My weekend of nostalgia continued on Sunday. I had plans to meet up with my childhood pal Melissa to explore our neighbourhood and the forest where we grew up.
We have been planning our adventure down memory lane for about two years now, so I was so excited it was finally happening. Melissa grew up down the road from me, and we have been friends since I was about seven. She is the one I fought with over Jason Priestley Ken, and the Elvis Stojko newspaper clippings.
Melissa and I were inseparable as kids, and practically spent every day together. We were also always outside. In the summers we would swim in the lake, play manhunt, hike in the forest, ride our bikes for hours and hours, and generally cause a ruckus. In the winters we would skate on the lake (she is the one I blew across the lake with), toboggan, and cross country ski.
We basically lived outside. In the summer we would set up a tent in my yard and live in it for weeks. And during the school year we would get off the bus and immediately head into the forest to build forts until it got dark. The only time I can remember us ever being inside is if it was raining.
We look a lot alike, so whenever there were new boys up at the cottages in our neighbourhood, we would tell them we were sisters. And they actually believed us!
Melissa was even my date for my Grade 8 graduation.
Anyway, we were really good friends, is what I am getting at here. Sadly, her family moved away in my first year of high school, and though we have kept in touch, I have only seen her a handful of times over the past several years. So our childhood adventure date was long overdue.
On Sunday morning I drove to her house, and we headed over to our old stomping grounds together.
Oh, and we stopped by the old country store first to see if we wanted to get any snacks.
It has barely changed. The only thing that is different is there is now an LCBO (alcohol) and Beer Store in there, and they now offer sushi, which is so random and weird. It’s only available on special advanced order, so we assumed they probably pick it up from town and re-sell it. Classy, Nestleton Store. Very classy.
We passed by our old bus stop…
Which was a stop sign on a road alongside the forest. If it was raining, we would hide in the forest, and after school I would routinely walk through the forest to get home. It was actually faster than taking the road (and prettier), and convenient since the main trail came out right in front of my house.
Our first stop was the “park” next to my old house, which consisted of two swings and a teeter-totter.
And it’s pretty clear that no one takes care of it now, and the swings and the teeter-totter are now gone. We used to swing there for hours and hours though.
And you may remember this pic of me on the teeter-totter, back when I was cool…
I wish I could still get away with that outfit…
Our next stop was the forest!
The forest is huge. I am not sure exactly how big, but I am going to guess about 100 acres. We used to know every trail in there, so it didn’t take long for the memories to come flooding back, even though it looks different now, and a lot more grown-in. This would be the forest where I pretended I saw the ghost of the Indian Chief.
One thing we remembered about the forest was the spiders that would make a stupid web across the trail so you would walk through it and get all creeped out. But Melissa had a stick for that.
So no worries on this day.
I found the spot where I would go when I wanted to “run away from home” because I was angry at my parents…
I chose it because it wasn’t too far away from my house, and because I thought it was pretty. That log was also a lot more alive back then, and I was able to sit on it and cry. Ah, good times.
And we found random things that we had once made names for. Like the “Devil’s Arches”.
Uh, so basically just branches that hung over the trail. We were very creative with our names.
And we found the old bridge that in our minds used to separate the familiar part of the forest with the unfamiliar part of the forest.
And unfortunately, it is not a very good bridge anymore.
But we crossed it anyway.
We were on a mission. We wanted to find the locales of all our old forts. We had at least 10 of them, because we had a fat bully named Spoon who lived near us and who would find them and trash them to pieces. Spoon was his nickname because he had somewhat skinny legs in comparison to his huge torso, and therefore looked like a spoon. For an entire summer we had to just keep rebuilding our forts because Spoon would find them. It was a tough life, I tell ya. The forts are going to have to be a separate post sometime, because there were so many of them, and they were so detailed.
We were sad, because it was looked like no one was hanging out in the forest anymore, and we thought a new generation of kids should be out exploring. And then we found a teepee (or at least a sad attempt at one)…
And we were excited for about two seconds, because at least someone was doing something in there! And then we looked at the top…
Seriously? Duct tape? Get outta here. That is poor form. You do not use duct tape on teepees.
We also found a sign that said “Food” and had a crayon hanging from it, attached with wire.
I was sure it had to be a trap or something, and I was scared if I touched it a big net would fall on top of us and we we would be stuck in the forest until whoever made that sign would come back for their “food.” But I poked it a few times with a stick and it appeared safe. Just a sign with a crayon attached to it. Nothing exciting. Just weird…
Probably the biggest find in the forest was the old obstacle course that is randomly in the middle of nowhere.
We remembered it, because we had been to it a few times before. But it was far away from our houses, so when we were younger we had to ride our bikes along to the road to get to that part of the forest, and then the forest was too dense to bring them in with us. It was really tricky to find because there isn’t an actual trail leading to it. We had to do a lot of scary off-trailing to get to it. But we eventually found it!
Someone has rebuilt it into just a ropes course, but when we were growing up it was made entirely of wood and had crazy things in it…like a legit zipline! All we found from the original obstacle course was wood from the platform of the zipline.
We wondered why they didn’t build it up with wood again, but then we figured that child safety is a bit of a bigger deal than it was back then…and I don’t remember the obstacle course looking all that safe.
But we definitely tried out all the new rope obstacles.
Anyone else who walked through that forest with us would have been extremely annoyed. We were all “OMG, remember when this happened?!”, “Remember this place?!”, “Remember how amazing the view was from THIS fort?!” It was so awesome to go through it with Melissa, who was pretty much included in all of my forest memories. I do have a really good memory for that kind of stuff, but anything that I didn’t remember, Melissa was quick to fill me in on.
And we couldn’t drop by our old neighbourhood without checking out the lake.
Oh how I miss that lake. So, so much.
We checked out our old swimming spot, and my neighbour’s dock that we used to swim off of, because it was the best dock in the entire neighbourhood.
And it has not changed at all.
This is also the exact spot where Melissa and I accidentally blew across the lake.
It was such a fun day with Meliss. I am so glad we did this, and didn’t just say we were going to do it forever and not have it actually happen. It was a perfect day.
Just perfect. I loved reliving all our memories. We mentioned many, many times throughout the day that we genuinely had the best childhood ever. For years our biggest worry was whether or not Spoon would find our fort and ruin it. That’s it. I’d take that over grown-up stuff any day.
I could not have asked for a better place to grow up. My old neighbourhood will always hold a special place in my heart!