Saturday, August 18, 2012

An American Summer

The last days of camp were a flurry of crazy; trip gear to be cleaned and packed away for another year, crying campers to be corralled and delivered to the airport and of course the celebration of the end of a successful summer. Despite my best culinary efforts I didn't take out the title in the annual Tripper Dutch Oven Cook Off, oh well, there's always next year! As we disposed of the last camper into the care of Delta Airlines we erupted into an explosion of shenanigans in which drunken karaoke featured heavily.

The end of summer debauchery dissipated as fast as it had emerged with the majority of camp staff exiting quickly as Birch Trail swiftly became a ghost town of summer past. Soon there was only four; Shae, Mealy, Dan and I lingered, soaking up the last special moments of being in the woods, the smell of campfire, Leine's at the P&L and simplicity of enjoying time together.

As the eeriness threatened to engulf us, the time had come for us to take to the road. We headed Northwest to the childhood summer haunt of Shae-Dynasty, a quaint cabin on the shore of Deer Lake, the gorgeous cul de sac of Grand Rapids in the North woods of Minnesota. One day turned into three; boating and fishing the lake, sunbathing, cooking, great conversation, more campfires, moonshine, silliness and the appreciation of the simple good things that make life special and create those random moments of happiness. It has been an American summer to remember, so much fun, so many new special people. 

After saying our goodbyes the last of the Tripper crew went their separate ways and I made my way to Minneapolis. Apparently a week of boozing hadn't been enough and some new friends dragged me out for a 'couple' drinks which turned into too many "minty mighty dragon worthy" drinks so I spent most of my first day here feeling less than energetic. The next couple days will bring some much needed rest, just in time to restore me to full fabulousness before I head to Santorini to meet up with the lovely Anna.

Packing in and packing out

Tent City


Tripper Cook Off in action
The reigning champion and the new champion!
John Duke - what else is there to say?

More cook off action
Chocolate chip carrot cake anyone? 
You're going to you are!
The tripper cook off babies 
A couple hundred rock heavy campers bags
When it rains.... 
A few of these might have been breached
A gift from the Jerky capital of the USA 
Our beloved P & L
Being silly...its the key to life man
A lovely lake home
Boating the day away

Hard work

Great food with great people
What a summer it's been

Monday, August 6, 2012

Birthday Tubing, Brunch, Lumberjacks and Sea Kayaking!

Its hard to believe that almost two and a half months have passed by since I first arrived at Birch Trail Camp. This time next week my life here will be over and it time to move onto my next adventure! It's my last day off and I sit on the lakeshore of the worlds largest inland sea, Lake Superior; the sun shines warmly and a cool midsummer breeze brushes over me as I lay in the grass and ponder what I will do next. 

I finished my last trip of the season yesterday, Sea Kayaking on Lake Superior, it was amazing. The girls were great fun to be around and the islands beautiful. I pulled out all the stops on the cooking front and created some gourmet backcountry feasts, winning over the girls and receiving credit for the trip as "Best Trip Ever!", I even get a t-shirt to prove it!! I enjoyed all my trips this summer but Sea Kayaking and Boundary Waters would have to be my favourites; I enjoy leading the older girls, I can more easily relate to them and feel like I can be a positive influence which is a great feeling. 

During the middle of the session I enjoyed a few days off which involved an afternoon of tubing down the Nam to celebrate Mealy's birthday, a Bloody Mary brunch at Bass Lake that lasted well into the afternoon, which led into an evening ogling burly Lumberjacks at the World Lumberjack Championships.... where else would I be!! 

Living at Birch Trail has been an incredible experience, I have made some wonderful new friends and basically been paid to have a good time! Although you pretty much work all the time, I don't really consider partying like its 1999 at the camp dance party to be hard work! Pedalling through the back roads of Minong at dusk or a SUP at sunrise on Pokegama Lake isn't too strenuous either... A wonderful experience that I will be more than happy to re-live again next year if I am lucky enough.

For now I will enjoy camp life for another week and then I really don't know. I have the opportunity to join an old friend for a couple weeks in Santorini, sounds terrible doesn't it ;) Perhaps another Trip Leader job for a couple months, there is also Canada, Cuba, Mexico to consider. It will be nice to be a free agent for a while, where every day my will be my own and what happens next is left up the stars. Bring on the next big adventure!

Birthday celebrations tripper style!

The birthday lady

Chowing down Lodge style...blah

Miss Daisy Duke...too cute

A dutch over masterpiece!

Trippers in a food coma post Ethiopian 

John Duke...what else can I say

Watersports at dusk

Another day another spectacular sunset

We get paid for this!

Dance Party craziness!

A portrait courtesy of the uber talented Miss Mealy!
Lake Superior @ Duluth

One freaky laundromat and one handsome man!

Bloody Marys @ Bass Lake

Brunch goes in the lake!

Loving a day off with the ladies

Pole climb... Lumberjack Championships

Burly man action
The lovely Shae-dynasty

Sand Island sunset

Kayaking the Apostle Islands

Black bear up close and personal

Fungus anyone?

Kayaking 3 foot waves...FUN!