SHE LOOKED UP from the breakfast table: “I’m having an affair with your brother.”
“I’m having an affair with your brother.”
Oh jeez. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, 104 soul-sucking minutes of dancing, ABBA music and Meryl Streep, whose presence in any film not only indicates a distressing absence of gunfire but pretty much guarantees that half the movie will be wasted talking about re… relat … — sorry, it’s hard to get this word out without gagging — relationships. Might as well throw in a half-hour of looking at fabric swatches and call it a perfect night.
“What did I do wrong?” I wheedled. “Couldn’t we just get a divorce instead?”
“No,” she said. “We’re going on vacation, and I want us to have fun together.”
This, of course, is an oxymoron. Families can vacation together or they can have fun, but they can’t do both.
You learned this as a child when, with bladder bursting and bare legs stuck to the back seat of the car, you clenched your teeth for the duration of the long, hot haul to the annual week/eternity of holiday/forced labour at some relative’s farm in Broken Dreams, Sask.
Later, as an adult, the either/or-ness was reinforced when you realized that loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean sharing their interests, a reality that might work fine when, say, one of you golfs while the other goes fishing on Sunday morning, but can result in an unseasonable summer frost when holidays force-funnel you into shared activities. (As a newlywed, I took my wife to see Rudolf Nureyev dance Swan Lake in London, then ruined her evening by sighing and moaning like a 10-year-old left holding his mother’s purse outside a department store change room. I’m not making this up.)
Which is what came to mind when, just in time for Parks Day last weekend, the B.C. government announced the addition of 431 new campsites in provincial parks and forestry recreation sites.
This is welcome news here on Vancouver Island, one of the regions where demand is greatest.
Competition for campsites has been so tough that, following reports of people scalping campground reservations in the same way as concert tickets in 2016, the government was forced to tweak its online reservations system.
This year a new problem emerged: people hogging forestry sites by leaving vehicles or tents in them days before they actually intend to go camping.
They can do this because, unlike the B.C. Parks system, almost all the forestry sites are free of charge and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it doesn’t cost anything to stake out prime spots in advance, even though that’s against the rules.
The government announced a crackdown this spring, threatening to haul away, at the owner’s expense, anything left unattended at a dozen sites around Campbell River and the Comox Valley.
This just reinforces the popularity of a provincial parks system that sees 21 million visits a year. No, make that 20,999,999, says the dissident who, for some unfathomable reason, seems lukewarm to the idea of embarking on yet another backwoods journey that begins with the canoe on the roof, the tent in the trunk, the leaking cooler on top of the sleeping bags, and the tent poles and canoe paddles back on the front porch, right beside my wallet, and ends with questions being raised about the authenticity of a wilderness experience that includes groomed roads, running water, assigned spaces, eye-watering toilets, garbage pickup, store-bought firewood and truckloads of bush bureaucrats cruising the grounds to enforce the lengthy code of conduct posted at the entrance (but ignored by your neighbours, who appear to be throwing the post-production party for Road Warrior) of a campground with a rainfall/population density rivalling that of Manila in monsoon season. She makes this sound like a bad thing.
“Maybe we should just stay home and watch a classic, like National Lampoon’s Vacation,” I suggested.
No, it’s summer holidays, time to go out and have fun. Here we go again.
Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloopsian who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015