A Day in the Life: Fall Camping 101 or 2.0

I think that most of you know Ken and I aren’t really campers. We’re hardy, not averse to campfire smoke, and own sleeping bags (though I don’t own a winter bag one, and had to borrow from my goddaughter Margot—more about that later). But we really don’t ever camp, and certainly not in October. When we decided to be gone for six weeks, we knew we would be hitting cold weather, but we couldn’t really fathom it—it’s always so hard to imagine alternative weather conditions.

This week, after quick visits with friends in Sechelt and Vancouver, we are on our own in the camping world—no safe haven of breakfast inside a warm kitchen, no snuggling up in a spare room bed. (As an aside, shout out to my friend Louise in Kitsilano, who gave me my own bedroom AND bathroom before we began the outdoors journey ).

The camping experience has been … rich.

The upside is incredible beauty and tranquility…

Near Clearwater, BC This site along the Yellowhead was snug up against the North Thompson River and seemed idyllic. The pipeline trucks roaring past all night, and the fact that in a valley, the sun sets about 5:30 pm, couldn’t take away from the natural beauty. All other visitors were big burly pipeline workers, and I had a very clean washroom all to myself.

Drayton Valley, Alta. This site marked our first night of camping by the side of the road. We pulled off near an oil donkey (new phrase for me) and climbed into our winter sleeping bags. Coyotes yipped us to sleep. We woke up to a hard frost and a stunning sunrise. And peeing in ditches. All good.

Drumheller, Alberta. Great little privately run campsite on the banks of the Red Deer River with hoodoos for company. Woke up to -5 again and decided to head to town for coffee after a quick nature-trail hike to get circulation going to fingers and toes. Visited the Salvation Army and Ken bought a two-dollar space heater. Much trepidation on my part.

Saskatchewan Landing, Saskatchewan A gem of a park on the banks of the Saskatchewan that was/wasn’t open to camping. No water, but power—and the spectacular locale was worth any sacrifice. The heater worked beautifully, and I apologized for doubting. And let Ken beat me at Scrabble again. Tom McHugh, the outhouses were so revolting that you may never let us near you again.

Tonight we’re in Weyburn, taking a Thanksgiving break from camping life. Big beds, a shower, dinner at a bar and grill where the waitressses ask if you’re vaccinated but require no proof, and don’t seem too interested in wearing masks themselves. We will likely get Covid from the experience.

We also joined in the Saskatchewan provincial pastime—football. Go Roughriders. Happy for the hot shower, but looking forward to the great outdoors again soon.

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