There's something about going through a summer in BC without camping that tumbles my spirit like a fallen pine cone. In many ways I regret not taking the layoff over summer. Rattling around in this big ass building on the cusp of a Canadian long weekend is killer. Most have evacuated work in short, leaving the building I work in with a sense of creepiness as if Jack Nicholson was about to pop out with a death grip around the neck of Steven King. Seriously.... I needed to get this pony of a weekend started, only? I was the only one not going somewhere. So instead I am left to reminisce of all the years dating back to childhood where camping was thee, official yearly vacation.
Dad had an old chev van he camperized when I was young. It was an unusual green. Dad called the van 'Lizzy' when it would over heat going through the Fraser Canyon (BC). You would hear dad say, "come-on-old-Lizzy!" over top of a Johnny Cash song being played from an eight track.
Dad made two hammocks inside the van, one in the front of the van for my older brother and one in the back for myself. Beneath, positioned in the middle of the van was mom and dad, the table coming down to make a bed, which, in hindsight, looked to be just like a family of canned sardines. That aside, we were thrilled to be camping and really...didn't spend a whole lot of time inside-anyway. Although, "ahem," I'm pretty sure this is where I gained this nasty case of reoccurring claustrophobia. At any event, "coughs," nothing a mini flash light and a dance to summon up moon rays hasn't cured.
As the years went on my final camping trip with mom and dad was to the BC Cariboo, where at fourteen I was allowed to bring my childhood friend, Trish.
To say we were utterly bored was an understatement. To say we were boy crazy was another understatement, because, I'll be damned....if the last boy we'd seen was last seen about fifty miles back at some remote gas station. It makes me think now...of that song with that line that says, "I-shaved-my-legs-for-this?" (Humph!) Nonetheless, Trish and I made an adventure out of our trip with all sorts of hair brain-teen-ideas that left us with shits and giggles.
There we were, at this beautiful open lake that stretched for miles with a handful of small rustic cabins over looking the lake, and no boys. I can't tell you how many times I must have asked mom when we were leaving..... She'd say in a soothing voice as if she were on some kind of mystical-vacation-tour, "oh, in a few days, honey...." and I do that typical teen eye roll and leave her to her epic nature tour with an Agatha Christie novel.
One day Trish and I followed a narrow pathway that wound around through thinning trees upon a small bluff above the lake. We were so bored. And too old to play any childhood games, so, while wandering about we caught glimpse of something red on the lake through the spindly trees, and had, Had! to investigate.
Coming to a small clearing on the bluff we caught sight of a red canoe. Bloody amazed we were, because? well, we had thought we were the only humans since we left Vancouver! let alone teens. And the perfect thing about this red canoe was? well it had boys, two of them, who soon realized we were two crazy girls and jacked up they're rowing arms at break neck speeds to safer ground.
And so the boredom of Trish and I continued, what with scaring the only boys away and all.
One day we had a reprieve in the weather and the sun came out full strength. Trish and I decided to hang out on one of the more remote wharfs not too far from the cabins. We lay about in our bikinis hoping for a tan on our light freckled skin and chat about teen things, every now and again dangling our feet in the water listless like to return back on our bellies tanning our backs. One particular time while sunning ourselves there on the wharf Trish went to rise up on her elbows from her towel and, "coughs!" popped right out of her bathing suit. Peels of laughter ensued, so loud mom and dad had to ask later what in sam-heck were we doing, just like they wondered about all the screeching they heard one day out on the bluff.
Another cloudy day rolled in at the lake and left us teens more bored than ever. I asked mom again how many days were left of this chronic-pain-of-camping, and she said the usual, "oh, in a couple of days, honey."
And so with that, dad this warm and cloudy day let Trish and I take the row boat out on the lake, providing we wore those ugly tangerine life jackets.
