Saturday, September 26, 2009
Last weekend was too perfect for these parts. The cornfields stretched for miles, but with some roll to the countryside, it wasn’t a boring drive to Oregon. No, not THAT Oregon. Illinois has a little town called Oregon and that’s where my drive took me.
Past rustic red barns and horse farms, past a make-shift sign pointing to a blessing of the harvest, past so many road kill raccoons I have to make mention. Solitary but not alone, a two-lane road with so many motorcyclists you’d think they were all going to some big convention. I think, however, they just knew this weekend was one of the few left for their passion until spring.
As each cyclist passed another, they extended their left arms downward. Not being clued in to motorcycle culture, I imagine this some kind of “secret handshake,” akin to the cub scout or boy scout handshake.
On hindsight, this is an appropriate segue since scouts camp a lot and that’s where I was heading. Years ago when my son Jeff was a cub scout, I somehow got snookered into becoming a den mother. Of course trying to wrangle eight elementary-age boys into after-school crafts projects is like herding cats. Bless my friend Molly’s heart, she knew better and passed on the opportunity to lead. Her son Christian, my son, and the co-leader’s son, ring-led the other boys into all kinds of harmless mischief. I had fun but not at the time. Does that make sense at all?
Eventually, Jeff graduated cub scouts and moved onto boy scouts and his dad took over as a leader. At least on my watch, the boys didn’t try to burn down the forest on a camping trip. The boy who a attempted that was, as they say, “troubled.”
So, when Jeff felt it was time to introduce camping to Natalie and little Nicolas, I was at first reluctant. Fifty-seven year old bones don’t like sleeping on the ground in a tent. Ever the boy scout, Jeff offered up an AeroBed, clinching the trip for me. The other appeal, besides being outside on a lovely fall weekend with people I love, was Jeff’s cooking.
By the time I pulled into the crowded campground at Lowden State Park, one former Governor Rod Blagojevich closed last year due to budget troubles, Jeff and Natalie had already set up camp. Sweet! Minor items forgotten and a burnt apple cobbler in a new Lodge Dutch oven were our biggest issues. Small price to pay for stars over our heads, a roaring campfire, S’mores, great steaks, campers’ breakfast, and being with people I love.