The year was 1993 and our oldest daughter, Rebecca, was 6 years old. She was Dad’s buddy for sure, and loved doing anything I liked to do.
Fishing and camping were activities she saw me do a lot in the years she was growing up. Usually I went with my best friend Fred, and then occasionally we would go as a family in the summer. One day she asked if she and I could go on a camping trip together, just the two of us. I said I thought that would be a great idea and that we would plan a trip. When I did not get one planned right away she insisted we set a date. So I said, “OK, we will go in two weeks.”
“Promise,” she said.
“Promise,” I said.
The problem was, I forgot that in two weeks it would be Labor Day weekend and the campgrounds would be full, but there was no way I was going back on my promise. I thought we would head to Timothy Lake on Mount Hood. If we couldn’t find a campground spot, I would just find a turnout off a logging road and we would make the best of it.
When the time came, Rebecca was very excited to be going camping and fishing with Dad. We packed up my truck and headed out on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I was worried about disappointing her if we got there and the place was full.
We headed into the campground. As I feared, it was packed — not a site available anywhere. We wound through the campground a couple of times and I could see the disappointment setting in with her. My heart was breaking that this was not working out, so I decided it was time to go to Plan B — find a turnout off a logging road where we could pitch a tent and make the best of it.
On the way out I said, “Let’s just loop around one more time before we give up.”
As we were passing the best spots along the waterfront, we saw what looked like a camping spot but didn’t believe it. We pulled over and just kind of stared at this perfect spot when a man from the spot across the road yelled out, “Man, are you guys lucky. There has been a guy there for two days waiting for his friends to show up, but he just pulled out a couple minutes ago.”
A spot right on the lake! Rebecca was so excited and I was so relieved. We took the spot, unloaded our gear and set up camp, not believing our good luck.
It was a wonderful weekend. We fished and hiked around the lake. We hung out at camp and snacked until we ruined our dinner. A new camping rule was made that lasts to this day: If you want to snack you do not have to ask, and you can eat as much as you want. When the snacks are gone, there are no more. Somehow we never run out of snacks, but we never bring any home.
We built fires at night and talked a lot. We had true quality time, doing everything together.
The time went by quickly and it was time to break camp and head home. As we were packing up I got to thinking about how well this trip had turned out.
Then it hit me: Perhaps it wasn’t luck that we snagged the camping spot. Maybe that guy was an angel sent to hold this spot for us, and we were the two friends he was waiting for!
We had the best time, just us two, camping and bonding as father and daughter. It was one of those times in life you never forget. We are hoping that campgrounds will be open this summer, as we are planning a whole-family camping trip. We will trust our angel is holding a spot for us.
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