The song “In My Life” by The Beatles is playing on the turntable inside my head.
“There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain“
My family and I recently went camping at Golden Ears Provincial Park. While the park was unknown territory to them, for me it was like prying open a time capsule. I have visited Golden Ears numerous times, however my fondest memories date back to when I was 13 years old. I was on the cusp of big changes as I was waving goodbye to a familiar routine and was setting off for high school in September. To bid summer farewell my brother and I were allowed to invite some school friends to join our family on a camping trip in mid-August. We spent a number of carefree days jumping off rocks into the clear jade green water of Gold Creek. One evening we abandoned our tents and lined up our sleeping bags in a row, resembling sardines in a tin can, where we fell asleep after watching a myriad of meteors race across the sky.
Fast forward to the present. I was extremely eager to show my children and husband my childhood stomping ground that, as time has a way of doing, had reached mythical proportions in my head. While my family kindly supported me in this quest to retrace my past they were very much grounded in the present, whereas I felt caught in the Twilight Zone. En route through the campground we encountered a park host who told us that the Gold Creek trail had fallen into a state of disrepair since I last ventured down it, and warned us that it would be an undertaking to reach our destination. Determined to find the swimming hole we set off, and when we finally located the trail it was true, the path was unrecognizable.
Fortunately we spotted four young boys up ahead accompanied by a mother tagging behind in hot pursuit. Wishing that we had machetes to cut back the vegetation, combined with watching our footing closely due to abundant roots and loose rocks, we joined the parade. When we reached the creek the child in me watched with envy as the boys plunged off the high rocks into the glacial water, while at the same time my thoughts drifted to Acapulco cliff divers, and if necessary, just how quickly could we get medical assistance down the beaten up path that was out of cellular service range?
After a few wonderful days spent floating on inner tubes in Alouette Lake, listening to night owls hoot, sitting around blazing campfires and overdosing on S’mores, we packed up and began our journey home. A craving for ice cream warranted a stop in historic Cloverdale, however we could not locate a store that fit the bill. We spotted an older gentleman who was staring pensively at a building and approached him to get advice. In a nostalgic fog he looked through us and said that he had lived here a long time ago but wouldn’t have a clue where to find anything anymore.
I felt a sense of kinship with this fellow, having just emerged from “places I’ll remember all my life though some have changed.” To quote American author Thomas Wolfe “you can’t go home again” yet cherished memories that one can dredge up by revisiting past stomping grounds come a close second.