19 August 2008

Back to nature…

Fear not; I’m not turning hippy on you. I’m not prepared to give up modern luxuries and sport a leaf bikini or loin cloth (although I may have once had a dream along those lines…)

Two years after moving into our home, hubby and I have suddenly come to the sad realization that we haven’t been camping in ages. Before the busy demands of marriage and homeownership, we were avid outdoorsmen. Back when we were dating and not worrying about dusty baseboards or the weeds in our garden, we used to do a fair bit of camping each summer. In university we invested a small fortune in the “camping kit” – a collection of every possible gadget or piece of equipment that a camping enthusiast could dream of. After sitting dormant for roughly three years, I am happy to report that the kit will finally come out of hiding this weekend.

The decision to escape the city came as a bit of a last minute surprise. Hubby was invited to go a cottage in Sudbury for my brother Bachelor Weekend, but with the six-hour drive each way and not being able to leave work early or take Monday off, he decided that the journey would not be feasible. He also has to be back in town on Sunday evening to play in our beach volleyball finals. Low and behold, we suddenly found ourselves in the position where neither of us had plans - literally a first in months.

After some quick browsing on Ontario Parks, I decided to try booking a campsite at Charleston Lake Provincial Park. We wanted somewhere that would be close (under two hours), yet far enough to feel like an escape (I.e. anywhere not bordering the immensely polluted Ottawa River). Charleston Lake seemed to fit the bill perfectly and I’ve heard good things about it from coworkers and friends. It turns out that the proverbial ‘luck of Irish’ was with me, as we were able to book the last campsite available. I was even more pleased to learn that the site is actually graded superior quality – a rarity when it’s the only vacant site which leads me to believe that we must have lucked out on another person’s cancellation. Double score!

I cannot wait to reacquaint myself with Mother Nature. The park looks like a paddlers dream so hopefully we’ll be able to rent ourselves a canoe or kayak to get around and explore the interior. My only reservation is that the park is home to a large population of black rat snakes, not exactly the kind of fellows I hope to run into or find dangling down from a tree. I’m fairly comfortable with wildlife but ‘large’ snakes really do creep the bejesus out of me! At least this variety is non-venomous, a fact that brings me a minute sense of comfort. Either way I’m certain that any encounter will end in me shrieking like a little girl and pushing hubby in front of me to act as a shield…that’s if he doesn’t shriek and run away himself.

The countdown is on and I’m already bursting at the seams to hit the road, pitch the tent and light the campfire. The one unfortunate part of camping that I seem to have forgotten during my hiatus is that it actually takes a good deal of planning and preparation. Because our equipment has been lying dormant for years, we have to air everything out and make sure that all is in working order. Coupled with a busy work week, two dinner parties and swing dance in the evenings, I’m not entirely sure where we will find the time to get things packed and ready in the next three days. Something tells me that a good chunk of our time in the woods may actually be spent sleeping off exhaustion or dozing in front of the fire.

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