Archive for the ‘Camping’ Category

That’s A Wrap!

December 16, 2009

The curtain has come down on our family’s first camping season.  We saw a lot, did a lot, put a lot of kilometres on the van and made some lovely family memories.

The trailer is closed up now, winterized and hunkered down in the side yard surrounded by a foot of snow.  I’m hopeful it won’t become a mouse hotel over the next few months.  It’ll be alright.  We mouse proofed it.  I’m pretty sure.

So…hmmm…what do we talk about now?  It’s almost time to start planning for next year.  There’s the big RV show coming up over the winter.  We could talk about winter sports!  I like winter sports better than summer sports.

We’ll muddle through.  If you have any topic suggestions I’d be happy to entertain them.  You can save me from contemplating my navel all winter.

Don’t forget to check in on the Campsite Cookin’ link from time to time.  There’s some fun foodie stuff over there.

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Trailer Chic

July 26, 2009

As promised, here are a few pictures taken on our last trip.  Many people use their trailer as a place to unleash their creativity and indulge their more eccentric whims.  Trailer Chic may not be every body’s taste, but I don’t think anyone can deny the spirit of fun embodied in these pictures.    Enjoy!

Le Crème de la Crème

La Crème de la Crème

I loved this place.  It was my favourite!  I passed this trailer every time I walked to the bathroom and every time I walked by I noticed something new.  This picture doesn’t show it all.  They had a side yard that was full of weird stuff.  It was great, a little creepy, but great.

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This place has a very different look.  For me, it conjures images of the Wild West, frontiersmen, hunting dogs and jug bands.

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I liked this place because it felt very welcoming to me.  There are still a lot of elements to this property but they have, somehow, managed to hit an aesthetic mark many others seem to miss.

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This trailer, by contrast, is just sad and lonely looking.  I took its picture because I felt sorry for it.

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Cute and Crazy

Liam loved this garden.  It’s a case of a fun idea run amuck.  By my count there are two Snow Whites and at least 13 dwarves and gnomes along with a plethora of assorted woodland creatures.

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This is a fine example of Trailer Chic decor.  It’s fun, whimsical and creative.  Somebody went to some effort to make this.

Love them or hate them these trailers make a statement.  Each property has a unique style that is reflective of its owners’ personality.  These examples and others like them intrigue me and keep me looking for more.  I continue to seek out bigger, bolder and more ridiculous trailers.

Lafontaine Resort Park

July 25, 2009

DSC01127What a month.  I think we’ve been camping as much as we’ve been home.  I’m not complaining.  It’s been great!  This week we stayed in Lafontaine Resort Park, which is a Castle Vacation Parks property.

Lafontaine Resort Park, near Penetanguishene Ontario, is conveniently located for day trips to attractions like Wasaga Beach, the Wye Marsh, Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, Discovery Harbour and the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre (in case you’re interested).

This RV's Plate Dates Back to 1971

This RV's Plate Dates Back to 1971

When we first arrived, at the park, I was a little unnerved.  Our site was a bit on the small side and many of the sites we passed, on the way in, seemed run down and dishevelled.  Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the park itself is well maintained.  Most of the sites are rented on a seasonal basis and many of them have been home to the same trailer for years, even decades.  The dishevelled appearance, of some of the individual sites, is the product of years of use and accumulated eccentricity.  It actually speaks very well of the park that so many people have stayed for so many years.  One RV was still plated with an annual license plate from 1971.

I am a very big fan of the eccentric and outlandish and this park was a treasure trove.  I think it was our first, full strength, no punches pulled trailer park experience.  I’m tempted to do a separate post of pictures I took of trailers in this park.  In fact, I think I will.  Stay tuned.

As I mentioned, our site was a little smaller then I like, but we only had neighbours on one side and they were only there in the late evening, so it wasn’t problem.  The other issue I had with the park was the distance to the bathrooms.  During the day the distance wasn’t a big deal, it was an opportunity to rubberneck at the funny trailers.  At night, on the other hand, it was a long, dark, lonely hike.  Duncan got lost on the way back from the bathroom the first night and ended up going for a ‘Dunc Walk’ from one side of the park to the other. (Note: a Dunc Walk is a long meandering odyssey that results from or in getting lost.)  He got to see a lot of solar lights.

