Camping Misadventures


Camping Misadventures

It all started when Rob said… “The weather is going to be good for the next few days, let’s go camping”.

For me, that involves putting food in the motorhome, making sure we have towels, sunscreen and hot chocolate for the cool mornings out on the boat.

Food-wise I already had homemade hamburgers in the freeze, ribs, fish cakes, crab cakes, hot dogs, bacon and eggs. croissants and veggies from the garden.

So the grocery list from the store only consisted of snacks, some prepared salads and buns.

All ready to go from my end.

Rob got one of the movers to help put the boat in the trailer, added in the pop-up tent for over the picnic table, barbeque, chairs, batteries for the boat and other assorted items that one needs while camping.

Both of us worked on our regular jobs until the last minute and we got away just before lunch.

On the road and out of town when Rob said… “Did I bring the bucket of tomatoes?”

One of the last things he did before we left was to pick a small bucket of tomatoes for the trip and for the camping attendant. He likes to bring fresh veggies up to her and it is greatly appreciated.

No to the tomatoes, so we found a place to turn around the motorhome with the trailer on behind and headed back home.

Heading into the driveway there was a bit of maneuvering to get facing the right way to leave which involved crashing the trailer into a container as it was being backed up.

Got the tomatoes and headed down the road again.

This time, we couldn’t get out onto the busy road.

Cars came from both directions and when they weren’t doing that, one direction would be travelling fast and then the other.

There wasn’t a break to be had.

After more than 5 minutes of a little yelling at the unhearing motorists, Rob’s blood pressure had gone up a notch and I was wishing I had earplugs.

Finally… a tiny sliver of a break in traffic and we pulled out with unseen horns blaring at our bold move.

Big breath and down the road we resumed our trip.

The weather was lovely.

The scenery was as scenic as you get on the west coast and there was lovely flute music coming from the CD player.

Then we started seeing construction signs.

Slow down… work in progress… flag person ahead.

We got in behind a large line of traffic and waited.

And waited… and waited.

People got out of their vehicles.

Rob went to the back of the motorhome and fix the fridge door that had been swinging back and forth and we had a little snack while we waited.

I think Rob was ready to take a nap when I yelled that the line was starting to move.

The first round of good luck as we were the last ones through before the flag person put out their stop sign at the traffic behind us.

Time to sing… “On The Road Again,” it’s a favourite by Willie Nelson.

Now, the trip to Lizard Lake takes about an hour and a half.

At the hour mark, Rob said… “I don’t think I brought the motor for the boat”.

I said very positively… “Of course you did. I saw it in the boat the day before yesterday when I was putting something in it.

Stopping and checking it appeared I was wrong.

For some reason, Rob had taken the motor out the day before we were going to leave and there it sat… at home… somewhere in the yard.

So we had a boat, with no motor and as luck would have it, no oars.

Damn.

We are too far down the road to head back.

Coming to the highest point of the trip with a clear view out over the ocean to Washington we thought we might get a phone signal.

No luck.

Onto Port Renfrew to use the payphone (yes, there are still payphones)  as there is no cell service there either.

On the way there we remembered that a few weeks ago when trying to use the payphone that it wasn’t working.

But being resourceful we stopped at the one and only gas station run by the Pacheedaht First Nation and asked to use their phone.

No way… they don’t let anyone use their phone. No ifs and or buts.

Rob said… “I’m the man that has been bringing the band truckloads of furniture, beds, freezers, and all manner of useful items over the last few months.”

And they greeted him with open arms and he is quite possibly the only outsider ever allowed to utilize their phone.

Talking to his son Mat he asked him to bring up the 3 electric motors that we had as Rob wasn’t exactly clear on where he had left the motor he took out of the boat.

Two of them were in a locked container that we hoped the key for was hanging on the hook where it should be and not in one of Rob’s pockets and asked Mat to look around the yard for the other one.

Now asking a man to hunt for 3 motors and drive 3 hours round trip after a long day of work makes Mat a saint but I don’t believe he was very happy about it.

Still, another half an hour to drive and our next stop was the fish hatchery.

We always stop at the hatchery as they have crystal clear water that runs off the mountain behind them and most obligingly have a tap outside the gates with a hose attached.

Over the years we have always filled up there so we don’t have to pack the extra weight for the trip.

Would you believe it!!

There was a sign saying “Water is Shut off!” and the hose was gone.

So… no water.

No handwashing.

No toilet flushing.

But, also no dishwashing which is a bonus.

Good thing we pack a 5 gallon container of water for drinking purposes so at least we wouldn’t get dehydrated.

And of course… there was the lake.

Our next stop was for protestors on the road for the Fairy Creek blockade.

It is considered one of the largest civil disobedience actions in recent Canadian history.

If you are interested, here is a great article written by Sarah Cox.

Waving their signs at us they slowly moved off the road as we crept forward skillfully avoiding hitting anyone.

And finally, we arrived at our destination.

Unloaded the boat at the lake and backed the motorhome into our preferred campsite heaving a sigh of relief.

