Redemption By the Lake

I’ll admit, after our less-than-stellar June camping (mis)adventure, I’d kind of cooled to the whole idea of camping. At least in a tent and/or outdoors (although…that’s pretty much what camping is (blanket forts do not count)). Last week, I happened to be interviewing a company called Under Canvas for a client write-up. These guys are the very definition of glamping—normally something I’d treat with disdain—but I was kind of marveling over the plush king beds and private bathrooms and fancy cuisine whipped up by private chefs. I figured Tara would really despise the idea, but when I mentioned all that to her, she was like, “Oh yeah, that sounds great!” So maybe we were both a little burned out.

You might recall the issues that plagued us three months ago:

  • A leaking air mattress
  • Raging winds
  • Swarms of mosquitoes
  • Annoyingly persistent allergies
  • A PMSing wife

I’m happy to report that camping has experienced a redemption after this weekend’s getaway. We reserved three sites at Sheridan Lake for us and a bunch of Tara’s coworkers plus their families and met up there Friday night. Introvert that I am (plus the whole social distancing thing) made me leery, but it turned out to be pretty fun!

Prior to the trip, we bought a brand new air mattress. That solved problem #1 right off the bat. There were no gusty winds or mosquitoes (which isn’t to say there weren’t bugs, but they weren’t biting). I took an allergy pill in the morning and was fine, and Tara wasn’t anything acronym-related this time. What a great turnaround, huh? Plus, this was our fourth time camping in the Black Hills, and three of our trips have taken place not only at this particular campground, but in this exact site (#68), so we pretty much knew what to expect.

For starters, there’s a killer view.

And we weren’t all joined at the hip. There was plenty of chatting around the campfire (and Jello-shots, because we’re all still living in college dorms, ha), but also plenty of not-chatting-around-the-campfire. Tara and I got some time alone, and on Saturday, she joined her group aboard a rented pontoon while I opted for a six-mile hike. Back at camp, I propped my feet up and read my Kindle for about four glorious hours. It was the best of both worlds!

I hiked the Flume Trail, and was rewarded with great views and the first signs of fall.

The trip wasn’t entirely without incident. When they all returned from boating at 7 p.m., the sky was starting to look ominous and there were rumbles of thunder. An hour later we were in the midst of the storm, with lots of lightning, thunder, and rain. Luckily, Tara and I were still able to enjoy a hot dinner, because I did a really smart thing and got the fire going well in advance of her return. True, we enjoyed it under the covered rain awning, but nobody else in our group was able to start a fire and their dinners consisted of potato chips or oranges or nothing, so I really can’t complain. For the record, we told them they were free to come over and use ours, but nobody felt like venturing out by that point. As a result, everybody stayed in their tents for the night, but after such a long day we were all pretty tired…and all pretty much in bed by 8:30.

So, camping is back in my good graces. Just in time for the season to come to an end, ha! Even though you end up playing musical chairs to avoid the smoke from the campfire and there’s an increased risk of death by lightning, I am once again a fan.

29 thoughts on “Redemption By the Lake

    1. So, you’re saying there are no Jell-o shots for the Army guys?

      Also: that was fast! I had to bite my tongue when you were talking about Nikolai in the first chapter, lol.


      1. It was a good read. I thought the ending just a little predictable, but intense. Cannot help that maybe your characters were built around people in your real life (not Drake, I hope, but some of the more peaceful characters). I would like to have had a little more drama play with her daughter. She had a snappy, teenager attitude that could have made for some humorous moments.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the feedback! I think to some extent characters will always be based on people you know. Drake not so much (and when writing the book, I always pictured him played by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie version).

        I’ve toyed around with the idea of a sequel. Even started sketching out the first chapter. It would involve Rachael getting caught up in some new mystery local to the region, such as the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, while on hand for the rededication of Mount Rushmore.


  1. Killer view indeed, Mark! It’s freaking STUNNING! In fact, all your photographs are gorgeous!

    And it sounds like you had a much better time the previous trip. Storm and all. Sounds like the god’s were with you!

    Beautiful shot of the storm. WOW! I’m a huge fan of stormy skies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s probably best to wait until your kids are at least 5-6 before taking them camping. They aren’t likely to appreciate the experience earlier than that…and neither will you, because you’ll be too busy trying to keep them quiet so they don’t disturb the other campers.

      Liked by 2 people

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