By Shelby Cain
You know when you’re going through something unpleasant (the dentist springs to mind for me), and someone tells you to go to your happy place? Well, I recently visited my happy place. For real. I make sure I refresh my happy place images every summer so that if I need to go there mentally throughout the year, like on a minus-20 day on the Timber chair, they’re vivid.
I’ve had the same happy place since I was a kid, and luckily nothing has changed. It looks the same, feels the same, and creates the same nostalgic emotions of relaxation and contentment. Where is this magical place? Golden beaches as far as the eye can see, turquoise water that’s always the perfect temperature, an island with banks of brown sugar sand that drop off straight into the water, ideal for a running dive. Paradise, no passport required.
I know it sounds like Mexico, but it’s a lot closer than that. More like Mexi-kook. As you wind through evergreen forests and past farmer’s fields, you’d never know you were about to come upon such a jewel. The cows that line the road keep their poker faces. When I was young the road was gravel. The trek felt endless. But we knew when we got there it would all be worth it.
As a parent, I couldn’t wait to bring my girls. Now that they’re comfortable in the water and their stamina is good enough to withstand a full day of beach activity, I knew they were ready.
Packing for Koocanusa is intense. You don’t want to forget anything that may prevent you from spending the entire day. Buckets and shovels are essential. This is prime sandcastle real estate. Bring anything that floats. The marriage of having your torso suspended just above the water while your limbs dangle lazily in it is magical.
Food. You need two meals, minimum. We used to do at least one on the BBQ. My mom still bares a scar on her back from the wayward squirt of molten lava cheese created by my first piercing bite into a cheese smoky. You’ve gotta be careful with those babies.
Anyways, we were packed and ready. We were excited. When we got to the beach we set up our spot, my husband and I taking turns blowing into dragon floaties and princess tubes until we both needed to lay down. We created a flotilla and headed to the island. Without any hints from me the girls ran up those banks and straight back down into the water, just like I used to do. Cool. Soon we were all doing it. My happy place just got a little happier.