I just finished a week-long canoe camping trip at Big Goat Island on Dale Hollow Lake. Joining me were Lori (for one night) and my two sweet young 'uns, Caroline and Dawit. It was heaven! The weather was perfect, the leaves were turning golden and crimson, and everyone had fun. First I want to say a little about Dale Hollow Lake. It's paradise. If you haven't been there, you must see it sometime. It's crystal clear and surrounded by wooded hills and it's loaded with islands. We fished, swam, explored, toasted marshmallows, and ate lots of treats. That's Caroline's favorite part, the treats. She also enjoys stealing Dawit's toy truck, collecting shells, and listening as I read her new favorite book, Frog and Toad are Friends. Storytime was extra fun in the tent, reading by headlamp with my favorite little camping buddies. In fact, time in the tent was perhaps the most fun of all. The kids wrestled around, giggling and squealing. Once they were asleep I read my own books and sneaked extra blankets over them just in case Lori showed up for a surprise inspection. I don't think she's determined enough to get up in the middle of the night, drive an hour to the dock, paddle solo for a mile in the darkness, and crawl commando-style into our camp. She'd simply ask me if I kept them warm and I'm a terrible liar. So I made things pretty cushy for the kids. Not once did Caroline act homesick or want to go home, which I consider a victory. Dawit seemed to have a great time too. He enjoyed roaming the giant rocky beach at camp, attempting to throw each and every rock into the lake. He also threw them into the tent, into his food, and into the canoe. He threw them at me and at Caroline. Then for the grand finale, he sprinkled a handful onto his bottom (and other sensitive areas) as I was trying to change a big poopy diaper. Not a good idea. I already manhandle the diaper chores, wiping quickly and efficiently, always heavy on the elbow grease. The poor fellow was just trying to make it fun. Oh well, live and learn. I learned a few things too. (1) It's easier to get the kids onboard for a change of plan if it involves a snack. Me: "Hey, Caroline. Let's paddle over to that island and eat some granola bars." Caroline: "Yeah!" (2) primitive camping for a week on an island with two small children is very hard work and will make your back ache. (3) I love spending time with these little guys and can't wait to do it again. As I told Lori yesterday, "I wouldn't take a million dollars for that week." It was that good.