Doug and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border for Camp Swamp this past weekend.
Swamp is a college friend who grew up in Small Town, Wis. After college Swamp wound up back in the same western Wisconsin area. I suppose it's nice to go home again, although I have no interest in living in Indiana again, or Coon Rapids, Minn., for that matter.
Swamp grew up camping on sandbars and along the banks of the Chippewa River, and he invited Doug and me to join him for an overnight on the river several years ago. That first trip was in August 2002. This year's trip marked our seventh annual pilgrimage.
Loading everything into a boat and navigating a sometimes shallow river to find a sandbar suitable for camping is a weird experience. Once you get there, you don't go very far. Even if it's a one-night trip, it can be a challenging experience. There's something about camping on sand that's different than camping in the woods. There's no shade to block the sun on a sandbar, there's little firewood to be found and while walking on sand sounds pleasurable, the sand gets hot when it's sunny, and the lack of solid footing can become rather annoying. Never mind the fact you can't avoid getting sand in anything and everything you bring for the trip. I swear there was a grain of sand on every Italian sausage I ate this past weekend.
Swamp was an unlikely friend when I went to college. Despite that, Doug and I have remained friends with him since we all graduated. Our one night of camping is the one time of the year I see him, typically, and I'd hate to give it up.
Why is it that I go out of my way to visit a friend who would have stopped calling me years ago had I not made an effort to stay in touch? I don't know, but it's who I am. For better or worse, I'll keep going back to Camp Swamp as long as I physically can, sand be damned.