We are home from camping! Yay! It was a great trip that had some curveballs but everyone had great attitudes about it so it was still low-stress and super fun. On Friday we packed the van up and hit Timmy's on our way out of town. We were going out to Nordegg so we left fairly early considering check in wasn't until 4. As we were driving out we noticed that the smoke started getting thicker and thicker... Matt's sister was right behind us and we had planned to meet in Rocky Mountain House for more Timmy's but before we even reached Rocky we made some phone calls between cars and decided to turn around. The smoke was so thick that we could barely see a kilometer down the road. We had already been concerned about the smoke for Gabe's sake, but seeing that much smoke we became concerned for our sakes! So, 20 km outside of Rocky we turned around and went to the Timmy's in Sylvan Lake. While we stopped we schemed and opted to try our the Brewer's campground at Gull Lake. The smoke was barely noticeable there and they let us check in early and we were able to get campsites right by the bathrooms and directly across from each other. It wasn't our first choice but for this trip I think it was the best choice. We would've spent all our time in our tents and wouldn't have even been able to see the mountains had we gone to Nordegg. Plus, all of the wildlife that would have gone further down the mountains and towards the water sources because of the fire would have meant even more cougars and bears in the area.
Friday night we had a heck of a time starting the fire. The two bundles of wood we bought were both fairly fresh and damp wood which made it pretty hard. Eventually, after camping fuel, fire starters and my own pyrotechnic abilities failed us, Matt drove into town and bought more wood - dry wood, specifically. Once the fire was finally going we were able to start dinner: perogies, smokies and bannock. It was so yummy! Just the thing after a lot of traveling and only snacking through the day. That night we sat around the fire for a fair while talking and playing guitar and went to bed after it was good and dark. Unfortunately for us, we were by no means the last people to go to sleep. Apparently our sidd of the campground was the rowdy side. Lots of people were talking and singing and laughing long after the 11:00 Quiet Time. Oh, and it was freezing in the tent. Matt and I had our two sleeping bags opened up and laid flat and we were sleeping between them but by about 11:30 Matt decided that wasn't warm enough so we had to get up to zip up the bags and each get our own. Then the people across from us started singing. The guy who was leading them was actually a fantastic musician and had a great voice, but it kept me awake - partly because I was listening and partly because they were singing some songs that they didn't know the words to and I did. At some point I fell asleep but I quickly woke up again because the rain and thunder started. The people that had been singing were still at it so I couldn't have slept long. I started counting the seconds between the flash of lightening and the thunder to tell how far away the storm was. It started at 9 seconds apart and I was starting to get slightly nervous. Gabe is horrified of thunder ever since he heard a particularly loud one and sleeping outside in a tent with a thunderstorm directly overtop of you is never a fun thing. Fortunately however, the storm moved further away instead of getting closer. The rain on the tent was so loud that the thunder didn't even wake up Cash who was sleeping on the floor of the tent next to our mattress. Matt expressed a concern about Gabe's warmth at about this point so I pulled him into bed with us and tucked him into my sleeping bag. Shortly after I fell asleep again only to be waken up by another burst of the storm. The seconds between lightening and thunder were now 19 and I fell back asleep after they hit 30. Then at about 5 in the morning I heard that Cash was awake and needed to go out so I tied I'm up to his chain that was right outside the tent door and tried to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, Cash was lonely and I didn't want him back in the tent while he was awake so I got up at 5. Fortunately, my brother in law had a similar circumstance wake him up so I at least had company. We started the fire and sat around talking until Matt got up at around 7. We whipped up breakfast using the fire and he camping stove we brought (bacon, sausage, eggs and toast) and then spent the rest of the day lounging, playing games and eating. Dinner that night was interesting... I realized the reason that when you cook pasta you need to turn down the temperature after you add the pasta to the water. We cooked ours over the fire which meant one cooking temperature, but when I went to scoop out the vermicelli from the pot it quickly became very creamy and mushy. Evidently, the starches cook and release too much if you leave the temperature on high! It still made a decent pasta primavera with roasted tomatoes, snow peas, shredded carrot and green onion. Oh, and we made very good garlic toast overe the fire too! The rest of the night was spent eating. We had jiffy pop, pie irons, smores and my roasted peaches stuffed with the ricotta cream cheese mix. All of the partiers from the night before had left so we all had a great sleep, save the fact that I had the zipper on the wrong side last night so I was freezing. This morning we all slept in until around 7 and then whipped up pancakes and leftover sausages for breakfast. After sitting around a bit we decided to pack up and I was thrilled to find it didn't take very long at all! I had packed everything of ours in rubber maid containers so all weekend I had been putting things away and keeping things reasonably contained. I had all the dishes, food and supplies packed up before Matt even had the fly off the tent! We picked up coffee on our way home and got back to town by 12:40. As soon as we got home I set to work unpacking- first from the car, then from the rubbermaid containers. Since we're going camping again in a couple of weeks I left all the supplies packed and stored in the basement so that made for a fairly quick job. Then came the grooming portion of my weekend. First I gave Gabe a bath, and then, with the help of Matt's diversionary tactics, I gave him a haircut, then I went outside and gave Cash a bath in the kiddie pool. Then I gave Matt a haircut and while he showered I went downstairs and brushed Cash out. Finally, I got to take a bath. Man it feels great getting clean after a weekend of filth. Gabe was perhaps the messiest of us all and he was the only one who bathed all weekend. We really enjoyed playing in the dirt at the campsite so the first night I had to wash him in one of the sinks in the wash house. I suppose Cash bathed too... He had never been to a lake or river before so we took him and Matt's sister's dog - Indy - to the boat launch to let them run around off leash and play in the water. Well Indy already loved the water so he was right in there. Cash took a bit more coaxing. He'd dip his paws in and follow Indy a little ways but always chickened out before the water got up to his body. Eventually we resorted to throwing things for him into the water. The first time worked great! He took off after it, right into the water. And then he got wet and apparently very heavy. He had been bounding through the water at first and by the time he got back to us he was dragging himself through the water because his coat was so heavy with water.
Anyway, I'm now home, I'm clean, my baby, my husband and my dog are all clean and my house doesn't look half bad! I think we'll order in tonight and spent the rest of the night sitting around reading!
Mrs. Vander Leek ;)