It took Trish and I sometime before we got the knack of rowing (taking turns) and out from the wharf area-dad watching on. Some ways out on the lake I turned back to see dad making his way up the path to the cabins. I realized Trish and I were on our own and we were gonna find us some boys. Instead however, we found a small Island not far from where we were staying, abandoning the notion of boys and finding some adventure. We rowed close to shore eyeing up the beach line and scaring one another with the thought of bears and creatures with fangs, and, stories of ancient Native spirits haunting the Island with mystical powers that turned you into.....boys. I mean frogs on sticks. Eventually Trish and I abandoned the idea of venturing foot on the Island, noting our imagination getting the best of us, and returning to the notion of....boys.
We rowed and rowed that little white boat of dads out and away from the Island and further away from the cabins before we realized the lake was much bigger than we had originally thought. We could see small dots clear yonder across the lake that might be campers in trailers, but we couldn't be certain. We giggled at the thought of arriving at another campground, her and I, however, the distance far exceeded the will of surprise. That was when we realized the darkening of the clouds and wind sweeping up and hurtling over the lake. And that is when fear rose up and touched us like a bell commercial, only the reaching out wasn't as comforting. Also? this was when Trish and I had our first camper-girl- fight. For the life of us neither one could row in unison in a dead of panic. A crack of thunder rumbled from the distance. "Row! dammit!" we said to one another. She had one oar, I had the other, it was a crazy mess of circles and screeching at each other. The wind began to whip up even harder and graze every inch of our bodies with a cool stormy chill. The only saving grace was our life jackets shielding our upper half, otherwise our bathing suits were a poor choice of attire in a full ass storm now cruising across the lake.
Trish and I rowed our hearts out. Some of the time it seemed as if the wind had long tendrils with fingers pulling us back. We seemed so far out. Land if you may, which was where our cabins were, seemed undeniably farther in a storm than when we set out in calm waters, which, made our shrilling mind even more desperate to make it to shore. It was much like a nightmare, trying to scream and yet nothing comes of it.
Eventually Trish took the oar from me and rowed, then I took over and rowed. This repetition proved to gain accurate aim for land, not too mention break-neck-teen-speed. We were now in sight of the cabins and dad standing up on the small bluff watching over us. I figured he'd worry. But dad in his usual form just scolded me for going too far out. Trish and I were just glad to get our feet on land.
And lastly? knowing we'd never go out on that boat again-we did.
I bugged and bugged dad for the boat, where he relented big time, knowing the trouble we got into the day before. Eventually I wore him down ( a teen specialty) where he allowed us the privilege of the boat, but only providing we stay close to the shore, which we agreed and went no further than ear shot of the camp, though mostly we ended up rowing around the larger of the wharfs near the boat launch area.
Trish and I thought we'd try our hand at fishing. Dad said if we bait our fishing hooks with pieces of hot dog wiener we might get a fish to bite, and-was-he-right! nibble they had! especially this one particular large rainbow trout that seemingly followed our boat around.
Trish and I must have been out there for an hour watching this big trout lazily float around. We couldn't get over it, the fish was so docile. Eventually Trish and I came to the conclusion that we could probably hang dad's fishing net in the water and scoop the bugger up. Then we did, to peels of hollers of excitement. This didn't go over so well with my parents for various reasons I found out later. You see? apparently we are not allowed to screech, holler, bellow, whistle or laugh- no longer out from giving my parent's a heart attack.
It was really too bad, because, Trish and I were so proud of catching this huge trout, aside from dangerously standing in a swaying row boat with fits of shit and giggles and holding up this heavy net with later we found-a six pound rainbow trout.
Once dad realized what we had he came down the path to the wharf hushing us.For the life of me I couldn't figure why he was trying to put a lid on us-we were so proud of our fishing exposition. Later I would find out that scooping up a fish with a net was called, "coughs," 'illegal fishing,' which...freaked Trish and I out with visions of going to jail. Course mom smoothed that particular teen nightmare away with a light hearted chuckle. Also later, we'd find out that numerous campers including the owners of this place said they'd spotted that old fish days ago, lazily swimming about near shore.
Eventually dad had got us off the hook, so to speak, with the conclusion from others that the trout had got caught up in fishing tackle and was in the throws of his demise, hence saddening Trish and I with pangs of relief from going to jail. Fish jail.
Needless to say when all was in the clear and forgiven mom made Trish and I clean the fish. And you know what that produced....
gagging peels of shits and giggles.