One of my family’s most sacrocant traditions is Christmas at our cabin on the Southern Gulf Islands (Saturna is mentioned here, here, and here). We put 1-3 weeks of food in the trunk of our car, pile ourselves and a moderately disgruntled cat in a twist-tie supported cat carrier into the passenger cabin, strap Christmas presents to the roof, and disappear into the wilderness without a trace. We then proceed to spend the 1-3 weeks around Christmas cut off from most modern technologies (internet, television, and computers are pretty much out unless you want to drive the 10km down to the community center to access free WiFi. We spend most days in our flannel PJs (or in Lululemon, Uggs, and free UCLA Athletics Gear – of which I have plenty), eating gluttonous amounts of candy, drinking wine (in moderately less gluttonous amounts), singing carols, reading books (mostly heroic fantasy), and occasionally (or not at all if you are my brother) venturing out into the BC wilderness for a hike). It is THE perfect way to spend the holiday season.
This Christmas I stayed around in Vancouver for a few days to spend time with friends after my parents, brother, and sister-in-law had left for the cabin. On the 21st I even got a chance to put some pre-Christmas presents to their desired use. With the magic of pictures (all of which have been taken off the internet and are not owned by me):
I put on these (uber-cozy smart-wool socks):
And a new pair of these (full-grain leather hiking boots to replace my awesome but un-supportive pink boots):
And some of these: (those are gaiters… tiny tiny picture, eh?)
And decked myself out in a brand new jacket that I proudly bought the week before after months of drooling over the online catalog (Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody) and some snazzy new cold-weather hiking pants from Lululemon (Studio Pant II *Liner… at this point you probably get the theme of my Christmas presents):
And finally, a pair of these (MSR Lightning Ascent 25 Women’s Snowshoes):And I headed off to Cypress mountain on the oh-so convenient snow-bus. Little did I know that after departing the west-side pickup spot, the Cypress buss winds its way through downtown and the North Shore before finally arriving at the mountain. We arrived approximately 2.5 hours after leaving feeling more than a little sheepish and with only 1.5 hours of possible snowshoeing left before the sun set and the returning bus departed. In any case, we tried to get our money’s worth (that is, the price of the bus) and took off at a break-neck pace on the “back-country” (read: not maintained) trail from the Cypress Nordic Area. The hike was fun and invigorating and my new gear held up admirably. I particularly appreciated the awesome gripping features of the new snowshoes (they are essentially surrounded by grips as opposed to the more classic style which have only a few claws under the foot) and by the comfort of my new hiking boots. I am looking forward to testing out this gear on a mountain (for that is what they call gently sloping hills in the wonderful world of Connecticut) in the new year.After Christmas I had the following items to add to my growing hoard (proof that I am spoiled beyond belief!):A new rain jacket coutesy of my mom who wants me to to keep my Atom LT under wraps (Arc’teryx Men’s Beta AR Jacket):And a cool camping GPS unit so that I can trail blaze without getting horribly lost and dying alone in the woods. Fun times (Garmin eTrex 30 GPS):So Christmas has come and gone and I am now outfitted like a pro and ready to ramp up my outdoors activities (keeping self sane in graduate school is very important). The sad thing is that I could list at least 10 more items that I need before I am totally ready for a major trip. The next big item that I save up for is going to be a new bag. My current one only fits 35L and – as may have been mentioned in a previous post – doesn’t really do the trick when it comes to trips longer than 2 days… especially in the winter.It occurs to me now that I haven’t done a great job of explaining the first part of this post title. Clearly I am spoiled (see: above), clearly I spent 6 days at my cabin in a languorous stupor waiting for my next meal, and clearly I moved a few muscles about on my snowshoeing adventure gone-awry (and on the occasional hikes that I bullied my dad into taking with me at the cabin)… but how has Santa matured?!I am slightly embarrassed to share with the world my enduring love of even the most pagan and childish holiday traditions. Every Christmas eve I insist on putting out my stocking, setting a glass of sherry and some gluten-free cookies by the fire (in my household, Santa eats gluten-free) and waiting the big man in the red suit. This year he found his way to some pretty useful gifts that far-outstripped my own maturity. For example, in addition to the traditional orange in the toe of the stocking and little packets of chocolate, Santa also brought some little lights that stick onto your keys, a silicone spatula and whisk, and a little pile of other odds-and-ends that proved strangely utilitarian and also quite delightful. So it appears that Santa has grown up… even if I haven’t. I finish this post with some of my own poor-resolution pictures from the holiday season (forgive my phone’s camera… it is stuck in the pre-flash dark ages… get it?):