3 Nights at Pembina Provincial Park Campground, Alberta

Squeezing out the final two emails on Friday afternoon at 3:03pm I waved goodbye and ran out the office door.

An hour later the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport was packed with two coolers, a tub of cooking supplies, 3 canvas grocery bags, two backpacks and an EduScience telescope.

Down the TransCanada highway we went headed west with two intentional stops in mind. First at Freson Brothers grocery store in Stony Plain to pickup the missing culinary items for the weekend: gluten-free hot dog buns by Little Northern Star Bakery, gluten-free bratwursts, a bag of Kettle Chips dill flavoured, dish cloths and a pack of gum. Next into the liquor store for a 4-pack of Crabbie’s ginger beer and a 4-pack of rose apple Strongbow ciders.

Everything packed in ice inside the twin coolers we pointed the truck northwest on highway 16A heading for the parental’s retreat house to scoop up two bundles of firewood and kindling.

Upon arrival into Entwistle at 6:33 pm we pulled off the highway yielding onto 50th Street north. Five minutes at 50kph later we nearly missed the right hand turn into the park.

Sites Loop A: 14, 15, 16

Stopping at the parks booth we checked in and informed the license plate number would be different. Edna, marked off our registration with the correct plate number then informed, “down to the second right and in about eight spots is #14.” We thanked her and slowly made the journey into our spot.

Both our companions for the weekend were already tucked into #15 across from us with their ALiner Expedition trailer and #16 beside us with their 24-foot North Trail trailer.

We broke ground and went to work raising our 4-man Yannes twin vestibule tent. Within 12 minutes the tent was erected and we began unpacking dinner number one. Which lead us to the fire pit at Ken & Jen’s across the way at #15.

Dinner in mouths, bellies full of hot dogs and potato chips we began the night time festivities of catching up with one another as we’ve not seen each other in four plus weeks.

Under the stars at 10:15pm I setup my new EduScience Newtonian telescope for a first glance at astronomy under the dark canopy above. Stars twinkled as I tilted, turned and focused into a variety of star clusters above.

Eyes barely open we retired to the tent at 10:45pm. Then we chatted for an hour before our eyes tipped over and closed for the night.

At 7:33am a wild eyed sport bike rider came speeding down the hill waking 50% of the campground folks in loop A. Sometime after I woke up at 9:45am the campers around us whispered their complaints both about the early morning motorcyclist and a fight which broke out at 2:02am.

Neither of these events disrupted my sleep as I plowed out of the tent stumbling into the woods to take a morning pee.

Today’s highlight was the hour and a half walk down to the Pembina River were we found several guys knee deep in the stream trolling for fish. Followed by two french bulldogs walking their owners into the water then a whole whack of kids splishin’ an a splashin’ in a handmade pool of water.

Back at the top of the hill we located a group use area with a large grassy field perfect for playing bocce. At the campsites we prepared for lunch and headed back over to #15 to enjoy with everyone else.

The time came and went with a bit of reading and writing then the sun dipped and dusk appeared again on the horizon as did a waxing sliver moon. Immediately the telescope came out and I focused in adjusting left, tilting up until the moon came into sight.

Shouting to the family, everyone happily came over and looked through the eyepiece to view the moon.

The hours drifted by with discussions of hockey, work, summer, other camp outs, other family and a recent trip to Osoyoos, British Columbia to show the great grandparents the latest edition to the family.

The party campers music reached a new level of rudeness as they began drinking, laughing and shouting about where the dog named Frisbee had run off to.

Several hours later the temperature dropped below 10-degrees Celsius as our breathe became visible and the Uno Canada 150 card set came out of the trailer. We played cards laughing until midnight. Then retired back to the truck to put away the telescope and prepare for a long night’s rest.

Today, we watched the weekend warriors pack up their stereos and depart as the rest of us made breakfast. By noon everyone in our crew had lounged away the morning then the tins of confetti squares made of peanut butter, chocolate, raisins and mini marshmallows came out, followed by homemade gluten-free cupcakes with butter cream coffee icing and to top off the sugar rush everyone had an ice cream treat.

Within the hour ken, jen and grandpa passed out for a nap as did the youngest one. Shauna and grandma went for a walk about and this guy wrote this article.

Back together we pulled out the Monopoly cards taught the grandparents how to play and when the youngest was awake we headed for the grassy knoll to play bocce. Balls down hills, up hills and around them we ended the session 1 win for the guys and 1 win for the gals. We opted to skip the tie breaker and headed back to camp.

This guy grabbed his drone and then went for a nap instead of a flight whilst others went for a cup of coffee, built a fire for dinner and fired up their grills. We polished off Sunday with a Crabbie’s ginger beer, another rousing game of Uno and some more star chasing in the telescope.

Monday we woke up about ten in the morning, we all cooked then ate breakfast followed by tearing down our camps. Tired and happy we thanked each other for the weekend then departed around noon for the hours drive back to Edmonton.

The Great Outdoors