Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trip Log: Balsam Lake Provincial Park: June 29-30, 2015

Before I start I want to apologize.  I didn't even take the camera out of the car for this trip.  We were only there for a night, and I spent most of my time cooking, doing dishes, or tidying up.  I never really left the campsite except to walk the dog or go to the comfort station…except for once to walk to the Park Store to get burger buns.

So, before we left, I'd checked online and there were a lot of sites available so I didn't bother to book one.  I made a short list of potential sites and figured we'd be fine.  When we arrived, the girl who first started to help me get my permit asked what equipment we had, I answered a 13 foot trailer.  Then she showed me 3 sites that were all that were available.  I started to panic, but took the map out to the car to ask Chris and the kids what they wanted to do.  We chose site 18, in the Lakeshore North section.  It wasn't a bad site.  Not much for privacy but a decent size and it was a corner lot so we figured if there were lots of people there, at least we could park the Boler and car so that we'd block the view of the two sites next to us.

I'm not sure if the girl was mistaken about the availability or what, but in the entire section of 28 sites, less than half of them were in use, and almost all the empty ones could have accommodated a big trailer, let alone our little 13" one.

Not that it mattered.  Our site was fine and we only had 2 other sites anywhere near us so it was quiet except for people walking by to the path heading to the beach.  And for some reason when we got our permit they gave us a free little can of baked beans…not sure what that was about.

When we arrived, we quickly got set up and then made some burgers.  Bubbie and I had to walk to the Park Store to get buns and grabbed some chips and a Mr. Noodles cup for her.  We'd brought an organic, brown rice and millet ramen packet but she was worried she wouldn't like it.  The weather was great, not sickeningly hot and with a bit of a breeze.  Chris tried to take Biscuit to the lake to cool him off because he gets so worked up in the car, he was panting like crazy.  He got within a foot of the shore then dragged Chris back to camp.

After lunch, Chris took the kids swimming and I took Biscuit into the trailer so he wouldn't bark when Chris walked away.  I read for a bit, then came out when it got too hot to be inside. A few minutes after that, Chris and the kids came back.

Dinner was spaghetti with italian seasoned bannock.  I cooked while everyone else goofed off with the ukulele's or rode around on their bikes.  We ate inside, then while I cleaned up, Chris and the kids played Viking Chess.  After a few minutes, a father and daughter biked up and the man said his daughter had begged him to come check out this cool game and to ask about it.  This was the first time on the short trip people asked us about Viking Chess.  One of our camp neighbours came over and asked, and even played a few rounds with Chris, then a little while later, some people walking by asked about it.  We've played it many times while camping and never had anyone say a word.

After dinner, the kids biked to the Park Store to get some treats.  They had these peanut butter cups with toppings, like chocolate chip cookie, oreo and M&m's.  They were a bit expensive, $3.59 for a pack of three, but the kids thought they were cool.

Once all the dishes were clean and put away, I took Biscuit for a walk.  He'd had some left over spaghetti and seemed a little desperate to walk around.  When we got back, Squatch was using Chris's new hatchet to make kindling from the bag of firewood.  I nearly had a heart attack.

A miracle happened.  The wood was actually dry!  I almost had another heart attack!  We got a good fire going and then Chris and Squatch played catch until it got too dark to see properly.

It was a comfortable night for sleeping.  Not too hot, and just a bit of cool breeze blowing in so we weren't in and out of the sleeping bag all night.  Biscuit made it uncomfortable though.  Every time one of us moved, he'd climb up our backs and bunt us with his nose or lick a bit of exposed skin. Nothing like getting a wet kiss on the back or on the bottom of your foot to wake you up.

I was up early, thanks to Biscuit.  He was still regretting eating the spaghetti I think because he ran through several doggy-do sacks on our little walk around.  I managed to get him back to bed for a while but a while later he was bugging to go back out.  Figuring it was late enough to get up I started the coffee and not long after, Chris and Squatch got up.  Bubbie slept in the latest this time.  Usually it's Chris.  Breakfast was fried potatoes, pancakes and some oatmeal for Squatch.

