Sunscreen – check.
Insect repellent – check.
Fishing rods and worms – check.
Toilet paper – check.
We packed up the truck, camping gear and supplies secure, and set out on the five-hour trip to our annual family vacation in the woods. Missezula Lake, 30km in the bush in Princeton, BC, was our destination. The Okanagan heat would be a killer; deodorant, near useless. We had one goal in mind, and it wasn’t only for the fishing and the great outdoors.
But let me go back before I go forward.
Off highway 3 in the Similkameen region of British Columbia, the town of Princeton was established in the 1860’s, originally a mining town. As with all things mined or harvested resources ran out, and the cozy little town almost faded into nothing. But with a resurgence things picked up for the historic town, and it’s still going strong.
Bridge Street runs through the town leading you to a one-lane bridge crossing the Tulameen River, taking you to highway 5a. About 15 minutes down the highway is Summers Creek Road, a forestry road leading to Missezula Lake.
And yes the lake was our destination, but the great outdoors wasn’t the only thing on our minds. Before heading to the lake, we always stop in town. ‘Princeton’s Loonie Bin and Dollar Store’ at the corner of Bridge Street and Harold Avenue has something more precious to us rugged campers than copper or gold – or toilet paper, for that matter. What sits behind glass among the rows of camping gear, household supplies and greeting cards are Princeton’s most prized commodities.
The holiday long weekend during which we arrived found many stores closed, including our favourite discount store. We knew we would head back to town at some point during our week-long stay – a tradition for us - but the gluttons we are couldn’t wait and we stopped at the ‘mine.’ The ‘closed’ sign on the door teased shoppers and tested our patience. We would all have to wait yet another day for fresh baked DONUTS.
We wait all year for our camping trip, the hours and miles travelled well worth the object of our stomachs. Anticipation for the typical camper is usually the escape to the wilderness and all things camping. For us, it’s the sugar.
Starving and with heads hung low we carried on to the lake. Over the gravel road we wound through hills and valleys to eventually enjoy all things camping - in a cabin minus hot water, no less. I arranged my hairspray and eyelash curler in anticipation for the trip into town. Looking good, even while camping, is imperative, especially when dining on the sweet delicacies.
Finally the day came; our trip into town for ‘supplies’ couldn’t come soon enough. The 45-minute drive to and from town was worth it. Over the dusty forestry road we raced as fast as the potholes, ground squirrels and deer would allow us. Cows from nearby ranches mooed at us to slow down, and finally at highway 5a, we sped to town.
The store was open - our camping trip would be ruined if it wasn’t - and we raced inside.
Sales clerk Sam (‘no pictures of me, please!’), patiently waited while we drooled on the glass case protecting the treats, her patience further tested with our incoherent demands for Boston Cream and raspberry filled donuts. As I peppered her with questions about the store, the men-folk raced outside eager to shove as many flour and oil concoctions in their mouths as they could.
This is not your typical discount store, and obviously we are not your typical campers.
Sure the camping trip fosters memories for a lifetime. Tall fish tales are shared around the campfire while we fight off mosquitoes and roast marshmallows. Motor boat trips from one end of the almost 3 square km lake and back add to the fun of later nursing sunburns of my three men. The typical ‘family camping vacation’ stories abound, but it’s what donut baker Dawn gives us is what’s most memorable.
With the truck no longer smelling of sweat and campfire smoke but of donuts, we headed back to the wilderness, our sugar-high making the 45-minute trek back to the cabin, oblivious.
Oh, for the love of camping – and donuts.
Thank you, Dawn.