“Going Off The Grid” Follow Up

To my avid readers:

Many of you made it known that you were anxiously awaiting a follow-up post to Going off the Grid Attempt #2. Well, here she be.

I’m not sure what you’re expecting. I suppose by the sound of my previous post about a 5-day adventure to to the Boundary Waters, you’d think I would have come back a new woman. Let me start by saying I was sore for several days and was definitely relieved to return. I don’t have rave reviews, nor do I have nightmare stories, but there were definite good and bad parts of the haul.

The trip was kind of bipolar, to say the least, there really wasn’t much middle ground. Let me take that back. There was a LOT of middle ground. All of which we had to paddle and portage, which was definitely the one of the worst parts of

Camper #1 – Roger Mesteth

the trip. But before I break down the good and bad, let me first explain the dynamics of the campers.

Camper #1: Roger Mesteth, my sister’s father-in-law. Avid camper. Knows everything about camping. Ultra prepared. Brought clothespins and steaks.

Camper #2 – Robert Stoneburner

Camper #2: Robert Stoneburner, my dad. Hated camping as a kid. Had never previously gone camping voluntarily. Packed his stuff in four separate bags and brought a straw hat large enough to provide shade for the entire campsite.

Camper #3 – Lynn Mesteth

Camper #3: Lynn Mesteth, my sister. Wanted nothing to do with camping. Ever. Only went to please her husband. Packed her favorite shoes.

Camper #4: Robert Mesteth, my brother-in-law. Leader of the pack. So excited about camping that he couldn’t sleep for days prior to the trip or concentrate on anything other than camping.

Camper #4 – Robert Mesteth

Camper #5: Laura Stoneburner, me. History of bad camp outings. Hates bugs more than she is able to articulate. Made certain the group had enough toilet paper and fruit and vegetables.

Camper #5 – Laura Stoneburner

Anyway, I’ll start with the bad.

1.)   I confirmed that still don’t enjoy camping and the puzzle is yet to be solved for how anyone can find it “fun.”

This was NOT a vacation. It was a lot of work. It was frustrating. It was tiring. The general concept: portage and canoe all your stuff (that you regret packing) to a dirty site where the bugs flow like beer at a college party. Unpack, boil drinking water, eat food stirred with a stick found on the ground that you and a hundred other people peed on. Then paddle more, then hike more, then pack and unpack. Throughout all this, apply and re-apply sunscreen and bug spray until the film on your skin is so substantial that it makes jumping into a cold lake sound like a treat. Pray no bears or skunks discover you as you curl up for sleep on a lumpy ground. Then, wake up and do it all again the next day.

It’s truly exhausting. It wasn’t my typical vacation, which usually includes more showers, wine and shopping and fewer basic survival skills.

2.)   My fear of bugs was really a trouble. I’ve never felt so paranoid in my life.

“Is there something on my back?”


“Okay. How about now?”

I even ripped off my pants in front of Camper #1 because there was a bug biting my leg. I stood in my skivvies in front of my fellow campers and stared at my pants on the ground to discover it was “just” a horse fly.

3.)  Returning to “real life” was a rough transition. I got so used to peeing wherever, whenever, that it was tough to resist dropping my pants and taking a leak in the middle of town when we returned to civilization.

And for the good?

1.) We had great weather the entire time. In fact, the night after our departure, emergency calls were made for several campers who were injured due to falling trees during a bad storm, so I wasn’t so pre-occupied with scratching my mosquito bites that I failed to appreciate what we were blessed with.

2.)   Family time. As I grow older, time together seems more and more sparse and I’ve learned to appreciate it to a whole new level. Sharing camping stories and working together to set up and tear down camp was the perfect time to throw jabs at each other (literally and figuratively), talk about the latest happenings in life and visit about future plans. All without being interrupted by a phone call, email, text message, Facebook invite…

3.)   Fishing. As explained in the previous article, I hadn’t fished for at least a decade – maybe two. On this trip, fishing served three purposes, which in itself was a hit, as I love multitasking. First, fishing meant dinner not from a box. Second, fishing meant time away from bugs. A HUGE bonus. And third, it was top-shelf entertainment for the trip. I did discover fishing is a passion of mine. It only “hid” from my life since I was 10.  In fact, I’ve had a tough time getting my mind off of fishing. I even dream about it.  I am happy to have rediscovered the hobby. So is Fleet Farm.

4.) I crossed item #16, “learn to fillet a fish” off the bucket list. Sadly not with a fish I caught. Rather, I was robbed a handful of times by near

Learn to Fillet A Fish – CHECK!

catches, but my line snapped and now I need to replenish my brother-in-law’s tackle box. Along with this “first,” I learned how to chop wood, which I watched my dad and brothers do growing up but never tried out of fear of splitting my entire leg in half. I also tried Ramen for the first time, which was surprisingly very good.

5.)   Returning home and having a new appreciation for everything – even the basics like chairs, a table and cold water. I love my bed more than ever and have newfound respect for Fargo’s water treatment facility, plumbing and the bug free zone I call my home. It’s all truly wonderful.

So. Would I go again? No, probably not. Am I glad I went? Yes, I am. So where does that leave me? Floating somewhere in the middle, fishing rod in one hand, beer in the other, enjoying life for the day. Then returning home to a shower and my bed at night. Compromise. It’s all about compromise.

Here’s to another adventure!

Shootin’ the Wit is a sporadic blog about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.