By the time we finished and had another game of Viking Chess, it was starting to cloud up and get dark.  We knew it was supposed to storm so Chris took the kids back to the beach while I cleaned up and started packing.  When they got back it only took a few minutes to finish up and we were on the road.  It started sprinkling five minutes after we left, but never stormed.

All in all, it was a short but fun trip.  I don't know that I'll rely on sites being available again.  While our site was pretty good, it was on the opposite corner of the section from the comfort stations.  There were vault toilets nearby but they were tucked into the bushes and I was leery of going there in the middle of the night by myself.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Rock Lake, August 28-30, 2011

Still trying to catch up on old trip logs.  As my actual notes on this trip weren't very detailed, it's not a very extensive report, and I don't know where the pictures are…

Mum had so much fun on our trip earlier in this year, but her only issue had been with the tent. Her and dad had slept in a tent they'd gotten from my brother, a little 3 man just barely big enough for their air mattress.  We'd found a good deal on an 8 person tent and picked it up only to realize later that there was a spot on the seam where the floor and tent wall meet where the stitching had come undone.  It was easy for mum to fix up though but we didn't actually notice it until we set up at Rock Lake on this trip.

We arrived around 6:30 and quickly got the tent set up and had dinner. BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, chicken and some minute rice.  There was a beautiful sunset that night.  The kids and I were able to get some good shots of the fading light hitting the face of Booth's Rock. 

Getting a fire going that night was difficult.  I think we bought 2 bags of wood and the first one must have been a bit wet (as per usual) but eventually we got it going and the kids toasted marshmallows.

It was pretty cold in the night. I remember I spent most of the time making sure the kids were covered up (they weren't cold apparently but I was worried they were and so didn't sleep)  Bubbie and I got up and went for a walk before everyone else got up.  Breakfast was eggs, bacon, toast and baked beans for the adults…the kids had Cap'n Crunch.

After breakfast, the kids and I attended a kids nature presentation at the Visitor's centre about Algonquin in winter then we went back to camp for lunch, then back to the visitor's centre for a presentation about how to cook over a camp fire.  After that hiked part of the Booth's Rock Trail.  We went backwards, and spent a lot of time exploring the shoreline of Rock Lake where we could get off the trail.  We found a really nice little beach and rocky area that would be perfect for picnics.

We found walking the trail backwards was tough.  At that point, I hadn't done it the proper way, and now that I have, I think doing it backwards was a huge mistake.  Going the proper way, you climb hills (steep, rocky ones) but it's in fairly short bursts.  Going backwards, you basically climb about 200 steps which was really hard on the knees.  We didn't realize it at the time, but we didn't even make it to the top.  We got to a spot where you could see out over the lake (actually close to the top…another minute would have gotten us there) and had our granola bar and water.

When we got back the kids played at the beach and we got a good fire going.  It must have been the only bag of fire wood we've ever bought in a park that was dry.  It was the camp fire we always mention as the best ever.  Awesome bed of coals that would have been perfect for cooking over, never had to fan it with a lid from one of the food bins.  It was pretty damn epic.

This was the trip I'd bought the Jiffy Pop holder on, and it worked really well.  I was so excited about it.

We got some new neighbours that night.  A family arrived at the site behind and one over from us.They had a trailer full of gear and the first thing they did was steal a picnic table from an empty site.  They had 3 or 4 kids, I can't remember how many, but everyone was loud and running around like crazy.  The thing that drove us crazy though was that after they got set up (they'd arrived pretty late, like 8pm) they piled into their van and drove to the comfort station for showers (this was at about 11pm now) with the trailer still hitched up.  It rattled like crazy all around the campground, and down the road.  Then half an hour later they came rattling back to camp, and left their van lights shining into our tent for half an hour as they got everyone ready for bed.  The kids still refuse to go back to the non-electrical section of Rock Lake because of these people.  I mean seriously, they'd been there 2 hours, did they really all need to shower?  And couldn't they have been a little more careful about not disturbing other campers?  The kids were yelling and fighting, the adults were yelling at the kids…it was super annoying.

