It started out as a good idea, I mean, how hard can it really be? I’d never been camping before, and was ready for an adventure.
The plan was, Blair was going to pick me up around 6:30, we’d all meet at the Petro-Canada on the Trans Can, and head to our final destination. West Hawk.
Red flags were popping all over the place, but I gleefully ignored them, content in the knowledge that I was about to be at one with nature, but still within a stone’s throw of running water.
What you should know about me is that I consider only having a window air unit, and double beds in a hotel room roughing it.
Blair calls me on the Thursday before we are to leave. Do I have a tent? Of course. Because I’m a skilled woodswoman. Nevertheless, I use my incredible networking skills and procure a tent that accompanied my girlfriends’ parents on their honeymoon. In ’72.
Friday rolls around, and I’m packed and ready to go. Make up? Check. Hair brush? Check! Booze and bug spray? Check check! Oh, and a sleeping bag, I’ve got that too.
Blair is late. Really late. We don’t hit the road until closer to 9:00, and he’s not driving his standard set of wheels. Instead, he’s piloting a firefly.
Sidebar: Fireflys are built for people under 5’4. And only two at a time. I’m 5’10, as is Blair. Joe, well. He is 6’2 and P, he’s probably around 5’6. Are you envisioning?
The 4 of us meet up with the other carload, and we fly off to the Whiteshell. About 30 minutes in, we clearly realise there is something wrong with the car. An hour in, we wonder if we will reach our destination. We do, but the car is nearly smokin’. (A quick check the next AM reveals we had essentially NO OIL. For those keeping score, it’s like having NO BLOOD. Anyway…)
We get to the campground gates far too late to get a site. That doesn’t deter us youngins though. We gate crash and choose our own site, and go about making ourselves at home.
First order of business. Crack the vodka, throw the beer on ice, and eventually, at some point, we will erect that tent. Next on the list? Start a fire. Of course, we have no wood, stores are closed. Once again, we slip off under the cover of darkness and theive a few cords. We’ll burn the evidence. Prove it.
Now, for the tent. Hey, does this thing come with instructions? Of course not. Again, how hard can it be? Well, nigh on impossible. The poles are all colour coded, mostly faded, and we don’t have flashlights. Our first attempt at lighting the area was to run the car, and build in the glow of the headlamps, but the Park Police quickly shut us down. We did manage to get a few supporting poles and the canvas draped, but this guy would be hard pressed to find comfort, and coverage. But, whatever. We’re half in the bag, and it’s just going to have to do.
The Parkies showed up 3 more times, insisting we need to shut the hell up, or get the hell up, so we figured we should shut this party down.
Blair and I zip our bags together, and we rough it under the stars (Very cool, for the record. Best part of the trip), P crawls into the makeshift tent, and Joe disappeared.
As an aside, I almost went camping in 1996. I was 16, the guy I was dating was the 24-year-old cousin of my friends’ boyfriend, and the whole situation was a hot mess. Long story short, are plan got shot, the boys went, had no tent, forgot the food, tried to start a fire with nothing but paper and slept under a picnic table. Thank you Goddess for the interference in my scheme.
Back to West Hawk. I’m the first one to arouse from my state of semi unconsciousness, and I slowly peruse the damage we have managed to cause in a short 8 hours.
There are bottles and cans absofreakinglutely EVERYWHERE. There’s a pair of feet sticking out of a wannabe tipi, a 6 foot + man sleeping in a firefly with his legs hanging out of the window, and a stranger and his dog at the foot of our site with a camera slung around his neck.
I croak out a throaty good morning, and the good Samaritan laughingly states that we remind him of his youth, and requests permission to snap a few shots. Whatever gets you off, buddy. Whatever gets you off.
At this point, I’m starving, so I walk over to the car, and smack Joe on the foot. He’s sleeping with the cooler, and I want grub. Upon closer inspection, I notice he is covered in crumbs. He shrugs. Offers up the weak excuse that he was hungry. And ate.everything.
Off to the restaurant. We smell, we are unruly, hung over, starved and out of our element. P has turned into a toddler and his crying that he wants to go home. He has a headache, his back hurts and he didn’t sleep well.
Fair enough. The trip has been one catastrophe after another. Before leaving, we swing into the Shell at Falcon, top off the oil, and head home.
The ride is fairly uneventful until Blair, who is riding shot gun, notices Joe is pulling heavy into the shoulder. He yells, resulting in Joe snapping back awake and over compensating, pulling us into ONCOMING TRAFFIC. He corrects, we pull over and he surrenders the wheel to B.
Upwards and onwards. Not 10 minutes later, up in the distance we all notice this…form in the middle of the highway. As we close the gap at a rapid pace, we realise it is a flock of Prairie Chickens, and they ain’t moving.
Expecting to play a fascinatingly morbid round of bowling for buzzards, I brace myself. Instead, B tries to slam on the brakes at the exact moment the brake light comes on and…nothing. Total brake failure. He veers wildly to the right, almost killing us all, and immediately elevates his position in life to pheasant savior.
Turns out, this piece of shit loaner car had minimal oil, trace amounts of brake fuel, and burnt out tail lights.
I don’t even remember the rest of how we got home, but I do know I never went camping again.
No room service, no dice.
Can you top it?