate mosquitoes so I do everything to avoid them. I even have a hand held device that takes butane and pumps it through a blue filter to repel bugs. But these precautions also help against ticks which can be much more dangerous than mosquitoes, and horse flies which are the spawn of the devil. And the last thing I want are nasty insects flying around when I’m trying to eat dinner.
Bear is building a log pyramid in the fire pit, using three large pieces and a forth across the bottom. He lights today’s newspaper on fire and slides it underneath the bottom log. He takes a step back, looking unsatisfied. With more enthusiasm than I expected, he douses the small fire with lighter fluid. I hear all four logs burst into flame, a faint swooshing sound as the fire burns through the oxygen. Bear laughs excitedly.
“Man make fire!” I say in a bad attempt at a caveman impression.
Bear pounds his chest like an angry ape, and with his long hair and bushy beard I am almost fooled. Every aspect of him resembles an animal, he connects to animals in a way most people will never experience.
I rummage around in the coolers inside the tent as Bear tosses more logs into the fire. With my arms full of dinner supplies, I return to the picnic table and set everything out. A few paper plates, hot dog buns, bacon cheddar wieners, ketchup and mustard, a can of Pringles, paper towels and a Mountain Dew for Bear and a Diet Coke for myself.
Bear stabs the wieners through the cooking spears, two on each. We stand next to the fire pit holding our dinner over the flames. The dogs crack open, their juices crackling in the heat. I am growing very impatient, they smell scrumptious and I am starving. When I finally get the wieners in their buns, I drown them with ketchup and mustard. Bear does the same, but also adds crushed Pringles. Together we mow down on the hot dogs, chips and pop.
It is just about 9:30pm now, and the sky is still awake but fading fast. The combination of old sweat, bug spray, and campfire smoke makes my skin sticky, so we decide it is a good time for a shower and bed. We gather our towels and toiletries, plus a flash flight, and follow the road to the nearby showers. All of Bear Paw Campground is growing sleepy, so Bear and I sneak into the men’s bathroom. Quickly and stealthily, we both get into a corner shower stall and start the water.
The cheap thrill of almost getting caught makes this shower more fun than any other time we have showered together. I can hear the door opening and closing, men using the urinals and another man using a toilet. Bear stands under the shower head, water runs down his face and takes refuge in his beard. He smiles deviously at me, his eyes travel up and down, and before I know it he grabs me by the waist and pulls me under the water. I kiss him, he kisses me back, and we start to make out.
“Be quiet,” he whispers. “We can’t get caught.”
“I’m sorry,” I giggle, and then I push him up against the cold tiles of the shower. I run my hands down his neck, over his pecks and down to his abs, each muscle deliciously defined. His hands find the small of my back and travel down to firmly grip either cheek. He gives each a little shake and his smile gets bigger. But his smile isn’t the only thing getting bigger.
When we are finally clean after getting so dirty, we get dressed in the stall. I’m glad that I brought a flashlight because it is now very dark outside. But we are forced to wait a little longer, until the three men in the bathroom leave. Bear checks that the coast is clear, and we B-line to the door. But when we leave the bathroom, all three of the men that left before us were right outside talking to one another. They fall silent as we go past them and rush back to the tent.
“That was so much fun!” I say once the door is zipped shut.
“That was fun,” Bear says. “Those guys totally knew we were in there and were waiting for us to leave.”
“Yeah they were,” I laugh. “So much for a family campground.”
We crawl into bed together and snuggle close to stay warm. I fit so perfectly in his arms. His skin is soft and smells good. I nuzzle into his beard, and the curly hairs tickle my nose. The crickets outside sing us a lullaby. I am so comfortable that I don’t even remember falling asleep.