When I flew to Vancouver at the end of June, the reason I only told my family of my travel plans was to surprise my friends on our 4th ever Legendary Annual Summer Camping Trip. I missed the first one in 2007 when I was in Cameroon, but attended the second and third and did not intend to miss the fourth, as our trips somehow get better every year.
In order to surprise them, on July 1st – Canada Day – I hopped on the motorbike that my brother Matt and I share, and drove 5 cold and somewhat rainy hours into the BC Interior to Ashnola Campgrounds, which is just before sunny Keremeos.
Since everyone thought I was still in the DR Congo, they were all surprised, except for Stash who knows too well that I’m capable of such things and had actually told Ryan on the drive that he wouldn’t be surprised to see me there:
Jason was very surprised:
The reason for which many people in these photos are wearing costumes or silly attire is that we’ve made it a tradition that everyone on the trip must wear a costume or at least some sort of accessory during the trip. It started back in 2008 when I told a friend that, as a ninja, I was an expert camper and that I would be in my ninja attire for our upcoming camping trip. I ended up buying a costume and wearing it the entire weekend. In 2009, I wore a penguin suit for the trip and as a result was later featured in my friend Tyler’s family Christmas card. This year, I was… you’ll see.
Setting up tents:
Maria modelling her mask:
Conrad (who actually plays the ukulele quite well) and his coconuts:
A wonderful campfire maintained by Omid, the firemaster:
Note the red and purple lights in the background:
Yes, that’s right – Matt brought a huge speaker, light system, and inverter to power it from his car so we could have a very loud dance party in the wilderness:
Oker slept outside, with a rock as his pillow, and seemed well-rested and cheerful as I stepped over him in the morning:
Matt was cold so I lent him my motorcycle jacket, which went well with his amazing sunglasses and flaming hair:
Mike decreased the diameter of our firewood with the splitting axe:
Tyler guarded the river, because that’s what he does best:
Conrad made real coffee in a real French press, which made him my new favourite person:
And the mountains kept doing their thing all around us:
On our second night, there was more merriment around the campfire, with two guitars, a ukulele, several former members of award-winning choirs, and the main ingredient in any good sing-along: smoke in our eyes:
Saturday morning there was food, like every morning and every day and every night, since every person seemed to bring too much amazingly delicious food, and everyone was very good at sharing (Fred Penner taught us well).
As the morning progressed, bocce was played (we come prepared) as was a rather competitive match of glup dich between myself, Stash, Alex, and my brother Dan:
In the mid-afternoon, an epic watermelon eating contest took place. In order to prepare, Dan and Jason had a watermelon cutting contest in which Dan used his machete and Jason used his meat cleaver:
Here’s a close-up from the shot above, showing one of Dan’s machete moves:
Dan won points for style and number of pieces cut, and Jason won points for participation.
When it came to the watermelon eating competition, there were many more participants. Although Dan destroyed the competition in terms of quantity of watermelon consumed, Matt (the guy with orange hair) placed a close second and won an award for style, as his was an impeccable rendition of a chicken feeding, smashing his face into the watermelon with a fair bit of force each time his beak shot forward. It looks amazing on video.
Last year a new tradition was born: visit Tyler’s parents and pool in Penticton. An hour after the end of the watermelon eating contest, we all crammed into cars and drove half an hour to Penticton along this highway:
This is Tyler’s family pool, with everyone lined up to eat delicious food prepared by Tyler’s amazing parents:
They also let us use their hot tub!
After a few hours, we were back on the road and before you could tell me the middle name of every Canadian Prime Minister in alphabetical order by surname, we were back at the campsite, where we once again centred ourselves around the fire. The stars were out in full force that night, and there was electricity in the air:
On our final morning, more food was prepared, consisting of many steaks provided and cooked by Jason on the fire, and enough bacon to create a life-sized replica of Stash – in bacon form!
Finally, on Sunday, July 4th, we packed up our things and concluded an amazing four day Legendary Annual Summer Camping Trip attended by a solid group of 35 amazing individuals. As I prepared to leave, still faithfully wearing my costume as I do every year (the moustache, despite appearances, was real), we discovered a banana hanging from a tree nearby with the words “BANANA MAN” on it. It’s a mystery that will probably never be explained…