Summertime sadness is a real thing, yo

This time of year is always bittersweet for me, and I know I’m not alone in that melancholic feeling of summer’s passing faster than preferred. The cooler evenings, late sunrises, and back-to-school jingles are all signs of the changing season – one that I’m not yet ready to embrace. I know, I know, summer is still here for a few more weeks, but the start of September is the month that slowly creeps into fall, and those dogdays of summer slowly revert back into our reverie, becoming a distant blurry memory that is out of reach for another 290-or-so days. Summers are too short, too hazy and too perfect to only last a couple of months. Summer, that’s it, I am putting my foot down, do not leave us yet, it’s just not fair.

I recently read Dirty Work by Anna Maxymiw, and I loved it for many reasons, but the main one being that it brought me back to a time when I was a teen and would venture off to camp as either a helper in the kitchen (holy hell, feeding young kids is hard work), and then as a camp counsellor for the brightest most imaginative souls I have ever met. Maxymiw’s camp work adventures were a bit more strenuous than mine (we’re not comparing cabins to cabins here), but what Maxymiw did do through her book was build a connection to a time in our lives when life was a little less complicated, a little more innocent, the air, at times, fresher, and the food, cheap, greasy and damn delicious, especially after a 12-hour day of non-stop sweaty kitchen chores. If you haven’t read the book, read it. There’s still time this summer to escape to the wilderness, even if it is just through Maxymiw’s words.

Speaking of camp, what screams summer more than camp? Nada! Freedom for a week+ from authority figures, chores and societal rules that bind our day-to-day behaviours. Sign me up. Beach days, sport days, dress-up days; ghost stories, bonfires, week-long crushes that inevitably end when the bus leaves the campground; friendships forged, clothes swapped, numerous rolls of film taken of innocent experiences; laughter, joy, and depending on age, a bit of homesickness that often fades once a friend is made. There is a childhood innocence to summer camp that is fondly remembered, a time when life was easy, carefree and ‘perfect.’ What I would give to relive those days again. Maybe that is why those summer adult camping experiences are such a hit, but this time, a bit of booze is added to the mix. And as we all now, the best stories are made with a little, or a lot, of liquid courage.

Summer is so sweet because that thick humid air wafts nostalgia from summers past. It’s in the fireflies dancing during dusk, the lazy afternoon soundtrack of cicadas in the trees, the endless pool parties, slumber parties, sticky ice cream fingers, grass stains, camping, fireside stories and roasted smores. It’s those memories that we want to relive every year, and every year the season is too short to experience those summers of our childhood past. That 9-5 hussle is great when it comes to making bank (hah) and adult decisions, but it also means saying “summer, bye” to sweet August and July. Mind you, summer 2019 was one for the books – the best book (see #vanderlaenderstietheknot & #vanderlaendersinhawaii), it still evaporated faster than my money in Aritzia. Much like buyer’s remorse is a real thing, so is summertime sadness. So give me all that nostalgic summer memorabilia and let me relive memories of the past to help me imagine the summer memories I will make in the future. I only have 10 months to daydream.Camping

Happy Campers

We made it, dear reader, the first long weekend of unofficial summer is here and with it an abundance of plans for backyard get-togethers, pool parties, beach hangouts, and of course camping.

Growing up in the country, our backyard was often the campground, as my parents would set up the tent, my brothers would build a fire, and I would search for roasting sticks. Spider dogs, smores, searching for constellations and sing-along songs would be our evening entertainment. Eventually, the kids would head to the tent for bed while my parents said good night and went back inside as the mattress was more comforting than the ground under our sleeping bags. As soon as the back door closed, the flashlights came on and the ghost stories shared. It was a favourite game to see who could tell the scariest story or who would be the first one to run inside for fear of monsters, ghosts and bogeymen.

In my tween and teen years, summer camping was often spent at camp where I would bunk with girls my age in musky row cabins where ghost stories became stories of crushes and grownup aspirations, and the days were carefree and full of childlike wonder. And then just like that, the days of camp life were over, and I became too cool for nature. Thankfully, that phase was short-lived, and a few years later, I tackled my first extreme camping trek and portaged through backcountry Algonquin.

These days, my camping trips are fairly easy with weekend stints at nearby provincial parks that are accessible by car and make packing a dream.

If you have never been camping, go and experience the outdoors. You will get dirty and there are bugs, but at night, when you look up and see a million stars staring back at you, you lose yourself and realize that the dirt is nothing compared to the beauty of nature.

To help with your planning, I’ve compiled a list of camping tips for a successful semi-wilderness adventure.

  1. Make a packing list, don’t over-pack on clothing, and socks are a must.
  2. If you use an air mattress, don’t forget a fitted sheet – they get very cold in the middle of the night.
  3. Plan easy meals, and pre-make what you can ahead of time.
  4. Use a Tupperware container for storing camping dishes (this will double as your sink).
  5. Bring a tablecloth for the picnic table – this will save eager eaters from unwanted splinters.
  6. Lawn chairs for fireside and the beach.
  7. Tiki torches or solar power string lights – creates a bit of ambiance at your campsite.
  8. Pack a hammock for ultimate campsite relaxation.
  9. String to use as a clothesline.
  10. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
  11. Wet wipes are a lifesaver.
  12. For play, pack lawn games, cards and a book.
  13. Lastly, make sure you are aware of the campground rules, as some sites are quite zones. Also know that on long weekends, most campgrounds do not allow alcohol.

