This issue of the Conservationist includes articles on two activities that I truly enjoy — camping and squirrel hunting. Reminiscing about past camping trips brought many memories to mind.
Dawn breaks early in the north country, and the sounds of a gentle breeze in the red pines and water lapping at the edge of the island rocks is a very good way to wake up during a camping trip. On this particular adventure in the late 1970s, my wife and I were newlyweds on a seven-day canoe trip with another newlywed couple exploring Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Spending seven days in the wilderness catching fish for breakfast, drinking water out of the lake, and seeing abundant wildlife is a good way to create fond memories. That trip resulted in some humorous memories, too. As you know, with any watercraft, there needs to be a captain and crew. During this particular adventure, my wife was positioned in the front of the canoe and I was in the back. Every time she happened to turn around and look at me, I had my paddle in the water steering the canoe in a straight line. As you might expect, lively discussions ensued about who was doing all the work propelling the canoe and who was along for the ride. She soon mastered paddling and we were smoothly gliding through the waters, enjoying the bald eagles and osprey flying overhead and all that nature had to offer. Another memory from that trip was waking up one morning, realizing a moose had visited during the night.
Another early camping trip on Lake Oahe in South Dakota involved fishing and water sports and included our first Weimaraner, Duchess. After a long day enjoying the outdoors, it was time to turn in with the expectation Duchess would sleep outside the tent. Duchess, being a Weimaraner and proud of her stubbornness, had no intention of sleeping outside the tent that night. The two-person tent we continue to use to this day has her scratch marks on the window netting reminding us of those adventures along Lake Oahe. Other family camping trips along the Atlantic coast, Black Hills of South Dakota, and on the shores of the Great Lakes hold special memories for our family. Even time spent out west on assignment to fight wildfires, where home was a tent, brings back special memories of camping in the great outdoors. One memorable experience was waking up every morning with the first view of the day being the morning sun reflecting off the snowcapped peak of Mount Hood.
All camping trips can and will provide many treasured and lasting outdoor memories. The memories of my family sitting around campfires discussing the day’s events, stargazing, listening to the night noises, enjoying pocket dinners, and s’mores cooked over the open fire are special to me and are an important piece of my family’s fabric of life. Adventures such as these can be part of your family’s experiences, too. We Missourians are blessed with ample camping opportunities. Gravel bars along Missouri’s clear water streams are one of many perfect settings for families and all outdoor enthusiasts to begin writing the chapters of their camping memories book. In the rapid pace of today’s world, spending time outdoors amongst Missouri’s many natural wonders will create special lifetime memories that will be reflected upon for many years to come. I challenge myself and encourage readers to make time for that next outdoor camping adventure. It will provide smiles, chuckles, and many other lasting memories.
One memory my wife and I look forward to creating is our first camping trip with our grandson, Philip, and his vizsla, Bea. Another chapter will be written to begin building those outdoor adventure memories with and for the next generation.
Tom Draper, deputy director
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler