I would like to say that we returned home from our camping trip with coolers full of king salmon, but it just wasn’t meant to be. There were some fish caught around us, but we just couldn’t close the deal. And it was the first time ever that we couldn’t at least scratch out a fish or two on the opener.

In years past, this would have bummed me out to no end. Strangely, though, it mattered very little. I think it’s because I can see how fast the kids are growing up, and I really just wanted to soak up the time with them. We hung out with good friends, cooked, read, played on the beach–that’s Skyla hauling a little extra weight around on the SUP–slept in the tent, whittled sticks and generally messed around. My usual fish-crazed mania was absent. And it was awesome.

Camping often seems like a strange concept: You pack up half of everything you own, stuff it all into a car and boat, leave a perfectly good house, and set it up somewhere else. But the kids love it, and actually I do, too. Those quiet chats in a dark tent don’t seem to happen at home. And we never make s’mores over our kitchen stove. And when I’m at home, the to-do list always precludes just sitting around reading and talking in the middle of the afternoon.

Sure, I would like to have had an ice chest stacked with kings. But I think we got all the really important stuff. And when we got home, we thawed a big chunk of Columbia River spring Chinook and had the best salmon in the world for dinner anyway.