Heading into the final stretch of summer made me think of vacations, family vacations, to be precise.
Whenever that topic comes up with people I know, I ask what they have planned. Often times it’s camping. I usually say, “Oh, that’s cool. Should be fun.”
I’ve only camped twice in my life. The first time was not long after I graduated high school and the second time was when I volunteered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Alberta. The Alberta camping trip was fun from the small amount that I remember.
It’s different camping in an area that doesn’t have a ton of trees, but that first trip was a disaster weather-wise. Myself and a few friends went to Champion Lake, which is located just past Fruitvale and before Salmo in the Kootenays. It basically rained the entire time we were there. We couldn’t start a fire to barbecue our food and we hid in our tents and kept warm by sipping spirits.
I was far from an experienced camper then. Growing up in Castlegar, camping wasn’t something our family did. On weekends, especially Sundays after church, we would get things ready to go to Syringa Creek, a provincial park which is a 15 minute drive from our house. We would have lunch there and sometimes barbecue in the open pits. I would play with other kids I know or my sister and, of course, enjoy the water. It was good times.
Another thing we would do is head to the Castlegar and District Complex and watch soccer games being played on the fields next to the arena. On our way there we would stop by a store and buy candy. Quick side note: I had a flashback recently to my childhood during a visit to Bulk Barn and found a stack of Nerds candy by the till. I didn’t think Nerds were made anymore.
Sequeira family vacations entailed hopping on a few planes to go to Portugal, where my parents grew up in Silves, a city about 252 kilometres south of the capital, Lisbon. We did this every two to four years. There were six family trips, the first when I was four months old and the final one when I was 17. Yes, I know what you might be thinking. Poor guy, only went to Europe for family vacations. It’s pretty much the same reaction I would get from friends when I sometimes complained that’s all we did. I wouldn’t say I took going for granted. I just didn’t fully grasp how good I had it. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me.
We would go for four months. Once my parents pulled me out of Grade 4 in May, a few weeks before school was done. Despite my teacher threatening to fail me if my parents didn’t listen to him after denying them permission to pull me out, we went. Another quick side. I remember upon our return wondering which grade I would be in. I showed up to Twin Rivers Elementary School and a couple of my friends said, “Hey, you’re in our class! I was like, “Great. In Grade 4 or 5?” It was Grade 5.
I miss Portugal, especially when I go for a swim in Okanagan Lake. As I float in the water and relax, it reminds me of those beaches. My sister and I would spend nearly the entire day there and I would get killer tans. There are some differences from the beaches there to here, like very little if any seaweed floating. The beach we went to, Armacao de Pera, is lined with restaurants, hotels and you don’t have to venture far for ice cream. It seemed like there was a vendor every 100 metre or so.
I’m making a point to enjoy the disconnected part of Okanagan Lake near the Penticton Yacht Club that my wife and I live near, as eventually we will be moving out of our condo that provides us the luxury of a quick walk (two minutes) to relaxation.
So with a little less than a month remaining in summer, make sure you soak up as much of this weather as possible, make a few more memories from family vacations to share, before the nice cool temperatures of fall arrive.
Emanuel Sequeira is a reporter at the Penticton Western News