Camping did not make for good sleeping. In the early hours of the morning, a tow truck came to move a trailer parked beside the road, so we had to endure flashing lights, yells and crashing chains for forty-five minutes. Max, like his daddy, woke up, saw what was going on, and went right back to sleep, but I lay there with shattered nerves and was so exhausted that I spent the entire next morning in a deck chair. Max was not impressed. However, after lunch we drove to the creek and walked him up to the waterfall. Then, on the way back, we stopped in town for frozen yoghurts and bought Max one too, which he ate whole, eyes bulging with greed.
The next day, I was still unwell from the heat and my dose of beaver-fever. Max was extremely bored by his useless owner, so much so that, when I went into the camper for a moment, he stole the hair band that I’d left on my deck chair. When I came back out, he was in the process of burying it by a tree. He had dirt all over his nose and looked extremely guilty. He knew he’d been caught in the act. In the afternoon, since dogs were banned on most of the Peachland beaches, Hugh and I took him to the other side of the lake and cruised around Rattlesnake Island. It was barren desert country, but huge Michaelangelo clouds were spread across the end of the lake and the sky that framed them was equally Sistine Chapel blue. It was very beautiful, in spite of the heat billowing off the rocks. Max, naturally went for a swim, but the water was choppy and he kept submerging his nose and coming up sputtering. We took him ashore and he wanted to go exploring, but I was nervous about him finding a rattlesnake, so kept him close. Then we boated back to camp where we made the girls clean up the pigloo, since the resort owners were continually giving us dirty looks. Then I read in the evening with Max at my feet while our little movie queens watched a double feature in the outdoor ‘cinema’.
On Sunday, Caroline and Andre announced that they wanted to go to church. Candace decided to go too. All three of them were intrigued by the tiny local Anglican church. Katie announced that she had no intention of going to church when she was on holiday, so she accompanied me and Hugh as we took Max for a walk by the waterfall. Once again, he made his presence known, splashing in the water and then shaking all over another couple who were sitting on the rocks. We picked up the others after the church service and stopped for snacks on the way home. This time, Max managed to lick his ice cream decorously for a moment or two before gobbling it down
The following day was Caroline’s birthday, so we put her presents on the picnic table first thing in the morning. We’d wrapped her gifts in newspaper, but had used the comic section to create some degree of festivity. Caroline opened her loot while we made breakfast. She laughed at Max’s card, made a face at Katie’s gift mug (Bad Hair Day), oohed at the money we’d put in our card, looked pleased at the make-up Candace gave her and melted over Andre’s ring. After breakfast, we gave Max his run by the waterfall, then drove to Kelowna so the kids could celebrate Caroline’s birthday at the water park. On the news, we heard that there was a massive fire in Penticton, so we were very glad that we’d cancelled our reservation there. While the youngsters enjoyed the water park, Hugh and I did some shopping, then went to the beach and found a shady spot to eat a take-out dinner. As we ate, I found myself flicking what I thought were white bugs off me, but then I realized the flecks were ash floating up from the fire in Penticton. We picked up our crew at five and drove back to Peachland, all by now exhausted. The news of the fire was grim. There was a fear that lightning in the night would generate more fires and one area of Penticton was being evacuated. When we reached camp, the bottom of the clouds over the mountain were red, eerily reflecting the forest fire, and we could hear thunder in the distance. Later, a spotty rain started, but the heat was still unbearable. Hugh and I looked at each other with the same thought bouncing telepathically back and forth. Why did we ever leave the Cariboo? The next thought came equally quickly. Why not head back tomorrow?
Feeling like convicts preparing to bust loose, we got up at four-thirty in the morning and tip-toed about getting organized to leave. We woke the kids at six, then rushed about striking camp. By the time we left, the sun was beating down, but it was early enough that there was a cool breeze coming in the window as we drove. We cut over through Merritt and down the winding road to Spence’s bridge. It was hot through Cache Creek, but nothing like what we’d endured in Peachland. We stopped at 100 mile for provisions; then, less than two hours later, we arrived at the Fir Crest Resort on Lac La Hache. It was heaven! Sunny but pleasant, with the campsite right on the lake. There was a lovely games room for the youngsters and a huge site, which was perfect for walking Max since it was all fields and rural lanes with long grass and wildflowers. As soon as we were settled, we took Max out to Treasure Island. He sniffed all the way round the trail, clearly thrilled to be back there and running free. Later that evening, we sat by the campfire and looked at the lake. The surroundings were beautiful; the people were friendly; the dogs abounded and were welcome. Finally, we turned in. As Hugh and I settled down for the night, we heard Caroline making loon noises from her tent to replicate the sounds coming from the lake. After a while, a laryngitic loon call emerged from the pup tent where Andre was tucked down. Shades of Rosemarie and the Indian Love Call? Hugh and I chortled heartily, but Max blinked, cocked one ear, looked at me as if to say, “Humans are crazy,” then tucked down with a blissful sigh and went to sleep. Back in the Cariboo. Bliss indeed.