We got up fairly early and packed up.  It was raining but thankfully dad had put a tarp over the tent the night before.  This actually helped with the night chill as the tent didn't feel as damp even with the rain. We had breakfast, did the Peck Lake trail, then went to the Tea Lake dam for lunch.  Dad hauled out the BBQ and we had hot dogs.  

You know how on a camping trip, there will be a memory that stands out?  On this trip, the rude campers was one memory, the other one happened as we ate lunch.  As we were sitting down at a picnic table to eat, I asked if the bun bag was empty so we could put garbage in it.  Mum says "Fun bag?" and I started laughing so hard I nearly choked on my hot dog.  Every time I tried to explain what was so funny, I'd start laughing again.  A few weeks before, Chris and I had gone to a wedding and there was an older woman in a very revealing dress.  Chris's brother made a comment about Granny fun bags which at the time I hadn't found funny, but for some reason now it seemed hilarious.  Now we always have a "fun bag" on a camping trip.  It started out being a name we called the bag designated for garbage, but eventually became the bag my mum carries with her full of prizes and little treats for the kids.   

Looking back on this trip now, it's kind of funny.  The loud campers have become something we talk about at almost every camping trip when you hear someone being loud at night.  "Yeah, but at least they aren't as bad as those people from our first trip to Rock Lake."  And they weren't the only campers who still stick in our minds.  The people directly behind us was a couple, maybe in their forties.  Every meal they would bring out a checkered table cloth, a candle and at dinner, a bottle of wine.  It looked very romantic and sweet.

It was also the first trip where Chris wasn't there for even part of it.  It kind of forced me to do some of the things I'd always relied on him to do before.

I'm going to apologize now for the lack of pictures.  I have pictures of this trip I just can't find them so I'm posting the log as is, and will add them in a few days…I hope!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Third Time Unlucky

It seems like things are conspiring against me and my plans for camping this year.  We were supposed to go to Mew Lake in Algonquin for a few nights on my birthday, but Bubbie had a workshop for a school sport she had to go to.

Our Easter plan to go up to Algonquin for a picnic and some hiking fell through too.  My mum and I misunderstood each other and she thought we weren't going, so her and dad went without us.  We were heading up to meet them at their house and when I texted her to let her know, she informed me they were already in Dwight.

As for our first booked car camping trip?  Bubbie's got another school event for the first day of that trip, so we won't be getting the early start I'd been hoping for.

But hey, if you believe in things happening in threes…that means the summer shouldn't have any issues, right?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day Trip: Algonquin Park - Leaf Lake Trails - March 16, 2015

Monday of March Break was beautiful this year, so we piled all our stuff into the car and headed up to Algonquin Park to do some skiing.  Last year, the kids and Chris had skied the smalls loop of the Leaf Lake Trail while I walked Biscuit around the Logging Museum Trail (3 times) and they were really eager for me to join them this year.

As we were getting our skis on, one of the Park Staff pulled in and asked us some questions.  He informed us the smallest loop was groomed and track set, but that the warm weather had made it impossible to do the rest as the groomer kept over heating.  He suggested though, that we at least take the small detour to Dee's Cabin.

So we headed out, turning right at the first fork in the trail to do the loop in a counter clockwise direction.  Chris decided to demonstrate how Squatch had fallen there last year, and began flailing around like a crazy person on the ground while making pitiful whining noises, not realizing Bubbie had the GoPro on and was filming the whole thing.

They had told me there was a bit of a hill…a bit of a hill?  The whole first kilometre was uphill.  It wasn't steep, just a really long incline that had me huffing for breath and losing feeling in my legs.  Eventually, we got to another fork, and took the short detour loop to get to the cabin.  This meant more up hill, and after a few minutes I started getting a really bad headache.  This continued through the whole day, and only got worse by the time we got home.  I seriously thought I'd burst something in my brain with all the exertion.  

The cabin was nice though.  And the trail was really great.  As the Park employee had said, once we turned to go to the cabin, there was no tracks, and the icy spots made going down hill a bit scary for Bubbie and I.  We took off our skis for some of them, but once we got back to nice tracks, we stopped doing that.  Chris wasn't impressed.  I don't know why he gets so upset about us doing that.  It's not like it's hurting him any, and besides, I was carrying not only the GoPro, but my DSLR as well.  I'm certain he'd have been far more upset had he had to buy me a new camera and lens because I fell on it.

