Friday, September 5
Day 1 began in typical fashion as we prepared to leave town. Most of the prep time was spent packing the trailer and truck, trying to fit two bicycles into Dad's camper and arranging food into every nook and cranny of refrigerator and cooler space. I slept a little later than anticipated, so I had to hurry to make sure I got packed in record time without forgetting the important things (cameras and fishing gear!).
On roads relatively free of Labor Day weekend traffic, we pulled into camp around 4:30 p.m. and got set up. The scenery is breathtaking and the setting perfect for a family reunion of sorts. I'm immediately struck by how much better I feel. While my thoughts turn immediately to the river, I decide to stay put for the afternoon. There'll be plenty of time for fishing.
Mom finally breathed a sigh of relief when Chris, Christel, Matt, Heather, and the boys pulled into the campground near 10:00 p.m. Mothers never stop worrying, a fact I know from personal experience, as Mom has never stopped worrying about me and never ceases to know when things are wrong with me. It’s a lesson that all children learn in the course of life - some sooner than others, but eventually a man or woman realizes that his/her mother will always be able to tell when they are hurting. With all safely in camp for the night, I think she finally can rest easy, although the camp host’s warning about bear sightings in recent days did cause her to realize the wisdom of me having a firearm in my tent with me.
Speaking of firearms…that’s a good place to start the trip diary. As always, I dutifully packed my Glock .45 along with Dad’s .357, both secured with trigger locks and separately stored ammunition. Trouble is, trigger locks don’t come undone without a key. As we left Fort Collins today, I stopped to do a final mental check of supplies and conveniences that I like to have with me on a camping trip. I glanced at my keys, sitting prominently on the living room coffee table. I thought to myself, “why would I need to bring my keys along? I’m riding with Mom and Dad. May as well just leave them here.” The reason for bringing my keys hit me square between the eyes as the camp host told us of a menacing bear that had been frightening campers within the past couple of weeks. The key to the trigger lock for my Glock, of course, sat securely on my key chain on the living room coffee table, next to a recent issue of the NRA’s American Rifleman. How ironic. I can see the headlines now. “39 YEAR OLD KILLED BY BEAR. INOPERABLE FIREARM TO BLAME.”
Brenden and Nick appear to be having fun so far, joined at the hip as always. Cam, God bless him, arrived fast asleep in the back of Christel’s Jeep, bundled up in a small flannel blanket. I looked at him with envy. So peaceful, so innocent, so much life ahead of him. The little bugger is out like a light on the couch inside Dad’s camper, the spoils of being the youngest.
Matt and Heather operated with typical efficiency in setting up camp, adorned in matching His and Her headlamps. What a great idea. I’ll have to pick one of those up. Christel and Chris set up an absolute monster of a tent. My battered, well-traveled two-man, by comparison, looks like the Christmas tree in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
The moon sparkles brightly, peering out slightly above a rugged, rust colored ridge to our west. Nearly full, it sits inches, yet light years away from a solitary bright star. The camp is now quiet. The right kind of quiet - not isolating or fearful, but grand and peaceful. The sandman calls, and I must answer.