July 27, 2014
Early last week we went camping at the scenic Kejimikujik National Park. I love it there so much. I have so many fun and happy memories there, some of which we have created as a family, and some from my childhood.
I used to camp there with my friends as a Pathfinder, and teenagers being teenagers we were always getting into some kind of mischief, from tipping our canoes to heckling the evening interpretative presentation from the front row. My fondest memory was from the year that a troop of Boy Scouts were camping a few sites over. One evening we got it into our heads to take a little midnight stroll, armed with plastic wrap and lipstick, and wreak havoc on the boys bathroom. We followed this up with stealing our Pathfinder leader’s swimsuit from the clothesline, and putting it up the flagpole. We couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when she saw it up their the next morning. Except when we got up, it wasn’t there. We exchanged nervous looks over breakfast, hoping the local porcupine hadn’t decided to make use of it. Suddenly we heard an unexpected sound off in the distance. We waited, puzzled. As the sound got closer we realized it was bag pipes. A few moments later we saw our Scout neighbours marching down the path to our campsite, the piper in the lead. And on the end of his pipes was our leader’s swimsuit.
Memories aside, I also love Keji because it makes me feel so peaceful. Paddling on Keji Lake, without another human being or human-made object in sight, takes me back thousands of years, to what it must have been like for the Mi’kmaq who lived there. My husband and I camped there for our honeymoon, and we’ve been taking our daughter there since she could walk. I try to instill in her the same values I first learned at Keji, such as no trace camping, and not to feed the wildlife. This last one sounds easy, but this year a rather brazen raccoon decided to take our honey nut cheerios right out from under our noses! We stopped a Park Ranger who happened to be passing by, and she shooed away the raccoon, but not before our cheerios were rendered useless. Luckily this was our last morning at camp.
This year I decided to make a commitment to purchasing local firewood at Keji rather than bringing our own. When we moved into our house, the previous owners had left a large pile of firewood under our deck, so we would usually just bring half a dozen logs and bits of kindling from the pile. I didn’t pay much attention to the signs asking campers to purchase local firewood, because of the risk of transporting invasive species. Many detrimental insects and tree diseases can inhabit pieces of wood, and moving the wood can spread them further than they would spread on their own. I always figured if we kept the wood in the car, and then burned it straight away, it would kill anything that might be living in the wood. After some research I learned that it doesn’t take much: a stray egg or larva that falls off the wood while moving it from the car to the fire pit, or wood that doesn’t completely burn is enough to start an infestation.
This is the first year we’ve had a fire in the fire pit since we’ve been camping with our daughter, so it seemed like a good time to start. So upon arrival at the check-in kiosk we forked over 7$ (!!!!) for a rather large bag of logs and kindling and stuffed it into our already at capacity car. We then found our site, got set up, and went to the beach. Later that evening we built a fire with the aforementioned 7$ firewood to make bagel pizzas and roast marshmallows. Yum 🙂
The next day as we cleaned up from breakfast, our fellow campers in the neighbouring site were packing up to go home, and decided to leave us with their rather large pile of remaining firewood. My husband and I thought this was very generous of them, until we noticed that the wood they left us looked very different from the wood we had purchased. In fact, we asked the Park Ranger about it (once she was done shooing away the raccoon), and she confirmed that it was not Keji wood.
Now it’s possible that our kind neighbours had purchased the wood (for a mere 5$ a bundle) from one of the many end of driveway piles that line the road leading to Keji. Either way, we now had more than enough to see us through our last day.
While our attempt at not transporting wood was successful, obviously there is more education to be done. So as I head out to my deck to enjoy a cold drink and the summer sun, I’ll leave you with this clever informational video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UaySt0Wscpg