I know, I know, we're in the dead of winter, and these photos are about three months too late. But I've got even more photos from the summer, and even last spring, coming atcha pretty soon, so by all measures, this post is actually pretty damn timely!

We've done this camping trip every year for the past...I think this year might have been our twenty-fourth. All of the kids started as little ones - the rule was that we had to be out of diapers in order to participate, for obvious reasons. We camp in tents, poop in porta-potties, and our dads make delicious chili and stew. We go hiking, sit around the campfire and drink, and reminisce about the good old days.

This year was the earliest in the season we had ever made the trip, and it was an unseasonably warm fall anyway, so the trees had hardly started to turn, and most of us ended up in t-shirts or tank tops at some point. I think I might have even gotten a sunburn, which is something unheard of on a camping trip where we've spent many a night huddled underneath a tarp with sleet slashing at our backs as we eat dinner. Which sounds terrible, but is actually an incredibly nostalgic experience for me, one which has only been made better as we all turned twenty-one and started bringing bottles of whiskey to pass around the picnic table.

This tradition, along with going to the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth every summer, is something that my yearly schedule has revolved around for almost my entire life. I didn't realize it as I was growing up, but it became one of the staples of my childhood. Arriving at our campsite at Wild River is kind of like returning to my childhood bedroom; I look around, and everything is the same, even though years have passed, and each year with it has brought different haircuts, different boyfriends, different drama, different phases of life. This camping trip is a constant in the midst of an ever-changing life, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.