Friday, April 5, 2013

Hector's Easter Weekend

Easter weekend, while distinctly un-spring-like, was gorgeous. So lovely in fact that we decided to go out camping in our brand new family tent. Stephen had been wanting to head out to Lake Taylor for months now, so we crammed the car full of stuff (literally, there was no view out the rear window and all untaken seats were taken) and headed out of town.

Lake Taylor is a few kilometres South of Lake Sumner National Park, down along a long dirt track and surrounded by sheep, cows, and loads of scrub. Two stations run alongside the lake, but access is open to the public and there is a DOC (Department of Conservation) campground at one end of the lake. And I use the term loosely, as the "campground" consisted of a fenced field with access to the water, a wee shelter with a map, and one outhouse. But the company was a pleasant mix of families out for Easter Weekend, travelers, and mountain bikers there for the biking.

We left town relatively early, much easier these days when wake up is around 6:30. Despite this, we still found ourselves in the long line of holiday traffic leaving the city at the start of the long weekend. This cultural more of city holidays was something I had only ever read about in books or seen in movies. So I was thrilled to be experiencing it firsthand - this was of course aided by the relatively short duration of the slow traffic. We did emerge from the melee of cars and turned down smaller and smaller side roads ending up on the gravel farm track that would take us the last 35 kilometres into the lake.

We arrived at the lake in time for lunch. And after a chat with a couple of dads who had already been there one night, we set up the tent in the recommended site to get out of the wind. Local knowledge is always something to take on board. Soon, our massive home-away-from-home was set up, the table was up, and we could relax in the warm afternoon sun.

Both Stephen and I were raised in families who camped. This was very different from the type of camping we were now doing. We could both stand up in our new tent. In fact, we could probably have swung wee Hector around without hitting the walls. We also stored all the food in the front room (yes, room, not vestibule, there were doors on all sides to keep out the sandflies) in order to keep the possums and rats away. The attached veranda (Kiwi version of the vestibule) allowed us shade and rain protection, eliminating the need to spend precious holiday hours setting up a separate tarp (there are some [dad] who would argue this is one of the enjoyable parts the holiday, but I get no end of teasing from Stephen for my mad tarp setting skills [don't worry, I will endeavor to still pass this unique skill set on to Hector]). And finally, our nearest neighbour was a cozy 3 meters away. We observed our neighbouring dads closely for more camping ideas (like using two plastic 4-drawer sets with a board on top as a kitchen set up for the stove - awesome). This fancy pants camping was definitely a skill we were looking forward to learning.

The weather on Saturday was absolutely glorious, with temperatures soaring to the low 20s on the Saturday. Perfect for a lovely morning paddle, a long run (for Stephen, walk for Hector and I) and a quick swim in the lake (for Stephen and I). In the evening, we cooked up a delicious Minestrone Soup and ate the requisite Easter chocolate for dessert. Hector enjoyed his avocado for dinner (after a tasty appetizer of camping equipment). After dinner, we got down into our bedtime routine (massage-mom story-dad story-snack-bed) and settled down for another night.

 On Sunday, after a glorious sunrise, we packed up our gear and headed down the road. We stopped to fish at the site of our camping equipment massacre (story not included here, sorry). Unfortunately, this only resulted in a car full of sandflies and a very unsettled little baby being bitten by nasty blood suckers. Eventually, we killed the flies, Hector went to sleep and we made it out to the smooth flat roads of the plains. Since it was still early, we headed to Hanmer for a soak in the hot pools. It was most satisfying to take Hector into the warm water and watch him enjoy the feeling of swimming. In fact, we were in the pools for almost an hour and he was still keen to stay in. But all good things must come to an end (a sad truth to have to pass onto ones child) and we drove back into town to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing at home.

I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or not. Cheers!

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