If happiness were a currency, I’d be a billionaire.
After Jasper I was itching to pitch my tent and be out in nature again. There’s nothing like sleeping outdoors, without heat, running water, and the amenities of modern-day life. It gives me a completely different perspective on living my life and problem solving in general.
With the warmer weather of Okanagan Valley (40s and 50s), tent camping was made possible for the first time since Wyoming. A typhoon along the west coast of Canada had brought a lot of rain and nasty weather inland, but I was headstrong about setting up my tent on Okanagan Lake.
Regardless of the warmer weather (compared to the low temperatures I’d become accustomed to in the Rockies), I was still out of season and Okanagan Lake Provincial Park’s winter season was in effect. This meant zero services (drinking water, showers, electricity, restrooms, etc.) were provided. Thus making it the most primitive camping experience I have ever had.
Most State/Provincial and National Parks offer services on site for campers. These services are always advertised on the website via informative little icons (simply follow the legend) and range from the basic ones being showers and restrooms to the more glamping level ones of laundry and restaurants – Grand Teton National Park was of the glamping level; a shower cost me $4.25 but there was laundry and a full restaurant/bar in the campground!
While at my services-free campsite, I’d boil water from the lake for my coffee. They were some of my best mornings yet because I could set up my stove and equipment only feet away from the water. I used a driftwood log as a bench and for a fleeting moment felt like a grownup drinking my French pressed coffee…until I’d crack open my baby food.
The water brought me into a sort of trance; listening to the waves crashing in and out. Each morning, after breakfast, I’d either read on my Kindle or write in my journal, as I let the water rock my mind into a conscious slumber. In that state of mind, I could see no wrong…about anything.
I felt like a kid again. Since I didn’t have power at my campsite (among many other things) I’d keep my phone on airplane mode to preserve the battery. As a result I rarely looked at it and truly had no sense of time or day whatsoever. Walking up and down the beach was a common way I’d pass time and it’d encourage my imagination to wander. While on one of my strolls I stumbled on a red Maple leaf, so I started hunting for others. Before I knew it I had plans to start a leaf pressing “station” at my camp and select the best one to frame; the result being a Canadian-looking flag.
In between hunting for red Maple leaves, and walks on the beach, I tasted a lot of wine. Being in Canada’s wine country I figured it was a requirement to sample the local specialty. I’ve never seen so many wineries concentrated in one area and had a blast sampling the delicious varieties – although it’s not one of my favorites, Ice Wine (a dessert wine, made from grapes reaching temperatures in the teens) was one of the popular ones tourists sampled. My favorite winery was Quail’s Gate and I ended up buying three bottles from them and one from another winery.
While driving around Okanagan Valley I began to get stares and people coming up to strike up conversation with me in parking lots. It appears that I’ve finally gone far enough away from Texas that my license plates are beginning to draw attention. At least a couple of times a day now I’ll get people honking and waving at me and I know it’s a sign of solidarity from a fellow traveler.
At first, only seeing someone honking at me and what appeared to be shaking their fist, it took every ounce of my being to restrain my city-self from not flipping them the bird. I guess you can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl…not quickly, at least. I’ve finally adopted the “Traveling Kimi” mentality and kindly smile broadly and wave back to share the moment with them.
Finding more people glancing my way I found the need to learn how to smile differently too. In Banff I would go around teeth-smiling at everyone, probably looking like a total psycho that wanted to chop everyone up around her into little pieces. So I’ve resolved to this sort of smirky grin as my resting face. I’m finding, now having mastered the art of smiling without my teeth, that I can look happy, without looking crazy. I just can’t help myself from smiling wherever I am…this has to be what being a kid feels like.