I'm writing this on Memorial Day while Kaye and I enjoy our first camping trip of the season at Cole's Creek near Waddington on the St. Lawrence River.
The sun is bright, and as we approached our camper after a brisk walk this morning, a fellow camper waved and yelled out, "It's finally summer!"
"Amen," I responded.
After a long spring of rain and flooding back home in Clinton County, the lack of storm clouds was a blessing.
Waxing nostalgic is easy at my age because there is a lot of nostalgia to wax about. I'll long remember the good times. We don't wallow in the past; we cherish it.
Camping memories offer us miles and miles of smiles. Our first experience involved a tag-along borrowed from our dear friend, the late Izzy Defayette. Our son-in-law Roger Wright spent many hours welding an old iron hitch to the undercarriage of our International Scout II and installing an electrical wiring harness for the camper.
With no experience, no sway bars and few instructions, we loaded kids, kit and caboodle and headed south toward northern Virginia with a map and a prayer.
Somewhere along the way, the offspring began to squabble in the back seat. When I twisted my head to chastise them, I inadvertently turned the wheel, and our entire rig began to swing and sway like Sammy Kaye.
While Kaye was busy saying Hail Marys, I struggled while the old Scout tipped up, first on the left side wheels, then on the others. Thank God, there was little traffic at the time, and we miraculously avoided a jackknife and/or a rollover. From that moment until we reached our destination, there was nary a peep in the back seat.
Our Ma and Pa Kettle escapades while trying to set up the trailer and a tent at the campground were humorous only in retrospect. Sweaty and frustrated, we ran and took what we anticipated would be a refreshingly cool leap into the pool. Not! The water was about 104 degrees on a sweltering day near Reston, Va. The rest of that vacation is a blur.
There were later excursions to Cape Cod and various campgrounds around Clinton County with pop-ups and hard-body campers — each with its own set of memories.
In the mid-1970s, our friend, Ellsworth Napper of Saranac, now deceased, told us of Coles Creek. We made the 90-mile trip and have been hooked for the ensuing 36 years or so. Having spent a chunk of my childhood in the charming community of Massena Center nearby, it's akin to coming home each time we arrive. Never satisfied with the two weeks in July that have become an annual affair, we hook up and haul our vacation home on wheels to this spot around Memorial Day, as well.
Kaye and I packed a passel of books to read, along with our beloved Scrabble game, and the first novel I knocked off was an almost 1,100-page 2009 Stephen King tome entitled, "Under the Dome."
Our blue footstools are jam-packed with more reading material, so there is little fear of a dearth on that front. Besides, the charming little Waddington Library is a scant 4 miles distant, and I've already spent time there for access to the Internet.
I'm never truly happy with my camping experience until I hear a loon. That happened on the third day. The glorious sound reached my ears when I stepped out of the camper and spotted a pair in the water as I walked around. I said my silent prayer of thanks and continued on.
Family, along with old and new friends, surrounded us. The park was crammed to the max over the long holiday weekend with as much or more excitement than park officials wanted. The mass exodus occurred Memorial Day morning, and we said our goodbyes. We'll pack up and head home to Morrisonville Thursday with satisfied minds and enough new memories to sustain us until the next time.
Have a fine summer season and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.