This trip was a COVID consolation prize. We were supposed to have spent last week in Portland, Oregon celebrating the 10th anniversary of my 30th birthday trip. But let's not dwell on what could have been but never was. I still had the time booked off work, so I started looking for some options.
There was a spot available to reserve at a campground my friend recently visited. It looked nice, she gave it a glowing review, so I booked two nights for Lucas and I. We only got to enjoy one night (which is a whole other story), but it was a nice break from regular life, despite it being a (very) short break.
ON THE SURFACE
This is a lovely spot in central Alberta, in David Thompson Country. To be honest, all of central Alberta is lovely, but I have special fondness for this area in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
There are loads of things to do, for every type of camper and outdoor enthusiasts. We are mostly hikers and ice cream eaters, so we opted for:
Walking along the beach at sunset
Exploring the paths around the campground (there was a nice 10km loop, but we only got to see about 2 km of it!)
Ram Falls (picture at the top) - A 1.5 hour drive away, followed by a 10 minute easy walk (a big chunk of that drive is on a gravel "Forestry Trunk Road" so keep that in mind if you've got your eyes set on this prize)
Rocky Mountain House Historic Site - We showed up after hours, so we ate our DQ in the car and watched the bison roam, but there is a fort and interpretive displays there
Nordegg Canteen for picnic and ice cream on the first hole of the Nordegg Golf Course
Other folks might like to fish, boat, ATV, hit up one of the playgrounds at camp, or actually swim at the beach.
There is a little store at the registration desk, so if you forgot to pack the snacks, they'll do in a pinch. I believe the entire campground is powered, so Lucas & I cozied up to the green power box on our site for some quality quiet time with our vices. I'm the weirdo (??) who likes to get a spot as close to the bathrooms as possible, and they were very clean. Just pit toilets in the loops. If you wanted the full service you had to find the shower room.
Am I using too much camping jargon?! I haven't quite figured out who is reading these posts! If something I wrote in here doesn't make sense and you need more details, drop a line in the comments!
BELOW THE SURFACE
In my experience, white settlers here have a weird, prideful relationship to these lands. There have been many discussions over the past few years in particular about what types of recreating we can do in our parks, and who should be able to enjoy these lands. And generally what our Provincial Parks and Recreation Areas mean to us as Albertans, as Treaty 6 people, as folks living on this land.
Along with other brutal austerity policies, our current government recently recommended (and then walked back on) closing many of our Parks to the public and selling off the land to private parties. Once that land is gone, it's gone my Friends. The future potential for these areas goes so far beyond the short term gain of giant summer cabins, oil and gas ventures, and deleterious agriculture practices. Stay alert folks!
Two senior officers with a local municipal police service were demoted for unauthorized surveillance of an elected official from the previous government because of her party's proposed changes to a provincial park. Wow that was a long sentence. Read this article by Melanee Thomas at The Sprawl to get an idea of why that's a huge problem.
If you have any interest in the recommendations to close and sell of some of our public parks I recommend reading "13 Truths and a Lie about the announced changes to Alberta Parks" by CPAWS. And then taking action by downloading this beautiful tool kit by local artist Amanda Schutz, signing this petition, and writing to your MLA (here is a template). There is also a cool event/protest happening on September 1 in Edmonton if you're so inclined (and stay pandemic aware!). Event details are here (Eventbrite link).
And if you're looking for some well-researched, thoughtful, no bullshit, "travel-during-a-pandemic" info, please read and support Dr. Kiona.
"Land back" has been a rallying cry from Indigenous folks ever since the start of the Colonial settlement of Canada. For the Alberta government to think they can just sell off "Crown land" to private interests without first considering and consulting our First Nations neighbours is audacious and unsurprising. I've got this fundraiser on my list to support when I can. Help a couple of rad Metis ladies set up a land trust and build a "feminist indigenous compound". (Sounds heavenly).
If y'all want to up your education level, pull back a bit more of the curtain of the oligarchs, and get your blood boiling I (always) highly recommend anything by Naomi Klein on "Disaster Capitalism." She's been making the interview rounds since the pandemic began, and for good reason. We are going to see more and more brutal austerity, anti-environment, anti-human policies come out of our right-wing (and centrist) governments this year. STAY ALERT FOLKS!!
Find out the history of where you are traveling this summer on Native-Land.ca, a "resource for North Americans (and others) to find out more about local Indigenous territories and languages."