Wildlife Watch

   When our family went on big vacations, we went by automobile most of the time. We travelled to Ontario for birthdays and Christmas. We travelled to Alberta to see family, and BC for a wedding. We camped a few times just for a weekend with friends, and once when we were travelling through northern Ontario.

Most of our car travel was just to get to the final destination as quickly as possible. With two kids having to stop for potty breaks, driver changes and fuel stops for both humans and vehicle, it was always a long trip.

We have vacation pictures from these trips: through the mountains- pictures of highway from the top of a peak, wildlife- picture of a moose, wait maybe elk…. Oh, too late, gone past it, pictures of people in the car asleep (don’t worry, mostly not the driver) or awake and annoyed.

   Our best vacations however, the ones I remember the most fondly, the ones with the best photos, were the camping trips. It was never about arriving; it was about enjoying the adventure. I remember the look of wonder on the kid’s faces when they experienced nature up close and personal. I remember laughing so much my stomach ached. I remember a feeling of contentment at the end of the day in front of the campfire.

With those memories fresh in my mind, it isn’t hard for me to be optimistic, cautiously optimistic, about our eastern odyssey. Chippy and I are trying to come up with things to break the boredom of the long drives and have some fun along the way. There are the tried-and-true licence plate counts, but we are trying something different. Spot the wildlife.

The rules are simple. Roadkill doesn’t count, even if you correctly identify it at high speeds. The passenger will be in charge of the tally. The bigger the animal the higher the points. The rarer the animal the higher the points. We are not looking for skunks and raccoons here. We are after some big game. We have already discussed the point value of some wildlife – a whale is 100 points. Chippy is still trying to think of his 100 pointer. Moose are only worth 50 because we have a very good chance of seeing one in, you guessed it, northern Ontario. No doubt we will argue over sightings sometimes and get pissy with each other, but after 40 years plus together, there isn’t much chance of defcon 1.

We are retired, on a breakaway, and looking for some fun, some laughs and some new adventures together. The last rule of Spot the Wildlife – when Honey yells “stop the car, stop the car, I see a puffin!!”  Chippy better hit the brakes.





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