Buried

It’s easy to feel alive up here. I am spending my holidays in camp and we have been building an amazing snow cave and today we began phase 1 of our gingerbread fortress, complete with a helipad and remote control helicopter. Last night I cut Jessica’s hair, we went on another underground mine tour and my biggest worry is that I have been laughing so much lately I think I have lost my sense of maturity.

Here are some things I have learned about building snow caves:

(1) Build your entrance lower than the main part of your cave so that the hot air remains trapped

Entrance

Entrance

(2) Candles are a great source of light and will not rapidly burn up your air supply as I had imagined

Oxygen depleting mood lights

Oxygen depleting mood lights

(3) Smooth out the roof with a bowl to avoid drips

(4) If you’re unsure about the width of your walls, put 3 meter marker sticks in them

(5) When applicable, mark off your snow cave with bamboo sticks so that you will not be run over by a Snowcat

(6) A dome shaped roof increases the stability of your cave

(7) You can always fit another person in

Camp Dad & John

Camp Dad & John

(8) Don’t wear an oversized toque when trying to dig in confined spaces

(9) Avalanche shovels are great, ice picks help too

(10)               You can’t hear anything if you’re not inside the cave. It’s a great place to yell secrets.

We plan on sleeping in it one night, and mark my words, it will happen.

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Receiving her Christmas tree by helicopter

This tree is about 15-20 feet tall and Lucas welded the star for the top. It is in the middle of camp next to our snow cave, giving a bit of a ski lodge plaza atmosphere.

This tree is about 15-20 feet tall and Lucas welded the star for the top. It is in the middle of camp next to our snow cave, giving a bit of a ski lodge plaza atmosphere.

Geoff has been a good friend and a pilot in our camps for 3 years and I hope his email regarding the Christmas tree that he picked out, chopped down, and has flown into our camp will give you an idea of the comradeship and adventure I get to experience at work.

Here is the story of the Christmas tree that has caused so many holiday smiles in our secluded winter wonderland:

______________________________________________________________

Hi,

I have located a tree, which says a lot about me and my looking abilities since I live in the middle of a forest FULL of trees, but this tree is exceptional!!! Exceptional in that it is not a swamp spruce… which is really all that is growing in this lousy valley.
This fine tree that I have found seems to be quite nice, relatively speaking, it is bushier than most trees. It does have one small flaw though… its pink. Actually its not pink, but it does have a flaw…
the very very top appears to be not as bushy as I’d like, but it extends higher than the natural taper and you can cut it a bit to make a wonderful looking, symmetrical and text book shaped tree. Once modified it will probably accommodate a star, or an angel, or a giant piece of core with a gold nugget embedded in it quite nicely and it should look smashingly fantastic. Any who, Jaret and myself will go and cut it down tomorrow evening and prepare it to fly. When I say Jaret and Myself I mean that I will watch Jaret from the safety of the road as he tries to wade through the 4 foot deep snow, filling his boots and getting his feet and socks all wet and cold. I will hold the pair of snowshoes incase I need to go help him out of the tree well after. I hope that you guys will be as happy about this tree as I am, I guess if your not as thrilled then you can go cut down your own tree in that hellish cursed mountain pass with no green vegetation in it other than the broccoli in the kitchen fridge!!

Love, Geoff

P.S. – I don’t really think that it is a hellish cursed mountain pass with no green vegetation in it other than the broccoli in the kitchen fridge, but I thought that it would be a great way of saying if you don’t like the tree I picked then you will have to find your own. I actually really love it up there and miss the place and the people 😦

Nautical nudist in Cuba

Ship built in 1920 - saw it on our blasé dive trip

Ship built in 1920 – saw it on our blasé dive trip

Havana streets

Havana streets

Outside the cigar shop

Outside the cigar shop

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Just outside a market where I bought a beautiful painting. Note to tourists: it needs to be certified before you can take it out of the country!

Just outside a market where I bought a beautiful painting. Note to tourists: it needs to be certified before you can take it out of the country!

This is the norm for taxi's parked around Cuba

This is the norm for taxi’s parked around Cuba

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There was a seat sale to Cuba for $621 all-inclusive, so I went.

I picked the resort with the nude beach. At first I took my top off to validate my presence on the beach with so many naked men. They were clearly gay or European, straight Canadian men do not stand that proud while stark naked.

Unsurprisingly, it was quite liberating not having to worry about tan lines and being twirled by the waves. Most girls have a story of resurfacing from the ocean without her top on at least once. And when I wasn’t half naked, I partook in catamaran lessons and scuba diving – all the things that make me wish I were a mermaid.

I would like to buy a small catamaran. Mine would need cupholders and I fancy that my catamaran will have to fit on the roof of the Mini Cooper.

My favorite part of the trip was realizing that I am not incompetent at Spanish, and I am in fact, actually quite good. I spent a lot of time practicing with the locals and I have got this ‘ready to conquer the world’ feeling going.

The Cuban people are very friendly; the tourists are mostly boring. I don’t think I would stay in a resort again, I prefer the gritty streets and cities instead of the pink tourists commenting on poverty and resort food quality while taking photos through the window of an air-conditioned bus.

I had only a 10 hour layover in Vancouver and now I am off to camp again. Approximately 7 more hours until I am in a snow storm with my very good friends.

Not in Cabo San Lucas

Oh well, I wouldn't have wanted to go through US customs covered in explosive powder anyhow.

Oh well, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through US customs covered in explosive powder anyhow.

A friend advised me “you’ve got to go outside of your comfort zone to find adventure.”

I’m Nicole Freaking Fisher!!!!!! I couldn’t even bat an empathizing eye when people looked at me like I was crazy traveling through Ex-Yugoslavia by myself. I think I was getting tattooed in Serbia this time last year.

I booked a last minute trip to Cabo San Lucas today and after an afternoon of turmoil and anxiety I cancelled it. Now I am laying in bed next to a packed suitcase and I’m tired.

I think the conventionality of it frightened me and I didn’t want to spend $2,000 on a tequila bender to go to a wedding by myself.  In homage to all the beautiful and unique places I have been in this world, it wouldn’t have been respectful to enjoy a week in an expensive Mexican resort, would it have?

As with many things in life I’ll just cling to my absurdly high standards and wait for a better adventure. It’s going to happen, just wait.

As Oscar Wilde put it:

I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom.

On a brighter note, I took my grandparents to the most incredible 50th wedding anniversary dinner. I have honestly never seen them enjoy a meal, or maybe anything that much. “That’s the way food is meant to be eaten” they exclaimed over our Italian tapas at Tavola.  My family very rarely exclaims.

When I gave them their handmade card labeled “to the happiest couple in the room,” my grandfather almost got up declaring, “we should go find them.”

Fortunately his smile wrinkles give his and my Nana’s happiness away, Nana doesn’t get wrinkles.