Travel Tidbit - Killer Flies
My daughter Kelley missed me and decided to spend three days with me. She and I decided to drive the scenic northern shore of Minnesota. It took us three hours to get from Minneapolis to Duluth, where Highway 61 began the winding journey along the shore and cliffs of Lake Superior. The swirling waves, breaking against the rocks and sheer cliffs made one think of New England or the California coast.
We’d gotten a late start due to “girl stuff.” Pedicures and shopping aren’t much fun alone. On Bob's last visit, I’d tried to get him to join me for those adventures but for some reason, he wasn’t interested. I had no difficulty convincing Kelley. We knew we were missing precious time enjoying God’s creation but we were having so much fun.
Our campground was on the shore of Lake Superior, just north of Silver Bay. We rolled in hungry, about 7:30 that night. One of the challenges with camping on cliffs is leveling the camper. I’d already found out the hard way that if the camper isn’t level, the refrigerator stops working and the food spoils. That $50 lesson was one I didn’t plan to learn a second time. “Kelley, we have to get out the blocks.”
“What blocks?” she asked.
“The blocks you drive up on to get level,” I answered. “They’re in that compartment at the back of the camper.
“What’s all this stuff in this compartment?” Kelley asked as she pulled out a long fat hose and attachments that I knew were used as the sewer hose extender.
“You don’t want to know,” I said. “Just wash your hands when you’re finished.” Bob and I have nicknamed that locked compartment, the “Dirty Compartment.” It holds the blocks, the oil for the generator and engine, and the extra sewer stuff.
Happy has two devices for leveling. I understand the concept that the bubble should be in the middle of the level. I also understand that one level is for leveling back to front and the other is for leveling side to side. I even sort of understand that if the bubble is to the left, the left side is too high. What confuses me is what to do when they are both off. This night, the bubbles were not even close.
I studied the bubbles trying hopelessly to figure out where to put the blocks. My dyslexic daughter was no help. I finally decided to get out of Happy and look. That was when the flies first started biting me. “Ouch,” I said as I slapped my leg.
“I already have bites all over my legs,” Kelley dryly remarked. She never did feel pain.
“Aren’t they hurting you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Get some Off,” I instructed. We both tried Off and decided the flies were attracted to it.
I gave up trying to logically figure out where to put the blocks and just picked two wheels. Amazingly, we got it level on the second try.
With Happy hooked up and level, I cheerfully suggested, “Let’s go find Lake Superior.”
“Mom,” Kelley complained. “My stomach is eating my pancreas. I have to eat.”
I sighed, knowing she was right. We took Happy’s passenger seat out and got out the grill. Kelley, Belle, and the flies cooked our corn and chicken outside as I stood safely inside Happy preparing our tomato and avocado salad.
When the food was ready, I asked, “Do you want to eat inside or outside?”
Kelley looked at me as if I had two heads. “For the love of everything that is good and holy in this world, let’s please eat inside.” Guiltily, I looked at her legs, peppered with fly bites and set the table inside.
Kelley offered to say the blessing. I always love listening to her pray. She prays as enthusiastically as she lives her life. “Father God,” she said, sounding as if she were talking to me. “Thank you for this beautiful world. Thank you for letting us take this trip. Help Mom’s ministry and send her lots of people to talk to while we’re here. Father, God, bless this food and help it nourish our bodies and our bodies to your service. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen. Oh, and protect us from the killer flies.”
When we finally finished eating, I asked, “Now can we go find the lake?”
“I suppose,” said Kelley, always a good sport. “Do you want to be in charge of the dog or the camera?”
“The dog,” I said.
“Then take this. Who ever gets the dog has to be responsible for this.” She handed me the small plastic bag that we carry to clean up after Belle. Naturally, Belle decided to use it.
Yuck, I thought as I cleaned up after Belle. I should have chosen to carry the camera. Aloud I said, “You know this means I have to carry this plastic bag until we get home.” Kelley didn’t look sympathetic.
Walking to the lake, we felt like the Pied Piper as the flies began following us. We were about 3 minutes into the trail when Kelley yelled, “Mom, you’re covered with flies!” They started biting and I started hopping and slapping.
“Stomp your feet as you walk,” I suggested. “March like this.” I lifted each knee high like in my majorette days. What a sight Kelley, Belle, and I made as we marched in single file along the trail. When we arrived at the clearing, we were suddenly swarmed by a multitude of flies. It felt like a scene from the movie “The Birds” as our clothing and skin grew a solid mass of black.
“Quick, Kelley,” I screamed. “Take a couple of pictures and run.” We both realized I was better off having chosen the dog instead of the camera as she stood taking pictures while I started running back to Happy.
Kelley actually snapped the camera 5 times before she passed Belle and me, running down the trail. I looked down at Belle to see her coat polka dotted with flies matting her fur. I leaned over, brushed off Belle’s coat, and started running again. No matter how fast we ran, the biting flies kept up. Was this how the Egyptians felt? I wondered as I ran.
Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. NASU
“Kelley,” I yelled to her ahead of me, “Brush off your back. They are all over it.”
“Mom,” she yelled back. “You looked the same way when I passed you.” I brushed off my front and back, to no avail. These killer flies were not even afraid of me.
Kelley arrived first to the van, to realize she had no car keys. “Open the door,” she yelled.
I fumbled frantically with the keys looking for the button. “Don’t go in yet,” I screamed. “There’re flies all over you. We’re going to have to go in one at a time, brushing each other off.”
I stepped in first, brushing off my front as Kelley brushed off my back. Next, I stood in the doorway brushing Belle’s head off as Kelley brushed off her back and tail. Belle hopped in. Finally, Kelley and I chased the flies off her as she jumped in and we slammed the door, laughing hysterically.
“We haven’t washed the grill,” I gasped in a panic.
“I’m not leaving this camper tonight,” Kelley announced. “We’ll just have to do it in the morning.”
At 10:00 that night, Belle decided she needed a trip outside. “Who is walking Belle?” I asked.
“You are,” Kelley said.
“Why me?” I argued. “She’s your dog too.”
“Let’s shoot for it,” Kelley said. “Rock, paper, scissors – the best 2 out of 3.” Kelley lost. “You’re the worst Mom ever,” she whined as she stepped outside to walk Belle. Belle didn’t like the flies any better than Kelley and it was the fastest trip outside she’d ever made.
There was one killer fly inside the camper when we got ready for bed. Initially, there were two and I thought I’d killed them both, with my bare hands. “You’re Karate Kid for flies, Mom,” Kelley laughed. As I dumped the two flies into the trash, one of them miraculously came back to life and flew out of the trash.
No wonder they weren’t afraid of me, I thought. They’re invincible.
I shook off my doubt and put on the armor of God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! We will overcome! That fly was dead in two minutes.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. NASU
Eph 6:13-18 (The Armor of God)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. NIV
The next day, we asked a park ranger about the flies. “August is fly month in Northern Minnesota,” she informed us. “They’re a pain. You just have to hope for a breeze”
Kelley and I limited our hiking to the windy areas of the Northern Shore of Minnesota and had a delightful day. As we lay inside Happy that next night I asked, “Kelley, was the beauty worth the flies?”
“Absolutely,” she exclaimed. Kelley and I heartily recommend the North Shore of Minnesota. We also liked the Mall of the Americas in the Minneapolis St. Paul area.