Fun In A Flash

A guide to enjoying a stupidly short summer

by Noelle Chorney, Lisa Johnson, Chris Morin, Craig Silliphant and Stephen Whitworth

Well, isn’t that just we needed? After a ridiculously long winter, weeks and weeks of horrible rain!

But before you throw up your hands (or just throw up, period) and give up on summer 2014, take heart: with the right attitude and right ideas, summer can be enjoyed in short bursts!

At least, that’s what we were hoping when we put this list together this list. /Chris Kirkland

BACKYARD CAMPING

Camping is a rite of passage when it comes to summer activities — nothing beats swimming in a cool lake on a hot day, especially when it’s followed up with a campfire and a wienie roast. But sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and rain forces you back into the city. (There are few things worse in life than waking up in a tent that’s been submerged in a few inches of water.)

The solution for those unwilling to give up their camping trip but too fearful to drive three hours just to get rained out? The backyard camping party!

Find a host who has an ample backyard and a fire-pit (and some cool neighbours, whom you should definitely invite for drinks!), gather some friends and pitch some tents. Sure, you might not have a lake nearby to cool down in (a sprinkler makes for a poor substitute, trust us), but on the upside you’re always close to the essentials, like food and booze. And you didn’t have to spend hours packing everything into a car and fighting traffic on the way out of Regina!

Also, let’s not forget that your house provides some indoor washroom facilities and a place to hide if the rain gets torrential — and refuge from vampirish mosquitoes. Sorry nature, but sometimes you can kind of suck. /Chris Morin

REDISCOVER MOTHER EARTH

If you haven’t yet gotten the chance to dig into the top soil and get the dirty spirit of Mother Earth stuck under your fingernails, you really haven’t even begun to enjoy the season. Luckily, it’s not too late! You can still soak up the smell of perlite, mulch, and earthworm poo by taking an afternoon or evening to plant a small container garden.

A few herbs, some tabletop lettuce, a bug-shooing citronella or even a tough-as-nails aloe vera plant would be enough to remind your friends that you’re industrious (even though these are easy to keep), prepared to cook and in tune with the elements. Plus, these types of plants (and many others) are easy to keep outdoors when there’s sun, and to bring indoors when there’s rain.

There’s nothing more summery than playing with our photosynthesizing friends, and there’s nothing that can remind you that you’re alive like accidentally touching a slimy, creepy crawler with your bare hands. /Lisa Johnson

WONDERFUL WANUSKEWIN

ROAD TRIIIIP! A mere 10-minute drive out of Saskatoon, which is itself a mere, uh two and a half hours from Regina, you can step back in time a few hundred or even 1000 years at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. First Peoples have been holding spiritual gatherings, wintering and processing bison (there’s even a buffalo pound) here for over 6000 years, and there’s archeological evidence from ongoing digs to prove it.

While a weekend trip is totally worth your while for a hike to the medicine wheel and gorgeous views of the river, you can also enjoy a tipi sleepover with a group of friends. If you can plan a few weeks in advance (call ahead for available dates, as the evenings are popular) and gather up to 12 people to come with you, it’ll cost a reasonable $35/person for a night in up to four tipis.

The package comes with guided programs (go on a medicine walk, learn traditional games, take part in a tipi-raising and participate in an archeological dig, to name a few examples), late night stories, tea and bannock around a campfire and breakfast in Wanuskewin’s restaurant the next morning.

There aren’t many cities in North America (or perhaps anywhere) where you can have an authentic cultural experience in such an amazing natural setting. Just keep in mind that this is a spiritual place, so leave the booze at home. You can handle that for one night, can’t you? /Noelle Chorney

SUMMER “SICK DAY”

For those of us who have a day job and zero vacation time, getting in a summer holiday can be extra tricky, especially if you have no patience for dealing with the weekend crowds at the lake. So why not plan a summer sick day? Playing hooky is usually pretty fun in any case, but if you coordinate a little it can actually feel like a mini-vacation.

The trick, of course, is to avoid going anywhere you think your boss (or ratty co-worker) may see you.

First order of business? After making your salacious phone call, sleep in. Then, meet up with someone at one of Regina’s many patios (bonus points for your mini-sicky vacation if you make it out to a neighbourhood you don’t normally frequent). Other good activities include backyard barbecues, exploring the Devonian Path or even just getting some ice cream.

Want to do the full Ferris Bueller? Head to one of Regina’s awesome galleries and stare meaningfully and soulfully into the depths of a painting, and find a Red Sox game to take in. By the way, and this is a true story*, Ferris was a figment of Cameron’s imagination. In fact, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is where Fight Club got the idea.

Anyway, it’s your day to slack off — just make sure you don’t get caught. /Chris Morin

*Not a true story. Should be.

LIKE THE BIKE

Plan a route, hop on your bike and spend a beautiful summer day taking a sunshine-filled bike tour through your city! Here’s the best part: this can be a G-rated, family event, or a more adult affair, filled with wonderful debauchery.

For the adult version, the night-time is the right time. Wait until you’re under cover of darkness, fill a flask full of whisky, and meet your ne’er-do-well punk friends downtown. Head from bar to bar, having a drink at each one. End up in Wascana Park at the edge of the lake, where you’ll cheers some midnight beers and drunkenly say things to each other like, “seriously, guy, (hiccup), I dunno what I’d do withoutcha (hiccup). Yer like, my best friends in like, the whole frickin’ world.”

On second thought, this probably doesn’t sound safe or legal. Maybe it’s best to stick with some nice, wholesome ice cream. /Craig Silliphant

BACKPACKING ACROSS CHILE FROM YOUR COUCH

A uniquely long slab of land, Chile offers all kinds of weather and geographic wonders for visitors to enjoy. But it’s also expensive to get there: you’re looking at about $1200 in plane tickets alone.

Thankfully, Michael Cera has done it for you, in a couple of road movies with obscure Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva (The Maid).

In his first adventure, Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, the actor visits the north of Chile. It’s a drug-infused trip in which Cera’s high-strung persona clashes against a free spirit (Gaby Hoffmann, Girls). Ultimately, they join forces in pursuit of a mystical cactus that provides a world-bending hallucinogenic experience.

Cera’s second Chile film, Magic Magic, takes place in the south. It’s an ensemble thriller where a group of Americans find themselves stuck in a country house, and at the mercy of the one bilingual character. Everybody starts getting on each other nerves, but one of them takes the situation particularly hard and descends into madness.

If you prefer your Chile Cera-less but almost as gloomy, there’s Aftershock, an Eli Roth film set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. A group of partygoers end up adrift and at the mercy of a bunch of criminals who bolted from jail following the upheaval. Really bad things happen to everybody involved. Come to think of it, your couch may be the perfect vehicle to get to know Chile. /Jorge Ignacio Castillo

WORLD SNAKE DAY IS JULY 16!

Yes, this is a real thing. Celebrate some of the universe’s most excellent creatures with a backyard barbecue where all your friends bring their favourite pet reptiles! In fact, you can call it a snake-acue! What do you mean your friends don’t have pet snakes? EVERYONE needs pet snakes. Get new friends. Good lord. /Stephen Whitworth