As a general rule, I try to find an upside in everything. I may not be happy about it, I may view it through a cynical perspective, but I do at least try to find the bright side of things. Sometimes there is no upside.
This is the story of the incident.
It began with an recreational vehicle loaded with 12 people, far more than any RV should ever contain, hurtling towards Lake Louise for what was foretold to be the most memorable Fourth of July of our lives. This should have been a warning sign to us.
Our RV, though slowing to 18 mph as we drove uphill due to the excess body weight, made the journey without incident. That is, until we reached the Lake Louise parking lot, at which point the RV’s back left tires sank sadly into the soft ground, pitching the vehicle at a frighteningly precarious angle. We quickly evacuated for fear of tipping and tried to take stock of our predicament.
To our dismay, the RV was stuck and very adamant about staying that way. Even more unfortunate was the fact that our dilemma had forced to us to miss our ride across the lake to the cabin, leaving us stranded with no shelter or manner in which to cook all of our raw meat. For lack of a better plan, six members of our original fellowship decided to cross the lake to gather supplies from the cabin.
As we crossed the lake in what could be optimistically described as a skiff, we realized an hour-long journey awaited us in either direction. The cabin itself was picturesque in every sense of the word, which only added to our crushing disappointment at being unable to stay there. However, as we began boarding for the return voyage we learned that one of our number had left the drain open, leaving the boat swamped and partly submerged.
After bailing out the boat, we began our homecoming tour across the lake, only to be caught in a storm that hurled rain at us with gale force winds. We spent the next hour bouncing between white capped waves, the wake of larger (and less courteous) boats and a storm that turned the sky black and violent.
We accepted our fate and began gleefully screaming obscenities at Poseidon, who we assumed had something to do with our predicament.
We survived, against all expectations and the best efforts of nature. Though we had hoped to return to an unstuck RV, along with many happy campers willing to trek to an uninhabited island for the night, we instead saw the same sad RV doing its best impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Apparently a tow truck had arrived, given up after two seconds and charged us $300 for the privilege. The next available tow truck designed for large vehicles wouldn’t arrive until midnight and would cost a whopping $1,500.
To recap, at this point we were stranded in a gravel parking lot, with far less tents than people, with coolers full of raw meat we could not cook, and hundreds of dollars’ worth of fireworks that could no longer be used — morale was low. At this point, some of us, who shall remain nameless, decided to celebrate America’s freedom with a bit of beer and chop down dead fallen trees to provide fuel for our cooking fire.
Was this ill-advised? Probably. Did we obtain firewood? Definitely. Did my arm get a fun new scar and accompanying story that day? Possibly.
All details aside, morale improved exponentially with the growing fire and our group began to relax as we awaited the arrival of the tow truck. Luckily the RV was extracted without additional incident, apart from the huge financial loss and continuing dismay. We set up camp for the night, with some of us taking shelter in the RV and the rest of us sleeping in tents on an impossibly sharp gravel wasteland.
The next morning we awoke, and as most of the group took our bearings, myself and two other culinary heroes crafted the “chillet” — a chili breakfast skillet. If you think that sounds disgusting or unhealthy, then quite frankly you’re wrong and have clearly never experienced the glory of a post-tragedy feast. With full stomachs and broken hearts, we all loaded into the RV for the final trip, desperate to flee the horrific events of the weekend.
There was no upside to our misadventure, save for our vow to return and conquer the lake. But, as we had declared the night before, at least no one was hurt, the beer remained cold and America remained the land of the free. It was indeed the most memorable Independence Day to date.