After we got back to the car, we packed up and headed to the Visitor Centre to pick up some drinks, then went to the Costello Creek Picnic area.  Unfortunately, it didn't look like there had been much melting there at all.  The picnic tables still had a foot of snow on them.  At home, we were down to just the snowbanks, everything else was bare ground.  It's amazing what a few hours driving distance makes.

Because we'd all been so hot after skiing, we'd taken off our snow pants and didn't feel like putting them back on, so we just ate in the car.  Kind of lame, I know.  But it didn't put a damper on our day at all.  Lots of fun was had by all.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring is finally here!

It's official.  At least here, it feels like spring.  Today's temperature is supposed to get up to +11 and the sun is shining. (And won't it be great to get back into the habit of not having to specify a plus or minus when discussing the temperature?)  After yesterday's rain, our yard closely resembles a swamp (I kid you not, I heard Red Wing Blackbirds out there this morning, so I'm not the only one who confused the area with wetlands.)

Apparently, in Algonquin Park, it's a different story.  We are heading up there tomorrow, but from what I've just read, the Cross Country Ski trails are still open, though conditions might be iffy.  We'd planned to just have a picnic, maybe see if there's enough melt going on for there to be moose hanging around the roadsides, but it doesn't sound likely.  We'll still picnic and maybe feed the birds at the Spruce Bog
Trail, it'll still be great.

It's not too long till the opening weekend, and for anyone looking to head out to the back country as of the last Saturday in July, you should be aware, Algonquin Park has posted an advisory saying they won't be issuing back country permits until at least May 8th.  A really cold winter and slow spring thaw has resulted in apparently, record high levels of ice depth for early April.  Now we could still get a few weeks of super hot weather and lots of rain, but as of now, canoe camping is being delayed by a few weeks.
From Friends of Algonquin Ice out Page

There are some people who are mad, mostly people who have already booked their trips for that first weekend of trout season, and I get it, I do.  Getting time off work can be tough, rescheduling it even tougher.  Not to mention, after a long cold winter, we're all aching to get out there again.  On the other hand, some good arguments can be made.  Booking a trip for opening weekend is a risky proposition.  If the ice is actually out the dangers of being on the water are very, very real.  But even disregarding the safety issue, in the last few years, ice out hasn't been early enough to allow water travel on the last Saturday in April.  The trend does appear to lean towards earlier ice outs over the long term, but that's no guarantee.  If you aren't willing to risk having to change your plans, just plan your trip for a few weeks later right from the start.  Or switch to front country camping.

As much as my husband and I have been itching to get out in the canoe, neither of us are willing to risk an accident when we have kids depending on us.  So we'll wait a few extra weeks, do some car camping…and stare out at the lake willing it to warm up.

Has anyone got trips booked for early May?  What trips are you most looking forward to this year?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Budget Camping - Where to go

Lets face it, the only way to really camp if you are being super budget conscious, is to go to crown land or an unmaintained provincial park that allows camping.  It's not impossible to find, but it's certainly not as easy as going online and booking a campsite.  You take your chances that you'll actually get a site, that the sites won't be trashed by irresponsible campers, and you'll deal with the lack of facilities (possibly not even a thunder box)

On the plus side, this kind of camping gives you a lot of freedom.  You can stay as long as you feel like, provided your food doesn't run out.  You can pick your route without having to worry about sticking to a permit.   Really like a particular lake and want to spend the whole trip there rather than moving on and doing a whole loop like you'd planned?  Nobody is going to care.  Feel like heading home a few days early?  You won't feel guilty you payed for 7 nights and only stayed 5.

For people heading out from the city, you will probably have to travel farther, so you'll have to weigh the cost of gas.  There's not a lot of places to camp for free close to the city…there used to be, but most became over used and now charge fees to cover maintenance costs.  For this reason, it may make more sense to stick closer to home, save on gas and pay a campground fee, especially if you are going for a night or two.