The playground at Lafontaine was fantastic.  In addition to the usual climbers, swings and slides, they had a set of tire swings that were made to look like horses and cows and a big wooden train to climb around, on and through.  Liam was disappointed that the train didn’t go anywhere, but you can’t have everything.

There's a Train in the Playground!

There's a Train in the Playground!

Tuesday night we went for a wagon ride with a bunch of the other kids in the park.  There were only a couple of other parents on the ride.  We went with Liam because he’s too little to go alone.  It was a lot of fun.  I love things like that; I’m a bit of a kid myself.  The wagon, which was pulled by an old International tractor, (Go International!) took us through the woods to areas of the property we would not otherwise have seen.  At one point Duncan and I had to admit that we didn’t know where we were.  It was a nice way to spend the evening and it killed the time between supper and bed.

Sainte Marie Among The Hurons

Sainte Marie Among The Hurons

From the park, we took trips to Wasaga Beach and Ste. Marie Among the Hurons.  We actually got a discount off our admission to Ste. Marie because we were staying in Lafontaine.  I’ll talk about Ste. Marie in greater detail later on.  I love it there so much I think it deserves a little post of it’s own.

Wasaga was fun.  It’s such a lively place!  Liam got dressed up in his little swim trunks and PFD and took a dip in the lake.  He was nervous of the water and didn’t want to go in too deep.  He had more fun playing in the sand with Daddy.  It looks like Liam may be a land-lover like me.  There’s a great splash pad, right across the road from the beach.  We took Liam over there, on our way back to the car, to clean off some of the sand.  He played there until he was shivering and exhausted.  Then we bundled him in a towel, took him back to the car and went in search of Chinese food.

All in all this was a great trip, possibly our best so far.  We’re quite settled into our cottage on wheels now.  It’s really becoming a comfortable home-away-from-home for us, with most of the comforts and amenities.  We just need a maid service to follow us around.  The park grew on me over the course of our stay.  I would probably stay there again, if we decide to do another trip to the area.  I’d still like to take Liam to the Wye Marsh and Discovery Harbour, so there may be some further exploration of the area later on.

Make Way for Jayco

July 22, 2009

A week and a half ago we got a Facebook message from our friends Geoff and Nicki.  They were suddenly desperate to go camping and wanted to go to Darlington Provincial Park, which is about five minutes from their house.  We were suspicious.  I turned to Duncan, “Do you think they have something to show us?”   “Ya”, he said. “I was wondering that too.”  Sure enough, they rolled into Darlington late that Monday afternoon hauling a monster Jayco trailer.  They’ve joined the club.  It’s a nice one, with a bump out dinette, indoor/outdoor speaker system and air-conditioning.

Excited to Play With Their New Toy

Excited to Play With Their New Toy

The funny thing about Darlington Provincial Park is; it’s so close to us, we’ve never been there.  There are some beautiful sites by the lake but, because none of us knew much about the park, we ended up in a pair of sites in the Hilltop campground where we were stuck listening to a 24 hour rendition of Ode to the 401 with frequent interjections of freight train.  Oh well, we’ll know better next time.  The size of the campsite was fantastic!  Ours was possibly the biggest campsite we’ve had yet.  It was grassy and sunny and surrounded by trees, which gave us privacy and room to play.

Ninja Nathan

Ninja Nathan

Liam was glad to have Geoff and Nicki’s son Nathan to play with.  This was their first of what will be many childhood camping trips together.  On this first adventure they played tag and hide-and-seek, had sword fights with sticks, went for walks, played at the playground, wrestled like baby bears in the woods and learned to use nature’s toilet.

