Posts Tagged ‘RV’

Hands Up, Who’s Been to THE SOO?

July 29, 2009

I was told I took a trip down Boring Lane with the last post.  Sorry about that.

This week we’re preparing for a big trip.  We’re leaving on Friday for a week, heading up to Sault Sainte Marie (THE SOO) then over to Michigan and back home via Frankenmuth and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.

We’re getting organized.  We have our passports; even the dog has her paperwork in order.  My concerns for the trip are all clustered into the first couple of days.  It’s a 10 hour car ride to THE SOO and we have to keep Liam happy during the journey.  The dog will be fine.  She’s an amazing traveller.  Once we’re in THE SOO we have to entertain ourselves for two days.  What is there to do in THE SOO?  I’m trying to convince Duncan that we should go bear spotting at the garbage dump, but so far he’s not going for it.  If there’s anybody out there in the blogosphere who’s been to Sault Sainte Marie and has suggestions for family friendly fun, I’m totally open.

I also need advice from parents.  How do I entertain a two year old on a ten hour car trip?  I need some ammunition to throw at him when he starts to melt down.

OK everybody, it’s over to you.  Your advice could make or break this trip.  Come on, help a Mutha out!


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.


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.

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.

It’s Trailer Day!!!

April 20, 2009

After an agonizing wait, the day has finally come!  We have our trailer!  It was a long, exciting, confusing day.  There’s so much to learn.  There’s definitely more involved in the the set-up and take-down than I expected.  It’s also trickier than I realized to get the thing hitched and unhitched from the van.  Am I sounding like a total novice or what?

We got our new toy home and immediately wanted to play.  We towed it into the yard and then struggled to figure out how the hitch worked.  We struggled to get the trailer set up inside and out.  We struggled to get the awning out and up.   We tried out the benches, the beds and all the windows.  Then we wanted to make it our own.  My husband, Mr. Weather, installed an indoor/outdoor thermometer.  I strung up some solar patio lights, a very tacky wind catcher and my piece-de-resistance, the grizzly bear towel ring.DSC00548

At last, it was time to introduce the trailer to our son Liam and our dog Peggy.  The dog was excited and checked it out from top to bottom, then staked out a spot for herself on the couch.  Liam didn’t like the look of it and refused to go in.  He turned and made a break for it, running across the yard, never looking back.  I had to go catch him in the neighbours yard.  He wasn’t happy when we made him go in, but he soon learned to have fun climbing up and down on and off the bunks.  In the end, it was a great success.


We haven’t slept in it yet, we’ve just practiced putting it up and taking it back down.  We can’t wait to take it out on the road and our practice in the yard will hopefully make for smooth sailing on our first excursion.  I’m looking forward to updating you with an actual adventure soon.  In the meantime, I’m going to stare longingly at it through my kitchen window.  sigh.

Maximising My Utility

April 3, 2009


In first year economics the prof taught us that a util is a unit of happiness and that a rational person will achieve the greatest possible utility from each dollar spent.

Maximising the utility of every purchase is a challenging, and interesting exercise to go through, but when it comes to big ticket items its something most of us take seriously.

We did our best to maximise the utility of the dollars spent on our trailer.  I’ll run through the process we went through when deciding which trailer to buy.

First, we had to decide that a trailer was something we wanted to buy.  Buying a trailer wasn’t a given at first.  We could have gone in a number of directions.

Option one was status quo.  We could have chosen to do nothing, but doing nothing is boring.  Option two, we could have bought a new tent.  Not my favourite choice so lets just cross that off the list right away.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, we could have looked into buying a cottage.  A cottage can certainly be an asset, but it’s an asset with a lot of expenses and hassles.  A cottage would also mean that we’re spending our weekends in the same place all the time.  Lastly, we could buy a trailer.  A trailer is more comfortable than a tent, but isn’t as elaborate as a cottage and won’t appreciate in value.

Long story short, we decided to go with a trailer because it is affordable, comfortable and can be set up anywhere we want to go.  We had a winner!  Then the task was deciding which trailer to buy.  We wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck without paying for extras we didn’t want.  That’s the essence of maximising utility.

When we started looking at trailers, we went to an RV show and discovered just how many options there are.  We were amazed to see the high-end RVs.  There’s a huge range out there, some costing as much as a house.  There’s certainly something out there for everyone.

We wanted something basic, light and inexpensive to tow.  We decided that a pop-up tent trailer fit our needs best, because there’s so much functionality packed into a small, light unit.  We decided we wanted our trailer to have a space heater, a small fridge, a sink, and a three burner cook-top.  A bump-out may provide indispensable square footage to a larger family, but it seemed like an unnecessary expense for the three of us.  We knew, though, that going too small would result in uncomfortable accommodation and a loss of enthusiasm for our trailer adventures.  So, in the end, we opted to look at units that included one queen bed-end and one double bed-end and an extra bank of seating.

With our options and wish-list narrowed down, we started to look seriously.  In the beginning we looked at both new and used models, but soon discovered that a used trailer doesn’t often offer significant savings over a new one.  I’m sure there are great deals on used trailers out there, but we didn’t find one that met our needs and wants at an attractive price, so we went for a new one.

We found great value in the Viking 2107 and were happy with the price we got on last year’s model.  We’re looking forward to it being our home away from home for many years to come.  We took our time researching our purchase and shopping around.  As a result, we feel really good about our choice. We’re confident that we made a sound decision and are looking forward to hitting the road!  Consider my utility maximised.

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.