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It officially starts the camping season all across America. If you don’t reserve a campsite ahead of time, your chances of getting a site on Memorial Day weekend are slim to none. This is especially true along the North Shore of Lake Superior and other such popular destinations around the country. We didn’t have a site reserved, so we decided to go to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, in Canada.
We actually prefer Canada for camping over Memorial Day weekend. It’s such a busy time, stateside and all the campgrounds are crowded. Since it’s not a holiday in Canada and still early in their camping season, campsites are readily available.
We arrived in the evening, set up camp, then enjoyed the sunset. Melissa pointed out the rig in the space next to us, saying she thought it was the same camper that was there when were at Sleeping Giant last fall. I dismissed her thought as unlikely. “I highly doubt it’s the same people. After you’ve seen so many trailers and RV’s, they all start to look alike.”
A campfire was out of the question the first night because of high winds, so we retired to the Scamp for sandwiches, wine and a good book.
The next morning, we had plans that included hiking and exploring. I put June out around 8 a.m. to let her spend some time outdoors before breakfast. I thought I would throw the ball for her a few times which meant letting her off her leash. I chucked the ball high in the air. June got right under it and made an amazing catch. I threw the ball a several more times - some close and sometimes I threw it a good distance. Hearing voices approaching, I called June to come to me and put her back on the leash. Then I heard the voice say, “Well, I thought I recognized June.”
That was really strange, almost eerie. We were in Canada for goodness sakes. No one in Canada knows June! I took a look around, but didn’t see anyone. June and I went inside where I reported to Melissa what I had heard. “I told you, I think that camper next to us is the same one that was here last year.” She reasoned. I thought maybe she had too much wine the night before, or, her imagination was running a bit wild.
I distinctly remembered those people from last year. The lady played the harp and each day we were serenaded with soothing music, floating through the air as her fingers danced and glided with grace over the strings. It was wonderful. But there was no music this morning, so it couldn’t be the same people. I peeked through the curtains, looking their direction, but didn’t anything. I thought I was going to have to go out and investigate, then the man came out of his camper. His back was towards me, so I couldn’t see his face.
He was fairly tall and slender, wearing a camouflage hat, jacket and pants. The man last year wore a lot of camo as well.
“His name was Al.” I said out loud as I watched. Then he turned, his profile was toward me as he looked out over the lake. “I think that is Al.” When he turned toward me, his white beard and glasses were a giveaway. “That is him.” I told Melissa, “That’s Al, the same man from last year.” I was really surprised – she was not the least bit.
I went outside to greet him. Offering my hand, “Al?” I queried, still thinking it was very unlikely to be him. He shook my hand and replied, “Well, I thought I recognized June.” The two of us enjoyed a nice chat. We were able to visit with him and his wife, Sally, a few more times over the weekend. It was certainly good to see them again.
I went back to our Scamp, we loaded some things into the car, then left to go hiking. Our cat, Edgar Allen, would stay behind to guard the fort. The trail we chose would wind in and out of the woods and along the beaches of Middlebrun Bay, on Lake Superior. We checked out some tent camping sites on the trail as potential back packing adventures in the future.
Sometimes while hiking, I’ll let June off her leash. I know – it’s against the rules, but she sure likes to run from the front to the back of our group. She’s a herding dog and that’s her way of keeping her subjects together and safe. If we hear or see people coming, I will leash her right away. Occasionally, June will see the people before I do and she runs to greet them. I don’t like her doing that because not everyone is a dog person.
While we were hiking, another group approached us unnoticed. June ran ahead to them. I called her back right away and apologized. They responded, “That’s okay, we recognized June from the campground.” What? They knew her name? That was really strange; almost eerie. We were in Canada for goodness sakes. No one in Canada knows June! They must have heard us calling her by name at the campsite or on the trail.
Several trees had fallen over the winter months. It was early in the season and they hadn’t been cut or cleared yet; they were still obstructing the path. We had to crawl under, or climb over them in order to continue down the trail.
While crawling under one large tree that blocked our way, I found a pair of sunglasses on the ground. They looked new. I guessed they fell out of someone’s pocket while they were passing under the log. I set the shades on top of the fallen tree; perhaps the owner would come back looking for them and find them on the log.
When we were done hiking, we drove out to Silver Islet, a really cool little ghost town that was once a silver mining town on Lake Superior. We checked out a few other sights, then headed in to buy another bottle of LP gas for the camp stove. It was getting close to suppertime.
Back at the campsite, I got the stove from the Scamp and went to set it up on the picnic table outdoors. I saw something spooky that stopped me in my tracks – it was the kind of thing you would see in a horror movie. The sunglasses I found on the trail were now sitting on the picnic table in our campsite! Okay, that was kind of creepy. I asked our guard cat how they got there. Edgar swore, “I’ll guarantee you nobody came onto this site under my watch.”
We were trying to figure out the mystery. Perhaps it was a ghost that followed us from Silver Islet. Maybe the ghost put the glasses there. It seems everyone else knows June, why not the Canadian ghosts too, eh? More likely, it was the people we met on the trail who also knew June. They must have thought they were June’s sunglasses and brought them back for her.
After our camping trip, I was driving out to southern California with a Scamp. June went along with me, riding shotgun.
When we got to the lady’s house where we were delivering the trailer, I rang the bell. She came to the front door, “Hi.” Karen said, then, excited to see her new camper, she said “It’s so cute!” Something seemed to have distracted her as she looked toward her new Scamp in the street. Her eyes got wider. She gasped, politely covering her mouth with her hand, as a lady will do when she sees something that has her in awe.
I glanced toward the street. Not again, I thought to myself. Karen smiled from ear to ear – a smile as big as I’ve ever seen, then said, “And that must be June! I recognize her from her photos on Facebook.” As Karen marched out to greet June, I said awkwardly, “Um, hi. I am, um, Tom…” It seems everyone knows June.
On the way home we stopped for fuel in Mesquite, Nevada. The man on the other side of the pump island looked our way a couple times, then I overheard him telling his wife, “It’s June, honey.” You’ve got to kidding me. There is no way!
June sat smirking in the front passenger seat. It is not possible everyone knows that dog. I walked around to the other side of the pumps, “Excuse me, sir. Do you know my dog?” He was confused and asked what I was talking about. “You just told your wife, ‘It’s June, honey.’ My dog’s name is June. Do you know her?”
“No,” the man laughed, “my wife was writing down our fuel purchase in our mileage log. She wrote 5-2-19 and I told her, ‘It’s June, honey.’ Meaning we’re past May and it’s now the month of June.” We shared a mighty good laugh over that.
I finished fueling my car, put the nozzle back on the pump and twisted my gas cap until it clicked back in place. I got in the car. Now feeling pretty smug myself, I told my dog, “See, June. Not everyone knows you.” I snickered as we pulled back onto the interstate.
June just smiled and reminded me, “The score is 3-1, Dad. My favor.” She was trying to contain her snickering as she starred ahead through the windshield. Hmfph. I looked at the GPS. Only 1,783 miles until we’re home.