And a Camping We Go Again

After only going camping 3 weeks ago, we were off again! This time to Darlington Provincial Park.

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Early morning view of the lake.

We’ve camped once here before and though the distance is only 45 minutes average from where we live and considered a park close enough to the suburbs, it’s surprisingly a very nice place to camp for a short, weekend! It does feel like we’re cheating being so close to home but when we’re in the park, it has that camping-like-feeling. And it is beautiful – like an oasis we can escape to for a quick trip.

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Hobbes guards our trailer from pesky squirrels

I feel like we’re counting down each camping trip we have with our little old trailer. It’s been good to us for several years but come around this time next year, we’ll be graduating to our new 20′ custom trailer. Things will work for once – like the fridge, the sink and we’ll have temperature-controlled HVAC! Of course, I’m not sure how much we will need the A/C as we tend to camp at the tail ends of the season more than the hot months, but the heating will help us stay warm in the spring and fall, and should it get hot, Hobbes can be more comfortable. Especially if we need to leave him for a couple of hours if we venture somewhere where dogs are not allowed. HVAC is a standard component for all of their trailers – But I do see it as a bonus!

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Part of our hike was along the beach.

We did the Burk Trail this time (last time we did the Robinson Creek Trail) which took us about an hour to complete.

I made the unfortunate mistake of asking the person on duty in the historical pioneer cabin if the structure we were standing it as an original. Instead of a simple answer (with perhaps a dose of a little history lesson along with it), he went on and on and on giving me what I can only describe as a history LECTURE! The whole time, Doug was outside waiting for Hobbes while Chaeli and I were trapped inside with this very odd man.

Doug said afterwards this man needs training at working in the business of volunteerism in the interpretation/historical sector. I’m sure he was harmless but it was getting VERY uncomfortable because as I tried to get away with him, he would follow me very closely and even position himself right in front of me. When he started to do the same with Chaeli, that’s when I found a way out and left.

Amazingly, he continued to follow us outside.

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Lovely inch worm came for a visit.

The 2-night weekend trip was perfect. The weather was beautiful and oddly enough, it wasn’t as buggy as I thought it to be. We spent glorious amounts of time outdoors. I could feel the stress just melt away no sooner than we arrived and set up.

As always, that first sit-down at the campfire on the first night with a mug of wine is always one of the best moments. As is the early fresh air greeting me when I step outside our trailer after waking up.

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Last view of the lake.

Unlike last time, after being exhausted from the red-eye out of Vegas that morning going into our camping trip (and the business trip was such a busy trip), I was back to my morning schedule – woke up 6:30AM, took Hobbes for a long walk (30-45 minutes), snack on half a protein bar while I read, and waited for the other two to wake up so we can make brunch.

We go again in August for our week long trip and I only wish we had time to schedule a July weekend trip.

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Dogs deserve a chair, too!

Camping craves

After my last post about our winter get-away I’ve been really anxious to go camping again. We didn’t got as often as we wanted last year. There were two outstanding trips – one to Sharbot Lake and our Thanksgiving weekend in Awenda – we basically didn’t do any other camp trips. And even this summer is looking to be a challenge but we’re hoping to fit the usual four in. One for each month from June to September.

This past weekend, I started to pull out my summer clothes. I ‘m going through all my shorts and t-shirts making mental notes of things that are getting a bit old. Since we started to go camping more regularly, I don’t get rid of my older clothes (anything that might be fading or showing a bit of wear and tear). I put it in the “camping drawer” category.

And the thing is – a part of me that misses camping is because I miss wearing those camping clothes!

No – wait. Let me be a bit more honest. I think I just like the fact that I have an excuse to dress a bit like a bum. 🙂

Not our last camping trip of the season… if you can believe it!

With the lack of camping trips this season, my husband was getting pretty desperate. I admit I missed camping too but I can survive one year where we take a bit of a break from it.

Still, he pushed and pushed. And we fought about it as well. In the end, we came to a happy resolution by meeting in the middle.

He wanted to go somewhere about an hour away. I had no time to prep. So… we tried out this independent campground just 10 minutes away. It’s not a provincial park but had amazing hiking trails surrounding the campground.

All were happy and I’m glad we did it. It also gave us a chance to try dehydrated eggs (with grass-fed, hormone-free, anti-biotic free bison sausages).

deydrated eggsdehydraged eggs and bison sausagesNo, we weren’t aiming to create a gourmet meal here. There is hopes to do a portage/canoe trip where we’ll have to be somewhat creative with how we eat since we won’t have the opportunity to lug around a cooler. We’ve managed in the past – it’s do-able if we only go for two nights, preferably near the end of the summer when it’s not as hot.

The only problem is most of the dehydrated food packages is really high in either carbs or sugar. Which is exactly why our only option so far was to purchase these dehydrated eggs. The verdict? Edible but of course, no where near as good as actual eggs. 🙂

hiking - wildflowershikingOf course, we made sure we went on a lovely hike. For the entire morning, it rained. Which was fine. We slept in and had a very late brunch in the trailer.