Learning to Use Nature's Toilet - Liam was Unsuccessful

Learning to Use Nature's Toilet - Liam was Unsuccessful

Tuesday afternoon Duncan had to leave the park for a doctor’s appointment and Geoff and Nicki went shopping for trailer supplies.  That left me and Liam to entertain ourselves.  I decided to take him to the Log Cabin

Naturalist Giving Presentation on Foxes

Naturalist Giving Presentation on Foxes

Information Centre to Meet the Naturalist and Roxy Foxy.  A young naturalist gave a presentation on foxes and answered questions.  She showed us pictures of foxes and let us see and feel a fox pelt.  Liam and I learned quite a bit from the presentation.  It turns out that I didn’t know very much about foxes at all.  The log cabin was interesting to see too.  It’s full of a combination of animal exhibits and pioneer artifacts.  The home originated in Sunderland, ON and was moved to the park in 1967.

Log Cabin Information Centre

Log Cabin Information Centre

The Publican House Brewery "Growler"

The Publican House Brewery "Growler"

We had a lot of fun around the campfire on this trip; chatting, toasting marshmallows and having a few drinks.  Duncan has just discovered The Publican House Brewery from Peterborough and gave all the adults a taste from his “growler” of their Square Nail Pale Ale.  Duncan enjoyed it but it was a bit too strong tasting for the rest of us.

Liam Taking Matters Into His Own Hands

Liam Taking Matters Into His Own Hands

At one point on Tuesday evening, Liam became frustrated with waiting for a toasted marshmallow and decided to take matters into his own hands.  He found a giant tree branch, which was meant to be broken down for the fire, stuck a marshmallow on the end and, under supervision of course, lowered it into the fire.  Nathan thought it was absolutely the most ridiculous thing he’d ever seen and he’s been kicking around for nearly five years.

We got a lot of good pictures on this trip, thanks to the posing of Rocky the Raccoon.  He invaded our space both nights looking for food.  The first night we were a little unnerved by him, but the second night we turned into paparazzi.  Adorable isn’t he?

Rocky the Raccoon

Rocky the Raccoon

I really feel wild animals are usually better off when people leave them alone.  I’m not a fan of feeding wild animals…and here’s why.

Rocky's One Gutsy Raccoon

Rocky's One Gutsy Raccoon

Rocky’s so used to being fed, or finding food on campsites, that the brazen hussy strolled right out of the woods and pretty much put his hand out and asked for chips.

It was a good camping trip.  We all had a lot of fun and, apart from a noisy campsite, nothing went wrong.  It’s fun to camp with friends and share the cooking and the campfires.  I’ll update the Campfire Cookin’ link as soon as I can.  We made something interesting for lunch on Tuesday and I’m excited to tell you all about it.  Check back soon!

This Weather Sucks!

July 10, 2009

Pleasure Park, Graham Lake, outside Brockville ON

July 2, 2009,

11:15 pm

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because of the rain, but this place is a total disappointment to me so far.  First of all, with a name like Pleasure Park, I assumed everyone would be naked and they’re not.  Second, I have never stayed in a campground where the sites were so close together.  It’s like we’re in a giant trailer filing cabinet.  There’s no privacy or sense of personal space, and there’s no room to spread out.  As a result, I hate the people next to us.  They haven’t done anything wrong; I just can’t stand having people so close to me.  I have a very large personal bubble – deal wit’ it.

Five campsites in one photo

Five campsites in one photo

So far, we haven’t been able to bring in any TV stations with the antenna.  Yet another reason the Pleasure Park holds no pleasure.  Maybe I’ll like it better after a good night’s sleep.  Walking with the dog in the dark I did see some very promising trailer decor.  I’ll have a better look in the morning.

July 3, 2009

12:37 pm

It’s been raining off and on all day so far.  The park is sodden.

We made coffee and Pillsbury cinnamon buns for breakfast.  They were delicious and smelled amazing while they were baking.  I’m fairly confident the other campers were jealous; maybe even the ones with bacon.

