Stolen weekend

It should not have been so nice. Unheard of. The air was so warm, you didn’t need another layer as we scooted along the lake. There was not a drop of rain.

Must be hard to guess where I was, surely nowhere near the Coast. Yet, only 3 hours from door to door. A place where you can cross into the USA and not need a passport.

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Ross Lake campground is on the Canadian side, nestled into the North end of Ross reservoir. The mountains rise sharply from the lake like fjords, along all sides, so crossing into the USA is not possible. All the park rangers for the US camp sites come around through Canada to enter their park. (A weird piece of trivia).

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The reason so many people visit this park, is the ability to enjoy the back country in a relatively pristine state. Something that is becoming harder to find in North America and impossible in Europe. It is areas like this that we treasure.

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We went early Saturday morning. Friday night was a pre-teen dance that could not be missed. Gone are the days when the adults set the schedule. However, we managed to be up early and arrive by mid morning. The sun was warm and welcoming.

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But something else was waiting for us. The mosquitos. Oh my gosh, these were crazed little bugs. They gathered in swarms and could fly faster than you could run. Clearly they had missed the memo – it is too late in the season for such vicious insects. (Just had to stop and madly scratch my ankle). Apparently the mosquito takes no notice of the date on the calendar….hello…it is September, back to school, no biting insects allowed! (have to stop scratching soon, there will be blood otherwise).

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After the blissful hours in the sun and running the gauntlet back through the forest path to our camp, the typical evening rituals were enjoyed. Nice smoky fire, cooking dinner on a stick, swapping stories. It was most pleasurable to hear my children tell their jokes and indulge us in their secrets learned in camp and other places over the summer.

Then it was winding down. Time for bed. This is the part of camping that always makes me so happy to be home. But my husband insisted that we sleep in our HH Warm baselayer, sleeping bags and extra wool blankets. Once I was in my cocoon, I found it extremely comfortable.

I guess the expectation and preparation for bad weather, the menacing bugs, the love of nature and the need to spend time outdoors, are all things that make us Canadian. In fact, it is probably what most people have in common, or at least the ones that are lucky enough to experience it.

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The May 24 weekend

“There aren’t enough days in the weekend.”   ~Rod Schmidt

The Victoria Day holiday always falls on the Monday before Memorial Day in the U.S. Victoria Day celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday (May 24th). Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which the reigning Queen Elizabeth is head.

But none of that was my concern. What was going on in another country, or with anyone other than me, was irrelevant. I had a fascination with creating the most memorable events around special holidays. “Kodak moments”, for those of us that can remember film cameras. Then I would gather all the photos into an album, keeping the best shots of me and maybe not the best ones of others. Just a little narcissistic.

Common terms for the Victoria Day weekend are:

  • the May Long Weekend
  • the May Long
  • the May Two-Four (a case of beer there is called a “two-four” and many of these are consumed over the holiday)
  • the May 24th weekend, although it does not necessarily fall on May 24th

This weekend is the official start to summer, even though the weather rarely cooperates. But we are hardy folks up here in The Great White North. I have been camping on May Long when 3 days earlier we had a foot of Spring snow. I’ve planted a full garden in rain, wind and biting cold, fortified against the elements and exertion with the obligatory two-four.

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However, time changes everything. Now that I am in my forties, I don’t feel any kind of pressure to have a significant “type” of holiday. Today I had only a few groceries to get, we did laundry and other chores, I had a nap and my daughter is having a sleepover. These days, that sequence of events comprises a decent start to a long weekend. The sun came out late this afternoon and I was able to catch a few rays. Then when the air started to cool, I was back inside, instead of pulling on layers of clothes to keep warm.

In a weakly nostalgic moment, I wish to be camping somewhere. Those are wonderful memories. Huddling around a fire, laughing and talking while the hours and days slip by. Building interesting shelters against the rain, snuggling against each other with sleeping bags zipped together.

Other posts:

Long Weekends – The Good Life List

Finally Spring in time for Summer – The Good Life List

S’more

When I met my husband, one of the first things we did was to go camping. You learn a lot about people doing that. All the things I discovered about him that weekend were setting the stage for our future together. When I don’t want to be bitten by a mosquito, I stand near him. They love the smell of his pheromones or blood or both. He must have coffee in the morning first thing, absolutely no exceptions and no matter how primitive the camp set-up. When the clutch in his car is almost shot, working together we can get up a steep incline after an overnight rain.

But the kicker is, for all the camping trips he took as a kid, NO s’mores. Really a crying shame and one advantage I had. Personal pride for me really.

Since that time, 19 years ago, we have gathered a bunch of pointers along the way to perfect the technique. My sister takes it to a level beyond where most are prepared to go. She adds toppings, she uses chocolate cookies, she adds sauce. We are usually eating stale graham wafers and hard marshmallows with a hunk of leftover Hallowe’en junk. But not today. My daughter and I picked up a box of fresh wafers, a new dark chocolate bar and lovely soft marshmallows. We adopted a technique from my sister to pre-soften the chocolate on the wafer in front of the fire. This makes the resulting sandwich a piece of sweet cardiac arrest heaven.

The kids asked how many they could have tonight. I said as many as they could eat. My husband decided they were done when he was finished. (The chocolate was gone.) Good times!