Shuswap is 4 and a half hours north-east of Langley. If I drove that distance from Bristol, I'm pretty sure I could get to Scotland. But, amazingly we only passed 2 (that's....TWO!!!!) towns. And that was with absolutely no traffic whatsoever. In fact, the only traffic of any concern was a dead bear (that's...A BEAR!!!!) in the middle of the freeway. What killed it? Most likely the S.U.V. at the side of the road with the massive dent on the bonnet.
We got to Sarah and Jaben's place at about 8pm. It was beautiful. Basically...their garden backed on to the lake. This is a Canadian lake - translation: it was approximately the size of Kent.
The girls went to bed. The men made a bonfire and spoke as they do.
The next day we were joined by Sarah's sister Lauren who would be staying with us for the rest of the week. A great relaxing day was had by all; conversation, games, guitar.
The following day, I took the Quad Bike up the mountain until I reached the top. Here's what I learnt about how I live my life: travelling up the mountain is the best part. Reaching the top and seeing the view is great, but it isn't what you do it for. And the bottom isn't the worst part, either: travelling to the bottom is. It's the scariest and trickiest to understand...but you do it to enjoy the chance to go back up again.
That evening Lauren told me that she was a fellow fishing fanatic, so we decided to take the canoe out onto the lake and see if we could catch us some supper. It was a calm evening; the sun was setting below the mountains, we didn't think anything sinister was awry.
We paddled out into the middle and cast off. After enjoying lovely conversation and beautiful scenery for about half an hour, I suggested we admitted defeat and returned to shore having not received a single bite. It was then that Lauren yelped, 'Oooh, I got one!'. She reeled in a fair-sized trout and placed it into the boat for me to unhook. If we were in a movie, we would be at the part where a slight hint of menace would be introduced into the main melody.
For the life of me I couldn't unhook this thing. I'd give anything to go back and give it one more try, but I can't now...it's too late...
Lauren said, 'Here, let me hold the fish while you focus on the hook'...it was the beginning of the end...
I was primarily on the right side of the boat, so as she leaned over it was just a simple matter of physics. Slowly (but not slow enough for us to do anything about it), the boat started to turn 20 degrees...30 degrees...40...50...60...85...at which point, Lauren and I looked into each other's eyes and shared a feeling of 'ohhhhhhhh SOD!'
And we crashed into the water.
I lost my rod within a matter of seconds, my flip flops had gone AWOL, and my woolly hat (I had been wearing a woolly hat) was soaking wet. And, as I pathetically treaded water, desperately trying to keep my head above the surface, I uttered the most un-manly thing ever to leave my lips...'Please....please...make sure my flip flops don't sink!'
The canoe began to go down. I had a fishing rod in one hand (with a fish still hooked on the end) and tried my best to stop the canoe's demise with the other. Lauren did the same, with two oars and my flip flops in the other.
We yelled to the sure...'HELP!'...'HELLO!'... It was like that bloody Titanic. It felt like hours but was probably closer to 6 minutes before we saw a flash of light in the distance. A few seconds later, a fleet of cargo came to our rescue. Lauren was picked up by two men who were impressed with our catch. My rescuer came in the form of a 16 year-old girl on a jet ski. How humiliating. I unhooked the fish and we returned to shore.
I was up for stripping and sharing body heat, but opted for the very plush (and slightly gay) bubble bath up at the house.
The next day we were quite a hit with the locals. My own personal 16 year-old Hasslehoff came by and I thanked her for her assistance the previous night. I did so with a slightly exaggerated English accent as I was desperate for her to take me out on the jet ski again. She agreed, and for some inexplicable reason I said the following: 'I'm going to hold onto the back of this thing, 'kay? Feel free to go as fast as you like...'
About three seconds later I whispered '....I think I'll hang on to you instead...'
I'll be honest...I nearly crapped myself. But I survived, and enjoyed an amazing rest of the week filled with:
- a man-made steam room
- a stonking-fast boat journey to a place where we did some cliff-jumping
- catching a fish, killing it (with rock), cutting it, gutting it, cooking it, eating it
- epically beautiful sunsets and moon-rises
- amazing company
- copious amounts of swimming and sun-bathing
- great food
- accidentally picking up scorching hot rocks
- accidentally stepping on scorching hot rocks
And, of course, the holiday blues on the journey home.
Thank you so much to the Meraw family for allowing us to stay at your beautiful place. And especially to Lauren, the girl with the best fishing skills ever.
And the worst sense of balance...