Back to Life, Back to Reality

There was zero cell reception in Algonquin. It was delicious. I swear I didn’t want to come back. Our last night there, we got some pretty heavy rainfall and I can likely attribute my inability to sleep that night to the rain and the humidity but I think another culprit was simply the fact that I simply didn’t want our camping trip to end. I had been doing well at managing my stress levels before I went away, or so I thought. It wasn’t until I was forced to really disconnect that I realized just how badly I was failing at it. The night I returned, and the morning after were the most productive I have been in a very long time. I am also surprised to learn that I had made a decision about something really important without actively thinking about it too much. [vagueness] Of course I’m terrified at the thought of informing the person this decision pertains to, but it’s something I need and I know that they would be the first to encourage me to take care of numero uno1. [/end vagueness]

This guy; he loves that water, and we love him. So much.

My family and I are getting really good at this camping thing too. It has been five years so I guess we’ve learned a thing or two. Mind you, the night it rained I don’t know why we thought we would be okay leaving our coolers in the food tent, stacked and seemingly-secure. We were wrong. As I was lying in bed, unable to sleep2 I heard a noise that sounded like something trying to get into either the middle or the bottom cooler. I grabbed my flash-light and shone it into the food tent through a meshed window in our tent. I couldn’t see very well, but I definitely saw eyes. I put on my pants, sweater, socks and shoes, grabbed my flashlight and angrily stomped towards them. I finally saw that they were raccoons when I stepped out of the tent, which was a few metres away from our tent. I yelled, ‘get out!’ but only once. I didn’t want to yell more than that as it was almost 1am. By the time I reached the food tent, they were gone. I tried to wake up my snoring father but was unsuccessful, so I put everything into the car myself. It wasn’t difficult, I was merely thinking it would be faster with two people.

You would think I’d be able to sleep after coming down from that adrenaline rush, but I didn’t actually fall asleep for another hour. Waking up 6 hours later wasn’t as difficult as you might think either. It was needed though, we were only packed and driving out of the campsite right on time3.

Loading the canoe on our car so we can go to the bigger lake, and get more exercise.

Stargazing, smelling like campfire, playing with fire, canoeing, swimming in clear4 lake water, walking/running/playing with Drogo5, playing badminton with my Dad, cooking our dinners, making bbq sauce from random sauce packets/and other ingredients we had instead of buying some, and enjoying yummy coffee every morning6 were some of the highlights of this camping trip7. The one that I imagine will be unique to this year’s trip was that we got to hang out with so much wildlife – all of the chipmunks8, blue jays, brewer’s blackbirds, and fireflies9.

I wasn’t able to catch as many sunsets nor sunrises10 at this campsite, and since we decided against renting or bringing bikes this year and it was difficult for me to drive either car11, but it was still one of the most wonderful trips I could have ever asked to go on this year. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to go on at least two more trips this year. Another thing I would definitely have changed was how close we were to Highway 60 (which goes through Algonquin), as the sound of cars whizzing by was a mild distraction. Not enough of a distraction to make a huge difference but the absence of that sound would have been made exponential improvement on the quality of our trip. Next time.

Silent Lake Provincial Park (SLPP) may just have some competition as far as the Sy Family’s favourite park12. I’d be curious to stay at some of the other campgrounds to canoe and swim in those lakes, so we might just have to put our original plan of alternating between a new campsite and SLPP until we’ve completely explored Algonquin. We’ll see.

I’ve only been back for 3 days13, and I’ve already lost a little of the zen I found. It’s related to something I don’t have complete control over14, and is something I simply have to deal with but I do enjoy that it’s easier to let things go, breathe and focus on the parts of my life that do bring me joy.

Including being able to go away on a day trip to Elora Gorge with some awesome people. I’ll have to save that story for next time though.

We ate so well...
We ate so well…
And so did the chipmunks #allthepeanuts
And so did the chipmunks #allthepeanuts15
That zapper that my brother is holding saved us from so many deer flies
That zapper that my brother is holding saved us from so many deer flies
Epic walks with the best dog ever
Epic walks with the best dog ever
Can you spot his cute butt?
Can you spot his cute butt?16
Footnotes:
  1. ME![]
  2. but not stressing about it – thankfully[]
  3. before 2pm[]
  4. -ish[]
  5. my brother’s dog, a black lab/german shepherd/akita mix[]
  6. thanks to a friend who loaned me his aeropress[]
  7. and most camping trips[]
  8. just kidding, there only were 5 or 6[]
  9. my favourite![]
  10. even though I was certainly up early enough some days[]
  11. one had a trailer stuck to it, and the other has standard transmission – which I don’t know how to drive yet[]
  12. but Silent Lake will always have a special place in my heart[]
  13. 4 if you count today[]
  14. because it involves someone else[]
  15. just look at Drogo (our dog) being a good boy and leaving the chipmunk alone[]
  16. still talking about the dog[]

