in shady shambles…

August 2012

When recently planning two fun-packed days in Whistler, BC with Pete’s brother and wife and their six (yes 6!) young kids, we figured being super aunt and uncle would be pretty tiring, and so added an extra night to our trip, to wind down while camping at pristine Birkenhead Lake (about 2 hrs North of Whistler).  Unlike our usual camping adventures, which typically entail hiking to a remote location for hours on end laden down like a couple of mules, this was going to be a very different and much more pleasant experience – it’s ‘car camping’ after all!  I hadn’t fully grasped the benefits of car camping until we started loading the vehicle and the gear didn’t have to be shrink wrapped into a backpack.  The thought of sleeping on a queen sized inflatable mattress with our own fluffy quilt and pillows, and bringing with us a selection of fine charcuterie meats, aged blue and creamy cheeses, fresh crusty bread and all the other good accompaniments that make for a ‘posh’ picnic, while watching the sun set over the lake…begged the question…”what more could we want from life”?

After the family hugs and fond farewells we hit the highway with the goal of arriving at our destination early-afternoon, giving us ample time to set up camp, enjoy the view and cool down from the intense heat of the day in the lake (33 degrees is an extreme heat wave by Vancouver standards!).  The vision of this oasis was even more amplified after being jostled around on a forestry (unpaved) dusty road for the last 45 mins of the journey.  We arrived, finally, at camping spot # 65 and promptly checked out the lake.   There was a sense of urgency as we quickly started to set up camp, so as to make the best of the rest of the glorious sunny day.  All was coming together as planned, so it will no doubt surprise you to learn that less than 2 hours later, we were back on the road heading for Vancouver!

I can’t articulate the feeling very well (perhaps a 6th sense), but when we reserved spot # 65 online a couple of weeks earlier, I couldn’t help but think “what luck” its peak summer season and we’ve managed to get the last spot at a highly sought after camping destination, what’s up with that?  Oh well, no problem?   In fact, yes problem!  As we were juggling tent poles, while constantly swatting away the incessant bug action, we became aware of a strange aroma in the air.  A glance beyond our camping spot, and then overhearing a fellow camper stroll by with his buddy, announcing loudly that he would meet him down at the lake in a little while, because he was “just stopping off to take care of a bit of business”, confirmed that the small wooden building approx 20ft behind our “lucky” spot, was in fact the ‘out-house’, ‘dunny’, ‘bog’, ‘crapper’ – call it what you want, they all smell the same.

We nervously grinned and tried to reassure each other that, we’re here now, we might as well make the best of it.  However, with the realization that we’ve been in a few tricky and unpleasant camping situations in past (with no easy escape) and that we actually had an option in this case, because….you got it, we were ‘car camping’ – after a few more bug bites, a knowing glance and nod sealed the deal, and we packed up lickety split and headed for home.

All this may or may not be interesting, but in terms of documenting the ordeal, it’s necessary as a precursor for the shots below.  Being a ‘glass is half-full’ type, the upside was on the way back we spied a neat set of abandoned structures along the roadside that just had to be explored (despite being on private property!).  My least favourite shooting light once again, but a ‘cool’ place on a hot day nonetheless, and somewhere to regroup before heading home!

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