Young and broke as we were, we still wanted to go on a short vacation the first year my husband Ray and I were married. Fortunately being related to an older sister who had a tent and cooler, we begged and borrowed all the many items needed to spend a restful, quiet weekend together in the beautiful lake region of BC.
We decided to leave on Friday evening, as it would extend our mini holiday to a three-day weekend.
“Well, Pattypoo,” said my new husband, “are you ready?” Of course I was ready! I had absolutely no idea as to what ‘ready’ meant. Yes, I had packed my long pants and a shirt and I even added an extra pair of socks, (you just never knew?). I didn’t include a jacket though as it was in the high 20′s C. and we only had so much room in the car.
I packed food. A dozen wieners and a can of beans, but I could only find an eight pack of hot dog buns but it would be O.K., and of course we would have the fish my handsome husband would catch on Saturday.
I was ready! A book to read, a lounge to lay on, what else could you ask?
Ray carefully packed everything. Off we went, confident we would have a wonderful time. How complicated could this ‘camping’ thing be? We were both university grad students, between us we knew everything.
We carefully checked our map to calculate the amount of time we would need to get to the lake. It was a small one, (we thought there wouldn’t be too many people there) but we couldn’t find it on our map. He had been given careful instruction by one of the men in his office. He assured me he knew the way!
Not as confident as he, I checked the highway markers, and noted we were on Hwy 97, heading north. When I pointed this out, I was told the road would turn in a few miles and then we would be in the Kelowna area, and close to our secret and secluded lake. I had confidence in my husband; remember, I was just a newlywed.
Time marched on and the miles sped by; soon it was getting dark and we were in some pretty high mountains. I didn’t know little lakes came in places with mountains that still had snow on the peaks; besides, it was getting cold.
As the last rays of sun shone through the driver’s side of the car, I again questioned our destination. Again, not to worry, we should be there in plenty of time to set up the tent. “By the way,” I asked, “have you set up a tent like this before?”
“What’s to setting up a tent?” he said. “They’re all the same, just stick a pole in the middle and stake out the bottom and Bob’s your Uncle.” I don’t have an uncle that would know the first thing about setting up a tent, and certainly don’t have one named Bob!
But as a good (read na?ve here) newlywed, I waited with ever growing bated breath for our beautiful, quiet, secluded lake to appear.
Soon the last of the sunlight gave way to twilight, and as it too started to fade, we turned off onto a dirt road. “Are you sure this is the right road?” I cried, as I had not seen a street sign or marker of any kind. “Do you know where we are?”
“Oh ye of little faith,” quoted my ever-confident husband, “of course I know where we are.” I peered out the windshield as the road got rockier and gave up great gobs of dust that slithered into every crevice of the car; soon the “road” through the ever thickening brush was hardly wide enough for the car. The road abruptly ended on a small cliff and not seeing where we could turn around, Ray decided we should spend the night and go on in the morning.
I got out of the car and looked around in the light on the car headlights but hubby soon turned them off to save the battery. Didn’t I know if we used the lights tonight, we might not be able to start the car in the morning? Smart husband! Dumb wife!
Alright, never let it be said that I was not a good sport. I got the suitcase out of the car myself and started to brush my hair getting ready to go to bed. Smart husband soon had words about cooperation, help, and equal opportunity work so I put the hair brush down.
“So,” I said, “what do you want me to do?”
“Never mind,” said husband in a snit, “just cook us something to eat.”
“Surely you jest,” I said in my most reasonable tone. “I don’t cook at camp!” (Truth be told, I don’t cook at home either!)
This in-between time is best left untold as my Mother would not want to hear the words used by my near-perfect husband.
“I don’t like it here,” I told him. “I have a funny feeling about this place. Let’s move.”
“Are you out of your mind?” snarled my perfect mate.
“Get off, get off, how can I put up the tent if you keep standing on it? We’re not leaving here until morning. Besides I can’t turn the car around in the dark.”
The tent finally got up; I didn’t know why one side wouldn’t stay put. It kept falling onto the sleeping bag on the far side. I gave the master of the house that side.
We went to bed still hungry; cold wieners and a cold hot dog bun just ‘doesn’t do it’. But we laughed and joked and drank our bottle of red wine and told each other that this is what memories are made of. Little did I know?
I lay awake on the hard ground and waited, listening for heaven knows what.
I must have dozed off but I woke with a monstrous light beam blazing straight at us, the ground shook, my teeth rattled, the noise was deafening.
Just as the train was about to grind us into camper hamburger it turned and thundered down the tracks right beside us.
We clung together in a near hysterical state and promised the gods of camping, “No More Camping in the Dark, No More Camping in the Dark!”