I know I'm not usually the type, being that I'm not extraordinarily smart or insightful, but I think everyone has some sort of hidden talent- something that they're an expert on. Me, I'd write about my brother. Of course, it wouldn't be anything very flattering. Quite the opposite, actually. It would be titled: How To Deal With Your Pain In The Ass Brother, and it would sell a million copies. I'm sure of it.
Chapter One: Situations To Avoid
Lesson One: Road Trips
I suppose I wouldn't be a very good candidate to write this book after all, see, I've broken rule numero uno: Never subject yourself to 15-hours in a confined space with said brother. I've failed, and now I'm paying dearly.
"Will, can we PLEASE turn on the air conditioning! I. Am. Dying." I slumped back in my seat, whimpering. The seatbelt was rubbing against my bare shoulder, leaving a rash, and I had actual sweat dripping (dripping!) down my forehead.
"Lily, stop your whining, we're almost there," he said, completely ignoring my desperate plea for some re-circulated air.
Ok, ok, so Will's car IS over ten years old. And the air conditioning DOES smell a lot like road kill when it is turned on, but at that point, I was willing to risk it.
The whole trip had been like this. It had all started well and good; Will and I set off from our nice, cosy home in Red Deer, Alberta early in the morning, his rusty little hatchback jammed with suitcases, sleeping bags and food. For the first hour we were civil, with some nice conversation and intermittent snoozing. Then I decided to turn on the radio. Big mistake. But how was I to know?
So it was a Justin Timberlake song. So the dude kind of, sort of sucks. Alright, I admit it. But I still like singing along to his songs. Is that so wrong?
Well excuse me for living, because according to Will it is VERY wrong. See, he's a bit of a control freak, and while this is true, he usually puts up with me and my singing. This, sadly, was not the case that morning, and the whole potentially fun situation quickly disintegrated into a heated argument where I somehow ended up defending not only Justin Timberlake, but the boy band expatriate trend in general, which I wouldn't normally do.
In any case, sparing the ugly details, it was a long and uncomfortable trip full of some of the loudest shouting matches I have ever had with my dear brother. Lesson learned. Thankfully, the end was near, and we both could not have been happier. Our long and winding road was leading us towards what I hoped would be a summer full of fun, adventure, and gainful employment at Canada's third most popular family resort, Rocky Mountain Fun Farm.
It's admittedly a pretty goofy name, and most people just call it "The Farm." It's a very popular place though. Just mention these words to any kid under the age of ten and it will inspire mad fits of jumping and squealing. The Farm is basically the Disneyland of the north (minus the people in mice costumes) and a summer vacation there is like a shopping spree in a toy store. Nestled in between two mountains and right on the shores of Lake Sasquatch, the all-inclusive resort is a 600-acre wilderness wonderland in the heart of British Columbia's sunny Okanogan-at least this is what the brochure says.
Will and I had never been to The Farm before. By the time my mom was finished having babies (two more girls after me) we were both too old, and the family was just too big to have afforded it. This was always a sore spot in my otherwise wonderful childhood, so when the chance came up for us to spend our summer working on the Farm we snapped it right up.
Will and I look a lot alike. We're both fairly tall with red hair, blue- grey eyes and a modest sprinkling of freckles across our noses. You might almost assume that we're twins, but the truth is he is ten months older than I am. I absolutely dread telling people this, and there are two very good reasons.
Number one: I'm rather sensitive about the fact that I am the "little sister". Will was the first to get his driver's license, he was the first to graduate, the first to do everything just because he's a few months older than me. As a result, I am forever jealous, not that I would ever admit to it out loud.
Number two: you mention you're born ten months after your brother and everyone (and I mean EVERYone) immediately pictures your poor mother, pregnant for almost two years straight. Think swollen ankles, water retention, morning sickness, mood swings, ugly maternity clothes and a newborn baby to boot for 19 months without a breather. It is hell, and trust me when I say this because we are reminded of it EVERY chance our mother gets.
