The state of Oregon canceled our 36th-anniversary camping reservations. Hmpff.

Wanting to thrive, not just survive these disconcerting times, we simply shifted our destination to an undeveloped campsite. We picked a little lake so out of the way that Kyle’s Search and Rescue cohorts have made three rescue trips there in the last six months — perfect for social distancing.

Our proposed campsite was less than 30 miles from home as the crow flies. Although it could be argued that we are a couple of old crows, we still went the long way around, a three-hour drive. We aren’t complaining. We are just happy we survived the trip.

Well aware that loaded log trucks have right-a-way on logging roads, we crept cautiously through Seneca’s forestland. We were on a particularly narrow stretch of road with a long drop-off when our worst fear came barreling around a corner moving too fast to slow down, much less stop. We have no idea how Kyle managed to ease far enough over for the log truck to swoosh by — a mere six inches away — without rolling our truck. We attribute our survival to super-buff guardian angels.

Backtracking a couple of times after missing our way in the logging road maze was to be expected, as was the final road being not much better than a skid trail. While we are grateful for the numerous trees the Search and Rescue volunteers cut out of the road while rescuing people, they clearly weren’t thinking about our full-size crew cab F-350 as they made the cuts. Time after time we both rolled down our windows, hung out our heads, and watched the sides of the truck as we eased through narrow gaps. Now that I think about it, I really should have quit sliding back to the middle of the bench seat to snuggle up against my hubby after every log.

Naturally, on such a road there was no bridge for the final creek crossing. I was torn between watching the pretty little waterfall upstream or focusing on whether our camping plans would survive the deepening water. I half expected Samson, our truck, to shake himself like a dog after he clambered out the other side.

The much-anticipated lake turned out to be little more than a pond. Hmmm, not exactly what we were expecting, but then when Kyle saw the lake earlier in the year, he was on a survival mission at night in a snowstorm. Although we were underwhelmed by our choice of campsites, we weren’t about to retrace our route, so we set up our wall-tent and resolved to enjoy our situation.

We soon discovered that what our lake lacked in size it made up for in the frog population. Although the frogs were mostly quiet during the day, when the evening drew near the symphony really tuned up. At times we had to nearly shout to hear each other over the cacophony. Did you know that frogs can croak all night long? Our noisy neighbors only quieted when they thought it was a matter of survival — such as when Kyle’s shadow passed in front of our lantern.

Our rowdiest neighbors turned out to be a pair of Canada geese and a bachelor goose. They simply did not get along. They weren’t particularly thrilled with our presence either. We are happy to report that we survived the goose bomber dropping his payload from above. He missed.

With no official trails in the area, hiking options were limited. Despite the boggy lakeshore and willow thickets, we decided to see how far we could get around the lake. We blithely made use of game trails until we found a big tuft of bear hair and realized just whose trail we were misappropriating.

Being in logging country in the foothills of the Cascades, we were not surprised to stumble across an overgrown ancient logging road. As we hiked down it, we gazed in awe at monster decaying stumps. The largest was a full eight feet across!

We made it three-fourths of the way around the lake before our route was blocked by a steep, shrub-choked hillside. Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get going … and the Millers turn around. After retracing our steps back to camp, icy home-pressed apple cider and cheese crackers never tasted so good.

We always eat very well on these trips as Kyle is a skilled Dutch oven chef, but this time we tried something new. Being Easter weekend, we celebrated by roasting rabbits over the open fire. Yep, it was true wilderness survival as we roasted sugary yellow rabbits called Peeps.

Not having an Easter basket to hide, I improvised by hiding Kyle’s little package of peeps. Hey, it never hurts for Kyle to hone his search and rescue skills. He, in turn, spied with his little eye, an abandoned hatchet. Y’all are lucky I am not a member of the Search and Rescue team. I went round and round in circles until I finally spied with my little eye the hatchet firmly lodged up in a tree.

Easter morning was extra special for me because I had given up my tea habit for Lent. No matter that my plastic cup emanated a lovely propane odor absorbed from the camping box, I finally got to savor a cup of tea. I don’t know how I survived the forty long days!

We paired the tea with homemade empty tomb buns. Biting into the cinnamon treat with an empty center, we exclaimed as we traditionally do, “Look, the tomb is empty; Christ is Risen!,” Whereupon the other person responded, “He is risen indeed!”

After reading aloud the Bible story of Jesus’ resurrection, we combined celebrating Easter with celebrating our anniversary. With a frog symphony in the background, we went back and forth naming what we love about each other and our life together. Awww.

After two days of complete solitude, we were surprised when a bright yellow jeep jounced up our dead-end road. Few people besides loggers and Search and Rescue personnel know about this lake. When the friendly couple from Myrtle Creek heard that we were celebrating our anniversary, they whipped out a slightly wilted bouquet of bright yellow roses and white Peruvian lilies. After handing us the bouquet, they waved off our startled thanks and went four-wheeling off into the sunset.

Kyle, being an opportunist, immediately claimed that the yellow jeep with yellow roses was an FTD delivery. Uh Huh. Kyle’s malarkey is probably the result of getting married on Saint Patrick’s Day. After putting the flowers in a canning jar with water they perked up and looked like they might even thrive! Such an unexpected and beautiful addition to our anniversary campout. In the morning our frost-encrusted flowers looked even lovelier; when they thawed, not so much.

Happily, our marriage, unlike our flowers, not only survives our annual campouts, it thrives.

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