Midnight Miracle At Miracle Beach
A night of camping in Canada that will never be forgotten
Many summers ago, when my kids were much smaller than they are now, my parents took them and two of their friends, Nathan and Joey, to Saratoga Beach for a vacation. The plan was for me to drive my rockin’ Toyota Previa Minivan from Calgary, pick them up, and make our way back home the long way around.
The cottages at Saratoga Beach were located between Miracle Beach Campsite (to the south) and the Pacific Playgrounds Campsite and Oyster River (to the north). I say “were located” because I believe they have long since been removed and replaced with something newer. It’s been a while since I’ve been up that way but I am pretty sure I saw an email campaign inviting me to buy a new condo on the beach where they used to be.
The four boys and my parents spent a week exploring, swinging off trees into the Oyster River, building sandcastles, designing boats, and (likely) picking berries. Or was it two weeks? A month? Life was a blur back then.
I arrived a day or so before their cottage time was done so I could drive the boys back home. There was simply no room for me at the cottage, so I booked a campsite at Miracle Beach for the night. It was late afternoon, and after checking in with my folks and the kids, I went to the campground to set up my tent, inflate my air mattress, and roll out my sleeping bag.
That night after dinner, the kids would be lighting a candle, placing it in their bio-degradable boats and pushing them out to sea. It was a weekly event at Saratoga Beach, and the kids had been looking forward to it — I wish I had clearer pictures of the boats, but alas, this was before the days of the ubiquitous better-than-a-movie-camera camera phone.
The waves gently lapped the shoreline. About a dozen or so kids pushed their boats out into the Strait of Georgia. It was magical and one of those things that childhood memories are made of. Then, one by one, the candles went out, kids would giggle, and the dark indigo sky turned black. All the better to witness the Milky Way spilling us across the Universe.
Tired from a long day of travel and adventure, I wished the kids and my parent’s goodnight and returned to my campsite just south of Saratoga Beach. The Miracle Beach campsite was your average Canadian campsite. It had a series of flat lots designated by numbered plaques scattered through a forest beside the sea. The sites were roughly 20' apart, some more, some less. I pulled the majestic Previa Minivan into the parking spot at the head of my campsite, locked the doors, and made my way to the tent.
Inside the tent, I found my electric lantern and clicked it on. It’s a good size tent that could fit four adults, and here it was, just me and my sleeping bag. I had loads of room. I zipped up the tent, changed into my pyjamas, grabbed a book and snuggled into my sleeping bag. With my lantern hanging from the tent supports, I opened the book and read a few chapters, relaxing to the sounds of nature and the smell of sea air.
It doesn’t get any better or more tranquil than this. Through the forest, I could hear the tide coming in, a chorus of crickets singing, and every so often, the crackle of a fire and a distant, hushed conversation from my fellow campers. Eventually, I turned off the lantern and fully immersed myself in the ataraxia.
Ah, the West Coast, I… <oooooooonns oooooooonns oooooooonns> I could feel the bass of a nameless hip-hop song trying to alter the rhythm of my heart <oooOooOOnns oooOooOOnns oooOooOOnns> a crunch of tires on gravel at the campsite next door <OOOooOOnns OOOooOOnns OOOooOOnns> heavy car door opens <OOOOONNNS OOOOONNNS OOOOONNNS> and closes. Next, a tent zipper opens, high-heel shoes on gravel, and a moment later, the zipper closes.
“Hey, baby,” coos a woman from inside my neighbour’s tent.
A man replies, “Unnhmmmmngh.”
The car that delivered her was still idling, but the music was turned off, thankfully. I heard an electric car window roll down, followed by a match strike, a deep inhale, and a guy coughing. The forest suddenly smelled like a skunk’s butt.
From inside my neighbour’s tent, a woman’s voice asks provocatively, “Is this how you like it?”
“Unnhmmmmngh. HaaaahggngrrrrrAAahhh! GgrrnnxxxAHHHKttthhhHalala!!”
What followed could best be described as “ludicrous passion.” Imagine there’s a game show featuring a small room filled with sea lions. Now imagine those sea lions are given three minutes to find as many hidden salmon as possible. This would come close to the salty, wet intensity that I — and presumably the rest of the campground — was subjected to over the next few minutes.
“That’ll be fifty,” she said plainly.
A tent zipper opens, heels on gravel, a car door opens and closes, an electric window rolls up, the music starts <OOOooOOnns OOOooOOnns OOOooOOnns> the car backs out and drives off into the night <oooooooonns oooooooonns oooooooonns … >.
The forest is silent. A single wide-eyed cricket, deep within the woods whispers, “What the hell just happened?”