5/23/08

Dispatches from the Wet Coast

I'm convinced Mother Nature is either:

a) drunk and stoned on too much Fijian kava
b) on an impromptu sabbatical
that did not permit training a suitable replacement in time
c) a very sick and twisted demi-goddess
d) going through menopause

I'm going with (d) ~ final answer. How else to explain the hot flashes followed by extreme dip in temperature in these parts lately? No word of a lie, we've experienced a 50 degree climate dive just in this past week. This time last week, it was 100. Today, it's 50, cold and yucky.

Has to be menopause but let me assure you, there ain't nothing musical about it, unless you count the raindrops pissing on the tin can outside, which are causing that annoying clink, clank, ting, tang sound. Oh yeah, and the dim strains of my whining while the background viola gently weeps.

All hail the long weekend - literally, figuratively and meterologically. For many of us secular
folk, the May long weekend is sacreligiously set aside not to commemorate the Queen's birthday (Canadians just recovered from their long weekend in her honour just last weekend - but God save the old bat, she's ancient, what of it?)

Nor to pay homage to the American war dead (so sue me - I'm Canadian - we pay our respects 11/11 of each year). The May long weekend, for as long as I can remember, has always been about going camping. And invariably, said camping has always entailed rain, snow, hail, sleet, and all other manners of foul weather. We so live in the wrong corner of the world.

And so it is with great cynicism that we head out this evening for wilderness parts slightly due north where the snow still flies.

Getting out of Dodge will be so sweet and to be honest, even if it is raining, we've come a long way from the days of being holed up in a tent. I'm still really digging our tent trailer - which is our camping home away from home.

Between you me, the wall, and every Googler searching cyberspace for tent trailers and shitty weather patterns, rainy day weather whilst camping is often an ironic excuse to seek shelter inside the tent trailer, play games and eat Spitz. Not to mention a fine opportunity to stare out in abject pity and bemusement at the drowned-rat tent city campers next door, who make it pithily obvious that this is their first time camping, if only because they failed to remove the REI and Joe's price tags from their gear, and because they're still struggling to figure out how to button down the hatches and set up all their tarps. I love playing Rear Window out our canvas peephole by alternating my spyglass between the ruling class motorhome types with their satellite TV hookup on one side, and the peasant tenters on the other.

Poor souls, I think to myself of the peasants, ever while moving a few inches away from the furnace register that is at that very moment pumping too much heat through the cozy confines of our Coleman camp shack. But, of course, trailer trash that I am, I don't really feel overly concerned with their wellbeing. We've more than done our time and crime roughing it in the great outdoors and I gladly pass the tikki torch to the likes of such intrepid types.

Two decades of layering clothes and looking like the abominible snowman meets Mary Poppins on her first camping expedition is more than an initiation period. I've shivered in tents playing cards in torrential rain, I've stood at the fire holding a golf umbrella while Holy Hub cooked, and I've sat in the car fogging up the windows and watching the rainstorm pelt down, all the while
wondering why exactly "they" claim camping is supposed to be fun. And what I've come to realize in zen realism fashion, is that washing dishes and drinking moonshine by the light of the same in the great outdoors in the freezing cold is one of the best hand and belly warmer combos ever.

The little schmidtlets love camping.

Holy Son, despite being a boy scout on the chase for Eagle, is perhaps the penultimate fan of the tent trailer. He can invariably be found hiding out, playing his Nintendo DS or cards or eating
snacks or whatever. Anything to avoid being outside. This cracks me up. And ever the doting mother, I feel compelled to keep him company inside.

Holy Daughter, on the other hand, is the postergirl for her father's motto - which essentially reads as: "if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." So suffice to say, she's always out exploring the environs out and about in whatever State Park village we happen to find ourselves temporarily living in. Rain, shine, cold, hot - she's out there.

And Holy Hub? Well he's like the grand Bhodhisattva of Camping. He achieved his black belt in
camping sometime circa early 90s in the Canadian Rockies. It was a self-appointed status - but then enlightenment of any kind is rather like that, isn't it?

Yes, without him, the rest of us Schmidts are essentially up Schmidt Creek without a paddle in the great outdoors. He handles everything with great adroitness if not a few well-poised mumblings. From set-up to tear-down to open-fire cooking to gourmet Dutch oven delights to propane stove lighting and water duty and lantern lighting and midnight hour bonfire stoking and firepit pyrotechnics, he da man. He is to Coleman what the Marlboro Man was to
cigarettes.

And me? Hmm, I guess you could say that I'm like the Martha Stewart of camping. I handle the other important things - you know, the fru fru stuff like sleeping bag making and fidgeting with curtain ties and tent trailer sweeping and picnic table cloth clipping and table setting and dish washing and reading and striking just the right pose with my giant purple plastic wine glass, as I sit and smile pleasantly at passerbyers from my campchair perch in front of the fire.