Peggy, the dog, has done her best to behave so far but is having a bit of stage fright trying to go to the bathroom.  I wish she would just go already; it’s not healthy to hold it like this.  She has decided that she prefers to be under the trailer and keeps emerging from her hideout covered in a funky combination of grease and mud.

Liam has been really happy so far this trip and hasn’t had a single tantrum.  We were briefly able to watch PBS from the States, but for the most part, he’s been playing with toys and games and occupying himself without the TV.  He’s truly roughing it.

I took Liam for a walk around the campground during a rain-free window this morning.  He got to see the playground, but it was pretty wet and muddy so he couldn’t do much.  We watched some older kids fishing in the lake.

Trailer Chic!  N.B. the use of a kitchen sink as a planter.  Lovin' it!

Trailer Chic! N.B. the use of a kitchen sink as a planter. Lovin' it!

The swimming area off the beach is outfitted with a water trampoline and several water slides.  On a hot summer day, this would be a pretty happening place.  I must admit that this park is well maintained.  The camp sites are kept neat and tidy.  The picnic tables and fire rings are all in good condition and the bathrooms are clean and well stocked.  The campers with seasonal sites have put a lot of effort into their decor and, in some cases, some money too.

4:30 p.m.

We had everything we needed to make lunch, but with more clouds looming and more rain coming we got a case of cabin fever and decided to go out.  We went into Brockville and grabbed some lunch at A&W, which is always a winner in my book.  While we were out we decided to go shopping for books, movies and Jiffy Pop, so we can entertain ourselves while we’re stuck inside the trailer.  The rain has shown no signs of letting up.

DSC00873We had a rainy afternoon to fill so I decided it was time to bring out the ice cream ball.  The ice cream ball is a nifty little item my sister and brother-in-law (Auntie Caroline and Uncle Neil) bought us for the trailer.  I’ve saved it for just such a rainy occasion.  You fill one side of the ball with the ingredients to make ice cream and you fill the other side with ice and salt.  Shake and toss the ball around and after a while you end up with soft-serve ice cream.  Honestly, I didn’t expect it to work, but we actually made some really tasty vanilla chocolate chip ice cream.  Duncan sarcastically noted that it tasted a lot like ‘real ice cream’ just before he chomped down on a shard of plastic spoon that I’d accidently served him.  Ooops, I’m glad Liam didn’t get that bowl.  Anyway, the three of us agreed that the experiment was a success and we’ll look forward to making ice cream again the next time it rains.DSC00878

11:15 p.m.

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Tortilla Making Machine

We went into Brockville again at dinner time and ended up at a restaurant called Santa Fe where they served us up some fantastic South West style food.  Liam got a kick out of watching the tortillas being made in the tortilla making machine.  They had a big decorative mask hanging on the wall and Duncan told Liam that the mask was saying “Eat your supper Liam”.  The next thing you know, Liam was freaking out every time he heard a rumbling noise ‘cause he thought the mask was yelling at him.  His imagination is much too vivid.

The adults in the restaurant were more concerned with the giant funnel cloud outside.  The picture doesn’t do it justice because it doesn’t capture the rotating, menacing, ominousness of it all.  All we saw was the funnel cloud stage, but it did, apparently, touch-down in a fit of tornadic mischief by the river.  It knocked over some trees and caused a bit of damage, but it didn’t hurt anybody.

Funnel Cloud in Brockville

Funnel Cloud in Brockville

We got back to the campsite to find that it’s even more claustrophobic and noisy than last night, and it’s still raining, of course.

July 4, 2009

And what a chilly July 4th it was.  It was 16ºC that morning, but remarkably, it didn’t rain much at all.  This day was occupied by a barbecue with Duncan’s coworkers.  We had a really nice time, but Bob’s barbecue doesn’t really have anything to do with camping and involves a lot of people who may, or may not want to be in a blog; so we’ll skip over that part.

