As I type this, and with a look up at the calendar, I see that the May long weekend arrives in the coming days.
Wow, it's here already? It felt like that winter just wouldn't end, eh?
I never really gave much thought to the May long weekend until I was a few years into this job, which is when I realized exactly what it represented. In my view, the Victoria Day weekend represents the unofficial start of the summer season. Boats are brought out of storage and cleaned up, people trade in their jeans for shorts and their shoes for flip-flops, and the outdoors is the place to be if the sun is shining and the temperatures are perfect, ranging from +18 to +22.
Then, before you know it, we're into June, the month in which the summer season officially DOES arrive. Trips are planned, holidays are booked, people are working to get a healthy tan for the season, and the good times eventually come a-callin'.
Let me talk to you about some of my favorite summer trips, and just why they'll always be my favorite.
I've talked on and on and on about Candle Lake, but while I've highlighted many memorable family vacations up there, I don't think I've gone into too much detail surrounding the summer in which I returned to Candle for the first time in a decade.
It was the summer of 2011, and I was trying to come up with an itinerary of places to go and things to do on my two weeks off. I thought of things to do just up in Saskatoon, I thought of maybe a cruise out west to Calgary to see some family and see some sites, and then seemingly from out of nowhere, it hit me.
"Hey, why don't you drive up to Candle? It's been a decade and change, it could be interesting to see the area again and see how much it's evolved."
At that point, the last time that I'd been up to Candle would've been in the summer of 2000 with my family on a vacation up to Uncle Keith's cabin. I was 14 going on 15 then, and in 2011, I was 25 going on 26. A period of 11 years had passed since I was last there, and I can't really say there was any specific reason for that. After the family vacay in 2000, I think we'd just gotten our fill of Candle and chose to do different things in the summertimes that came afterward. You get older, life gets in the way, and you just choose to do different things and go down a different path than before.
But that was way back when, and this was now. So I drove up to Candle on a hot August day, and I couldn't stop the smile from spreading on my face as I arrived in the all-too-familiar area. So many things about the area were coming back to me; the sites and sounds, the streets and neighborhoods, the businesses, even the smell of the great northern country. Looking out over the lake, I couldn't help but get a little emotional, with memories as a kid flooding back to me all at once.
That was a good day. So good that I've made Candle a yearly summer stop whenever the vacation season rolls around.
Another treasured trip was when I went to Victoria, BC for a few days. That was another 'looking back' vacation, as I spent a year out there going to film school when I was 20 years old. I stayed in a great downtown hotel, I toured the Royal BC Museum, I ate some incredible food, and I even did a whale watching tour out on the choppy ocean waters. Looking out over the Pacific, all I could think was, "You're not in Kansas anymore."
So then, what does this summer look like? Well, I'll tell you one thing - it had better be an improvement on last year. I never in my life want to repeat the events of the summer of 2021, or even dwell too much on them in my head. I wound up going through a very scary, very soul-sucking bout of depression and mourning that managed to combine together and make for an incredibly troubling time for me mentally. If anyone took the time to speak to me or interact with me in any way during the months of late July and all of August, they could either see that I was putting on a show or a "brave face", or maybe they couldn't sense anything and I'm in fact a hell of an actor. Either way, let's just move on, shall we?
This summer, I'm looking to right a wrong and make up for that time, and I've decided to just take things as they come, experience them, and make the absolute best of them.
My brother and I have some ideas and they look pretty good to me. They include Candle (duh!), a few days out in Calgary, Prince Albert National Park (he's never been!), a Rider game, and possibly a drive down south to Eastend to check out the T-Rex Discovery Centre. I've been there, but Brendon hasn't, so I'm game to make a return.
Outside of that, there is one thing that I'm very much looking forward to, and that's being a resident of the town of Outlook during the primetime summer months. Hikes down to the Regional Park, reading a book at the Veterans Memorial Park, sunset evenings on the balcony, I'm also game for all of that, too. It'll be different, but a good kind of different.
The great weather and the incoming summer holidays just put me in a positive state of mind. It's like anticipating Christmas, but with heat, mosquitoes, and air conditioning.
Whatever happens this summer, I'm game. For all of it.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.