The lady was absolutely famished when she climbed out of their tent the following morning. The only thing that bothered her, mind you, was the depressing reminder that it was the last day of their romantic retreat in Granite Falls. Although she was excited about getting to know Oasis Springs better too, the woman now felt a profound appreciation for the wilderness.
She quickly spotted a plate full of fresh hot dogs waiting on the picnic table. She looked over her shoulder at the tent and wondered, “How did he get up and cook breakfast for me without waking me?”
Hot dogs weren’t the best breakfast she could think of, but she was grateful to her fiancé for taking the time to cook for her. She thought, “I bet he was up before dawn, like usual.” She smiled when she sat down and grabbed a hot dog. She looked at the gorgeous engagement ring he gave her the night before, and her heart swelled with bliss.
She enjoyed a refreshing jog around the campgrounds after breakfast. She was especially delighted to see bees for the first time, and decided to catch one for her future husband.
“I got it!” the woman exclaimed when she trapped the bee between her cupped hands. It buzzed a little bit, but settled down because she remained perfectly still and calm. She gently put the bee into a special container to keep it safe.
When she saw some more bees in another location, she decided to catch another one. “They always need multiple samples,” she told herself. She was more confident when she tried the second time, but she didn’t calm herself enough. The implant in her palm was triggered accidentally, and the bee stung her before it died.
“Oww!” she yelped. She felt terrible about hurting the bee, and was convinced she deserved the sting. Thankfully her nails were just long enough that she could grip the stinger and gently remove it from her hand before the area bulged painfully.
She blew cool breath on the wound to comfort herself, but there was nothing more she could do. She collected the dead bee, but resolved to catch only beetles, butterflies, and insects that don’t sting or bite from then on.
She managed to find some cute ladybugs, not far from the Visitor’s Garden. When she gently collected a few of them, she was surprised by a park ranger calling out to her. “Hey, you there!”
The woman felt nervous as the park ranger walked toward her. She hadn’t met that ranger before, and she was terrified that catching bugs was against the rules. “If we get kicked out and we can’t come back, my heart would break!” she dreaded silently.
Finally the ranger was close enough to speak casually. She waved at the woman and said, “Hi. I think I met your partner yesterday… you’re with the MPR, right?”
The woman breathed a sigh of relief and answered, “No, I’m not–but you’re right about my fiancé. He’s a very high-ranking officer.” She couldn’t help boasting because she was always proud of him.
“Oh, you’re engaged!” the ranger stated with honest interest. “Congratulations to both of you. Please keep our park in mind for your honeymoon–we have a very special offer available for newlyweds!”
“Really? Thank you so much!”
“I’ll tell my fiancé about that for sure,” she continued. “We’ve really had a great time here, and I’d love to come back.”
“That’s exactly what we like to hear!” the ranger said enthusiastically. “And please, tell your husband-to-be that I’m willing to collect samples for him, if he needs them.”
“Thank you. Conservation is vital!” The woman thought what she said sounded a little too much like a public service slogan, but she didn’t know what else to say to the ranger. She was glad the assistant ranger seemed so much more friendly than the head ranger, who refused to help at all.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, the man had just finished eating some breakfast himself, when his boss called him on his cellphone.
He answered, and after a few simple questions about how the vacation was going, he was able to tell his boss, “I’ve gathered a lot of samples, but I’m trying to hunt down some fossilized bear DNA… Oh, and there are some unique species of fish too, so I’ll do my best.” After his boss spoke some, he finished up with, “Yeah, absolutely. See you tomorrow, Sir.”
He jogged around to check the locations the faux bear told him about the night before, and finally he discovered a fossil that looked promising. It was near the water, in a prime location for an ancient bear den. They must have fished the stream and foraged the same elderberries enjoyed by people and bees in the region to this day. The man got out his hammer and chisel and successfully retrieved the fossil, but he didn’t dare open it: that was a job for the scientists back at the lab.
His final official duty was to attempt to catch a fish. He’d done many things in his life, but never once had an opportunity to grab a rod and a lure and try to hook a fish.
He found the activity surprisingly enjoyable, even though almost nothing happened most of the time. He was able to stand and think, while he moved his line a little and took in his surroundings. He soon found himself thinking about the beautiful lake house behind him, and started to imagine living in a house like that.
He felt a fish bite down on the lure, and he quickly reeled it in. “Look at you!” he greeted the handsome fish. “Don’t worry, you’re just going for a little journey.”
He secured the fish in a plastic bag filled with water from the lake. He would have loved to stay and try to catch another fish, but the man knew they had to pack up their things and leave in a couple of hours. He hurried back to camp.
His ladylove had been napping for a little while in the tent. When he got to camp, he began preparing some berry and garlic glazed baked potatoes for dinner.
Stepping out of the tent, the woman said, “I guess we’ll have to leave soon.”
“Unfortunately, we do,” he agreed.
“I packed up the cooler already,” he explained to her, “but would you mind taking down the tent for us while I cook?”
“Sure, I don’t mind at all.” She carefully took down the tent and rolled it up tight. She could tell that dinner was just about ready, and she decided to light a campfire one last time.
Something went wrong! A massive fireball erupted from the fire pit and washed over the woman, catching her arm on fire for a brief moment.
Before she could even scream, the fire fizzled out in the pit and she shook the flames off her arm. “Do you believe in bad luck?” the woman asked her darling. “This is the second painful accident I’ve had today. What if that crazy woman from the cabin cursed me with her spirits or something?”
“Let me see your arm,” her love requested. She raised her arm to show him she was all right.
“It hurt real bad, but it’s fine now,” she assured him.
“You have to be more careful with fire, honey,” he pleaded with her. “Don’t take any risks, you hear me? You’re all I’ve got.”
“I promise, but I need you to do the same!” she demanded. “I know your work is dangerous, but I don’t want you taking any extra risks.”
“I know what you mean, and I promise not to take any unnecessary risks,” he swore to her, “except perhaps with these potatoes, because I’m starving!”