Sunday, August 27, 2017
Jenny shuffles around on the floor and lets out a whimper. I bury myself under the blankets, nice and warm, eager for another hour (or three) of sleep.
But Jenny will not be silenced. I check the time on my phone. It’s 5:30 in Richmond, BC, which means it’s 6:30 in Edmonton. My dog… the Labrador alarm clock.
I quickly throw on yesterday’s clothes, swipe a baggie from the roll by the front door, and take Jenny outside to answer nature’s call.
Happy now, Jenny permits me to curl up under those blankets beside my husband, but sleep eludes me. I listen to my audiobook for an hour or so, then hear movement in the kitchen.
My dad is awake, getting breakfast started. He’s amused by Ayce, who has curled up with Dwight on the sofa bed. Both seem pleased as punch, so we try and stay as quiet as possible to let them sleep.
One by one, we all wake up and help with breakfast. Whether it’s grabbing food items from the fridge or freezer, cubing cheese, prepping coffee, or using the stove, most hands are on deck. While breakfast is cooking, Ben, Sarah, Dwight and I sit on Dad’s back porch, watching Jenny demolish two sticks in the span of fifteen minutes and then decide that one of Dad’s bushes needs “pruning.”
We gather around the dining table, realize there’s not enough coffee, then someone goes to make more. We eat our fill of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakfast and make plans for the day.
Dad and Karen head off to church, and the four of us have the house to ourselves. It’s nice to have some unstructured time. We read some, chat some, and head down to Steveston for a walk along the boardwalk, some shopping and some coffee.
We pull up to a parking meter that won’t take our cash. Sarah buys three hours worth of parking, and Dwight and I stand by the car, our faces toward the sun. One of us makes a comment that, unlike up north in Edmonton, we can look toward the sun without it hurting our eyes, allowing us to leave our sunglasses behind.
We stop in a souvenir store where Ben buys a magnet that has a joke about financial responsibility being unimaginative. There’s a consignment clothing store down the block, so Sarah and I step inside, generally dragging the guys along for the ride. A unique dress catches my fancy, and I end up spending far too much time (according to Ben… okay, me, too) trying on clothes. Unfortunately, nothing fits quite right, so I leave empty-handed.
We’re all a little hungry, so we make our way to Blenz, a coffee shop my dad visits frequently. After purchasing our drinks, Dad and Karen meet us and we sit outside where we chat and enjoy the beautiful day.
Our stomachs are rumbling, so we walk down to the Buck & Ear. It’s a sports bar that doesn’t feel like a sports bar. We crowd around a table and devour our sandwiches, salads and (in my case) fish tacos. Dad and Karen generously treat us, and we head back to our cars.
When we pull in to Dad and Karen’s carport, Sarah exclaims, “Is that a watermelon… or a tomato?” Karen’s been growing tomatoes this year, and this one is massive!
Jenny and I make our way inside, where Jenny promptly empties Ayce’s toybox of all the toys we’ve put away and settles on the loudest toy in there – the squeaker ball. Ayce decides that barking at her doesn’t phase her, so he toodles out the doggie door and ignores her instead.
Dad and Karen have recently returned from a trip to England and Sweden. They have brought souvenirs home with them (like tea from a teashop, Swedish dark chocolate, prints of trains for Ben). In addition to my no-tattoo-allowed generous birthday gift from Dad and Karen, I open a wooden box to store my newly-acquired tea, and a bracelet my father made that jangles every time I move my arm. For reasons both spacial and practical, we leave the tea and the box behind because we’re not sure about space in the car, and we’re equally not sure if we can take them (the tea in particular) across the border. We thank them profusely, then settle in for a post-lunch nap.
It’s hard to describe how things go south. Ben and Sarah had made plans to meet their family friend – their “uncle” – in the afternoon, and my mom was going to host us for dinner in Abbotsford at 5:30. I start to get anxious when Ben and Sarah haven’t left and it’s 3:30; I hope they have a great visit with their uncle, and there’s someone coming to dinner at Mom’s that I haven’t seen in years. There’s no reason we couldn’t do both, right? They take off, and I load up the roof bag for a quick load-and-go.
I don’t handle this well. I send texts, I pace, I get angry. I make watermelons out of tomatoes. Dad offers to drive me over to Mom’s and I tell him that’s not his responsibility. When Ben and Sarah arrive back at 5:45, I am fuming, and so is Ben. Ben, Sarah and I meet on the back patio. We make our feelings and expectations clear, and nothing really gets resolved. We load the roof bag on to Hoshi, put Jenny in the back seat, and hug Dad and Karen goodbye.
Richmond, BC – Abbotsford, BC
Distance: 67 km
Travel Time: 1 hour
For me, it’s a tense drive to Mom’s place. We make it there by 7:00 PM, and we climb out of the car. Mom greets us, smiling. It’s quiet and peaceful here; you’d never know that you’re not too far off of a major roadway.
I expect Jenny and Max – mom’s Bouvier – to pick up their intense doggie love affair where it left off last year. Jenny has other ideas; there’s SO much to explore!
We get a tour of the property, Jenny and Max generally leading the way. Jenny is fascinated by the chickens, though she makes no move to do anything about them. When we walk past the barn, Jenny discovers the blackberry bushes, eating only the ripe berries and wagging her tail merrily. Mom tells us they’ve had coyotes in the area, so after dark I plan on keeping Jenny close.
The makings for pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad sit on a folding table behind the house. A cooler is well-stocked with beverages both alcoholic and carbonated, and we sit outside and eat and drink and chat with Mom and her partner (who, among many other things, was a chef in a past life).
Mom has a tent that she offers to set up for us so we don’t have to set up the one we’re borrowing. we take the roof bag off of Hoshi to get our backpacks and sleeping bags and start blowing up air mattresses…
And they won’t all fit in the tent.
Ben and I have a double air mattress, we bought Dwight a single, and Sarah has a mat. They will not all fit in the tent, no matter what we try.
A team meeting is called. The only viable option is for one of us to sleep in the car. With Ben and Sarah driving, we all agree that they need the flat horizontal surface in the tent. It’s down to Dwight and me. Dwight says this is a great adventure, and besides, he can sleep anywhere. I feel a pang of guilt, ask him if he’s sure.
I toss him a pillow.
While the guys are getting ready for bed, I get a chance to take Sarah aside. We rationally air out our feelings from earlier and bury the hatchet. The awkwardness for me is gone, and I’m glad of it; I can sleep better tonight.
I crawl into the tent with Jenny, Ben and Sarah. We can hear distant calls of coyotes and far-off road traffic. I hope Dwight is sleeping well in the car as I drift off to my own peaceful sleep.