But for the purposes of this series, I'm trying to see how easy it is to plan a week of camping for very little money.

So, campground fees -- $0.00
Gas - depends on where you go…we have an option within 20 minutes of where we live, but for the most part, we'd be driving at least 2-4 hours each way.  Gas prices are low(er) right now, but I'm guessing once summer hits, they'll be back to where they were last year.

I'll be working on some budget friendly camp meals, hopefully some for both car camping and back country, and I hope to put together a 7 day trip menu, with approximate costs in the next few weeks.

Family Day 2015

I wish I was posting about a fun day spent skiing in Algonquin, but with wind chill's putting the temperature at about -41 on Family day this year, and with Squatch and Chris down with bad chest colds, we didn't make it.

Instead, we spent the day watching television…kind of depressing.  I'm hoping we have better luck for March Break.

Anyone brave the cold and get outside for Family Day this year?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Lake of Two Rivers, October 24-26, 2014

For the third year, Algonquin Park has hosted a special fall event for Halloween.  It's held the weekend before actual Halloween, and if you have kids and don't mind the cool (cold) weather, it's definitely worth attending.

First you have to keep in mind there are no reservations taken for sites after Thanksgiving Weekend, so all sites are first come first served.  We had been told by the staff that there were usually only about 30 of the 60 or so sites being used that weekend, so we weren't too worried about getting up super early in the morning.  Squatch had a doctor's appointment Friday morning, so we had most things packed then were going to head up.  That morning I checked online and there were about 35 sites available.  By the time we got home from the doctor's office, there were 11.  By the time we pulled out of the driveway, only 3!  Five minutes later it was down to 2.  We decided to take our chances and head up.  Turned out those 2 sites were being used by staff for their trick or treating station.  But with so many people showing up, and the weather being decent (not freezing and snowing) they opened up parts of Lake of Two Rivers.  The woman told us to head over, pick an empty site, leave something there, then come back and get the permit.  We picked one fairly close to the comfort station but not too close, then headed back.  As we waited for oncoming traffic to pass so we could get back into Mew, a wolf crossed the road!  It happened so fast we didn't get a chance to get the cameras out, but it was really exciting.  We'd seen a wolf before, just a brief glimpse of it on the top of a ridge about 10 feet back into the bush behind where a small moose carcass was, but this was a great view.

Before I get into the trip stuff, I just would like to say that my previous experience in Two Rivers campground wasn't great.  We had a dog almost pee on our tent, people walking through our site all day, and all our neighbours were playing music until nearly midnight (all sorts of songs...from country to East Indian...none of which blend together smoothly to make a sound you'd want to listen to.)  To top it off, there were people partying all night, playing horseshoes until late, and just a lot of those annoying little things that make you wish you were in the back country. You can read the trip report here.

Being there when it's almost empty?  Beautiful!  Wow.  It really is nice camping beneath the tall pines.  Sure there's minimal privacy (none) but when there are maybe 20 sites being used in the whole campground, you don't have to worry.  We didn't have anyone at any sites around us.  Would I go back in the summer?  Not likely, but mid week in the spring or in the fall?  Yeah, for sure.

Wolf at Beaver Pond Trail Parking Lot
As we were setting up the trailer, we realized we'd forgotten coffee.  In our rush and panic over whether or not we'd get a site, we skipped our customary stop at Tim Horton's, so this was a depressing start to the trip.  Mum and I decided to drive to Whitney.  On the way back, as we approached the Beaver Pond Trail, we saw another wolf!  This one crossed the road and stopped on a small rocky ledge.  We pulled into the trail parking lot and it walked to the edge of the grass, posed, crossed the parking lot, posed again, and then disappeared into the trees.  What a treat!

The kids were super excited to get to decorating.  We hadn't brought much since this was our first year and buying a lot of decorations last minute is expensive, but that didn't matter.  They set up their tomb stones, strung up spider lights and came up with grand plans for next year.  While they were doing that, I made up a big pot of spaghetti and we retreated inside to eat.  It wasn't too cold, but still chilly enough to cool your dinner down pretty quick if you eat outside.