Despite all this, I love my brother and we usually get along pretty well. And come to think of it, if it wasn't for the fact we were so close in age, we might never have gotten our summer jobs at the Farm in the first place. We've been hired as summer tennis instructors and will be in charge of teaching all the lovely children and their families the basics of a backhand. This is a pretty cool summer job, yes, and not too much of a challenge since both Will and I have practically lived on the court since we were five and six years old. Back in the day, dear old mom needed a place to drop off two her two hyper active kids when school let out. Exasperated to the point of a nervous breakdown she signed us up for a summer tennis camp. It was a pretty random selection, as far as I know, and was really only an effort to get us out of her hair for a few hours every day. I mean, she could have stuck us in the "Fun with Play-Doh" group, or even swimming lessons. But, fate works in mysterious ways, and 12 years later, we're still at it. We're like Venus and Serena Williams, save for a few key differences.
So there we were, the red heads from Red Deer, racquets in tow, crammed into a crappy little Toyota and about to kill each other when we arrived at Rocky Mountain Fun Farm not a moment too soon. Will had gone into silent brooding mode and didn't even seem to notice when we passed under a massive wooden archway reading: "Welcome To The Farm, Please Enjoy Your Visit."
That was it. We were there; home for the next three months. I unbuckled my seatbelt and stuck my head out the open window, breathing in the fresh mountain air as we drove along a gravel road. All I could see around me was trees; thousands of pines towering above the car with branches reaching across the road to touch their neighbours, making it seem as though we were driving through a leafy, green tunnel. The bumpy road eventually curved, and continued for a stretch before revealing a large car park in the midst of an endless forest.
Will parked the car and we stepped out, stretching luxuriously in the golden sunlight and eerie quiet of an empty parking lot. Excitement took hold of me, pushing any sort of bitterness I held towards my brother straight out of my mind.
"Yeah," he said, still a bit gruff.
"Please be happy. I promise never to sing Justin Timberlake ever again," I said, crossing my heart, "I swear."
"Fine," he breathed. I felt better, he didn't sound mad. "Let's just get our stuff and check in at the front office."
I agreed, though I couldn't see a single building in sight. Nevertheless, I happily shouldered my painfully heavy backpack and followed my intrepid brother to the trail that he promised would eventually lead to civilization. It was really the last thing on my mind, though, as I took in my beautiful surroundings. This, I decided, right then and there, was going to be an amazing summer.
So we set off into the woods-Will and I-and much like the ill-fated car ride to the Farm, our walk through the wilderness started out great but ended up miserable. The path we were on was about five feet wide with chipped cedar and red shale underfoot. It was a gorgeous day and even though the towering pine trees provided us with more than enough shade, a few yellow rays found their way through, casting these little spotlights all over the forest floor. Unfortunately the appreciation for all this beauty soon wore off; the bright sun and fresh air still didn't change the fact that I had half my belongings currently strapped to my back. I shifted the weight of my giant knapsack, really wishing I had thought enough to dig my water bottle out before we left.
"Will, how far is this place?" He was walking a little ways ahead of me.
"I don't know," he called back.
I groaned. My bag was becoming heavier by the second and I was coming to regret packing that extra pair of tennis shoes.
"Can we rest for a sec?"
God, Will can be such an ass when he's in a mood. We continued to trudge in silence. After about ten minutes of a backbreaking march, I saw a clearing up ahead. The trees were beginning to thin out and I could see what looked like the beginning of a wide dirt road.
"Finally," I said, rushing up to walk beside Will, "man, I can't wait to get this bag off my back."
"Yeah," said Will. He was smiling a bit which made me feel better. Brother or not, I hate it when Will's mad at me. I'll admit he's one of my best friends.
