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Brock: A summer vacation without the words 'if' and 'could'

Harvey Brock

By the time you read this on Friday morning, despite gobs of sunscreen, I should be slightly sunburned.

Mosquitos will have ignored the world's best insect repellent I have lathered on myself and will be treating me as their own feast.

My stomach will certainly feel the effects of camp cooking and the previous night's cigars and adult beverages. My arms and back will ache from sleeping on the ground and the constant paddling required on my upper Missouri River canoe trip.

This is not my first canoe trip and there is a better-than-average chance that we will either dump the canoe or get drenched in a Montana summer rain or hail storm.

There is a reason they call the Missouri River "The Big Muddy" and mud will completely cover our tents, sleeping bags, coolers and everything else, including my son and I. You wouldn't think so, but based on past experience I will be completely relaxed at the start of the second day of a three-day trip.

I can't believe it has been nine years since the last time I floated the river.

I remember making plans to float the river every summer as I packed up and left the last time. What happened? The same things that get in the way of doing all the things we enjoy.

"If" and "could" are two of the culprits. If I could just find the time, I would love to go.

I know that it has taken nine years for me to find the time to float the river with my son again, and there are countless reasons and time constraints that I could find not to go now.

Summer is more than half over and it won't be long before I will find myself saying I could have done this or that summer activity if there had been more time.

While it might be too late to plant the garden or join a golf league, there is still time to take advantage of our limited summer weather and activities. Summer concerts, community cookouts, picnics, fishing, golfing, camping, bike rides, the Medora Musical and Theodore Roosevelt Park.

While on the river, I plan to find the time and ways to take advantage of all summer in western North Dakota offers.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press. Email him at