Edmonton Tourist: Miquelon Lake Provincial Park

Miquelon lake is the provincial park of my childhood. Dad would take us here during summer break as long as we did our chores before hand. It was only a 40 minute drive from our house in Sherwood Park so it was an easy destination that gave all the beachy vibes of a destination vacation. That’s a lie. There are no palm trees or crystal clear blue water. It is a swamp in the middle of the prairies, but that’s not to say the place isn’t lovely – its beautiful for what it is. Miquelon Lake is not trying to be a lake in Ontario or an ocean beach. It is a lake on the prairies.

I have cabin fever an many of you do too because this place was packed. Filled with loud music, people singing off key, people yelling and the smell of hot dogs in the air. It wasn’t the tranquil respite I was hoping for.

I hadn’t been here since my niece went missing on the beach. Spoiler alert: we found her 20 terrifying minutes later playing in the trees close by. Before that, I would bring my kids here just like my dad did years before. Its a good place to build sandcastles. Back in the day you were allowed to swim in the water but in recent years the lake has been receding and is now leaching salt. Chalk it up to climate change. I suppose it won’t be the place I take my grandkids to swim and that’s a shame.

In elementary school, we would come on overnight campouts. I learned orienteering here in the woods, and was taught about the different ecosystems. I studied beavers and their lodges, watched loons and blue herons. It was the wilderness in my backyard.

It still is those things but its also a picnic destination. Captain and I went for walk along the beach and it is quite a distance now from the parking lot. Where the water began in the 70’s is now beach grass and sand extends past where I learned to swim.

We headed north into the group picnic sites and walked along some trails before heading back to the car. I couldn’t hear nature, just loud music. I might be that old man who yells at people “Get off my lawn!”. The park is still lovely. There are plenty of picnic spots. The campground was full for a weekend in April which is unusual but 19C is an invitation to enjoy the beginning of summer here in the Edmonton area so who can blame them? I too was searching for nature now that spring is here.

I don’t think I will come back for a long time. I will leave it for families who are picnicking and playing frisbee. Maybe when my grandkids come on the scene we will come for a picnic and a hike in the woods or bring the telescope because this place is a protected night sky reserve.

My next destination will be definitely be the road less traveled.

But I Don’t Want to do My Homework!!

Island Lake, Alberta 2010
Image by Gord McKenna via Flickr

Have you ever had an Angel Intervention? You know what I mean. Oprah talks about them all the time. It is when someone slips into your life or a part of your day for just a moment, but their presence is life altering. That happened to me today at 7:15 PM MST.

Everyone has little or big Angel moments. Think about it.

When I was 4, my grandparents took me up to the cottage at Island Lake near Athabasca most weekends. They always brought me without my siblings because A) my brother was a handful and a half – maybe he was several handfuls and B) My sister wasn’t even a glint in my mother’s eye when I was 4. My aunt/sister/best-friend, who is 5 years and 8 months older than me, always was stuck with me for a playmate by default. She was the youngest, I was the oldest and together we ruled the world! One particular weekend, a friend of the family came with us. His parents were going through a divorce and my Grandma brought him with us for a vacation from his life. My Aunt had a serious crush on him, and I thought he was cute. Keep in mind, I was 4, she was almost 10 and he was 12. The rule was no going down to the lake without a life jacket. It didn’t matter if you were on the beach, the pier, a boat or the grass in front of the cottages. NO LIFE-JACKET, NO BUSINESS BEING THERE. Period. No exceptions.

Well, somehow it was decided that the two older bad influences should take the boat out on the lake and just cruise around. I had to go because I was the chaperone. So away we went with the 12-year-old in charge because he was so manly. Straight to the middle of the lake we went, and promptly ran out of gas. The boat had a small leak, so it was my job to bail with a bean can. Somehow only one paddle was in the boat and around in circles we went trying in vain to reach the shore. There were no life-jackets on any of us. If we took the time to wear a life-jacket, then Grandpa would know we were at the beach. We didn’t want him to know, because the boat was off-limits and rightly so.

So there was me sobbing my little heart out because I could not keep up with the water coming into the boat. There was Thing One and Thing Two, trying in vain to get us to shore. I was crying so hard it became hysterical screams. I never heard the rescue boat pull up beside us. All I remember is two giant arms of steel lifting me out of the boat and hold me tight. My Grandpa Saved me.

He always said that God gave us Angels so we wouldn’t die before the age of 5 because kids are always looking for trouble. Something or someone whispered in his ear that day to come to the middle of the lake to rescue us. That was a BIG Angel moment.

I have had smaller moments, like when my oldest offspring ran away from home at the age of 2. He pushed on every fence board until he found the way out. He went to the garage sale around the corner and a woman walked with him until he showed her where he lived. Clearly an Angel told him. Or the time when  my youngest was paralyzed with serum sickness and no one knew what it was until the BEST DOCTOR IN THE WORLD said, he was just reading about this rare but deadly illness. An Angel Moment.

Well another Angel moment happened for me at 7:15 PM MST. I was eating dinner with my family when the doorbell rang, my dear sweet friend was at the door with an envelope for me. We spoke briefly, then I went back to dinner. Tonight when I was doubting why I was back at school with a work load that depresses me, thinking I will never get through the homework and reading assignments, I looked at the envelope and opened it. Inside was a simple yet beautiful note telling me what a great role model I am to my offspring, showing them that the power of education, dedication and self fulfillment is an amazing thing. So while I read my reading assignment and made notes, answered the assigned questions, I had this lovely note cheering me on. It was EXACTLY what this tourist need tonight. So Thank You to the Angel who whispered in my friend’s ear to write that note. To my friend, Thank You for listening to the whisper in your ear. I love you for it and for many many other reasons.

I would love to hear your Angel stories. If you are to shy to post them to the world, please think about emailing me