Sunday, July 27, 2008

Food on sticks, ghost gum, and other camping hijinks

With the realization that July was nearly over, it is decided that a rapid dose of summer is needed. As such, five of us pack our flashlights and hotdogs, and shuttle over to a nearby lake for an express outdoors vacation.



It is easy to forget sometimes what lays in your backyard. We tend to think that in order to relax and really experience the outdoors, one needs to hop a plane or spend many hours behind the wheel, rather than the less than an hour it takes us to reach the shores of the lake, away from the prying eyes of skyscrapers.


While the sky overhead is layered by more clouds than preferred, we hurry to the shore to slip the boat into the lapping waves.  There is something about gliding my hands into the water below as we skim along, and about the slow rocking motion while at rest, that just leaves me feeling at ease while in a boat. The Duke, being a Prairie boy of sorts, has never been on any sort of watercraft outside of a ferry and a rowboat. He jokes that he feels like a dog sticking his head out of a car window, as he leans slightly over the edge with the biggest grin I'd ever seen in the midst of his windblown hair.

We go tubing, our arms holding desperately onto the side of the inflatable tube skipping over the waves, our legs flailing about uncontrollably as we catapulted over any ripple in the water.

(The Duke's power bail)

I, being admittedly a bit of a wimp, request to be spared the "trying-to-make-the-tuber-go-flying" experience, preferring to be dragged behind the boat in a fairly predictable manner. Our driver happily obliges, and even though the winds had already kicked up a few waves, making even the most basic of rides somewhat precarious, I manage to keep my butt within a six inches of the seat at all times.
That is, until my ride was over, and I attempt to hop from the tube to the boat, and promptly tumble over backwards, water shooting up my nostrils at record speeds, the tube capsizing over top of me. Apparently everyone is destined to fall, one way or another.

After spending the bulk of our daylight hours on the water, we move over to our campsite. S, in the hopes of reliving her childhood memories of "a man wearing moose antlers singing campfire songs", drags us to the interpretive centre for the nightly event. It turns out to be a talk on bats and other nightly creatures by the park's exceedingly awkward resident naturalist. We sit on wooden benches amongst the six year olds on their father's shoulders, where we learn that squirrels and trout have a tendency to dine on bats, and other such tidbits. 

We also experience the very sad spectacle of a naturalist heckler, a woman in the front row who has seen fit to challenge the naturalist's knowledge in the most snarky manner possible, despite her own lack of knowledge.

For instance:
Naturalist: Contrary to what you may have heard, bats actually have very good eyesight.
Heckler: That's not true! Why else would they say as blind as a bat?
(ah, yes, because if you can't trust proverbs to be true, what meaning is there left in the world?)

Naturalist: As we talked about earlier, the myth that bats drink blood also is not true.
Heckler: What about the vampire bat?
Naturalist: If you remember, the vampire bat actually only licks the blood from cuts.
Heckler: But when the blood is in their mouth, how does it get to their stomach? By drinking it! So what you said isn't true!
(Wow, you sure stumped him there. Or maybe you forgot the definition of the word swallow)

To avoid getting into a full out brawl at a provincial park's family event, we sneak away before the talk's conclusion. It is now time for drinking and cooking food on sticks (fact: hotdogs and marshmallows taste exponentially better when cooked on sticks).

As night falls, and we bask in the glow of the jumping orange flames. For inexplicable reasons, Enigma starts playing over the Jeep's stereo, and I treat everyone to my rousing version of "Return to Innocence". We watch moths commit ritualistic suicide, drawn to the brightness of the fire. We dine on Jiffy Pop, which is described as "A beautiful tin foil flower, filled with delicious popcorn nectar". We reminisce about childhood camping rituals, and S demonstrates the technicalities of ghost gum, squeezing and pulling marshmallows through her fingers, like taffy. After a short walk down a dusky path, three of us somehow fit in an enormous outhouse, and it is only afterwards that we realize how ridiculous we must have sounded to any eavesdroppers, as one girl peed, another giggled, and I frantically cranked my new self-powered flashlight, shouting "This flashlight is so bad ass!" And, eventually, we all climb into the single enormous tent, ostensibly for a "super tent slumber party", although, in actuality, we all pass out in a matter of moments.