As we made it to the end of the trail, I let out a disappointed breath. What lay before me was not the huge hotel we were looking for, nor were there dozens of people milling about. No, what lay before us was a deserted gravel road. It was like time had stopped and we had all of a sudden become the last two people on the entire planet. I half expected tumbleweed to come rolling past.
"Ug! Where are we?" I whined.
Will decided my question did not merit a response and just squinted his eyes into the sun, giving that really thoughtful expression boys always get when they have no clue what they're doing.
"I guess we just keep following the road," he said.
Well thank you, Christopher Columbus. Honestly, I would have to drop dead before Will would even begin to consider looking at the map. I took a reluctant step off the trail and onto the dusty road. But, to be fair, it wasn't even close to deserted, pretty far from it, actually. We were now standing in what appeared to be some sort of movie set, though I knew that couldn't be possible.
A row of wooden buildings lined both sides of the street. It looked a lot like one of those old western towns with boardwalks and posts to tie a horse to. Each building had a distinctive style with an old fashioned- looking sign nailed above the door or swinging from a metal rod. There was the General Store, the Saloon, the Laundry, and the Motel plus about a half dozen more. And while it is true the facades looked as if they'd come from some John Wayne movie, I could tell the interiors were very modern.
"Wow, this is so cool," I muttered, momentarily forgetting about the load of bricks strapped to my back.
"I wonder what this is all for," said Will, genuinely interested in his surroundings for the first time since we got out of the car.
"I bet they do activities and stuff down here. Look, you can see tables in there," I pointed to the open window of The Saskatoon Berry Saloon.
He nodded, "can you see the courts?"
I shrugged. Typical Will. He never stops thinking about tennis. Usually, I have better things to occupy my mind with. Still, despite his unnatural preoccupation with the sport, I can totally kick his butt nine times out of ten.
We continued to walk. Though it was pretty obvious we had driven to the right place, I still had not seen another person. I wasn't too worried though; the Farm didn't open to the public for another week, so we expected it to be pretty empty. Still, where were all the other employees?
We finally reached the end of the ghost town and I was about ready to collapse when the most incredible sight I have ever seen met my eyes. It was a playground. But not just any playground, this was the granddaddy of all playgrounds. The king, the master, the BIGGEST playground I have seen in my entire life. At 16 years old, I was positively dumbstruck by a playground. You'd have to see it to believe it.
"-It's amazing," breathed Will.
I felt like a six-year old again. Screw work, all I wanted to do was drop my bag, kick off my shoes and climb straight up the nearest slide.
"Wow," I said again, "wow, wow, wow."
The massive jungle gym looked as thought it was built on a single plot of the lushest, greenest grass you could imagine. A three-story tower shot up from the centre, with monkey bars, ropes, slides and tunnels growing out from every side like spider legs. Interconnected swings, bridges and climbing walls surrounded it like a fortress. Like I said, it was amazing. We just stared, mouths gaping for a few minutes, ignoring the fact we were due at orientation in 15 minutes. Eventually I tore my eyes away from the spider web nets stretched high above our heads and glanced towards the base of the structure. A concrete path meandered straight through the giant complex and its foot was a small wooden sign with an arrow pointing east. It read:
"Oh thank God," I said, shifting back into irritated hiker mode. "C'mon Will, we'll give it a go later."
He silently agreed and we pressed on, walking straight through the playground without stopping once. In less than a minute we emerged out the other side and finally, our oasis, The Rocky Mountain Fun Farm Headquarters appeared miraculously in front of us.
A/N There you are, my very LONG first chapter to Sasquatch Summer. I hope you all enjoyed it. I have much craziness and more characters planned for future chapters, so I hope you'll stick with me. I posted another new story today, called Of Princes and Peasants. That was an impulse, and I might live to regret having two stories going at the same time. I guess I'll see how that turns out. Maybe if I push myself I can try and alternate weeks-PP the one week, SS the next (wow, I never realized how much I enjoy alliterations in my titles, hm.) Thanks for reading!
Cheers, Kim :) HHhhh