Monday, August 8, 2011


The Comfort of "Camp"ing
While working in China, I shared an apartment with Gordon, another retired teacher from Alberta, and my Chinese adventure was made more enjoyable by the friendship we developed over the two months I was there. His experience in China made my adjustment easy, and my daily bike or foot explorations often discovered places or events that he then wanted to experience. He also was happy to discover that I was only too willing to experiment with cooking the interesting ingredients found in the markets, and volunteered to do all the cleanup.

Gordon married a Chinese girl he met during his time in the country, and since my return to Canada, brought her and her daughter back to a new life half way around the world. We had kept in regular contact through e-mail, but this trip provided an opportunity to see him again and meet his new family.

After e-mailing dates and times back and forth as our trip evolved, we discovered that it would probably work best if we visited him at his “camp” in BC rather than at home in Calgary, and he located a convenient campground close by, and sent me GPS coordinates for the “camp”.

My sister’s has a “chalet”, my family had a “cottage”, and in Cape Breton, our friends call their summer retreat a “bungalow”. Gordon made it very clear that his retreat in the BC mountains was a “camp”.

He and two friends have had this place for many years, and spend most of every summer there. It sits right on a large mountain lake, with a huge mountain across the lake and mountains receding into the distance. They lease the land from the municipality, and so none of the “camps” are really permanent, as they could be asked to leave at any time. Gordon’s “camp” started life as a construction trailer, and has evolved over the years with pieces being added as needed. It has a septic system, but water is pumped from the lake for washing so drinking water has to be carried in, and he was proud to explain that they have upgraded the solar powered black painted water tank on the roof to a second hand RV hot water heater.
Art, Regis, Gem & Gordon - "Camp"ing

The “camp” he explained was the last stop for things before they were declared completely worn out. All the furniture is cast-offs, and the kitchen cupboards came when a friend renovated their kitchen, fitting into the “camp” wherever they would fit, including one sideways over a Window. Above the deck an old awning from an old travel trailer provided shade, and pulled up onto the beach was a canoe that someone else no longer wanted.

When we arrived, we found everyone relaxing on the deck overlooking the lake in an eclectic mix of lawn chairs and old living room furniture. This really sums up the “camp”ing life. This is not a place to come and spend hours painting trim, cutting grass or tending gardens. It is a place to relax, drink a cold beer, and watch the sun go down behind the mountain, as the fire in the circle of rocks beside the lake sends smoke and the sweet smell of burning cedar into the darkening sky.

We only had an afternoon and evening at Gordon’s “camp”, but in that short time, I can see how he loves to spend his summers here.

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