So I went to Ottawa last month. Two major things took place. First, I attended the wedding of an old and good friend, Heather Earle, to Eric Budgell. The wedding was impressive, with lots of guests in a large church.
One really cool thing was the procession from the church to where the reception was held. I told Heather some time ago that when another friend, Jeff Pope, got married in Scotland, a bag piper lead a procession through the entire small town, from one side to the other, with the bride and groom at the forefront of the march. The whole town stepped out to cheer on the newly married couple.
Heather liked the idea, so she got a piper to walk them from the church, about six blocks or so to the reception which was at the NAC in Ottawa. Lots of cars and pedestrians gave way to the procession, and it was a pretty cool experience. Heather looked amazing on her wedding night, and I was also happy that it all seemed to go off really well.
Camping with my Mum and Brothers
The other major reason I went to Ottawa was to spend time visiting family, and especially to fulfill a “last wish” that my Mom had expressed to Christine, my Dad’s current partner (long story, don’t ask).
As you may know from reading here, my Mom’s fighting a pretty serious cancer, so all the moments we can spend together are pretty important. She and Christine were watching a TV show and it talked about the Children’s Wish Foundation, so Christine asked my Mom if she could do a “wish”, what would it be. My Mom said “to camp with my boys in Algonquin Park once more”.
While I was growing up, our standard family summer vacation was in Algonquin Park for two weeks every summer. I did this from the time I was six or seven, to around the time I was fourteen or fifteen. But I haven’t been back there since… it’s been around 20 years now! (Christ, I’m getting old).
Well, my Mom’s wish was told to me, and my brothers, so we got the wheels in motion. I booked a camp site, my Dad and Christine arranged the camp gear, then I flew to Ottawa and I rented a big ass SUV – a Ford Explorer XLT (I must love my Mom, because I despise big SUVs).
We did a four day / three night trip, and we stayed at our traditional campsite choice: Mew Lake. I even managed to score a waterfront campsite. Our drive up was pretty good. We did plenty of stops, as my Mom had to use the facilities often, and we picked up supplies and some beer and wine.
The first day was not good – literally five minutes after we got to our site and started unpacking, it started raining. It didn’t stop raining until around 2am. My brothers and I set up the tents (two of them) and moved most of the camp gear into the tents, but by the time it was dark, and the rain wasn’t letting up, I knew I had to drive back to the nearest town (Whidbey, about 40km away from the campsite) and find a motel for my Mom, who was in no condition to brave rain in a tent, esp. since she needed frequent bathroom access.
The next morning was possibly the worst moment of the trip for me… the rain let up and blue skies broke out, so my Mom and I checked out of the motel and were going to go back to my brothers, who stayed at the site. There was a short 4 step walkup to where the car was, and I left my Mom to walk it on her own as I went to the office to return the key. My Mom tripped and fell, hurting her knee, bruising and cutting her hand, and she had a bloody face! She was in some pain from the fall too.
Man, I freaked out. Outside, I tried to remain calm for my Mom, who was also freaking out, but inside, I was a wreck. I was ready to drive her to the nearest hospital – about another 50km away, but after a little while, and cleaning up her face and looking at her hand, she calmed down and said, “no hospital”… so we went back to the campsite.
My brothers were equally concerned, and we cleaned my Mom’s abrasions, and got the rest of the camp set up. She was still shook up from the incident, so the first full day she spent relaxing, laying in bed, and reading. My brothers and I went to our first trail, and one of my favourite Algonquin Park trails, the Lookout trail.
The next day Mom was in better spirits, so after my brothers and I went to Canoe lake in the morning to check things out, we took Mom to the new (for us at least, but it was built in 1993) Visitors’ Centre. That afternoon, we got her set up at camp again, and my brothers and I did another trail, the Beaver Pond Lookout trail. We had a camp fire each night (except the first), and the time was well spent.
It was a valuable trip for me. I got to spend time with my brothers, and I haven’t spent much of any time with them for 10plus years. And we got to share a very special trip with my Mom, which was very cool.
We drove back on the Thursday, after breaking camp. On the drive back to Ottawa from my Dad’s place (after we dropped off a lot of equipment there), there was a spectacular sunset which was a great close to the day.
The next afternoon, I flew back to Vancouver, after saying good bye to my Mom, Dad and brothers.