I wake up to the frenetic pitter-pattering of rain on the canvas roof, and groan. The world outside our zippered doors is soggy, including my shoes. Sitting on our sleeping bags, we solemnly dine on mini boxes of Fruit Loops and Corn Pops, as the sounds of the deluge outside teases us about what we have in store. Feet are slipped into sodden footwear, hoods are pulled tightly over our heads, and we are quickly smeared in mud, raindrops and pine needles, as we gather garbage and fold up the tent. It seems more the anticipation of the rain than the actual experience that is negative, as it is hard to stay bitter when you are surrounded by dirt-splattered friends. With the odor of dampness permeating us, we hop into the van, and head back to the city.

30 comments:

Z said...

That sounds like a fantastic power-summer weekend!!!

IMFB said...

This sounds absolutely glorious. Glad you had a great time! Hope all is well!

nicoleantoinette said...

I need this EXACT weekend. Ahh!

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

This sounded like SO much fun! And you'd have to be a pretty sad person to heckle a naturalist!

WKC said...

Man, I didn't think anyone else in the world knew of Enigma besides my 13- to 14-year-old self (the pre-rock New Age years). They and albums that sounded like them were all I listened to for two years.

pseudosophical said...

Sounds like fun! I'm glad you had a great time.

This reminds me of the time my friends and I rented a pontoon on the lake for some tubing and fishing. We must've caught a whole school of fish! It was amazing. I need to do that again.

Ant said...

Idyllic.

I'm currently perspiring after my first walk to work in the middle of heatwave and your post has evoked all kinds of nostalgia and desire for the outdoors in me...

captain corky said...

"It is now time for drinking and cooking food on sticks"

There is no better time in the world!

Maxie said...

Tubing looks so fun, but I'm sure I'd chicken out of going really fast.

Deutlich said...

that looks like it was amazing

SMARTBuddy said...

I am again, as usual, blown away by the stunning looking places you manage to 'pop' over to for a weekend. I also hate know-it-all rude public members who already know everything. If you know everything why are you here?! Arrggghhh.

Tubing looks fun!

lspoon said...

I really wish I lived so close to such beauty. You're very lucky :)

the almost right word said...

nice backyard you got there!!!

Hagelrat said...

I haven't managed to go camping once this year. next year I have promised myself a few.

Yoda said...

You can sing Return to Innocence? Whoa! that's awesome!

Rachel said...

This totally made me think of you!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v168/augustmomma/comic-2.gif

Don't worry, it's not some dumb virus/spam thing

Paula said...

A naturalist heckler - brilliant. That's certainly a breed I've never come across before. I always get naturalist and naturist mixed up actually so if you hadn't clarified I probably would have thought the heckling was aimed at naked people . . . :)

Psychgrad said...

I find the whole moth suicide very interesting too. Why do moths like flames? Would a human equivalent be meth? Just wondering...

Katelin said...

oh man i am so jealous. sounds like a perfect summer weekend away :)

Crashdummie said...

amazing nature pics. They are always so magnificent u know...

Fruit Loops and Corn Pops.. yum...!

Elaine said...

Ireally love your description of the heckler. I run into quite a few of those in my day/

Bayjb said...

Wow that sounds like a perfect summer weekend. We're heading to northern WI this weekend for a few days so I'll be seeing many of those scenes too :) Great pictures.

Jenn said...

Color me jealous! I'm glad you had such an amazing weekend :)

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

"It seems more the anticipation of the rain than the actual experience that is negative, as it is hard to stay bitter when you are surrounded by dirt-splattered friends." Brilliant. Sounds like you had a wonderful time...

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Yes, the difference between naturalists and people is the difference between knowledge and cliches. Oh wait ... that was a cliche. Oops.

Loved the pictures though; beautiful area.

Matt said...

The part about the naturalist and the heckler was awesome...

and yes, we should always believer proverbs.

Crushed said...

This is your backyard???

Princess, I don't just tend to think I need to hop on a plane to get that sort of backyard, it's true!

I don't think there ARE any lakes for at least fifty miles...

Your naturalist heckler, does sghe think Monkeys eat only bananas?

Surfergrrl said...

sounds like a lot of fun!! it's so weird to see so much green in nature. most of my nature is in the form of sand. :)

eric1313 said...

I don't blame you one bit for not wanting to go tubing--what if Ogopogo came up out of the depths for snack time???

Yep, dropped this one on the wrong post initially. Jokes just aren't funny when you (me) screw them up.

Kayleigh said...

This post literally filled my heart with joy. I am so jealous of that weekend!! Wow. I love tubing, camping, boating, etc. but never get to do it. And those pictures were absolutely stunning.