By the time the sky cleared, we were ready to stretch our legs. Plus, Hobbes needed to burn off some energy. We hiked for an hour – and got our fill of fresh air.

new toquecamping fashionWe were only semi-prepared for the cold. The forecast showed and even lower dip for the temperature that night. While we brought along a of of fleece tops and bottoms, we didn’t have anything for our heads or Chaeli’s hands.

So, we took a quick trip to Sails and took advantage of their 50% toque sale (we were only 15 minutes away from one of the locations).

There was a Dollarama next to it so we picked up some 3-in-1 gloves for Chaeli.

campfire steaksOne way I was convinced to go camping on such a cold, rushed weekend… witness the above photo. This picture does not do these steaks any justice. I bought these earlier that day at Whole Foods. Yes, I paid a mint for each. They are hormone and anti-biotic free. And about 2 inches thick!

I’ve had some pretty seriously good steaks in my life. But only a couple stand out. The one was on our last Princess Cruise when we paid cover charge to dine in the Crown Grill Restaurant. The second would have been the Tomahawks we bought as part of my dad’s Father’s Day gift.

These recent steaks would be amongst the top three. Every bite had an amazing flavour. Well worth the money.

hobbes the dogAnd yes, even Hobbes got some of Doug’s scraps with his dinner.

It was a nice little get-away, once again, in our little trailer. And as the title of this post suggests, it’s not our last camping trip. We’ll be needing more winter gear as we head up further north in a few weeks to camp by Georgian Bay. What? You say we’re crazy?

No, let me correct you. My husband is crazy. We’re just not very bright for letting him convince us to go along with his craziness.

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Camping at Sharbot Lake – July 2014

I’ve been a bad wife and a bad mother. I’ve been working so hard and focused so much on my new projects at work (both exciting and stressful at the same time) that I wanted to do a stay-cation and work part time from home. Mind you, I did plan on making sure we did fun things during the day but I figured I would still wake up at the same time every morning, head to the gym while everyone slept so I could join them for breakfast or brunch when they woke. Then we would do something fun in the city (or just outside the city). Work would have been when we got home before dinner and after dinner. Or after breakfast if we were having a late start of the day.

But my husband put a stop to this mad way of thinking. He asked what the point of a vacation was if I wasn’t really going to take a true break from work? Yes, he had a point. This is a special year though as we re-build and re-brand ourselves in so many ways. Being the new marketing manager makes me pretty much accountable for all of this.

And so, he convinced me to go camping for a few days. There’s no WIFI during camping and therefore, no way for me to connect.

Now, I do have my Asana app which links me to my team. Any updates on our projects would be notified to me through this app. Yet my boss, the VP, gave me orders to not do any work or think about work. He must have told this to the rest of the team because I received no notifications until Sunday, the day before heading back to the office.

Anyway, we found ourselves at Sharbot Lake, thankful we were able to get a great site since we were going mid-week. It was so beautiful and we definitely plan to head back there again.

Sharbot LakeWe spent one day hiking the Discovery Trail. While only just over 2 km which is nothing compared to the usual distance we hike now, the terrain was on the more rugged side which I love! It also walked us through several different types of scenery and landscapes. Chaeli noted that this made the whole hike much more interesting as we got to see many things.

Sharbot Lake camping - toadWe encountered a lot of different wildlife – all small types, though. The first morning, Doug nearly stepped on a toad just outside our trailer. I picked it up and gave it over to Chaeli to release in the woods. Hobbes got a chance to sniff (and lick) it. I am guessing toads give off a bitter taste as part of their defense mechanism because Hobbes backed up quickly and shook his head vigorously in disgust.

Hobbes encountered many squirrels and chipmunks – including one that came running across our campsite. It probably did not see Hobbes or maybe it was on a suicide mission because Hobbes, waiting for the right moment, pounced without a sound and intersected the poor squirrel. The squirrel was unharmed but did get flipped into the air before it scurried away and ran up a tree – making a lot of noise along the way!

trailer campingChaeli was wiped every night we were there. Not only did we remain fairly active, but she also would join the neighbouring kids for a game of soccer or tag whenever they gathered in the big field behind our camp site. It was an ideal spot for us because she was constantly in our view.

camping foodcamping foodI always tell people – just because we’re camping doesn’t mean we have to rely on just hot dogs and canned food. And because of my diabetes, I have to remain healthy even while vacationing, camping or not.

Luckily, we have an electric cooler and we were staying at a hydro site. This made packing mixed spring greens easier, as well as other veggies. I prepared all the veggies before leaving though – I cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli then threwg them into Ziplock bags the day before we left. This allowed also for easy snacking access for healthier food options.

And nothing compares to a thick, juicy steak that’s grilled over an open flame.

Sharbot Lake fishingWe spent one afternoon canoeing and fishing. But none of us had even a nibble. It was pathetic.

The next day, just for a last attempt, Doug took Chaeli to the unused campsite across from us which was next to the lake. They just stayed on shore to cast their line in. While Doug caught some very small fish he released right away, Chaeli snagged this 2lb Large Mouth Bass with just her dinky Mickey Mouse rod we bought for her from Canadian Tire of all places!