After dinner, mum and I took the kids to the Owl Prowl.  This is held at the comfort station parking lot at Mew Lake where a big bonfire was burning with benches set around one side.  David, the naturalist, talked a bit about owls, what makes them unique, how they hunt and what they eat, then we walked out to the air field to see if any would answer to his owl calls.  None did, but it was still a fun time.  We didn't stick around for the bonfire afterwards.  Dad had a fire going at the camp site so we went back to enjoy that.

Before bed, Dad and I took the dogs for a long walk.  Biscuit was a complete nut the whole way up, and didn't settle down until long after the lights had been turned off.

The little electric heater was enough to keep us toasty all night.  We didn't even bother cutting the propane furnace in.  All of us slept well.

I woke up around 7 and took Biscuit for more walking so everyone else could sleep without him being a pain.  We explored, checked out campsites and then headed back.  Breakfast was potato and pepper hash (made with mini gourmet potatoes...the three colour ones) peameal bacon (so much for going vegan...) and one eyed buffalos.  It ended up being a good thing we had a big breakfast, because with so much going on, we really didn't have time to eat the rest of the day.

First was the Skeleton Tour at the visitor's center (the kids ended up eating at the cafeteria) then we went back to camp to finish carving pumpkins.  Some advice for anyone thinking of going next year?  Clean your pumpkins at home...cause pumpkins that have been sitting in the cold makes the job really miserable.  At 3:30 we went back to the Mew Lake comfort station parking lot to watch the costume contest.  Squatch went as Tom Thompson.  It was kind of a last minute thing, as all our preparations for the trip were.  Some of the costumes were pretty amazing.

Next up was finishing the decorations at our site.  Not much was added.  A few more lights, a spider's web and some rats.  Like I said, we had no idea people got so over the top crazy with the decorating.  At 5 Dad and I took the kids to Mew Lake to trick or treat.  There were so few sites at Two Rivers that mum, who stayed behind, only had 13 kids.  I guess not many from Mew came over, if any.

We had a great time checking out the other decorations, it really was an impressive display of creativity.  And so much fun!  We had a quick snack back at camp then headed out for the Wolf Howl.  The dogs stayed in the cars (had to take both because the dogs don't exactly get along...Biscuit annoys Lucky by bunting him with his nose non-stop)  Like with the Owl Prowl, the initial presentation by Dave was informative and funny.  Then we all hiked out to the air field.  Again, no reply from the wolves, but given the noise at Mew Lake earlier (someone was walking around, dressed as a serial killer, revving a chainsaw, and the number of people standing there probably had a big impact.  The wolves would have been stupid to hang around too close.

The Canadian Supernatural Research Society presentation was very interesting too, unfortunately it started to rain.

It was chillier that night, and damp because of the on and off rain.  Also the wind kicked up, fluttering our tarps around.  We'd turned off the heat while we were all gone, so that didn't help, but it didn't take long to warm up and we went to bed.

The morning was actually not too bad.  I got up early and walked Biscuit all around, making notes of what sites I'd like to stay at in the future (in non-busy times) and then headed back.  We decided to just pack up and head out.

We definitely will be doing this again.  The kids had so much fun, and it really was impressive to see the work people had put into their sites.  Next year, we will definitely clean out the pumpkins before hand, and we will pack more snacks since we didn't have time to eat lunch or dinner on the Saturday.  Food that's just heat-and-eat would be good too.  Last year was much colder apparently and they had snow and freezing rain, so we should probably bring snow pants too.

I'm going to do a separate post with pictures of the decorated sites. There was just too much to put into a trip log.

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Lake of Two Rivers, August 1-3, 2011

This was my parents first camping trip in years, probably since I was 6 or 7.  We'd been so excited after our first trip to Algonquin a few weeks previous that my mum, who has always loved camping, decided we should go again. We went online and booked one of the last sites available for the dates we wanted to go. Chris was helping his parents move north of Huntsville, so we planned for him to join us for the second night. 

