Destination: Spruce Woods Provincial Park (Manitoba)
We woke up in the car in the wal-mart parking lot, something you wouldn’t think you’d get used to or would become normal, but it does. We went in and cleaned up and bought some chocolate croissants to eat later on that day. We got on the road fairly early and it wasn’t long at all until we were at our campsite at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. We went and spoke to the parks people, who were just awesome. We knew we needed a full-sun site because we had to hang laundry to dry, and we also wanted privacy. So we took a map and drove around until we found the perfect site.
We set up quickly and did our chores right away to get them over with. We needed to do laundry, which we hadn’t done since Jasper National Park in Alberta. We washed everything in our big bowl, boiling water in my tiny 750ml pot over and over. It takes forever even for a few outfits, but it feels so great to have clean clothing dried crisp in the sun. I suppose we could have found laundrymats but I saw no reason to do that – pay money to be stuck babysitting clothing. It takes longer, really, with all the waiting. Doing it by hand is harder work but free. Makes more sense to me!
Once the laundry was hung, we headed to their gift shop. They had great cheap mugs with the Spruce Woods logo on it, who we got a couple mugs and I found a book about women’s relationships with cats, which was so niche and delightful. From there we went to the little grocery store and picked up hot dogs and popsicles because it was so hot. Christine likes making spider wienies, hence the hot dogs. I can’t remember the last time I had one!
We also took a quick tour to a nearby town, Glenboro, because we wanted to buy some beer if we were going to be at this site all day and most of the next day – this campground had checkout as 3pm, which is exceedingly rare. It’s usually 11am. So we got to check in early thanks to the really nice staff, as well as check out late. In Manitoba, you can buy alcohol from hotels and bars, like cases of beer. So we got a 2-4 of Miller Genuine Draft, definitely a treat. Neither of us were beer drinkers usually, but there something about a long day in the sun and at the beach where nothing sounds better.
We returned to the campsite and packed up our little backpacks with a few beers and got our swimsuits on and headed to the beach. It was a really nice spot, not super busy, and we got a private area and set up with our towels. We read and enjoyed the sun, had our stealthy beers, and got in and out of the water for our swims. We were there for a couple hours and it was so nice to have the majority of a day to just enjoy ourselves and not feel the pressure of where to go next. Our tour is definitely a whirlwind, so the rare occasions where we can relax for a few hours feels like a vacation inside a vacation.
We walked back to the campsite along a lovely trail, and once there I put a fire together. It took a lot of effort to get going – it’s just like that sometimes. The wood was dry and plentiful, another one of those sites where the firewood is included and you just need to go to a designated place and stock up. I highly recommend this campground: it’s inexpensive, it has bike and walking trails, a lovely beach, great staff, and the price is great for what you get (I think it was under $20).
Once the fire got going, Christine put together our spider wienies (you pierce the hot dog right through the middle on a stick, then slice both ends twice, in an X pattern, almost to the middle, so you have four “legs” on either side. When you cook them, the legs curl up and they look like spiders (or octopi, in my opinion!). We ate altogether too many of those since we knew they wouldn’t last long without a cooler, and drank altogether too many beer (no excuse for that one, they would have lasted just fine without a cooler…).
We spent the entire night at the fire just hanging out and laughing together. I felt it brought us closer together after some of the stressful days we had behind us. We frequently would go through cycles of distance and bonding. It’s impossible to maintain only one level of closeness for that period of time, so we began to just make space for it. I’m a big communicator so if I get a vibe that something isn’t right, I address it and find out if it’s ‘my stuff’ or someone else’s. I think something that my sister learned was that her very strong energy can impact other people deeply, so when she is frustrated or upset, and she expresses that through body language and other passive behaviours, people who are sensitive to that pick up on it and take it on. I asked her many times if she was upset with me, only to hear the response, ‘No, I’m just upset.’ So we really did a lot of work around her directing that energy responsibly, and me not taking her manner of expressiveness personally. Both are really hard and we didn’t always get it right – but we never stopped trying.
So… it hadn’t rained since we were on Vancouver Island in Pacific Rim National Park. There’d been bright blue skies, no clouds, all day. So naturally, we went to bed pretty tipsy and left all our stuff out, including our freshly washed and sun-dried clothing.
We both woke up to find it was pouring rain. We were yelling to each other over the rain from my tent to hers. My sister wasn’t sure where she’d left her keys, so I got out and looked for them because they are on an electronic fob, and I found my portable speaker sitting in the rain. Oops. Couldn’t find her keys. Went back to bed – we’d figure it out the next day.