A mini-getaway

Vicky and I got out of the city a little later than I had planned, but I made the decision not to let it bother me. As soon as we were on the road, nothing else mattered; how long the journey took1, and what we encountered along the way were all part of the vacation now. There was quite a bit of traffic heading up, but we remained in good spirits the whole way through. We hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks so had lots to catch up on.

Once we arrived we relaxed with a cocktail2 on the dock; just basking in the fresh air, the sound of the birds, their neighbour’s kids going up and down their water-slide, the warmth of the sun and the ever-so-calm water in front of us. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, then spent some quality time in front of the fire3.

The woods beside the cottage

We are women, we make fire ;)

Geese and goslings swimming along during sunset

When we got up the next morning, it was gloomy and cold; I started out by reading my book. I sketched. I listened to my new audio-book. I grilled my lunch. Her parents joined us later in the afternoon, and we started a crossword together4. Before dinner, we went for a short-hike and got back just before the rain started up again. After dinner, we played card games. They taught me bridge, I taught them how to play asshole.

Salmon cakes made by the ever-talented Victoria Murdoch

I got up fairly early the next morning in an attempt to get back into the city at a decent time5, though I didn’t get to do everything that I had wanted to do before I arrived at my parents’ house to prepare for our camping trip.

I left my cellphone on airplane mode most of the time while I was at the cottage; for a few reasons: I didn’t want to be tempted to continually check all-of-the-things, and I didn’t want our serenity to be interrupted by messages. I would check once before bed for any urgent messages, but thankfully there was no fires that needed dousing.

More wildlife sightings: Bambi!

Thus marks the end of the relaxing part of my vacation. I hope to make the next five days more grueling than the days that I go to the gym. I have some serious making up to do6! I seriously need to let off some steam.

I had some weird dreams at the cottage, and I am generally feeling all sorts of emotional numbness despite being in some very confusing situations lately. I do have a lot of things to think about, and perhaps even a very important decision to make so maybe I really just need some one-on-one time with nature.

I’ve been tempted to document my adventures on social media like everyone else does, but you know what? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

See you on the other side7.

Footnotes:
  1. it took us under 4 hours[]
  2. white wine spritzer please![]
  3. gosh i love smelling like campfire[]
  4. her Mom started it, we joined in[]
  5. I succeeded[]
  6. I haven’t been to the gym in 11 days at this point![]
  7. of this week – hehe[]

A week away from the city

For the last five years my family and I have been camping in various Ontario Parks. We’ve been to Awenda, Silent Lake, Quinte, Sibbald Point and this year we’re checking out Algonquin. I can’t speak for my family, but I look forward to it every year. We book our campsite in February just to make sure we get a good site. Our favourite park is Silent Lake, but we’ve agreed to try a different park every other year. What’s even better is that we have the luxury of checking in on a Sunday, and checking out on a Thursday so we can avoid the crowds.

I feel so blessed though because not only am I getting a chance to go camping for 5 days/4 nights, I’m also going to a friend’s cottage for a couple of nights. A cottage that is honestly just so good for my soul. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time on my balcony, and it’s bee lovely but getting out of the city is incomparable.

I have a few books that I hope to bring with me. I’ll also be bringing my notebook, and I hope to be able to get back into sketching. I really need to get working on finalizing the sketch of my second tattoo after all. Maybe I’ll finally have it this summer.

No matter what happens while I’m away from the city, I am extremely grateful for my upcoming week being able to be one with nature for almost 7 straight days.

Memories

There are some memories that just stay with you. It’s easy to have fun times with great people, but not all memories come back with the same clarity, nor fill you with the same sense of nostalgia. There are some memories that come rushing back to your present moment as if you were re-living them all over again… though perhaps with some details blurred out. What stands out is the way those moments made you feel. These become the moments that you base other moments on moving forward.

As I was taken back this weekend to one of the moments I describe below, I managed to pull out a few other memories that often fill me with joyful butterflies, happily fluttering in my insides. The first two are from the same evening1; I was in New York City on Independence Day visiting a friend2.

