Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Wet Sleeping Bag Contest
As promised, a photographic journey through our tenting adventures in Canada... these would be most realistic if you went out and sat in the passenger seat of your car for ten hours first, then completely drenched your bedding in the coldest water still available in liquid form, then woke up in the morning too cold to shiver. And yet somehow, even though the first adjectives that come to mind when I reflect on the weekend are wet, cold and tired, I'm still glad we went. And gladder that we came home.

We started off our Canadian trip with an all-American breakfast... and nap.

We spent the first night at a dear friend's B&B in Truro... to minimize (but apparently not eliminate) the stalkers she adds to her guest register, I won't name the spot. But if you're planning to head to Nova Scotia and need a place to stay that feels like the home of old friends, if your friends happen to live in a gorgeous house with beautiful well-behaved children and impeccable manners, then let me know. I'll hook you up.

There were several bucketfuls of children, between my two and her four, so most of the photography was aerial.

Smart people would have stayed right there, for at least two nights, basking in the cleanliness and comfort of an official B&B.

We, evidently, are not smart.

We drove several more hours, up to Prince Edward Island. For those of you who've never heard of it before, don't worry about it - apparently it's a very American thing, to have no idea where this place is. It has still managed to become heavily touristy and commercialized in small pockets, but for the most part its very invisibility has allowed it to remain a worthwhile vacation spot.

We got our tent sweet tent all set up, and the kids were inordinately excited.

So, apparently, were the grown-ups, because if you look carefully, you'll notice that the windows are not tied down, and there is no rain guard tied to the top of it as we drove away to dinner.

Of course it rained. It poured. It thundered. There are no pictures from that evening, because we were too busy panicking, and then hanging out in the laundry room. My initial reaction, which I will blame unabashedly on this autoimmune nonsense, was a complete and utter inability to cope. "Everything's wet? Let's go home." After a trip out for quarters, I was able to regain enough stamina to actually check the clothes bags instead of believing Willem's doomsday statements including words like soaked and dammit. Our clothes were not soaked; only our synthetic, manmade, dries-in-mere-moments sleeping bags were. Five dollars and a couple hours solved the problem, and we toughed it out.

Which raised the philosophical question: Does this mean that our family motto is, "We Don't Quit," or, "Stubborn to the Point of Stupidity"? It's a fine line.

Other highlights included indoor black-lit mini-golf... cows in awkward positions...

...and goofy, blissed-out facial expressions following the Best Mussels in the History of Mussels.

I'll even post the recipe, they were so good. Take a propane stove, and a steamer pot. Dump in homemade lobster stock (okay, go ahead, get storebought... won't be as good as mine, but whatever), crushed tomatoes with basil and canned mushrooms with juice, bring to a boil. Set the steamer pot inside, toss in three pounds of $1-a-pound fresher-than-a-12-year-old-boy-in-timeout PEI mussels, and clamp on the lid. Wait until the mussels open (by melting a half-stick of butter on the other burner, you know, just to pass the time) and then try not to embarrass yourself by diving face-first into the pot.

Meanwhile, have the foresight, a half an hour prior, to cut up a half-dozen potatoes, a Vidalia onion, and some garlic butter, toss all into an aluminum foil bag, and throw on the fire for a while.

It's touch-yourself good. Seriously. My God.

Then go out for dessert. It's worth the drive.

Jacob got a new friend during our dessert run. This is Brown Cow:

What? He's not brown, you say? Well, he tried very hard to become so, by diving into the fire pit, rescued by an alert Mama fearful that Jacob would feel honor-bound to try and get it himself. How now, Brown Cow?

Our last morning in PEI, we finally reached our coping capacity when it comes to the hordes of Tiny Ultrasonic Minions of Satan, otherwise known as mosquitoes. You mock, I hear you - but I have never in my life experienced a pestilence like this. Literally dozens and dozens of them swarming you from the moment you breathe until the moment you throw yourself off the nearby cliffs in abject despair. Bathing in DEET, inhaling it, had no effect. We'd planned on leaving the campground around noon, and were on the road by 9:30. Frantically and itchily.

Sunday night, we erred in the Stupidly Stubborn and Plan-Dependent side of things. We'd left PEI early enough that we could have made it all the way home that night, but we decided to stick with the original plan and stay in New Brunswick. Which is neither as pretty, nor as quaint, nor as soft-grass-campsited as PEI. So none of us slept well, and we were on the road by 7:30 on Monday morning.

It was neat, I'll grant, to be someplace with such intense tides. At the left is the view across Oak Bay from our campsite in mid-afternoon... at the right is the same view, six hours later.

Not to mention, fun to bond with the children over the simple pleasures of throwing rocks in water.

But still. Better to be home. In a bed. Out of the rain.