We arrived at 2 and got our permit, then went straight to the Visitor's centre for lunch.  I guess that was kind of a cheat, but mum loves going to the cafe there.  It's gotten now, so that the ladies that work there will take a break and chat, but that's not part of this trip.

Once we got back to our site we set up and immediately realized we'd forgotten some things.  Mum and the kids biked to the Two River's Store to get a foot pump so we could blow up the air mattresses while dad and I set up the tents and screen tent.  Our site wasn't great, but we weren't expecting it to be.  It was the monday of a holiday weekend and there wasn't much available.  It was at the point where two roads meet up, so it had little privacy.  

Pumping up the mattresses didn't take long, so we biked down to the lake and had a swim, then came back and made dinner.  The kids had chicken drumsticks, while dad and I had foil wrapped chicken with potatoes, carrots, and mum used ground beef instead of chicken.  We also made brussels sprouts with butter in foil and caesar salad.  The little BBQ mum had bought didn't work very well, and burned through a lot of propane making just that meal.

Usually, up until now, Chris had done all the cooking because I didn't know how to hook up the stove, but on this trip, I did most of it.  It was kind of an aha moment for me, knowing I could take the kids camping myself and handle all the stuff that needs to be done.  Of course, looking back, it was the beginning of me doing ALL the cooking when it's just the four of us, and I haven't managed to convince anyone that the cook shouldn't  have to do the dishes.

We biked to the store for ice cream, then mum, dad and the kids played crazy eights.   Once it got dark we had a fire, toasted some marshmallows and went to bed.

It was cold sleeping on the air mattress.  To save space I had brought my backpacking sleeping bag and I wasn't warm at all.  Bubbie and I got up at 7 and went for a walk.  When we got up, the others were starting to stir.  

Breakfast was bacon, eggs and maple baked beans for the adults and chocolate Cheerios for the kids.  After cleaning up, we headed out on our bikes and did about 3km of the Old Rail Trail.  The blueberries in the old air field were plentiful and people were everywhere filling little bowls with them.

After we got back to camp, we had a snack then went for a swim, then had lunch of hot dogs.  Dad had a bit of a headache so we let him sleep and walked down to the Two River's Interpretive Trail.  There were hardly any bugs but after all our biking our legs were pretty sore.  It was also pretty hot so as soon as we got back we went for another swim.

We had spaghetti for dinner.  Chris got there just before nine, having gotten a little lost in the campground trying to find the site in the dark.  Immediately, the kids asked him to make Jiffy Pop.  We got a good fire going, with wood that was actually dry (if you've camped in an Ontario Park you'll know that's practically a miracle.)  Everyone else went to bed shortly after that.  Squatch actually fell asleep on the picnic table and had to be carried to bed.  Chris and I stayed up and talked for a bit.  It was pretty noisy both nights.  Lots of radios, guys playing horseshoes until 11pm, dogs barking.  At one point the first day, someone's dog almost peed on our tent before the guy came and grabbed it.

We woke to light rain so we just headed to the Two River's store for coffee and hot chocolate.  Bubbie ended up puking hers up when we later went to the visitor's centre for lunch.  The kids got to do the children's program for the first time, which was a lecture on bear safety.

Despite a few issues (like making multiple runs to the store for things we forgot - air pump, washing bin, soap etc) the experience was good.  Mum and Dad had a great time, and if you've read any of the newer trip logs on this site, you'll see we go camping with them often.  Mum gets just as giddy as me about booking a trip.

As you can see, I'm trying to write up old trip logs.  Some I have notes for, some I can't remember more than the basics so I might not bother writing anything for them.  I'll have to see.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to find pictures from these older trips.  I'll publish the write up and then add in pictures later when I figure out which computer/cd/thumbdrive they are hiding on.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Pog Lake, July 8-10, 2011

This was officially our first time camping in Algonquin Park.  Up until now, we would attend Bolerama, a gathering of people with campers like ours.  It had been held at Emily Park for many years, but last year, which marked some anniversary in the history of Boler Campers, the event was being held way up north.  Bolerama is fun, and we always enjoyed ourselves, but most of the other people there were retired couples, except for us and our friends, Shawn and Andrea.  Since the plan was to convoy to New Liskard (where the Boler's had been made) and set up camp in Walmart parking lots, we elected not to go.