As we waited for the motors to arrive we set up the campsite, putting up the tent, setting out the 3 thunder ranges and barbeque Rob realized that we didn’t have a bucket to collect water.

We always have a couple of buckets with us, but alas… they were left behind along with the motor.

Being creative Rob emptied a small cooler that he had for fishing gear and the lake provided us with the necessary liquid.

Another obstacle was overcome.

We were getting pretty good at this.

The motors arrived and Rob carried one down from the campsite over to the beach and ultimately the boat.

I mention this trail as it’s the longest one from where we are camped but also the easiest one. Winding through the trees on a smooth and level path.

At the dock, Rob attached the motor to the boat, hooked up the battery and we head over to the log where we normally park.

The log is directly below our campsite but with a few twists.

It’s not that long of a trail.

About the distance of mom and dad’s driveway and that will only make sense to family members.

To get to the campsite you need to…

  • walk a log
  • go up two planks at different angles over a swamp
  • scoot under a large tree that had blown down
  • tread carefully over its roots to get to the actual shore.
  • climb a hill
  • wend your way through the trees and around stumps
  • ending up at a large log that you can either scramble over or walk the long way around (I opt for the long way every time)

And then you are at the campsite.

I tell you that story so you can sympathize with Rob over the next scenario.

Now… back to the boat.

Turns out the motor we had wouldn’t turn.

It would make the boat go backwards and forwards but with no turning ability.

We had let go of the dock as soon as the motor started so now we had to decide whether to go back or forward to the log.

Opting for the log through some skillful navigation of forward and reverse we finally made it.

I stayed in the boat as Rob went to get the other motor.

Down the log, up the planks, under the tree, up the hill, through the forest and over the log then reversing it with the next motor.

Now we are ready to go for a lovely ride on the lake and enjoy the late afternoon sun.

Rob puts the motor into gear and the motor flips up and it needs to be pushed down in order to go forward.

It also seems to be able to turn 180 degrees. with the reverse being forward and forward being reverse.

Looking closely, the motor seems to be missing a vital component and a few screws.

So, Rob repeats the process.

Down the log, up the planks, under the tree, up the hill, through the forest and over the log then reversing it with the next motor.

Third motors a charm.

Although this motor appears to be as heavy as the battery that it gets attached to, Rob was getting a little tired by the time he arrived back at the boat.

This motor drains the battery a little faster than the others but it goes about twice as fast.

By the time we got really and truly out on the lake, we only had time for a quick swim before the sun went down.

Making one more trip, down the log, up the planks, under the tree, up the hill, through the forest and over the log just as twilight was coming through the trees making it almost impossible to see where you were going.

Dinner consisted of the easiest thing we could make.

Boiled hot dogs (there was a campfire ban) and then we crashed exhausted into bed.

And so ends our first day.

Day 2

A little foggy in the morning but hot chocolate and a jacket were all you needed to keep cozy.

Rob brought his fishing rod along so we trolled for a rainbow trout.

Normally there is a big bald eagle that flies in and as we catch a fish and throw it back the eagle swoops down and grabs it.

Sadly, no eagle today.

Rob gets a tug on the line and then a stronger one and the next thing we know the line comes up empty.

No fish, no hook, line or sinker as the saying goes.

It appears we snagged something on the bottom of the lake and it wasn’t willing to give it up.

So, back to our tie-up spot and down the log, up the planks, under the tree, up the hill, through the forest and over the log to find a new hook and flasher.

Rob goes through all his fishing gear and surprise, surprise… no hooks.

He finally found a couple of rusty dull ones in the bottom corner of the fishing box and out we head on the lake to see if they would work.

We also took some rope and a large magnet to see if we could retrieve the lost gear the lake had swallowed up.

No luck on the gear retrieval but it was fun just the same.

It appeared that the fish weren’t biting this morning, either they were full, or they weren’t keen on worms, or they turned their noses up on the rusty hooks.

While Rob fishes in the morning I bird watch.

And when I spot a bird that looks promising, Rob reels in his line and we head off in the bird’s direction.

I’m always eager at this time of year to go up to the lake as in the past many migrating birds come through this area and normally I spot lots of different types of warblers making their way south.

Also, there are usually a few ducks around feeding and resting before taking up their journey.

I say normally and usually because this year was very abnormal and unusual.

Usually, at this time of year, the trees are alive with birds and bird songs but you had to look and listen hard to see or hear anything.

The total number of birds seen on the whole trip.

1 – Townsend’s warbler
1 – Juvenile yellow-rumped warbler
2 – Kingfishers
1 – Spotted sandpiper
1 – Merlin (a first for me)
4 – Robins (usually the place is swarming with them)
the regular number of stellar’s jays
1 – Barred owl (heard not seen)

The only ducks we saw were 3 flying overhead.

…and that was it.

The rest of the day was uneventful and we boated, swam, relaxed and napped the day away.

Talking to the camp attendant who came around to collect for the campsite we gleaned a few tidbits of what was happening in the area.

First, was the water shut off at the fish hatchery.

It appears it was shut off because of the protesters constantly using it.

