Friday, May 11, 2012

Our Spot on the New River and The Glow of a Coleman Lantern

Sponsored by Coleman and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network, this is my submission for the Coleman Camping Heritage Essay Contest.

 I've been very fortunate in my life in that I've had a lot of great friends over the years. Of all these friends there are three that will always be at the top of my list. I've spent a great deal of time on the New River with Mr. K and his two sons and I cherish every memory we've made on the river's banks over the past 20 years.

When I first started tagging along with the K. family , they introduced me to a secret place on the river that very few people ever see , much less camp at. Because of it's remoteness , it's a pretty complex affair to go camping. You either have to hike about 2 miles in or take a boat close to a mile up river through some fairly rough water. When we were younger it was a frequent weekend outing , as we've all grown up and moved away it has become a yearly pilgrimage to catch up with what's happening in our lives and maintain our connections to each other and our spot on the New River. 

Over the years we've had a small fortune's worth of camping gear that has been in and out of this spot. Things get broken , lost or deemed unworthy of a second trip. There's only one thing that has made every trip , Mr. K's Coleman Lantern. More often than not , it made the trip on the floorboard of a pickup truck between someone's knees , followed by a ride in a john boat , again , between someone's knees. We've always been protective of that lantern , back then because we feared what would happen if we broke it , now because it has become an heirloom of sorts.

As I write this , I can almost hear the faint hiss of the lantern as it brings a warm glow to our campsite on a cool summer evening. I can see my best friend coming into the edge of the light from the lantern carrying a catfish , fooled into biting right before dusk. I can picture the four of us , sitting around the camp fire laughing and remembering trips from the past , or planning for our next trip , while the faithful old lantern drives away the inky blackness of night with it's inviting yellow glow.

Memory is a funny thing. Some memories are tinged with sadness or regret , even if they are good memories. I must admit that this is true for me when it comes to camping at our spot. I regret that I can't go as often as I would like to anymore. There's also a hint of sadness that I didn't realize at the time how important the memories we made on those lazy summer nights during our youth would be to me , as an adult. When the weather is just right here at home , I often long to be sitting by a fire watching the shadows made by moths as they lazily circle the lantern , accompanied by the beautiful music that can only be made by a gurgling river.

Time marches on , though. Both of Mr. K's sons have children now , as do I. We all look forward to making a new set of memories with our children , under the glow of that lantern. For me it has become a welcoming beacon at camp , something to guide the wary fisherman from the edge of the water to his temporary home. I can only hope that our children will remember camping as fondly as we do and that their memories will be tinted by the comforting glow of a lantern that has been with their fathers on every camping trip for the last 20 years.

Thank you , Coleman , for all of the great memories and for continuing to make functional , dependable , and iconic camping gear!


1 comment:

  1. My dad also has a Coleman lantern. Never even thought about it, but you're right. That thing has been around forever. Wonder what else has lasted that long.


Let's hear what YOU have to say...