They say a change is as good as a rest. It was true for my daughter, my son, and me today. Five hours’ return trip to a family favourite — Spruce Point Park, on the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta.
We used to go camping there every year when our kids were little. Camping, as in tents, ground sheets, coolers, and a week’s supply of food. There was a small food store in nearby Kinuso, but we were on a tight budget in those days. One year I made gallons of granola and 20 loaves of bread to take along with us. We brought apples and cheese, and froze cartons of milk and let them cool slowly over a few days. Only after those supplies were gone did we take a trip to the store.
All wasn’t rosy and fun. There was the time James (about 4) wanted to see a horsefly. He broke off mid-sentence when one bit him on the rear! And the time we took our two cats with us and one wandered off when it was time to leave, and didn’t show up till we’d been hunting for him for an hour and had decided to leave without him. And the other cat insisted on bringing mice into our tents. Live mice. Irene remembers being quite sick with tonsillitis, and the whole family having to pack up and return home days ahead of time. I remember more than once being rained out or all but blown away by strong winds. But all in all, it was the nicest and best way for our family to take a vacation together.
We haven’t camped there since Andrew was a baby, almost 24 years ago. A year or two ago was the first time we’d been back since. Things have changed a lot in that time. There are twice as many campsites, and most of them are equipped for motor homes. Tents are clearly in the minority.
Last year the water was so high and there was so much driftwood that there wasn’t much beach anywhere. They had to resort to digging out a section of grass to form a small beach in the public day area.
Slave Lake is still the same wonderful, clean, expansive stretch of water, with few enough motorboats that swimming is a pleasure. I didn’t expect to see anyone in the water so early in June, but there were a few brave souls so far out in the water you couldn’t have recognized them if you knew them. Irene and Nathaniel went wading, and wished they could stay all day.
© Willena Flewelling