Now they couldn’t just shut it off apparently so they had the water tested and it was deemed unsuitable for drinking. Hence the shut-off.

We also learned that we weren’t able to use the charcoal barbeque as it was banned under the fire regulations as was a campfire.

If we had a propane one, that would have been fine.

So, no hamburgers or ribs on the grill.

She talked about her experiences with the protestors at Fairy Creek as she goes between the two campgrounds (Lizard Lake and Fairy Lake) she looks after which involves passing through the blockade every day.

What you see in the news is not what is actually happening on the ground.

Instead of collecting at the regular time in the late afternoon, she needs to go and collect after dark around 10 pm.

The protesters have learned her hours of collection and sneak into the campsite to spend the night and use the facilities without paying.

Leaving her to clean and pick up behind them.

A lot of them didn’t realize that it’s was a foresty campground before they came.

That means…

  • no showers
  • no running water of any sort
  • no garbage cans
  • no electricity
  • no cell phone reception

Instead, you get a campsite, outhouses and lake views.

What more can one ask for.

She use to also take care of another campground that has since been decommissioned due to some hazards in the area.

It was decommissioned by putting a ditch across the road leading to the site deep enough that a vehicle couldn’t cross.

So, the protestors filled in the ditch and proceeded to camp there.

They are ordered out either by the police or forestry and the ditch is re-dug.

Then it happens all over again.

It’s interesting to see tents, vehicles and motorhomes parked anywhere there is a spot on the side of the road or in an old logged-out area or even a gravel pit.

Anywhere there is a space available there is a campsite.

Right at the junction of the Fairy Creek protest, there’s a large police presence along with paddy wagons and a helicopter that flies over twice a day.

Can you imagine what that is costing to monitor the area and keep things civilized?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m just explaining what has been happening in the area.

I’m not against the protest as I love old-growth forests, I’m just against the manner of how they are acting to do so.

Besides having an active protest in the area, they have also cut down trees (which eventually would have become old-growth) they have had open fires during a very dry summer and fire ban and thrown garbage and the likes in the very forests they are claiming to protect.

They have set up a satellite dish so they can report and post videos on social media anything that makes the police look bad so much so that we are having protests in Sooke with signs saying “Stop police brutality”.

I don’t know that these people have even been up to Fairy Creek but I’m suspecting that they are just reacting to what they see on their screens… But hey…  I’ve been known to be wrong.

I might be a little simplistic in my attitude towards the situation but here’s my take on it.

Have a peaceful protest.

Show both sides of the story.

And get out there and plant more trees.

  • Trees that for our children’s children, children will be old-growth.
  • Trees that will replace the ones that the forest fires are destroying.
  • And trees that will keep the air we breathe fresh and free of pollutions.

Okay, I’ve had my little rant and how we are back to the story.

Day 3

We woke up to rain.

Not just a nice little drizzle but full-on downpours.

Good news, Rob just put the water carrying cooler at the end of the awning and collect all the water we needed to flush, wash and clean.

The day consisted of me reading 3 books and Rob cleaning and organizing his fishing tackle and doing some long-overdue repairs all while snuggly tucked up in the motorhome.

That night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of rain on the metal roof.

Day 4

It was an overcast day but the rain had stopped and it was time to dry things out.

An uneventful day other than Rob caught a fish on the rusted hook.

Beautiful rainbow colours but the fish are soft this time of year so it was a catch and release situation.

We were going to head back early tomorrow morning as we needed to go to work, so later in the day, we started to pack up.

Had I mentioned the mice?

No?

Let me tell you a story.

Last camping trip I was up late reading when I felt these little feet run over my feet under the table.

They felt sticky and soft like when you shake someone’s limp hand that had been sweating and I glanced down to catch a shape scurrying away.

The next morning I told Rob we had a mouse in the house but as we didn’t see any damage it was ignored.

The next night I spotted one running down the length of the floor and when we got home Rob plugged up some holes in the underneath of the cab of the motorhome with steel wool and we thought that would take care of the problem.

But… just in case we brought along two mouse traps.

The first night we were there we forgot to set them but I saw a mouse run across the floor.

So, the next night the traps were set and within the hour I heard one trap snap.

Before the next hour was up, the next trap snapped.

Boom… 2 mice.

Rob reset the traps and went to bed and it wasn’t long before I heard them both snap again.

Four mice in the span of 3 hours.

I wasn’t about to empty the traps so we left them until morning when Rob found another mouse squashed under a chair outside.

After seeing the merlin yesterday sitting on a snag Rob suggested that we give it an easy meal.

So we took the mice down to a log in the water below the snag and left the sacrificial mice.

The next night we got 2 more mice as we only set the traps once and they also joined their brothers on the log.

When we left, they were still there but I’m hoping that they provide a meal for someone or something.

mice on a log

Day 5

We were supposed to leave early to get back to work but we woke up to such a lovely day that we decided to play hookie.

As we couldn’t let anyone know (no phone) we just relaxed the day away, finished packing up and wended our way home.

We had such a good time we are heading up again this weekend.

I’m making a list. 🙂

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