When all of the commitments and repetition of ordinary life get just too much to bear, there has always been a place that I can go to escape. Imagine yourself in a yellow car, the blazing heat of summer beaming into the sunroof (you decided a sunroof was better than air-con, and quickly realized that was a mistake) as you drive past miles of prairie land. As you get nearer your destination, the radio signal cuts out and you end the drive with nothing but the soothing silence of nature.
This is my “Home Away From Home”, a place that I grew up as a child and continue to return to as an adult. With nothing but a trailer and a shack on an allotted piece of land, I am back to the basics. There is no electricity here, no running water, and the outhouse is as old as I am. With no WiFi and finicky cell reception, I am finally able to disconnect from everyone and everything that is going on in the city. To someone else, it might look like little more than a disheveled shelter surrounded by trees. But with my eyes, it’s a piece of my family and a part of my history. Built by my father with his bare hands, my home away from home grew up from nothing and was transformed by the people who stayed here and the memories that run through my mind as I bring myself back here year after year.
Over there is the spot where a huge swing set once rested between the trees. It’s where I sat and watched with disbelief when two full-grown bears walked into the property just feet away from me before coming to my senses and rushing inside. It’s where I first felt strong and “grown-up” when I was allowed to help cut down a tree that had grown too tall and too old. It’s where I fell, dozens of times, leading to stitches on one occasion and right off a roof in another. It’s where I took my dog on long walks through the forest. It’s where a big garage-looking shelter once stood, a spot where laughter-filled parties took place around a campfire on those cold or rainy nights. It’s where I made lasting friendships with people I otherwise would never have had the privilege to meet.
The swing set and the garage-shelter are gone now. There are fewer trees, as some have come down with old age. But it is still my home away from home. This is still the place that I return whenever I need to recharge and escape the monotony of city life. As an adult I now have the courage to come out here all on my own even when I know there won’t be a soul around to help me if I need it. As much fun as I have coming here with friends, where we spend our days in the lake water or quadding through the forest, I have enjoyed my time up there alone as well. It holds a different meaning when I am there on my own, when I practice yoga on the beach, or spend the entire day reading a book in the sun and then by the fire when the night’s grown dark.
North Buck Lake in Alberta, Canada is my home away from home. It’s a safe, comforting, place that is filled with fun, laughter, and memories that are both strong and hazy. At the end of my time spent here, as my car pulls into the city, I am the happiest and most refreshed than I have ever felt.
This post was written at the request of DogVacay.com as a part of their “Home Away From Home” project, where they turn to people to find out their home away from home and what that means to them. DogVacay works to find an insured dog sitter for your pet while you are away. They pride themselves on finding local, safe, happy, and comfortable environments for your furry friend.