Saturday, July 16, 2011

Today is the day of what has become my annual six-hour round-trip drive to Grand Lake Stream, the drop-off point for the wilderness canoe camp that both my sons have attended. This year only Paul is going; James is leaving for two weeks of film school tomorrow.

So Paul and I will drive and drive and drive, meandering north and east over roads that will become progressively emptier. Sometimes the power lines will disappear from the roadsides; then suddenly we'll find ourselves in a papermill town bustling with strip malls and gas stations. Then it, too, will vanish and we will be back to empty roads lined with empty lakes, a crooked trailer, a log skidder idling in a woodyard, an ancient roof-caved house. We'll drive through Indian Township, part of the Passamaquoddy reservation, dilapidated like all else but with a strange momentary aura of housing project. And then, at long last, we'll arrive at Grand Lake Stream, a tidy, poky, thriving, little fishing resort, which seems to have been dropped by cyclone into the midst of loneliness. It sits on the edge of the Grand Lake system, and far out into this system is the base-camp island where my boy will begin his three weeks of Allagash fun. But first he and I will buy sandwiches at the store and then sit on the dock in the hot sunshine and eat them. This year I will not accidentally drop half of my sandwich into the lake. Meanwhile, tourists who don't really know how to operate power boats will come and go, and a few chunky fifth graders will plop off the dock into the water. I will worry about sunburn. Eventually other laden campers will begin arriving; eventually the camp boat will appear far out in the lake; and the kids will huddle into their life jackets and off they will go, down the lake, around the bend of the cove, gone. And then I will get back into my car and drive away.


Julia Munroe Martin said...

What a lovely tradition. I love those drives to pick up/drop off from somewhere -- the time is (sorry to be cliche) priceless. However, the solo drives home have become harder and more poignant as they are for college drop offs/pick ups with longer in-between-sandwich times. Enjoy the time.

Maureen said...

For five summers my only went to a "camp" at UVa (a great program). Every year he got taller and more independent, and I hated driving back alone.