Processed with MOLDIV

One | It was drizzling, but the city decided to continue with their fireworks display. I was hanging out with some friends of the friend I was visiting at the time, who happened to have a roof we were able to get out to. Watching the fireworks, with the Brooklyn Bridge on one side, and The Williamsburg Bridge on the other3 was magical, and I just remember feeling like it was exactly where I needed to be. I’ve been to many fireworks displays since, and none have ever come close – despite the awesome things they can do with fireworks these days.

Two | I can no longer recall if this happened before or after the fireworks; I’m leaning towards it happening before but it doesn’t really matter. The same house featured a gorgeous backyard that was longer than it was wide, with some gorgeous landscaping work that featured trees in the back of the yard, just at their tall fence. At one point the night, fireflies began to dance around the night sky; sometimes flying right beside us. There’s just something about watching fireflies flit and flutter around in the night sky that left me, and still fills me with a feeling of sheer joyous wonder.

There are other memories that make New York City one of my absolute favourite places to visit but these two often come back to me vividly; sometimes in dreams. The next two memories take place during the same vacation1; I was on a tiny Island called Holbox, which is a part of Mexico. I was visiting one of my all-time favourite people in the world, Jackie, while she was working on the island conducting research for her thesis. The entire trip is one giant happy memory but these two are ones that come to me most often.

Three | We had gone into the mainland to check out the ruins, and we also checked out a cenote. I don’t even care that my brand new underwater camera drowned that day because everything about swimming in that water was heavenly; add to that the sight of sunlight streaming in through the hole in the ‘ceiling’ making it easy to see the stalactites where some bats were just hanging out; marvelous. It didn’t matter that there were kids splashing around us, there was a certain brand of peace and quiet that existed in that cenote; and it will stay with me always4.

Four | Early one morning, we were invited to go fishing with a couple5 brothers who owned a restaurant on the Island. They would go out every morning and fish, then go home and serve up their catch of the day at the restaurant. They taught us how to fish using only a line, a hook and fresh sardines caught even earlier that morning. Once we were back on the Island, they fed us fresh ceviche and fish tacos from the day’s catch. I often wonder if I’d be able to recreate my success that day if I were ever stranded on a boat with similar supplies; I’d like to think I would.

I don’t know that my experience in Mexico is the same as most, since I didn’t spend a lot of time on the mainland. And there were definitely more wonderful memories such as star gazing while listening to nothing but the ocean waves and each other’s voices; or riding out on that man’s golf cart to the other end of the island to watch the glofish do their thing that one night; or snorkeling in cozumel…or killing that cockroach in Jackie’s room my first night there. I know I can’t physically go back there, but I sure do enjoy revisiting the trip in my mind and through pictures.

The next one needs to be vague, for reasons I don’t want to disclose. If you were there, you may recognize the event where the next memory takes place in the photo below.

Five | It was a special person’s birthday. I was attending an annual event downtown; serendipitously6, I managed to get tickets for him and his friend7. I also managed to double all of the supplies that I needed to bring8, plus a birthday cake for him. There was this moment that evening, when he was about to blow out the candles on his cake9, and he just looked so carefree; so happy. I remember thinking that I was so proud that I did that; that I managed to make someone so happy. If only it were always that easy.

Mostly because I don’t want to end this trip down memory lane, there but also because this last memory is one that I hope to recreate very soon with a trip back to Europe. I moved back from Ireland in 2008, which is exactly 8 years ago… It has been far, far too long.

Six | We were in Paris. They were hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2007. My bf at the time had won tickets to the Ireland v Argentina match so we flew over for the weekend. We were out with friends, walking around the city, bar hopping and having fun with just about everyone else who was out on the street. Ireland had lost the match but everyone was in good spirits anyway. The temperature was perfect; we walked for hours; I was wearing heels but I don’t remember ever feeling pain. Just pure bliss10.

 

What are some of your favourite memories?

Footnotes:
  1. photos may not necessarily reflect the memories I described[][]
  2. ex-friend but that’s neither here nor there[]
  3. and we all know how much I love bridges[]
  4. now if only I can master summoning it at will[]
  5. or was it three?[]
  6. let’s say it’s a word, ok?[]
  7. even though the event was sold-out[]
  8. it was that kind of an event – where we bring all the things needed[]
  9. I even have photographic evidence to remind me of this moment[]
  10. and no, we weren’t on drugs[]