July 5, 2009

Time to go!  The sun was actually out this morning, which made the task of packing up much more pleasant.  All my organizational efforts before the trip made things pretty easy.  We just had to put everything away, clean up and then prepare the trailer for the trip home.  It went really smoothly and everyone was far less frustrated than last time.

I left the park with a sense of satisfaction.  The weather had been about as bad as we were ever likely to camp in.  The campground had been as overcrowded as we were ever likely to tolerate.  Yet, in spite of the adversity, we’d had a successful camping trip.  We’d had fun, Liam had been happy the whole time and we’d found ways to entertain ourselves through some very inclement weather.  It gave me hope.  If we could enjoy this trip, just imagine how much fun we’ll have when everything goes well!

I Need a Baggie For My Wieners!

July 5, 2009

Have you ever had half a package of hotdogs left over, and had nothing to wrap it up in, so the wiener juice runs all over the bottom of the fridge?  Don’t tell me I’m the only one who never thought to bring baggies to the trailer.

We’ve got our first couple of trips under our belts and had time to mull over the stupid mistakes we made.

Let’s just start by listing the things we forgot or never thought to bring:

  1. Something, anything to re-package open food.
  2. A flashlight.  Seriously, who goes camping without a flashlight?  I do!
  3. Grilling tools.  It’s really hard to grill beef/veggie skewers without tongs.
  4. I remembered to bring a carton of milk, but I forgot to make sure it had a screw top.  A screw top is much tidier when you have to lay the milk carton on its side in the fridge.
  5. Pillows.  It’s not the first time we’ve forgotten pillows.  I don’t know why they’re so hard to remember…I really miss them when they’re not there.

Suffice to say, there were some important things we didn’t have with us.  On the other hand, the things we did have were everywhere.  We were terribly disorganized.  There was stuff that never got unpacked from the van all weekend, there was stuff left outside and there was stuff all over the inside of the trailer.  It was ridiculous and it made an ordeal out of packing everything up to go home.  We’re not the most organized people in any situation, but within the confines of a tent trailer it became unbearable.  The thing is, there’s lots of storage space in the trailer; we just weren’t using it.

My mission, when we got home from our first trip, was to get organized and establish some systems.  So I went shopping and spent just over $100 on supplies and storage solutions.  I brought everything back and set about the task of forcing order on the madness.

I created a bin for cleaning supplies, a bin for kicheny type things, and a bin for sundries like bug spray and flashlights.  Then I allocated space for all the bits and pieces in the various storage cupboards in the trailer.  Some of the storage areas are more accessible than others so items were allocated based on frequency of use. The two easy access cupboards by the door were allocated for things we need constantly.  The less accessible units under the benches were allocated for things we would access during set-up or may not need at all.  One, easily accessible, unit under the bench near the door was deliberately left empty.  That unit is to be used for backpacks while we’re in residence; it’s basically our closet.

Anyway, we now have a lot of staple items stored permanently in the trailer; decor items, cleaning supplies, blankets and plenty of stuff to entertain ourselves with.  More importantly, everything belongs somewhere, so we can put it all away when conditions become unruly.  We’ll probably still need to tweak the set up here and there, but we’re certainly further ahead than we were.  At least I’ll always have a baggie for my wieners.

Our Weekend @ Presqu’ile

June 17, 2009

We’re back from our weekend at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.  Basil the bear lives on and so do I; but it was exhausting.  I don’t know why camping is so tiring.   It feels like I ran a marathon.

I’ll start by posting a journal I kept over the weekend.   Later I’ll have a post on a special event we attended at the park and another post on things we’d like to change for next time.   We learned a lot this weekend and discovered some kinks that need worked out.

June 13th
High Bluff Campground, Presqu’ile Provincial Park

4:30 pm
Liam is asleep.  He is still not well.  He has a low fever but has not vomited since bedtime last night.   He claims, against all available evidence, that he is not sick.  We’re encouraging him to laze the day away in bed and hope that he’s better by tomorrow.   We have some activities planned that I think he’ll enjoy.

Duncan has forgotten to bring a jacket or sweater; he is going to be cold. Ha!

