Down By Hick’s Lake

(Sung in the tune of “Down By the Bay”)
Down by Hick’s Lake
Where the water reeds grow
Back to my tent
I dare not go…. 

And that is basically where our campfire song ended as we realized how scary the lyrics were.

I am back from my camping trip, and have finally showered after two days without doing so. It was my first camping trip, so the whole no showering idea was scary to me. However, I prepared myself before the trip and finally accepted the fact that it was no big deal. What I did not expect was that there were no sinks in the ‘washrooms’. The ‘washroom’ was more of a pit in the floor, and the smell was pretty horrid.

Before heading off to camp, I read loads of camping tips, hoping I will have these bits of advice floating around my head as we camped. One of the first advice for new campers was to arrive while the sun was still up, so that you can set up your tent, get a fire going, and get a good look at your surroundings. Sadly, we did not arrive before sunset as we ended up being two hours behind schedule, so we did have to stumble around in the dark. Thankfully, the family in the adjacent camp site was really nice and lent us supplies (just rope really) and was there to answer any questions we had.

My friend Monica and I had practiced setting up the tent in her front yard before the trip, just in case we would be working in the dark. That turned out to be very smart indeed. We also prepped the food and meals for the trip, getting them ready for the cooler. Packing was slightly annoying because I had to dig around for some winter gear since it would get cold at night. In the end, I think we were pretty well prepared seeing as how this was our first camping trip. Josh and Connie chopped up wood for the campfire, William got the van, and soon enough we were off to Sasquatch Provincial Park.

The first night was chaotic. Connie got the fire going, while Monica and I tackled our tent, and William and Josh tackled theirs. Monica’s dog Gator was also very anxious as he had no idea what was happening. We ate bannock, ignoring all food safety procedures and had ham and cheese. Sleeping was actually a lot better than I imagined, mostly due to Connie’s friend who lent us her inflatable mattress. Without it, we would have been sleeping on gravel under our thin sleeping bags.

The next morning, we woke up at around nine. We started another fire so we could cook breakfast. We ended up cooking our lunch too (Beef Kebabs) since fires took so long to get going. I think we all underestimated the amount of time it would take for us to cook our meals. It was well into lunch time when we finally got the food well done enough to eat. Thus, we had brunch instead.

Hard at work cooking our brunch.

Bacon, beef kebabs (with zucchini) and scrambled eggs.

Then it started to threaten to drizzle, so we glanced over to our neighbours to see them setting up a tarp over their fire, covering as much of their site as possible. We had two tarps, one to go under each tent. Good thing one of the tarps were actually huge, so we moved both tents over to the big tarp and used the small one as our rain shelter. We had rope, but it was not enough. The family next to us offered to lend us some, so we ended up being able to put up the tarp. We were lucky we copied them, and for them to have extra rope. When we were packing, different websites told us to bring rope. None of us knew what the rope was for…until then.

When the drizzle stopped, we started to hike. Hick’s Lake was actually really nice, and we started to walk around the perimeter. We eventually got to a point where Gator could not cross because it was too steep, so we had to turn back. We stopped by our site for a quick break consisting of toilet breaks and fruits, then the girls were off again on a different hiking trail. The guys wanted to nap.

Hick’s Lake in the drizzle

We saw this little guy on our way back!

Connie, Monica, Gator and I found a place called Beaver Pond. It was a hiking trail, with a sign claiming that a hike around it would take thirty minutes. It took us a bit longer because we kept stopping for pictures. But the view of the pond was breathtaking. The water was very still, and gave a perfect reflection of the trees and the sky surrounding it.

Beaver Pond

That night, for dinner, we had stew along with crackers, followed by smores. Then we told some ghost stories and sang some songs. We also just talked for a while. It was not until we used up our firewood that we decided to go to sleep.

Connie and William by the fire 🙂

As a whole, I found the camping trip a fun experience. It was not as strenuous as I had imagined, but the lack of actual washrooms came as a surprise. I look forward to going camping again!

Tips for camping (a.k.a notes to future Karen for future camping trips):

  • it is best if you arrive before sunset
  • practice setting up a tent if you do not have prior experience
  • bring your own firewood, or else you will have to buy from the camp site (overpriced)
  • it does get cold at night, so bring suitable clothing
  • make a meal plan. Even if you end up switching certain planned meals around, you will be able to prepare the right amount of food this way.
  • camp sites that allow you to drive your car into your lot is awesome. You save time unloading everything, and you can also lock up any valuables or food items to be kept away from nature.
  • cooking meals take more time than you would think
  • bring extra rope and tarp in case it rains. Just tie the tarp’s corners to trees to secure it. For us, we had to secure one end of the tarp to our car as we lacked trees for that end.
  • firewood and supplies will take up a lot of space in your van/car. We rented a 7 seater van, but still struggled to fit all our stuff

Until next time!

-Karen

My Journey to America’s Final Frontier

Yes, you would be right if you thought I meant Alaska. Amazing how Russia sold 586,412 square miles of land for only 2 cents an acre! But then again, Russia probably thought they were getting a good deal for this vast wasteland. Little did they know oil and natural gas would be found there.

My family and I went on a cruise to Alaska. My dad loves cruises, so for our family vacation this year we decided to go to Alaska. Cruises to Alaska departs from Vancouver, which is perfect for us. It also is one of the longer cruises, as it lasts for 8 days, 7 nights. Most of the cruises we went on in Asia lasted a maximum of 5 days since all the Asian countries were so close together.

