Camping with Humans

It seems an odd thing humans do. They leave behind a perfectly good house with food and beds and a fully functioning bathroom to go and stay in a much smaller, less comfortable accommodation with more limited amenities. They call it camping.

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Just a short stroll from our campsite, where Boulton Creek meets Lower Kananaskis Lake.

 

When travelling you have to stay somewhere so I get it when we spend weeks far from home and stay in Sid, the trailer.  But when we “camp”, we’re only two hours from home. We could enjoy a day in the mountains and still sleep in our own beds. However, last weekend, there we were, camping.

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Inspecting the roof of “Piper“, G & S’s new home away from home (or maybe just standing on a picnic table and drinking?)

 

Did I enjoy it? Well, sure, after I got through the unfortunate incident on the way out. I’m not usually a car-sick kind of guy but the combination of happy traveller drugs, Orijen kibble, and a bite of Teresa’s muffin just did not want to stay down. I tried to warn them, but it seems my “I’m going to vomit” retching sounds a lot like my “I have a heart murmur” retching.

But anyway, aside from camping not entirely making sense, what’s not to like about being outdoors all day and going for walks in new places. These are things I can wrap my canine head around. And, due to my senior status, my inclination to behave (in human terms), and an abhorrence for being tied, I was left free in the campsite whenever I was outdoors. Chico, on the other hand, with his inclination to run out to meet anyone and everyone walking by, chase squirrels, and indulge in other such shenanigans, was always attached to the picnic table with a cable. Maybe one day, I told him, trying not to sound too smug.

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Chico was freed from the cable when he stayed in his chair.

 

We camped at a place called Lower Lake Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is part of Kananaskis Country in the Rocky Mountains. Here I discovered the marvels of a pine forest and the enormous dog bed it creates. The prairie grass is nice but doesn’t have the pillow-top mattress feel of a forest floor with its many layers of detritus. Heaven. I used my manmade bed under the trailer at first but, once I discovered the giant mountain-made dog bed all around me, there was no going back. If only I could have brought some of it home to line my nests.

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Enjoying my pillow-top mattress.

 

So what does weekend camping entail? Well, when camping with friends G and S, a lot of human laughter, particularly when wearing Viking attire. Viking attire, you’re probably asking? And rightly so. It had something to do with a Monty Python skit and a Spam appetizer (spametizer) cooking contest. Humans entertain themselves in the strangest fashions. They were particularly tickled by Chico’s costume. (He … not so much.) On the plus side, despite Spam being the butt of many jokes and lending its name to unwanted email, we dogs found it quite tasty and were treated to leftovers for breakfast on Saturday morning.

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Chico in his Viking attire (me exiting right, heading under the trailer to hide).

 

Other camping activities included campfire sitting or, in my case, lying nearby in the trees, and walking, my personal favourite. On Saturday we walked to the Boulton Creek Trading Post and had ice cream. Lucky for me, ours came packed solidly into the bottom of a cup so Chico wasn’t able to pull the Hoover trick he can manage with a Dairy Queen cone.

On Sunday we took a longer walk, to a neighbouring campsite called Mount Sarrail. The best parts of this trail were the snowbanks spaced at convenient time-to-cool-off intervals and an area where the resident grizzly bears had been rooting along the trail. I’d never smelled bears before. There was no sign of the bears on Sunday, but G and S had spotted them by the lake early on Saturday morning.

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Heading back to camp on Saturday afternoon.

For us, it was a short Sid trip, maybe the shortest yet. I would have been quite happy to stay a few more days, lying in the shade of the pines, breathing in that cool, mountain air. And I think the humans would have been on board with that idea had they not needed to get back to their jobs and such. On parting, at the sani-dump station on Sunday afternoon, I heard the comment, “The season’s young. We’ll do it again.” I guess I’m a camping convert because, I sure hope so.

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End of the day in Kananaskis Country.

 

 

 

 

Trail Ride Tuesdays

Right. Like that’s ever going to happen. This is the second year Teresa and Nollind have committed early in the season to going trail riding every Tuesday. So far they’ve been out twice. Okay, it was pretty rainy through July and August, and there were a few trips of other kinds—a birthday trip and a regatta trip and a wedding trip—so it makes sense. But I still find it amusing.

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Horseback photo bomb, Trail Ride Tuesday #2

In the second week of September we did manage to get out for the overnight horse trip they try for every year. It didn’t happen last year. Humans are such strange creatures. If I want to eat, I eat. If I’m tired, I nap. If I’m feeling playful, I play. They let lists and clocks run their lives more often than not. If only they’d follow our example and live in each moment, each day. But anyway…

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Don’t they look happy when out doing the things they love?

On Friday, September 9, we were off to Kananaskis with the horses. I’m not even hopeful anymore that I’ll be going along on the rides—and, truth be told, I’m not sure I want to go. Those days are long gone.  A few years ago, I thought I was going to lose my mind when I was left behind in the trailer, but now I just sleep in my cave, and wait for the horses and riders to return so that we can get out for a sniff and a walk at a speed and distance that suits my greater years.

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My cave under the table in the living quarters.

The overnight horse trips are particularly good for us dogs. There’s usually a walk in the morning before they leave, another when they get back, and often a third and longer one in the evening. It’s a lot like our time on the road in Sid when the peeps go off on errands or activities, taking us out for walks at each end of the day. Given the amount of time I find myself sleeping these days, it works out perfectly.

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Hanging out in camp (I like to keep watch)

This horse trip was a short one, much shorter than originally planned. Herein lies the problem I mentioned earlier, the human tendency to let to-do lists and schedules rule. The trip was supposed to be a week, then five days, and then three. When rainy weather interfered, it turned into just two days and two nights.

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The Death Valley Loop – a favourite from my days on the trail

But I have to give them credit for making the best of things. In the space of 48 hours, they got in two rides, one of them a long one around the Death Valley Loop, two afternoon foursies, two evenings by the fire, and we walked every road in the Sandy McNabb campground. And even when the forecast called for heavy rains and cold weather to move in on Saturday evening, we stayed, and the rain held off until the overnight hours. The horses were in covered stabling, we had power for the ceramic heater, so everyone was warm and dry all through the rainy night until we hit the road early Sunday morning.

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Storm in his campground accommodation.

They talked on the drive home about getting in one more overnight before the season is done. I just chuckled from my place in the back seat. They’re so cute. Today I heard them talking about unpacking the living quarters but getting in at least one more day trip. I’m cheering for them … but we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

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In camp just enjoying the moment.