We’ve got things all set up and have converted an empty campsite to our DSC00737home.  The awning is up, the solar patio lights are strung and the pink daisy table cloth is on the picnic table.  Duncan is fiddling with the t.v. antenna.  It’s not a chore for him, antenna fiddling is his hobby.

10:45pm
I’m in my jammies.  Liam is 100% better and is sleeping soundly.  We’re watching reruns of CSI off the antenna and Dunc is listening to the scanner.  A lot of good that thing does.  The scanner didn’t give us any warning earlier when the park police dropped by to have a discussion with us about the tree Dunc had put in the fireplace.  Apparently, they would prefer that we not burn the better part of a pine tree, vertically out of our fireplace, but they were laughing while they were telling us off…they thought it was funny too.

Taken before our visit from the 'Park Police'.

Taken before our visit from the 'Park Police'.

Dinner was good, though we made too many skewers and forgot to bring a pair of tongs for the barbecue, which made things difficult.  The stove top worked perfectly and I made some lovely rice.  We finally figured out how to work the fridge and got it down to a safe temperature.   We’re sorting it all out.

We noticed when we arrived that there was a distant cacophony of bird squawking.  There had to be an absolutely insane number of birds somewhere in the park.   We had to find the source, so after dinner we went for a walk and discovered the aptly named Gull Island just off Owen Point.  There must have been thousands of birds swarming the island.  It was the sort of thing that could really freak a person out.  If you were on the island you’d be guaranteed to be pooped on at the very least.

We discovered, however, that there were at least as many mosquitoes on Owen Point as there were birds on Gull Island.  I returned from our walk with welts so big I could actually see my own cheek.

Shortly after our return, we heard a ruckus on Gull Island.  The sound of thousands of birds freaking out at the disappearance of the sun.  I’ve always found it odd that birds freak out when the sun goes down and absolutely rejoice when it comes back again. You’d think the novelty would wear off, but it never does.DSC00755

We toasted marshmallows over the campfire.   Liam was so goopy with marshmallow, he actually got his face stuck to his coat.  It was icky and he needed a really good wash.

June 14th

Breakfast was freshly brewed coffee, bacon off the grill, toast from the toaster oven and yogourt out of the fridge.  Not exactly roughing it.

Liam woke up happy and said that he’d had a good sleep, but something about having his breakfast outside set him off and he had an inconsolable temper tantrum.  I ended up taking him for a walk along the lakefront campsites to see the ritzy motor homes.  A bunch of people were out walking small dogs and one person was walking a cockatoo.  That was different.  We returned from our walk much happier.

DSC00769Our morning activity was a trip to the Presqu’ile lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in Ontario.  Liam, somehow, got it into his head that the lighthouse was haunted and was quite upset for a while.  Once he saw the lighthouse itself, he realized there was nothing to be afraid of.  He really liked skipping stones on the beach with his Daddy.  I was disappointed we couldn’t go into the light house, but we enjoyed seeing it from the outside.  It’s in a very pretty location.  There is an interpretive centre at the site which explains the history of the lighthouse and the area.  The lighthouse keeper’s cottage is a beautiful little house which is currently being used as an art gallery.

The gift shop sells very yummy fudge, but they didn’t have Presqu’ile bumper stickers.  That was another disappointment for me.  I want to smother the trailer in as many destination stickers as possible.

Back at the campsite we made some lunch.   It was toasted bagels with homemade salsa, salad and veggies and dip. Liam ate nothing and had another tantrum, sigh.

5:00 pm
We just got back from our afternoon activities.

We spent the afternoon in the park.   The Friends of Presqu’ile held the grand opening ceremony for the rebuilt boardwalk.  I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.

When we were finished walking the boardwalk, we took Liam to the beach for a bit.  It wasn’t really warm enough to be a beach day.  We didn’t even get changed.  Liam played in the sand with his toys and chased some  seagulls.DSC00794

On the way back to the campsite we got the highlight of the day.  A turtle (I’m not sure what kind) came out of the marsh and onto the road.  We stopped and let Liam have a look.  It was his very first turtle.  It caused a traffic jam, good times.

