Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trip Log: Bon Echo Provincial Park July1-3, 2013

Canada Day camping! 
We arrived at our site around 2:10.  Mum and Dad had already been there for about 45 minutes and had  the tent trailer mostly set up.  We unloaded the canoe and three kayaks and had a quick lunch of burgers then unloaded the rest of our stuff.  Since we were only allowed to have one car on the site, we had to get everything, because the additional car parking was way back at the gate house...not a distance you want to be walking often, nor did we want to have to drive there every time we needed something.

Then we went over to the visitor's centre and the gift shop.  Unfortunately the Visitor's Centre was almost closing, so we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted there, but planned to go back the next day.  We did a quick check of the Greystones Gift and Book Shop, then headed to the main beach for a minute.  The water was really rough at the beach near our site, and here it was really calm, but the air was chilly, so we decided to put off swimming or kayaking until the next day.  The kids hadn't tried their little kayaks yet, and we weren't sure how tippy they'd be. (They ended up being really stable...Squatch had to really work to tip his so he could practice getting back in while in deep water.  He also was able to use it as a stand up paddle board for a while.)

We headed back to our site and while mum and I started dinner, Chris took Squatch fishing in Bon Echo Creek.  They got a few nibbles, but didn't catch anything.  Dinner was hawaiian ham and pineapple casserole (in the dutch oven), salad and creamed corn.  It started to rain while we were cooking, so we ate in the trailer and didn't bother with a fire.

It was a bit chilly that night.  I had only brought our flannel sleeping bag/liners and we all had long pants and long sleeve shirts, but we were still a bit cold. That day (July1st) had been pretty cool.  Normally, on Canada Day, we spend the day swimming because it's always so hot.  This year, every single one of us wore our sweat shirts all day.

The next morning, we realized neither of us had packed coffee, so we had tea, and I made spicy eggs in the dutch oven, and we had bagels and english muffins with that.

Mum and dad decided to head into Northbrook for some things we needed (like coffee) while Chris and I took the kids for a canoe along Mazinaw Rock to check out the petroglyphs, and do the cliff top hike.  The cliff is amazing.  From the opposite shore, it's impressive, but when you are right at the edge and looking up?  It's dizzying.  We saw some people climbing the rock, then headed to the dock area to check out the hike.

If you have bad knees...be warned, this hike is strenuous.  204 steps (actual stairs, not including the sections where the rock forms natural steps.)  My legs were so numb I could barely climb back into the canoe afterwards. Just when I'd catch up to Chris and the kids, they'd start off again, having hadd a minute to rest while waiting for me...this meant I didn't get a chance to catch my breath.  It was nice though.  The view from the various lookout platforms is amazing, and it's well worth the effort (pain) to get up there.

Mum and dad were sitting at the bench on the point at the narrows when we paddled back.  We stopped for a quick chat then headed back to camp.  They had taken pictures of the rock climbers and the guy had called down asking if dad would email them copies.  Dad couldn't make out the email address, and the guy said he'd be down soon, so mum and dad were going to wait.  Eventually they gave up though.  It was well past lunch and we were all hungry.

Bubbie looking out at Mazinaw Rock from one of the beaches
Lunch was supposed to be grilled veggie sandwiches, but since it was so late, we went with Grillems and hot dogs which mum had picked up on her shopping trip. (They also stopped at a chip truck and got fries and batter fried mushrooms, and went to a Coffee Time.) Chris set up his hammock, and the kids took turns swinging each other in it.  They spent most of their time in camp playing on it.  Squatch kept falling out (no surprise) and Bubbie just enjoyed lying around in it. I don't think Chris got more than 5 minutes in it. Next stop was to take the Ferry ride over so mum and dad could see the petroglyphs.  The young man acting as guide was funny, and we learned a lot about the history of the area.  We'd seen the petroglyphs that were pointed out on our canoe ride, but it was nice to hear the historian's interpretation of what some of them meant.  The guide also had a lot of interesting information about turkey vultures, which I'm guessing was meant to be mostly of interest to the younger passengers (did you know turkey vultures picked their noses and could projectile vomit up to ten feet?)

Another trip to the gift shop, this time for the patch for the trail we'd done earlier
...then we grabbed the kayaks and headed back to main beach.  The kids had a blast.  It was one of their favourite parts of the trip. They picked it up really quick and at one point we had to call Squatch back or he'd have paddled all the way across the lake.  Chris had one of his white water kayaks and had planned to practice his rolls but he was tired so just paddled around with the kids.  I gotta say, these kayaks were the best $23 I've ever spent.  We got them at Costco, and used executive membership cash-back checks to cover most of the price ($99 each.)

Dinner was  dutch oven lasagna, salad and garlic bread.  We all ate until we were stuffed, then went out and sat around the fire for a while.  Mum had bought some of those magic flames packets, and the kids sang their "Go Aqua-fire Go" song, complete with dance moves.  Chris swears he wasn't dancing along, but he totally was. The night was perfect for light painting, and we had fun with that until almost 11 when we realized we were the only people still up making noise (some of the pictures had us laughing a little louder than was probably polite.)

Departure day, as usual, was beautiful.  We finally got some sun! Mum made an apple puff pancake in the dutch oven for breakfast.  It didn't puff up as much as it was supposed to, but it tasted great. Since Chris had to work that afternoon, we started packing up.  Mum took Squatch down to the beach to play with his kayak some more while we got most of the gear packed up.  It didn't take too long to load up and we were on the road.

The most frustrating part of this trip was not being able to park our car at the campsite.  My plan had been to just have the coolers in the back of the Santa Fe so we didn't have to drag them in and out of the back seat of dad's truck each morning and night.  It would have been easier, but dad was reluctant to leave his brand new truck in a parking area far from the site.  From now on, I'll definitely check the number of cars allowed on site when booking a trip.  Most campgrounds have an extra car parking close to each section of sites, but Bon Echo doesn't.

Other than that, this trip was awesome.  Bon Echo is beautiful, with enough trails and activities to keep people of all ages occupied.  There were evening programs both nights but we didn't go to them (dutch oven dinners take time.)  The campsites were nice (some were pretty hilly, so parking a trailer would be difficult) and fairly private.  We have another trip booked here later this summer and I can't wait to get to some of the other hiking trails, and to canoe Joe Perry Lake so we can check out the canoe in sites.

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