Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Lamest Vacation We'll Ever Love

The iconic red adirondack chairs dotted throughout Canadian Nat'l Parks

I know that Tolkien has been quoted as saying that "not all who wander are lost..." and I believe that to be true, yet he lived before the days of internet booking. Our family has been hearing for years how lovely and interesting the Cypress Hills area of Saskatchewan is. We've wanted to go and yet, for the past ten years, we've never made it just a few hours south to go and see it for ourselves. So, this week, Easton and I were rambling around the house while Jason and Aidan lived the life of the gainfully employed. One evening, Jason gave Easton and I a push to go camping.

So, I gave Easton a couple of choices. Choice #1 was booked for the days we had in mind. Choice #2 was experiencing a fire ban and an infestation of black flies...that's not restful for anyone. Choice #3, well, it was Cypress Hills. So, I went online, looked at several of the park's camping options and decided we would splurge a little and stay for a couple nights in one of the park's Otentiks. These are sort of glamping options (and I use the term loosely...) but it is nice to have the tent up when you get there, a cot and mattress off of the ground, and a grade of canvas that will keep you dry through any summer storm. So, after looking at a couple of spots, I found a place that had availability for the nights we wanted and a few clicks and a credit card number and we were booked! 

So, I went around the garage and basement to dust off our camping equipment and then realized that we had left our huge rubbermaid bin of camping supplies in the rv that we had sold a few years back. So much for a cheap mid-week camping trip. I razed our cupboards hard and scrounged what I could and then hit the dollar store (which, ironically, didn't sell a single item for a dollar....) for the rest. I packed up our little Ford Escape (pronounced Es-cah-pay)  and then came in to pack my backpack when it dawned on me...Grasslands. National. Park. Grasslands. National. Park.  

I couldn't possibly be that ... mistaken? Inattentive? Stupid? Oh, friends. Yes. Yes I could. And I was. I was that stupid. I had somehow in my confident, internet savant way booked Easton and I into the wrong park. I wasn't panicking yet. Yet. Only because I thought, well, they must be fairly close many parks can there be in southern Saskatchewan?

Oh, lesson #1 in Canadian geography. Canada is big. It's just so big. And that means, even our little province...of just a measly million gigantic. And so, the neighbouring parks...while yes, on the map, seem very close in proximity...are in reality hundreds of kilometres apart.  And hours...of....driving. 

Cue the tears and the self berating...but I above all, am a make-the-best-of-a-bad-situation kinda girl (also fondly known as admit-no-mistake-this-is-what-I-was-planning-all-along kinda girl.)

So, I met my husband on the front step and blurted my "change of plans" to him with some remorse and though he did his best to assure me that it would be fine or perhaps I could change the reservation (I couldn't...I tried)...I had a sinking feeling that this mother/son camping trip would be memorable in a way I hadn't been planning on.   I sat on the news of my mistaken reservation while Easton packed up his stuff. And went to bed. And pretty much until we got into the vehicle the next day. By then, I had him somewhat convinced that after all that we had been through on trips together, he could survive two days of camping with his mom wherever it ended up being.

Then we pulled into the middle of nowhere. Easton quietly said, "Well, this is underwhelming." I couldn't really disagree. It was beautiful for sure. The Canadian prairies have a really amazing beauty about them. It's just that there's I mean, it's like being in southern California and seeing a pretty, tanned, blonde. It just gets so tiresome. ; ) But really, the truth is...the prairies are beautiful. The flowers, the grasslands, the hills and the skies...oh, the skies....but without some diversity to the landscape, it's just kind of numbs you into indifference. When you can drive for hours and see very little change in topography?'s just bikinied blondes after a while.

Thankfully, Easton and I had a great time. We laughed a lot. We hiked a fair amount. We read. We ate. We played games. We ate. I chased photos of wildflowers, he chased reception for face timing his friends. He's good company, this kid. Two nights under the stars and two days of non-stop Mom time and he was still in good humour and cracking jokes...but ready to come home.

I'm going to tuck this little trip away as a winner that came out of a mistake. There've been many of those in my lifetime. This one's going on the top of that pile and will be remembered with affection as the "lamest vacation ever." Maybe next year, Cypress Hills.

Boots capped every fence post for about 5 km

It's amazing how far a teenaged boy will trek for 4 bars of reception

You can watch your kid walk away for miles....

Black eyed Susan and a bumblebee

Wild roses....a favourite

A lonely male bison wandered by us on our last evening sunset walk

The view from the hike at 70 Mile Butte

A black tailed prairie dog. One of 60,000 we saw. And named.


Junipers and rosehips



The amazing light on the prairies

The beauty of the grasslands

The sun dipping below the horizon

This moment reminded me of our time in Nevada

A mom, a kid and a self timer....all you need.


Deana Lynn Rogers said...

I LOVED this story, Shelly! Gorgeous pictures ... You and your boy .... Great parenting! We are in the middle of a move (just 5 miles away) and I think I am a craving wide open spaces with nothing in them.
Love to you and the fam ��


Jamie Berling said...

I am willing to tack an extra hour into our Calgary -> Weyburn drive just to go through these badlands.

Jason, Shelly, Aidan and Easton said...

Worth the trip, Jamers! Harriet would LOVE it!

Jason, Shelly, Aidan and Easton said...

Thank you Deana...<3
Good luck with the move...the little ones seem almost worst than the long moves...messier or something.

Gail Kesslar said...

You were technically IN the Cypress Hills Destination WIN!! Lol Grasslands is the eastern border of the area which extends all the way to the Alberta side of Cypress Hills! Or as I like to put it 18,000 sq km of awesome! Thanks for this great post!

Jason, Shelly, Aidan and Easton said...

Really? Well, who knew? Apparently I'm worse at geography than I thought! : )