DSC00800DSC00801

11:00pm
We’ve turned in for the night.  The dog and the boy are asleep in their beds and Duncan is at the comfort station having a shower.   I’m in my jammies using the computer and watching CBC.

We cooked hot dogs over an open fire tonight.  We toasted marshmallows after, though I am the only one who toasts marshmallows now, the others eat them plain…less sticky that way.

At one point in the evening, a group of seagulls were fighting in the air-space above our campsite.  Suddenly a sausage on a bun fell from the sky.  The dog ate it.  She now thinks sky sausages are the best sausages of all.

We got our solar patio lights working, finally.  I turned them on.  That solved everything.  The solar lights weren’t the only light show though; we also had fireflies.   They were cool.

I went for a walk around the campground to see how other people have their sites set up.  We’re off to a good start with our patio lights and wind catcher thing, but we’re going to have to up our game to compete with the decore on the other sites.  I’m pretty sure we’re going to need a wooden sign and maybe a garden statue and more lights.  A lot of people have their names on their signs, but I want something different. We’ll have to think about that for a while.

June 15th

We woke up, in the middle of the night, to a tremendous thunderstorm. There were several very loud cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning within a kilometre of us.  The rain was loud on the roof of the trailer.  Liam slept right through it.

We got up to a wet muddy mess and since we were on a wooded site, we did not get the benefit of the morning sun to dry things off. We made breakfast and started to pack things up.   Liam had a massive temper tantrum because he didn’t have the patience for the boring messy task of tearing down the camp site.   We did the best we could to put things away, but everything was wet and dirty and we were very disorganized.  It took forever!

When we got home we set the trailer up again to dry everything out and clean it all off.  The trailer is still set up in the driveway.  I’m going to try to organize it  and streamline things so that the set up and tear down isn’t such an ordeal.  I’ll get into the tweeks and reorganization in a future post.

Blogging In Advance Of Our First Camping Trip

June 13, 2009

Leave it to a two year old to puke his guts up right at bedtime the night before we leave on our first camping trip. These things tend to be short lived and given that he’s been sleeping peacefully, puke free and without a fever for the past four hours, I’m operating under the assumption that we’re still leaving in the morning.

The destination for our very first camping trip is Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Brighton, ON. We’re very excited because this is a park we’ve wanted to visit for some time.

This afternoon I was out buying supplies for the trip and as I placed a package of Lazy Maple bacon in my cart, it occurred to me that there are certain foods and items that become must-haves on a camping trip. In our family, a camping trip must involve Lazy Maple bacon and pistachios. A camping trip without these items is like a Christmas without presents. It just doesn’t happen.

This is the first time we’ve packed for a camping trip with our son. It’s been interesting trying to figure out what items to bring for him, especially for his entertainment. Bubbles are always a favourite, as are cars and we’re bringing a bunch of sand toys on this trip because Presqu’ile has a nice beach.

So my question for you is, what are your camping / cottaging must-haves, and to those of you who are experienced at traveling with kids, what are the must-haves for your children? I’m interested to know, and may steal some ideas.

I’ll be sure to let you know how we make out this weekend. I’ll include pictures of the fun and let you know what we learned about camping in a tent trailer and about camping with a young child. It should be a fun adventure.

Little Yurt in the Big Woods

April 19, 2009

This post has nothing to do with trailers, but while we’re waiting for the trailer to arrive, I might as well rehash an experience I had a few winters ago in a yurt.  A yurt is a great alternative to tent camping any time of year, but particularly in the winter, when other modes of camping are prohibitive.

