Ah summer!” I thought, laying on my back and staring at the roof of the tent. “So it begins. Sweet.”
It was sweet, too, until about midnight, when the rain started to patter — and then pound — down.
That’s when I realized that there are many types of tents in the world, from the bomb-proof domes latched on to Everest to the light and airy desert tents of the Gobi Desert.
As the water started to drip and trickle down the inside of the fabric, it became clear this tent was of the latter variety.
“Move over. There’s water coming in at the edges.”
A flashlight revealed the truth. The stuffed mattress we called bed was sponging up water and, like the desperate residents of a low-lying tropical island facing an ever-rising sea, we edged further and further from the increasingly sodden edges of the mattress — refugees in the centre of the bed.
“Great,” I thought. “First camping trip of the year. How could it get any worse?”
As if in answer, my partner piped up from the darkness beside me.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” she said helpfully, throwing off the covers and making a crawling dash for the zipper.
She made it too, bless her, just like she made it the other five times over the course of that long, long night.
Dawn came, which is pretty much all that can be said for it, grey and dripping as it was.
In the next tent her kids were stirring.
“Mama, there’s a puddle in here,” said one.
“My tummy hurts,” said the other.
One of the great features of Rathtrevor Park, besides the wonders of nature and all that, is its proximity to the creature comforts of Parksville, a fact evidently not foreign to the huddled lineup of shivering parents and children at Smitty’s later that morning.
Yup, but you know what? I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
I’ve always been of the opinion that if nothing goes wrong, you’ve got no stories to tell and without a doubt none of us will ever forget that night.
To me, that’s what summer is all about.
Forget watching other people’s pretend adventures on TV. What the heck, why not put away all the screens, be they TV, computer or Gameboy, get out there in the sunshine — or the rain — and make some real adventures of your own?
Adventures may not always be comfortable, but the memories you make will likely stay with you and your family forever — and you don’t have to go shark wrestling or cliff jumping to get them — if you have any sort of imagination.
Certainly there’s going to be a whole slew of whoppers added to the Horner family lore before summer’s end if I have any say in it — and the fun starts tonight.
As you read this I’m likely on the side of the highway, dozing fitfully as the big rigs roar past, shaking the van in the darkness. If I can sneak past the rockslide in the Fraser Valley I’ll be somewhere near Boston Bar when I pull over to sleep on Canada Day, within easy striking distance of Cache Creek. That’s where, at noon Saturday, I rendezvous to pick up my son Alex for summer holidays.
Ah, summer! Now, the fun really begins.
Neil Horner is the assistant editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News and a regular columnist