Monday, July 20, 2015
Camping In Itasca, Day 2
The sun has never slept in a day in its five billion year life. The thin walls of the tent do little to keep out the light and heat of the morning. Bear is already awake next to me. Every morning the first thing I see is his smile, and it’s impossible to have a bad day after that. We kiss gently, eyes soft. I hear nothing but my heart beating for him, like a bass drum getting played by a giant.
At the picnic table we munch on Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I watch Bear slurp up the sugary milk after this third bowl. I try to do the same but miss my mouth completely, and spill the milk all over the front of my shirt. Bear’s laugh is contagious.
“Damn it!” I say. “The milk is the best part. And now I gotta change.”
Bear gathers the few breakfast items and follows me into the tent. Our plan for today is biking, and I am very excited. I love to bike, and there are miles and miles of trails here to explore. I change into appropriate biking attire, and sit on the air mattress and wait for Bear to get dressed. He has emptied out over half of his duffel bag full of clothes but hasn’t picked out an outfit. Then he growls heavily.
“What?” I ask.
“I didn’t pack any shirts. I only have this one,” he tugs on the shirt he is wearing, which is the same one from yesterday.
“You only have the shirt you were wearing?” I try to stifle my laugh, but it didn’t work. Bear sticks his tongue out at me.
“Yes I only have this one.” He is trying very hard not to laugh with me. “I’ll have to go get some at the gift shop.”
It’s a short drive to the visitor’s center, but it’s only 9:00am and it’s not open yet. Not for another hour.
“Now what do we do while we wait?” I ask Bear.
“Let’s go to the headwaters. They are right over there.”
We stroll down a dirt path, following a slower old couple arm in arm. It’s like looking into the future, and the thought makes me smile. Bear holds my hand gingerly as we walk to the river. As the air gets chillier, I know we are getting closer.
You would think the headwaters of the Mississippi River would be more impressive. I mean its over 2300 miles long, but you would never know that looking at this calm start. But, it is still beautifully serene. The few murky clouds in the sky are reflected on the water’s surface, which flows quietly over low rocks and away down a shallow path into the woods. The water is freezing cold, otherwise we would have strolled barefoot through the water. I notice all the beautiful river rocks that are under my feet, just an inch below the water, and I select a few that call to me. Bear also picks up a few rocks, and we take turns showing each other our findings as we are squatted over the shore. I watch Bear reach for a small white rock that is sparkling in the water’s reflection. He examines it briefly before placing it back in the water.
“Don’t you like that one?” I ask him.
“I thought it would be bigger. It called to me but when I picked it up it was a disappointment.”
“Aw,” I sigh, picking up the sparkly rock. “But it called to you for a reason. I’ll keep it for you just in case.”
“Okay,” he says. “What do you think about this one?” He hands me a stone that has orange tiger stripes on one side and black Dalmatian polka dots on the other.
“Oh!” I exclaim loudly. The few older people around stare at us. “That is so unique, I’ve never seen a rock with interesting patterns like that in the wild.”
Bear puts the rock in his left hand, along with a few other rocks he is planning on taking home. One of the things I love most about Bear is his acceptance of my love of rocks and crystals. Most people don’t see the beauty in rocks and gemstones, but I do, and now Bear does too. At home we have a growing collection of healing crystals and collected river rock, each one hand picked by one of us at least. They help us to stay connected to nature even when we are stuck inside.
Its been about an hour, and we go to the gift shop and pick up a few shirts on clearance. We return to Bear Paw Campgound, and I set up our new pet rocks in a pretty line on top of the cooler. I sit in full lotus pose admiring them for a few minutes before Bear calls for me outside the tent. I quickly slip on my tennis shoes, meet him outside, and mount my bike. I follow him toward the wooden bridge path we walked yesterday.
Our destination is the Douglas Lodge by way of beautifully green bike trail. It has good variation of up hill struggles and down hill coasts. Once we are at the top of a particularly difficult hill, I stop and watch Bear stream down the path without pedaling. He takes his hands off the handle bars and spreads his wings wide, like an eagle. He looks like he could flap his arms and flay away.
“Woo!” he says, his voice getting lost the wind he creates. It’s my turn now. I push myself forward and pedal a few times hard and fast, giving myself just enough momentum to coast just the way Bear did.
The wind is almost strong enough to lift me off my bike. I keep a firm grip on the handles and a wide smile on my face. I look up into the trees above, a green blur of nature. Ahead of me the path curves gently like a beautiful woman, and with the lightest touch I mold to her. Bear has used the curves to pick up more speed. I propel myself forward with a few fast pedals in an attempt to keep up with him. We coast for another half mile through an impressive forest before needing to pedal again. Time flies along with us in the breeze, before I realize it we have biked about four miles to our destination.
Only when we stop and dismount our bikes do I realize how hard my heart is pounding and the sweat starts pouring down my face. Bear’s fur is drenched, but he is still sexy, the outline of his muscles visible through his Under Armor shirt. We share the two waters I brought along with us before the return trip. We return back to the camp site all too soon, but my legs feel like jelly and Bear is hungry. Grilled cheeses are for lunch today, along with illegally brought-in alcohol poured into our empty water bottles.
It is only the second day of our trip, and I have already felt more connected to nature than I have been all summer.
“Can we move into the tent permanently?” I ask Bear as I dip my grilled cheese in ketchup.
“How about we buy a motor home and live in that?” Bear suggests.
“A motor home like this one?” I point at a class-A motor home driving by to occupy the next site over. I watch them open all their doors and windows and I imagine Bear and I instead instead of the three-person family who it belongs to. I can’t help but think that my two kitties would NOT appreciate living on the road.
“Yeah, I can see it. Do you have a spare 60,000 dollars to put towards a motor home?”
“After I win the lottery I will!”
“Well then, cheers to the lottery!” I hold up my plastic water bottle filled with a sweet adult beverage. Bear grabs his and raises it to meet mine.
“And here is to our future wedding!”
We drink from our bottles, never breaking eye contact. I could look into his sapphire eyes for the rest of my life. And I get to, and I can’t wait.