september first marked our tenth wedding anniversary. being us, we talked for ever about doing something Big, something Special, something Romantic and then promptly failed to plan anything at all. when the long weekend crept up we decided to drive to the kootenays because we'd never been and it seemed like a reasonable drive with the good rewards of mountains, beaches, hot springs in a cave and orchards dripping with fruit, not to mention a winery or two.
we packed up the volvo beast, intending to camp within its spacious swedish interior and headed off at the crack of dawn... ok, i was ready to go at the crack of dawn but mister monkey is made of softer stuff and so we left the city limits a smallish while before noon. the drive was filled with gorgeousness of all kinds - there were rolling foothills, rolling clouds, rolling grasses and other things that were rolling. overall, it as nice.
having had a late start, we did not reach our intended destination but had to find a campground on the way. it was a small, family-run operation and the woman who took our money had a strong italian accent. bingo, we thought. surely here, in the middle of nowhere, the gods were going to reward us with an anniversary dinner as supreme as it is unexpected. right? wrong, motherfuckers. you want minestrone of dry beans and flaccid overcooked pasta, thickened by time into a glutinous solidity? i know just the place! how about a caesar salad drowning in store-bought dressing sprinkled liberally with desiccated corporate croutons? ditto! luckily the wine was both cheap and good, so that's that. let's never mention this again.
and so, having washed our dirty bits and gotten into the belly of the volvo beast, we got ready to slumber. and that's when the adventure truly began:
mr. monkey, fearing the dextrous and eternally greedy paws of the kootenay bears, decided to lock the car. suddenly, and for no apparent reason, i decided to get a little more air and opened the door. this set off the alarm - you know, lights flashing, clamourous siren shattering the crystalline mountain silence, whoop whoop whoop whoop! mr. monkey jumps out of the vehicle in his underoos, runs to the front seat and attempts to put the key in the ignition. alas, he cannot. the ignition is blocked and the volvo beast continues its howling. with shaking hands, mr. monkey throws me the manual and, with equally shaking hands, i attempt to find something, anything, about the alarm system. i fail.
suddenly, it stops.
the silence is a thing of glory, beauty and much relief.
wilted with exhaustion and nerves, mr. monkey gets out of the car.
the alarm starts again with a vengeance. whoop whoop whoop whoop! lights flashing! siren blaring! our neighbours' hate is palpable. my mortification deep, dark and sticky. my hatred for the volvo beast complete.
mr. monkey (still in nothing but his underoos, augmented now by a headlamp) desperately pops open the hood and starts to violently pull cables out of the machinery of noise and eventually succeeds.
at nearly the same moment, with my husband kneeling nearly naked in mud and pine needles, i finally find the manual's solution to our woes: put the key into the driver's door. the end.
mister monkey crawls into the nearby stream to wash his soil-encrusted limbs and eventually comes to bed. we decide to brave the bears and sleep with the doors unlocked. the rest of the night is uneventful but when we leave the campground in the morning, we carefully avoid the eyes of our camp-mates.
so yeah, the whole romance thing? we're not so good at it. however, the next night, at our intended campground, we have a lovely dinner of things roasted on the fire, a candle blazing away in a holder fashioned out of a beer can, a bottle of a carefully hoarded and utterly incredible '98 shiraz salving our psychological wounds under a sky thick with stars and it is perfect.