A yurt is based on the traditional living accommodation of Mongolian nomads called a ger.  They are round or multi-sided structures on a lattice frame and are fantastic for four season accommodation as they stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

pvcj03-2002-02-09Yurts are becoming increasingly common in campgrounds around Ontario.  Our yurt experience took place at the Mew Lake campground in Algonquin Park.  We chose to celebrate my husband’s February birthday by having a little adventure in the wilderness.   We were joined by my Mom, Dad and sister.  None of us had any experience doing anything like this, but we rolled with the punches and had a great time.

Our yurt came equipped with a few amenities.  We were thankful for the space heater.  The low that weekend was a frigid -25C.  It had a dining table in the middle of the room, and bunk beds down the sides.  This yurt could sleep six, two couples and two singles (NB they supplied the bed, we supplied the bedding/sleeping bags.)  It also had electricity courtesy of one inconveniently placed outlet.  We did most of our cooking on the open campfire outside.

All-in-all it was quite cosy and comfortable, especially in light of the alternatives I saw that weekend.

As far as I know, a pop-up trailer isn’t for use below freezing and conventional tents with fibreglass poles don’t do well at low temperatures either.  If you want to get out in the winter, you can use a tent that is designed for winter conditions, including cold, wind and snow load.  Another option is to build your own shelter. We saw several examples of these snowy abodes while we were out that weekend and we met a young woman who had built one with friends.  She had never done it before but her friends had.  These snow shelters are basically big piles of snow that have been tunnelled into to make a cavity you can sleep in.  Apparently, the smaller the cavity the warmer you’ll be, so you really only use them to go to sleep.  The woman we met said it had taken about three hours to build hers and that it seemed like it would be alright.  Later that night we met her again in the comfort station with her pants around her ankles, warming her butt under the hand dryer.  She told us that this would be her last winter camping experience.

I, on the other hand, would totally go out in the winter again, as long as I had a yurt to stay in.  Cold quiet nights are great for star gazing.  Walking out in the squeaky cold snow, we could see the Milky Way unfold before us.  It was beautiful.  During the day we did some hiking, made snow angels, watched other campers snowshoe across the lake and had a fabulous time on Algonquin’s cross country ski trails.

Our stay in the yurt was a unique adventure and it was nice to discover a comfortable way to get out in nature for a winter weekend.  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, life is better if I can get outside.  By embracing winter and the different activities  available the cold and snow become much more enjoyable.

Camping After Kids?

March 28, 2009

The last time my husband and I went ‘tent camping’ I was six months pregnant.  It was an annual camping excursion with friends and our only time out with the tent that year.  We packed our Mazda Protege with camping equipment, food, and the supply of pillows I had started using to sleep comfortably.  The car was stuffed to the gills and I turned to my husband with a realization, “next year we’re going to have to fit a baby in there somewhere”.

Our trusty tent had done well for us.  It was the only one we’d ever owned and it had helped us travel on-the-cheap throughout much of Eastern Canada, the US and parts of Europe.   On this occasion, though, we unfolded it to realize  it was still wet from being packed up in the rain the year before.  Smelling, moldy and ripped, we knew our old Zellers tent was on its last legs, but we got it set up and made due one last time.pzpg11-hpim05772

Ready to relax, my husband set his camp chair by the fire, but it was old and the canvas gave out as soon as he sat in it.  Great!

At the end of  a long first day we went to bed.  In the middle of the night I awoke amid a familiar air mattress hiss as my butt sank to the ground.  I used the extra pillows I had brought as a make-shift mattress and struggled through the rest of the night.

By the end of the weekend we’d had enough…all done.  We took our ponging tent, our useless chair and our deflated air mattress and chucked them all in the dumpster on the way out of the campground.  It was the end of an era.

So with a baby on the way, no tent, and a realization that we were never really ‘hard core’ anyway it became clear that it was time to shift gears.  It was time for an upgrade, if you will.  We started investigating pop-up camper trailers and realized that, with a little planning, we could make it happen.  That was an exciting prospect!  An exciting prospect that was nearly three years in the making.

We purchased our new camper this winter and will pick it up next month.  Our son is now two years old and we are psyched to set out on a whirl-wind of family fun and adventure.  I’ll keep you posted.