Arriving At The Camp


Ya know I spend a bit of time thinking about moving to the camp full time, you know, sell the house in the city, cut and run off to the cottage to live full time in paradise.

In theory it often sounds like a pretty good idea, and for the most part it probably is a good idea. I imagine waking up every morning in my own little idea of what paradise is, and spending all my time here beside the lake, enjoying all that cottage life has to offer.

But….as much as selling the farm and moving to the cottage appeals to me on paper and in my mind, I would be losing one of the best things about the cottage. Arriving at the camp….

Yup, for me, arriving at the camp has to be one of the highlights of my life. I suppose it stems from my long days as a worker bee, when making the great escape from the city on Friday nights was almost everything I lived for, and if you have a camp or cottage, you know what I mean.

In a way, Friday is a little like Christmas, perhaps Christmas Eve, full of anticipation for what follows, the promise of excitment and happy times to come the next day.

As a cottager I suspect you spend the better part of the Monday to Friday work week thinking about your cottage and planning for the upcoming weekend, thinking about what you are going to do, wondering about the weather, making lists of supplies and things you will need to pack into the mini-van on Friday night.

There are runs to the grocery store and the building supplies store, or marine store to pick up some new spark plugs for the outboard or something you know you will need for the weekend.

In summer you find yourself at your desk suddenly jolted back to reality by a coworker who recognized the signs of someone daydreaming about putting a new foot valve on the water line or insulating the outhouse for four season comfort.

I know you do what I do, you make a written list of supplies and items you think you will need for the weekend, and you carry that list in your pocket all week, scratching off the items as you get them, and put them together by the basement door in preparation for packing your vehicle Friday night. Grocery store visits usually happen on Thursday night so you don’t have to stop on the way to the camp on Friday.

During the drive to the camp on Friday evening, or Friday afternoon if you can slip away from work early, everyone is happy and full of ideas and thoughts about the upcoming weekend.

You’re thinking about the boat and the water level in the lake, wondering if the lake came up with the rain earlier in the week. Or like me, wondering if the grass needs to be cut, and planning your day Saturday, thinking about how the new wharf is going to be better with the extra floatation blocks you picked up on Wednesday at Home Depot.

Glancing at your watch you see that you are slightly behind schedule, so you press down on the gas just a little bit.

Your wife mentions that the speed limit is only 100 kilomters an hour. You let up on the gas a bit, then press it down again, saying, “They give you a little leeway on Friday nights, I am just keeping up with the traffic flow.” As you pass a stationwagon loaded with camping supplies.

Stops are not tolerated, or at least not tolerated lightly, you’re burning daylight, “No, we don’t need to stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee, look at the lineup in the drive thru” you say, pointing in the general direction of the coffee shop, when someone mentions a coffee would be nice, “We’ll be there all night if we stop.” you add, stepping a little harder on the gas pedal to get past the beckoning coffee shop.

“I think the speed limit here is only 90.” says your wife as the needle goes up past 100, you ignore her.

“I forgot to get milk.” your wife says, “We should stop and get some.”

“How could you forget milk?” you ask, making no attempt at hiding your annoyance. “Do we really need it?”

“Well the kids will want cereal for breakfast and we will want it for tea.” she replies.

“Kids, I’ve got good news, you’re having toast for breakfast, yippeeeee!” you announce, adding to your wife, “We’re drinking too much milk, it’s fattening and clogs your arteries, we should start drinking tea black.”

Of course none of that works, you’ve got to stop and run into the Sullivan’s Country Store store for milk, tapping your toe impatiently as the clerk discusses the big bass that someone caught last weekend with a customer.

By the time you get back to the van you discover that your family have all left the van and gone into the store. Throwing the milk into the back of the van you head back inside the store where you find the kids looking at video games.

Your wife is further down the aisle looking at nick-nacks, she is holding a little ceramic dog that has a bucket in his mouth and a caption on the base that says, “Water Dog” She sees you coming, holds it up and says, “Isn’t this cute?”

Arriving beside her like a flash of light, she nods down the aisle toward the kids saying, “It might rain tomorrow, a game will keep them busy.” You look at the little buggers, arguing now over which game to get, glancing at your watch, you grab both of the games they are arguing about and the water dog nic-nack and head for the checkout, times a wasting….

When your slightly overheated minivan turns off the highway to the winding country road that leads to your little cottage paradise by the lake, your partner has to remind you that the speed limit is now down to 50 kilometers an hour.

You glance down and see the speedometer reading 80 kilometers an hour and climbing as you look back up just in time to avoid hitting the old guy with the limp, walking his old labrador retriever dog. You wonder why he chooses Friday night to walk that damn dog, and briefly you wonder why he has a limp. He jumps into the ditch to avoid your van mirror, pulling the dog with him. You touch the brakes and wave in the mirror as you pass. He doesn’t wave back….

Pulling into your cottage driveway barely missing the gate post and broken “Welcome To Our Cottage” sign, you jump out of the van, forgetting to shut off the vehicle or unlock the doors for the wife and kids to get out, because you are too busy heading for the lake to see if the water came up and the boat is floating OK…..

Seeing that it is, you turn back to the camp, take a glance at the windows and stuff to see nothing amiss, smile your usual Friday night I’ve-arrived-at-the-cottage-smile and then remember the wife and kids who are now piling out of the van and waiting for you to unlock the door to the cottage and get the vehicle unloaded.

Once things are unlocked, the car unloaded, fire in the woodstove burning and the pump pumping, kids playing their video games, it’s time to settle down a bit, perhaps have a drink and soak in the sunset from the deck.

You take a deep breath, inhaling that good, clear cottage air and breath it out with a sigh of relief, you made it for another weekend….

It’s a great feeling arriving at the camp…..

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