Sharbot Lake canoeingIt was a great vacation. We arrived home Friday afternoon which still gave me a couple of days for a mini-stay-cation to round up my week off. I managed not to log on my laptop for at least two days after we made it home but did check email Sunday late afternoon (I knew I would have a lot of emails and just wanted to start filtering out all the junk and reading some important emails).

camping at bronte creek

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we spent this past cold weekend (the days were nice but our first night felt like it was just hovering above the 0 degrees mark – 2nd night was better but still chilly) camping at bronte creek provincial park.

thankfully, all sites were electrical, allowing us to use our little space heater in our trailer. we have one that has a safety feature – it automatically turns off if it gets tipped over. it actually had to be turned down to the low side – our trailer is so small, it doesn’t take much to heat it up! i ended up sleeping in just a t-shirt and underwear.

first of all, some photos of our weekend:

bronte creek campground dog park

leash-free dog park (campground side)

the leash-free dog park on the campground part of the park was actually a large area with trails that led us through a field, into a forest and a side trail leading down to the creek. a couple of loops around gives both dogs and humans a nice hike. it was very scenic.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

sleeping piglets!

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

little goat resting – loved the backdrop of the wooden framed doorway and textured wall.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

chaeli’s new friend

the day-use area is a separate entrance to the park. there’s no way to go from campground to the day-use area except by driving outside of the provincial park and entering through another entrance (campground vehicle permit will let you get in the day-use area but not the other way around; i suppose this does give us campers more privacy). there’s also no way to cross over from one to another by foot or bike as the two areas are divided by the creek with no bridge. we were a little baffled by this set-up – it’s a little bit of a pain to get from one to another but the beauty of the park does make up for this small inconvenience.

anyway, we visited just the barn with the petting zoo – chaeli got a chance to pet and feed different animals, including a lone cow hovering by the fence just waiting for visitors to fetch the fruits dropped by a nearby pear tree as a cow-treat. poor chaeli’s hands are so small that no matter how flat she made her palm, the cow engulfed pretty much her entire hand, leaving a trail of slimy saliva all over! it happened to me too when it was my turn to feed the cow. they don’t have any top teeth so the experience isn’t painful – just a little gross.

bruce trail - river side and ruins side trail

ruins along the bruce trail

bruce trail - river and ruin side trail

posing with uncle hoa (who we believe has 0% body fat)

sunday, after eating breakfast and packing up, we met ada and hoa at a nearby restaurant for lunch.

afterwards, they took us to the bruce trail’s river and ruins side trail for a 4.5 km hike which we completed in about 1 hr and 20 min. we’ve done one hike along another side trail of the bruce trail in the hamilton area which wasn’t too far from this trail – called the ray lowes side trail. i knew before the start of this hike, it would be a good one. not just because ada and hoa usually know how to pick the good ones, but because the trails around the burlington and hamilton areas are all just so gorgeous!

it definitely did not disappoint – the scenery and vegetation gradually changed as we made our way through the loop. it was still incredibly lush in some areas, especially parts of the trail that left the woods and was only small enough for a single file of hikers. i brushed through a lot of vines and floral-type, long stems and for awhile, felt like i was in some type of tropical rain forest.

the difficulty of the trail wasn’t too bad. i wouldn’t recommend it for those who are not in shape and/or beginner hikers as there are some inclines and declines with areas that can become quite slippery, especially if there’s been some recent precipitation. but it’s not too hard, either, as the tough spots are like short bursts followed by a steady plain for a longer stretch. the toughest part is really just the first decent down – which is always more tiring to climb back up at the end.

> view rest of our photos from our bronte creek weekend camping trip.

now about the park itself – it was kept really clean (well, it is in oakville) and definitely classified as a city park where people have the option of trying out camping without going too far from their homes. it’s perfect for this type of fall camping where we only go from friday night to sunday morning. the days are much shorter so we don’t have the luxury of arriving too late to set everything up. rather, it’s close enough for us to make it just as the sun starts to set, allowing us just enough time to stabilize and level off our 2-wheel trailer. barely enough time, though. just barely.

there are also grocery stores and restaurants all around the park within 5-10 minutes of an easy drive. we actually took advantage of this saturday morning where we were suppose to have cereal and fruit. but camping in the cold made us famished! i suppose all the extra energy went into our bodies trying to just generate heat to keep warm. luckily, our park map/magazine had a $5 coupon for coras. so… away we went.

i suppose the downside of this, as with all city parks, you risk getting the type of city people who don’t really understand park etiquette. i passed by one group that were throwing their water melon peels into the bushes surrounding their campsite. not only is this an act of littering (which one can be fined for) but it’s also leaving out edible trash for critters/wildlife (which one can also be fines for). luckily, we were not in bear country but still… it’s more pleasant to camp without the nuisance of racoons and skunks rummaging through the campground area.

but as oakville is a nice, family-style community, we were not bombarded with young (or older) city folks wanting to just come and find a place to party and drink excessively. most of our neighbours were families with young kids. so all in all, it was a successful camping trip. we would definitely use bronte creek again if we were looking for a close and quick get-away.