Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 14

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

For the next few days, all Dawn would talk about was the wedding. We finally decided to have a spring wedding. We planned to schedule it on a day after she was done with school. We both decided that sooner was better than later. There was absolutely no way that I was going to continue living, much longer, without Dawn as a part of my daily life.

The next weekend, Dawn came over to my house, where I fixed her a delicious meal. I made a special salad and a pan of lasagna. I thought it turned out very well. For dessert, I tried something that I had never made before. I made some cannolis. They are a very expensive treat that I occasionally pick up at one of the local Italian delis.

I was in an experimental mood and thought Dawn might like to try them. One variation I made to the recipe was the adding of chopped up dried cherries, instead of dates. The cherries added a delightful new dimension to the cannolis. The biggest compliment that Dawn could have given me was when she asked for a second cannoli. I watched as she savored every last bite. I knew that once again, I had scored high on her chart.

After dinner, we kicked back and watched some television. As I was flipping channels, I came across a documentary about an outfitter up north. We learned that he used sled dog teams for transportation and took tourists out into the wild for a winter camping experience.

Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea. I asked Dawn if she would like to try winter camping up in the wilderness area. I had attempted it years ago and the trip had gone very smoothly. We were nearing the end of February, so the weather wouldn't be that cold. I told her that it would be a good way to get away from the rat race that we had fallen back into.

I suggested that it would be a chance to go back and experience the quiet and solitude that we both knew we needed. I also threw in the added caveat that it would be a good time to be alone together so that we could talk about our future wedding plans.

We watched the rest of the show and it looked like it could be a fun experience. I looked over at Dawn and was surprised when she said she would go. She informed me that she had a break from school coming up in a little over a week. She said she would try to see if she could get a few days off of work. I told her that I would work extra hours in an attempt to get ahead in my work, so that I could afford to take a few days off myself.

We decided that we would spend three nights camping out. That would give us almost four days for our trip. With the weekend, that meant we would need two extra days. We decided to leave on a Friday. Dawn went about her normal schedule, while I made preparations for the trip.

I used one of my old standby menus for the food supplies, which saved me a little work. I also stopped by a local sporting goods store and rented a small heater, two sub zero sleeping bags, and a pair of cross country skis for Dawn.

I checked and rechecked my list of supplies until I was satisfied that I had everything that I would need. I bought a larger plastic sled for myself and a smaller child's sled for Dawn. I rigged up towing harnesses for both sleds, as we would be towing our supplies behind us as we skied.

I really had a full schedule as I worked on the trip and also worked extra hours at the cabinet shop. I didn't see much of Dawn during that time; my incentive was that we would have four days to spend alone together.

As the big day approached, Dawn became a little more hesitant. As we watched the weatherman, we were happy to see that the temperature was staying on the milder side. I convinced Dawn that I knew what I was doing and told her that she just needed to trust me.

She said that a nice weekend at a cabin sounded just fine to her. I sent her some incredible pictures of snow hanging heavily on a group of pine trees, under a deep blue sky. My plan worked, as she later called and told me that she was willing to give it a try.

As our departure date approached, I began to get a little worried. I wasn't getting as far ahead in my work schedule as I would have liked. The planning for the trip was eating up most of my spare time. Fortunately, some of the work at the mansion became stalled as other craftsman began to run a little behind schedule. In the end, it worked out that I would actually have several more days available.

We left very early on Friday morning. In fact, it was still dark as we headed off on our winter adventure. I wanted to ensure that we arrived at our destination as early in the day as possible. It was my plan that we would get a good number of miles behind us before it got dark. The shorter days would definitely limit the amount of lighted time that we would have to ski. I informed Dawn that we could sit in the tent, at night, and plan for our upcoming wedding.

Most of our drive was on the freeway, which meant speed and minimal scenery. The last hour of our drive was much more pleasant, as we entered the northern forest region. It wasn't long before we began to see large rocky hills and tall pines. We stopped at a small café for breakfast and then continued on our trip. We took along a couple of caramel rolls to sustain us for the remainder of the drive.

Soon we were making the transition from pavement onto snow covered gravel roads. Snow laden pine trees lined our pathway as we moved deeper into the forest. The perfectly white snow contrasted with the green of the pines and the deep blue of the sky above. The picture that it created was that of a virtual winter wonderland.

I pulled into the parking area and we began to unload our equipment. I put most of the supplies on my sled. I put a few of the items on Dawn's sled. I thought it would be a good idea to split up some of our gear and also allow her the experience of pulling a sled while she skied. We both changed into our ski clothing. It was a beautiful day and I figured we would be working up a sweat, so we dressed rather lightly. Our under garments were designed to wick away moisture and we dressed in light jackets that could easily be ventilated, or closed, as the need arose.

Once dressed, we slipped into our skis and bid farewell to the constraints of the world. As we glided across the frozen snow, a feeling of peace, joy, and wonder began to wash over me. The world around me was one of beauty and raw nature. We skied in silence for some time as we both adjusted to our long awaited freedom. Our skis slid easily across the frozen tundra. The white, snow covered ice seemed to stretch on for miles. The massive sky soared above us. We were free.

It wasn't long before we came to a narrowing of the lake, where we followed a winding, frozen river. Rocky walls rose on either side of us, as we skied along. Huge icicles jutted from the walls where tiny streams of water had become frozen as they flowed. The world around us was one of beauty and peace. The snow seemed to muffle the sound as we made our way along the river.

I finally spotted the portage that would take us over to the next lake. We took off our skis and walked along the path. The trees closed in around us as we entered the wooded setting. There were no footprints to follow, just the absence of vegetation along the trail. The forest was quiet and serene. We both stopped and watched as a startled deer made a quick dash for safety.

The path was only several hundred yards long. Soon we were traveling along another narrow lake. That lake ended in another portage, which took us to a much larger lake. In the early afternoon, we stopped at an island and had some lunch.

We sat on a sun warmed rock and ate our sandwiches and granola bars. Up in the sky, wispy ribbons of clouds had begun to form. Dawn commented on how beautiful they were. She told me she was having a wonderful time. She said it felt so good to be free from all the cares that she had left back home.

As I gazed upon her beauty, I found it hard to contain myself. Strands of her beautiful red hair emerged from the white stocking hat that covered her head. Her checks were rosy from the exertion of skiing. Her amazing blue eyes reflected the brilliant colors of the sky above. I leaned over and kissed her cools lips, which eventually warmed to the touch of mine

The thing that I enjoyed the most was the feeling of freedom. Everything that we needed to survive, we were carrying. We were able to go anywhere that we wanted. If we wanted to stop, we could. If we wanted to ski all day, we could. There was no need to return to a designated location at the end of the day. Our home was where we made it.

We skied for several more hours before I decided it was time to make our camp. We had made some really good time and had put a good amount of miles behind us. We had noticed several other campers, along the way, but had encountered no other travelers for the last few hours.

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