We're camping in the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker Forest District at the very edge of the mountains this weekend and apparently, our particular campground, while open, has only just been ploughed clear of the white stuff ~ a testament to the freakishly long winter we had this so-called spring. So we'll be camping and hiking in the snow. Indeed, it must be the May long weekend.

Although having said that, Western Canadians had a lovely long weekend last Saturday-Monday. Temperatures were in the high 80s and into the 90s.

We will not be so lucky - we'll be packing our gortex and boots and toques and gloves - ready to brave whatever Mother Nature's alternate deems fit to dole out. Suffice to say we'll definitely be running the trailer furnace this weekend, God willing.

And failing the gortex, there's always alcohol. One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer on Holy Hub's end and a bottle of shiraz and some Baja Tango orange cream liqueur on mine equals three sheets to the Cascadina mountain wind. All that much better, I suspect, to numb the effects of near-hypothermia.

Yes, it's a veritable how-to manual on how to be a happy camper and other exciting and schmidty tales. Full story at 11.

7 comments:

itsjustmeagain said...

May 2-4 weekend isn't a long weekend without the cold and wet. And apparently - here in SW Ontario - while I was off galivanting in San Antonio 100F weather - was rainy and cold.

Ultimately - the perfect May 2-4 weekend - wet and cold. Just as we've grown accustomed too. And the many fools who MUST MUST MUST camp on that weekend... well - not my fault that their tents leaked and they now have a bad chest/head cold. I was in San Antonio dammit. Don't blame me. Like you said... Momma Nature is in full bloom Menopause.

Those are the joys of living with a Queen. So here's to you... a week late but on time... off to camp with camper/campers... like the true Canadian that you are... even in the US of A.

Cheers!
KC

Natalie said...

I am off for five days and we had entertained the thought of camping this weekend, too. Last week it was in the high 90's but the last two-three days the temp has dropped 40-50 degrees and it's snowing in the mountains. Now, as you know, it's (ahem) entertaining enough to be camping with kids and dogs but when you throw in bad weather, well, hell... that's just a recipe for whining or reenactments of The Shining... If'n you know what I mean and I'm sure you do.
Plus, this would have been the boy's first camping/fishing adventure. I don't think it's so good to set up "firsts" when it's snowin'. Plus, I am NOT the one to bait the hook or take the fishy off the hook (it totally creeps me out) but I can gut 'em and cook 'em like Martha on Meth. Know what I mean? ;)
So... I spent my first "holiday-day" camped out on the couch after having purchased National Treasure 2 and watching any and all movies that would allow me to nap, eat snacks with wild abandon, and not have to do a damned thing.
Alas... the sun is now shining (redrum, redrum, redrum...) and we will be off for a compromise of a day trip... and might even do some fishin'. Dunno. If you wait a minute, the weather will change.
So I say, "Thank God for Nintendo DS and Playstation 2" where S can get her fill of Guitar Hero while my eyes gently weep... watching Lions for Lambs (or whatever) and the coffee, Pepsi, juice, and powdered sugar donuts flow freely.

I have only one other thing to say about long, holiday weekends:

"Burp."

Thank you and 'scuse me.

:)
Enjoy your weekend!

Natalie said...

P.S....
I am so jealous of that tent trailer. S and I were just talking about how much we both love them and really, really want one. My grandfather used to take us "camping" in one of those and, I'll tell you, it really takes the "bear" out of "grin and bear it" when noting the difference between sleeping on the ground versus three feet up.
If there was ever a reason to save one's money and search Craiglist... that there tent trailer is da bomb!
Besides, once you imbibe, it's easier to stay in da boat versus having to navigate the campground.

;)

Natalie said...

P.S....
I am so jealous of that tent trailer. S and I were just talking about how much we both love them and really, really want one. My grandfather used to take us "camping" in one of those and, I'll tell you, it really takes the "bear" out of "grin and bear it" when noting the difference between sleeping on the ground versus three feet up.
If there was ever a reason to save one's money and search Craiglist... that there tent trailer is da bomb!
Besides, once you imbibe, it's easier to stay in da boat versus having to navigate the campground.

;)

Jeri said...

It IS a great tent trailer! My folks used to have all sorts of RVs... travel trailer, mini motorhome, and finally the tent trailer, and I liked it best.

I hope you stayed relatively dry and enjoyed the great outdoors, Martha style!

We're road tripping around the Olympic peninsula - with an overnight at the casino at Ocean Shores. (not to gamble - just the only place w/ a last-minute room available)

VENTL8R said...

HOLY!!

I've moved to some new digs...still unpacking but most of the boxes should be out of the way. Stop by when you get the chance!

Jorge said...

Ah, yes, camping! We do it for the stories we can tell :-)
Be well,
J.