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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)

TITLE: Eyes Wide Open
By Margaret Gass


Lisa stood over the camp stove, which was almost perfectly balanced on a rock a good seven minutes’ walk from the campsite. That meant it would be almost fifteen minutes before her husband Andrew and son Paul returned. That’s just enough time for the bear the ranger mentioned to gobble me up, Lisa thought. She looked down at the chunks of elk steak she was browning in the Dutch Oven for stew. The aroma was wonderful, perhaps too much so. What if the bear (or a cougar) liked the smell, and came to see what was cooking? For just a moment Lisa wished she had been the one to return to camp…she didn’t think that Andrew’s joke about bopping the bear on the nose with her wooden spoon was very funny.

Lisa stirred the meat and began quartering the onions and potatoes. The carrots were already done. She had been surprised when Andrew had brought up the idea of a week-long adventure in the Canadian wilderness. Before they were married, Andrew had never even been camping. Now he loved it--especially if they were in a remote location. Andrew did not like campgrounds, and preferred the solitude of camping in permitted areas of the U.S. National Forest. Primitive locations and watching out for wildlife didn’t bother Lisa, but she was admittedly more nervous on this trip because they were far from home and help, vacationing in a foreign country.

Andrew had simply looked at a map and picked a spot to visit. Friends from church had lived near the Fraser River in British Columbia, and he had liked the scenery when they had traveled to a horse show in Langley, in the Greater Vancouver area. Lisa had been to Vancouver twice in high school, and was good with a map, so Andrew figured that was good enough. They were going. The plan was to camp for five days in the Nahatlatch Provincial Park and then spend two nights in a motel in Vancouver. Lisa wanted to see the Capilano Suspension Bridge. When she had gone with her parents, she only made it a third of the way across…Lisa wasn’t scared, but her mother was, and made Lisa rejoin the family on land. Lisa knew Paul would go with her, and she smiled as she thought of her boy’s lack of fear. He loved the outdoors, and was looking forward to seeing the Vancouver Aquarium.

“Did the bear eat our supper?” Andrew asked as he and Paul suddenly came into view.

“No, but I was thinking about leaving him the elk and running back to camp to find you,” Lisa replied. “I decided I was too hungry to skip dinner, so I stayed. I also decided that you and Paul have dish duty for leaving me alone so long.”

“Fair enough,” Andrew replied. “We took a bit longer because we couldn’t find the HoHos. Does that make up for our tardiness?” Lisa laughed, and then quickly dished up big bowls of the steaming hot stew. Just as quickly, the bowls disappeared--camp food always tasted better to Lisa. Perhaps it was because of the outdoor air. The bear missed out, thought Lisa, as both Andrew and Paul had seconds. As soon as they cleaned up, the family headed back to camp. They went straight to bed, too tired to make a fire.

Lisa awoke early, and started a fire. She always awoke before the boys, and enjoyed reading her Bible in the stillness of morning. She looked out across the lake, wondering if she would see any eagles or other birds out fishing. As she looked, she heard a noise behind her, and she jumped in her chair a bit until she realized that father and son had made their way out of the tent and were making targets of the bushes nearby. Suddenly, Andrew shouted and jumped back, causing Paul to go into fits of giggles.

“What’s the matter?” Lisa asked, who could see no cause for alarm from her chair.

“Snake!” yelled Andrew, “and I think I woke him!”

Andrew had, indeed awakened the snake, and neither man nor beast was happy about it. Fortunately, it had been a cold night, and the snake was not warmed up enough to move quickly. Andrew, on the other hand, moved very quickly and was now wide awake. While Andrew muttered over his morning coffee, Lisa and Paul watched Daddy’s “alarm clock” move away. Apparently, snakes hated showers. What a week it would be!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon02/05/09
Camping in the pristine wilderness of Canada. What an awesome opportunity - for those who like the wilderness that is. I enjoyed this story of "days gone by."
Joy Bach 02/05/09
I believe this is a true story, but I don't know how you take it and make it into this kind of writing. Like reading a book. Good job.