I have a wicked case of the flu. I am stuck in bed with three dogs and a large thermos of tea. Still, I did one thing this weekend that I have aspired to for the past fifteen years: canoed into Algonquin Park. Perhaps it was not a fifteen day expedition where I tested my wits and skills against bears, wolves and rabid geese; perhaps I gracefully fell out of a canoe, lowered my immune system in the rainy coldness until my body gave in to this flu, and I might have even secretly wished I was steps away from a Fairmont Hotel, but, in the end, I navigated my way through a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with those who I consider to be family now. All Thanksgiving Days should prove so exceptional.
I am a Camping Princess. I have no shame in saying that I expect my food in the woods to taste better than in the city. I believe that there is value in slowing down instead of portaging my way to certain death so as to impress friends upon my return with stories of stupidity and risk. I get chills and need warm clothing made by Canada Goose, The North Face and Arc’Teryx to keep me warm, yet fashionable. Still…I take my time in the outdoors. I love following little beavers along in the canoe until we can get close enough to make eye contact. The smells of camping make me comfortable. I feel accomplished when I make it through a few logs with my Base Camp X Pathfinder axe, even if a saw is far more practical.
Speaking of The North Face: my tent failed this weekend. Four years ago I purchased a new TNF Spectrum 23 tent from Europe Bound for motorcycle camping and our once a year educational Norval class trip. Total time in the tent: 25 days. My disappointment was palpable as the water poured in from a light shower on Sunday, and the seams gave way in a flaky mess. Perhaps I am naive for thinking that a fairly expensive tent should last a while when it is well taken care of, but shouldn’t it? I have read of others’ plights with The North Face and do not expect this to go well with their warranty department, as other campers clearly voice a strange stoic war cry about incompetence when others have complained online about TNF’s delamination issues and lack of long term durability. Comparisons to automobiles are stupidly made by “expert campers” who clearly are attempting to point out that “I have no problems, so you must be wrong” statements : and no, my tent is not a car made by Ford, it should be more like a Ferrari, and I doubt they leak after 4 years and 250 miles. So I will update people on how TNF replies to my warranty query, as I think that our world needs objects to last instead of being disposable.
Highlights of the weekend included seeing all of the stars without city lights polluting the sky, canoeing for a hour on a silent lake beneath a half moon, and smoking my favourite pipe with Wild Cherry tobacco by the lake as the campfire warmed my aching body. The weekend’s food consisted of buttermilk pancakes, naturally smoked bacon, sausages, salmon, roasted potatoes, carrots and green beans and a rather tasty egg sandwich on German rye bread. We also fed on personal pizzas, s’mores and a few dried goods. It was beautiful when the sun was out and challenging when the rain came down on the second day.
It is all too easy to pack it in when limbs become chilled, sleeping bags are soaked due to failed tents, and a fire seems impossible to make. However, I like to think that this Princess can keep going until solutions are found, and despite not feeling well, we were able to re-rig the tarp over the fire pit, start a fire from cedar shavings I kept in my smoking kit, and to end with a rather pleasant evening by the fire. Camping is not about sunshine and rainbows (although we had both), but rather it is about remembering what is important and giving thanks that our modern lives allow us to exist in the comfort of a big bed near hot water when Nature defeats us yet again. For my own part, it was a weekend to give thanks for, and it will be remembered for all of my years to come. Far better than shopping in the mall, eating at a chain-restaurant and living for a future day when you can do what you really want. If not now, when?