I must say, I enjoy cruises here a lot more than I did in Asia. Everyone is more polite (and I am mostly referring to the passengers on it), and the vibe is just better.

We chose to go on the Celebrity Century. And by we, I mean my dad, since he plans all the family vacations. I liked the ship enough, but nothing made it stand out particularly from other cruise ships.

A view of the Vancouver Skyline from our cruise ship

We left on Sunday, the 24th of June. When we boarded, they told us our rooms were not ready yet. So everyone headed to the Islands Cafe for brunch. I do not know how many times I visited the Islands Cafe during the whole cruise, since it was the food joint that was opened latest and was a buffet area. For dinners, there was a more formal venue– The Grand Restaurant. Every family had their own waiters and assistant waiters, and ours came from Singapore and Croatia respectively. I always find it really interesting how the crew on a cruise ship always came from all corners of the world. In my cruise to Vietnam several years ago, the staff/crew had little flags of their home country right next to their name on their name tags. It never failed to amaze me how many different flags I saw.

Aboard the ship, there were performances at night. I particularly liked the night when they did a show they called “A Touch of Broadway”. Everything was so colourful! I also enjoyed Jay Mattioli’s magic performances. He incorporated a lot of dancing and jokes, keeping the audience entertained throughout his whole performance!

A Touch of Broadway

Jay doing his thing

They also had a theatre, playing different movies everyday. I was so happy they showed War Horse (obsessed with Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch), the latest Mission Impossible (Jeremy Renner!) and then In Time (Cillian Murphy!) during my cruise. I really liked War Horse (though I have seen it before), and thought that Mission Impossible and In time was okay, but it was like a never-ending fangirling theatre. Well, for me anyway.

My dad alone in the fangirl theatre 😛

For this cruise to Alaska, we stopped at three ports. At one port, Juneau, I was surprised they had a little tribute to their beloved governor. And by tribute, I mean they make fun of her. 😛

For souvenirs, I really did not know what to bring back to my friends. I thought their dream catchers were pretty cool, until I turned the tag around and saw that it was proudly made in British Columbia. Now why would I go all the way to Alaska to bring back something I could have gotten at home? Plus, are not most of the people who visit these souvenir shops from B.C. anyway? Hmm. Anyway, I ended up getting a couple of ulu knives. Nothing says I had a good trip than bringing back knives for my friends.

Along the way, our ship also steered close to some glaciers so that everyone could take pictures and whatnot. I thought it was really beautiful how the glaciers actually looked blue like they do in paintings. It was also a bit traumatizing when you hear the ships’ pick clawing its way through the ice drifts in order to get closer to the glacier. The whirring and scraping noise made me think of the Titanic again and again. However, all turned out well and we did not end up having to evacuate the ship.

Nearing the glaciers. Here I was wearing flip flops and trying not to let the cold get to me.

Yeah, I know it is summer and we chose to go to icy mountains. Not my idea of a summer event, but hey, it was fun! However, when going out on the deck to take pictures of the glaciers and snow capped mountains, I had to wipe my eyes quite several times. Not because I was being dramatic and emotions were overwhelming, but because the winds were so cold it actually hurt. I was also the fool who decided to wear sandals out on the deck (being too lazy to go back to my cabin to change). Ahh, summer.

So overall, it was a very relaxing trip. I finally felt I could unwind after my hectic first year at university. I also gained quite a bit of weight seeing as how I was eating five (or more) meals a day, all being all-you-can-eats. Here you can have some pictures of my food aboard the ship:


I will now stop with the food spam.

So here are my tips for cruises!
– learn the ships’ layout after you get on. Take your time discovering where the restaurants are, where their lounges are, etc. It will help when you read your ships’ daily itinerary, or else you will panic and run around looking for their “Fiesta Deck”. Well, maybe not. You would probably ask a staff, but it is so much easier knowing your surroundings.
– always book your dinner reservations (they usually ask you during registration for your cruise). If you think you will figure it out after you get on the ship, good luck. I saw this huge line of people trying to do their booking after the ship set sail and they did not look happy.
– when you get your ships’ activity schedule of the day, look through it and circle things you want to attend then plan out when you will eat and how your day will look. Otherwise, you end up missing a show that you really wanted to watch, or a class that you intended to try out!
– always get off when you arrive at a port. It feels good to stand on solid ground after days of being on swaying ground. It took me several days after I came back home to adjust. I still felt like the floor was moving below me.
– watch your food intake. Haha, just kidding. It is a cruise. The chocolate fountains and dessert buffets are irresistible.
– pack formal wear along with your casual wear. And if you want, throw in a little smart casual in there too. Some restaurants and times of the day call for different attire. They may even not let you in to a restaurant if you are not in the proper attire.
– if you know you will get sea sick, get pills or those motion sickness arm bands ahead of time. You do not want to feel horrible during your amazing trip. I was seasick for the first two days until I gave in and bought pills. It sucked missing their awesome breakfasts during those days.
-go out on the deck. Enjoy the view. When else can you catch a glimpse of nothing but sea, stretching out to as far as the eye can see! It is as if nothing else exists and it is just you and the body of water you are on. The sunsets are also amazing. It is undisturbed and unobstructed by buildings one usually finds in the city.

Seriously, go out and enjoy the deck!

So that is all from me today! This post definitely came late, but I wanted to document my trip all the same!
Until next time!

-Karen