... Or at least what I did with today. I have been meaning to do this for a while. I dragged my wife out of bed, and before her eyes were open, whisked us off to (where else?
) Canadian Tire to buy an inflatable boat. From there we went to a Provincial Park/Campground that I used to go to every year with my family. I haven't been there in almost twenty years, and so it was a good time. I am visiting my parents in the next few weeks and I thought it would be nice to bring them some pictures of a place we all used to enjoy.
Well, as much fun as my wife and I had today (not to mention our first sunburns of the season!) , there was an element of sadness as well. A few years ago a hurricane blew through my province (Hurricane Juan) and caused significant damage to much of the province. I had heard that the park had been hit hard, but even so, I wasn't ready for what I actually saw.
There is a small island which makes up about a third of the campground, and it was here that we used to go camping. We always gravitated towards this one small "street" off to one side that only had three campsites on it- it was very quiet and the only folks who went down there were people who wanted to be away from everyone else. It was a great place to camp, very peaceful, and we could let the dog roam free.
When we used to go there, the island was as heavily treed as the rest of the park, and in some places the trees were so thick you couldn't get through them. It gave an amazing level of privacy- in fact the whole place was one of the finest campgrounds we'd ever been at.
When we got there today I couldn't recognize the place. The trees were all gone. I don't mean they had thinned out, I mean that the small island that we used to camp on, which had so many trees you could barely make out the neon orange tent in the next site, now had maybe
a hundred trees, and perhaps half of those were over 5 foot. It was a terrible slaughter, and now I don't know if I want to put together a small photo album of the place as it is now for my parents. Better they remember it the way it was.
Of course, as tragic as it was, my wife and I had a great time there today. We found a nice spot near where my family and I used to set up camp (we had to walk down to the old sites because the gravel roads weren't the same as they used to be) and marveled at how my father used to back a 28 foot camping trailed on the back of a 17 foot long extended cab Ford pickup down into these spots. Even without trees it would be a challenge!
As soon as we found a nice spot, we started to inflate the boat. It took a lot longer than it should have because the pump (electric tire pump I always keep in the car) wouldn't fit in the giant openings in the boat. I've never seen such HUGE
valves on a small 3 man inflatable boat, but then it's probably been about 20 years since I had one! I had to use leftover napkins to enlarge the head of the tire pump to fill the hole (more or less!) and allow it to fill up. My wife did her part and sat in the car and read her book!
Finally we got the boat pumped up (or at least as much as we could with my makeshift adaptor) and we went off to get it wet. A little background first. My wife is not terribly adventurous. In fact, the very act of getting her to come out to this place with me and get in an inflatable boat and float around a local lake is to her as daunting as Indiana Jones' feats are to the average person, and I still believe she only went along with it because we were well on our way before she was awake and knew what was going on!
So off we went in the boat, out into the lake when I found out the hard way that my wife, who has only ever been in her father's 14 foot aluminum boat, does not know how to paddle. At first I decided to just take the oars and drop them in the oarlocks and row, but that got old fast, and when my wife started saying how she felt much more comfortable with the prospect of a canoe trip down a local canal (Shubendacadie Canal runs the length of my province and ends in the lake across the road from my house- it actually ends less than a kilometer away in Halifax Harbour, but that goes under the downtown part of the city, a place that no one wants to end their trip!) so I decided if she were game for that, then she was gonna damn well learn to paddle!
All in all, we spent an hour or so on the lake, getting burned and enjoying the peacefulness of bobbing on the waves, occasionally broken by the wake of a passing motorboat. It was a good day and I enjoyed it, although it wouldn't be hard to improve on it. With some kind of adaptor for example, I could have blown the boat up as much as it was supposed to be inflated, and it wouldn't have been so "saggy" feeling. Not a big deal as the wife liked it enough, and is willing to go again, and more importantly, the canoe trip I have been wanting to take for the last seven years- basically, since moving back here when we got married. I'd always wanted to take the dogs on a nice canoe/camping trip like that, and I was seriously depressed last year when one of my dogs died and I hadn't had the chance to do it before. Now I am much more motivated, and maybe since the wife isn't terrified at the prospect, it is a strong possibility now!