This post is part of the “Sharing a Story” series where I use a picture to reflect on a story that happened during our year on the road which I never told on the blog. Click on the “sharing a story” tag at the bottom of the post to see more of the series.
It all started when we ran out of propane halfway through cooking our weiners for a traditional Canada Day meal. We hadn’t bought the fire license that you needed to have a campfire in a Waterton Lakes National Park campground, so we were using our propane stove to cook the brats. Great plan, until the familiar roar of flame dwindled to a purr and then ceased all together.
We had three options: 1) drive 45 minutes to the closest store and hope it was open on this holiday weekend, 2) eat a non-festive cold meal of dry cheerios and fruit, or 3) make friends with someone who already had an excellent campfire. Jay, being more of an introvert was leaning towards option one. I didn’t give him a chance to move in that direction, I jumped into action telling him I would be right back. I hurried down the camp road to the site of a group of Canadians our age that I had chatted with the night before as they were setting up camp.
Sure enough this group of six had a great fire going and were roasting their own weiners over it with actual roasting sticks. I opened with “Can I ask you a favor? Can we put our weiners in your fire?” Laughing, they offered up sticks and condiments and beer and suggested the only thing we would need was our own chairs. I hurried back to Jay to share the news and we gathered up all our essentials to make new friends.
As Jay and I arrived at the campfire, one of the guys was whittling a stick into a sharp point at one end. He looked up at us, welcoming us into the conversation they were having with, “What about you, how would you prepare for the zombie apocalypse?” Clearly we had joined the right group of campers. Jay is a bit of an expert on zombies so he immediately launched into a discussion of the importance of a chainsaw as the weapon of choice. I contributed the idea that zombie outbreaks usually occur in cities so we were probably quite safe out here in this campground.
The jokes and stories continued into sunset and it didn’t take us long to feel comfortable with this group of friends. At one point one of the girls was joking sarcastically about how we had obviously found the party group within the campground. She said, “3 teachers and 3 IT guys, you really know how to pick the cool kids”. I laughed thinking how I really had found kindred spirits since most of my friends back home are in teaching or IT and have that wonderful clever wit. The other campers our age a few sites down were just blasting loud music and throwing darts at cans of beer that they held between their feet.
At one point the conversations shifted from how to fight off zombies to how to fight off small children. One of the teachers asked one of the IT guys, “How many five year olds do you think you could take on at once?” He sat and thought about it for a few minutes, clearly giving the matter serious consideration. Finally he said “One ….. I think”. We chuckled as he explained how in his haste to run from the threatening gang of five year olds he would probably trip over one of them and take him down. The elementary school teacher piped up with “Oh no, five year olds are easy to take down, they are top heavy, just a swift hit to their foreheads” as she motioned with a football player’s blocking move. At that point we all lost it, convulsing with laughter as she smiled meekly realizing how bad that had sounded.
The Canada Day campfire is one of my favorite memories from the road. We spent a lot of time alone or just making pleasantries with strangers. This was one of the only times we really got to know people outside of our volunteer trips. Happy Canada Day, eh!