If sleeping in a tent on an air mattress is not your thing, then glamourize your camping experience and go glamping. The cost is a bit more, but for luxury, it is worth it. Happy camping, friends!

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Camping at Two Jack Lakeside in Banff, Alberta (2015)

Glamourous Glamping Getaway

I like to think of my partner and I as hardcore campers – a couple that favours weekends in the woods over five-star hotels and room service, but who am I kidding, I need plumbing, electricity and a comfy mattress to survive. So, to celebrate a special occasion with my wannabe-lumberjack hunk, I booked us a stay at Long Point Eco-Adventures where I knew I could experience the best of both worlds.

Located in Norfolk County and just around the corner from Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point Eco-Adventures is not just your average stay the night kind of place, this glamping getaway is for the adventure-seekers that want to do a bit more than just lounge by the fire pit. Activities range from zip-lining and axe throwing, to kayaking, fishing, romanc-[ing] under the stars, hiking and more, but don’t make the mistake we did, book your adventure at least one month in advance, as was instructed by one of the staff. However, we did manage to grab a couple of rental mountain bikes and tested out a few trails on and around Turkey Point. I’m not a pro mountain biker, I’m not even a good mountain biker, but you don’t have to be either – although the number of times I fell off of the bike and the four big purple-blue bruises that decorate my thighs beg to differ – the trails are marked as beginner, intermediate, advance, and expert to help you navigate your ride.

After spending your afternoon adventuring, walk across the street to Burning Kiln Winery for a wine tour and wine tasting. Known for their appassimento wines (fancy term for drying harvested grapes to concentrate the sugars and flavours) this winery is situated on a former tobacco tract that pays homage to its history.

Then, relax and unwind in your Wilderness Suite or Pod – these luxury glamping accommodations are unique to the area, and the Wilderness Suites are the only ones in Ontario. We opted to stay in a Wilderness Pod, fitted with a couch, table and two chairs, a bar fridge, a queen-size bed and private washroom. The Wilderness Pod was perfectly cozy for the two of us, but on our next stay, we are definitely staying in one of the Wilderness Suites.IMG_5246

Adventure awaits in Banff National Park

If you’re looking for a ‘wild’ weekend adventure with your significant other or besties, but at a loss of ideas, look no further than Banff National Park. Majestic mountains, breathtaking turquoise waters, and wildlife await; canoe rides, cozy lodgings and countless hiking trails are in store; and, a city like no other to explore! This year is the perfect time to discover these natural wonders as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Bonus, Parks Canada passes are free in 2017 as a way to entice and invite locals near and far to explore Canada. Read on for five must-do experiences in Banff National Park; then plan your trip, pack your backpack and head to the magnificent mountains this summer. Disclaimer: Be prepared for an extreme case of wanderlust.

Camp in an oTENTik at Two Jack Lakeside
Sleep in a cozy cabin-tent at Two Jake Lakeside right on Lake Minnewanka. This A-frame structure is mounted on a raised wooden floor and includes a queen-size bed and living area. These spacious accommodations are exclusive to Parks Canada, require no set-up and are super cute! Stay in one for $120 a night.IMG_8425

Canoe on the emerald waters of Lake Louise
Canoeing is the quintessential Canadian experience, add in the Rocky Mountains and now you’re living the Canadian Dream. Paddle on the emerald water of Lake Louise, while being surrounded by mountains, trees and the Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise in the background – this iconic hotel dates back to 1890 and has welcomed many Hollywood elites, such as Marilyn Monroe and Alicia Silverstone, hello Clueless. Canoe rentals are available by the hour.   Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 7.58.16 PM

Hike Moraine Lake
This glacier-fed lake is the gem of Banff! Moraine Lake is nestled amongst the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and is a sight to behold. Hike the many trails around the lake, but be bear aware, depending on the season some trails may be restricted or require groups of four or more. Make sure to climb the Rockpile Trail for the money shot of Moraine Lake and its tranquil turquoise water – this very image was on the twenty-dollar bill in 1969-’79.  Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.01.39 PM

Town of Banff
Known as a Mountain Town, this legendary spot is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs, dine and sleep, if you want the luxury and privacy of a hotel suite. Each street in this quaint town offers different views of the mountains. Chat with locals, and ask for their recommendations, they’re the ones that know where to find those hidden gems. Warning: This Mountain Town will leave you dreaming of living in the mountains.Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.14.02 PM.png

Banff Upper Hot Springs
After a day of exploring, relax and unwind in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Soak in the natural hot springs mineral water, while gazing at snow-capped mountains and pine trees. This natural spa-like oasis has a small entry fee of $7. Definitely worth it! For a romantic vibe, go in the evening and watch the sunset.Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.32.32 PM

Pro tip: Cruise through the Rocky Mountains in a Mustang Convertible – panoramic views on point. If timing permits drive the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper – stretching 232 km, this is a road trip like no other with mountains, glaciers and sweeping valleys.IMG_7632

Quick Links
Parks Canada
Order your Parks Canada Pass
Stay in an oTENTik
Canoe rentals at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Tourism Banff
Banff Upper Hot Springs