Since we'd missed our trip with them last year, and this year's Bolerama was being held down by Niagra Falls, we decided to have our own Boler weekend.  Shawn and Andrea had been camping in Algonquin many times and recommended Pog Lake.

Picking a weekend and booking our sites took a bit of time, but finally we were on our way.  As I'm writing this trip log, it's been a few years since the actual trip, but I remember we all met up in Minden and drove up together.  I was crazy excited.  I'd grown up so close to Algonquin and had never gone there as a kid.  We'd only recently started going up for day trips.

We arrived at the Pog Lake gate and the guys went in to get the permits and we made our way to our campsites.  We didn't have the best sites, but they were pretty decent.  Ours had a view of the water, and Shawn and Andrea had a site with better privacy.  The first night, most of the sites around us were empty, which was annoying since they were really nice and big where ours were kind of small.  Our campers were small, but with four little kids running around between us, a bit of room for them to run around would have been nice.

The first thing we did was walk to one of the beaches.  The kids waded in a bit, then it started to look like it might storm so we headed back.  The storm ended up producing one flash of lightening, a few minutes of light rain, then it was gone.

We made hot dogs for dinner.  Shawn and Andrea had forgotten a lot of their stuff.  I'm pretty sure this was the year they'd left their trailer at our house, went to the cottage for the week, then came and hooked up the camper. Planning for back to back trips like that was a bit of a challenge I guess and things like a stove got forgotten.  We had a campfire and s'mores.  Chris and Shawn played some hackey sack, then catch, then played guitar until it got too dark.

Bubbie and I got up at 7 to go for a walk while everyone else slept.  It was really foggy on the lake.  We ended up walking half the campground before anyone else got up (this is pretty typical though) The kids tried fishing with little success.

After breakfast, we went to the visitor centre and had lunch, then did the Big Pines Interpretive Trail.  It was really buggy.  The pines were impressive, but with the youngest of the group being at that age where she wouldn't hold hands or allow herself to be carried, we ended up getting eaten alive moving at her slow pace.

When we got back to camp, we went swimming.  There were lots of people out in canoes.  Some were sitting facing each other and one guy was standing up to paddle.  It was really weird and we kept watching waiting for him to fall.  He didn't though.  Must have been a very stable canoe.

After dinner, we went to the Two River's Picnic area to fish.  They had no luck so we headed back to the Pog Lake beach and the kids each caught a rock bass.  We had another camp fire and the guys made jiffy pop.  Despite warnings not to make it over an open fire, it turned out really well.

People showed up to fill up the empty sites around us sometime during the day.  Someone nearby was singing opera.  This was also my first experience with waiting in line in the comfort station for girls to put on makeup…at 9pm.  It's dark out!  Unfortunately, this seems to happen to me every time we go to Pog Lake.

Chris got up early the next morning so he could fish a bit without the kids.  At this age, they still needed him to bait their hook every five minutes so he took the opportunity to fish a bit himself.  We ate breakfast, then packed up.  Before leaving the park, we headed to the Logging Museum Trail.  There were hardly any bugs and no rocks to trip up little feet so it wasn't as frustrating as the day before.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January Blahs?

I love this time of year…okay maybe love is stretching it a bit.  It's cold and snowy.  Our chances to get out and do stuff are limited by the kids being in school and my husbands work schedule.  But it's also the time of year when I can start booking camping trips.  Ontario Park's sites can be booked 5 months in advance.  To save you doing any math, that means it's possible to book the first week of summer vacation!

It just kind of makes camping season seem so much closer.

I still haven't managed to convince the hubby that winter camping might be a fun thing.  He'd be willing to try it in our Boler camper, but our towing car is in need of some important repairs.  Ah, I'll keep working on it.

So, as I sit at my computer, it's snowing outside and I've got a mug of tea, planning all the fun trips for the coming summer…Here's hoping for an early spring, a moderate bug population that actually dies off at the expected time, and lots of paddling.