We emptied the trailer and the car onto the lawn at Blue Moon, Rod and Ginnie’s cottage. Well folks. There was a lot of sorting to be done.
Of course the children were no where to be seen. They were also not heard. They were so happy to chill with a movie, some Legos and crazy crafts. We just let them be. The kids were in great shape. They were relaxed and got along.
Knowing we are off to a group camping trip of twenty next weekend gave a purpose to our chaos. Camping in one spot for three days and four nights will be a breeze. Even the kids are looking forward to being in one spot.
Rod and I arrived at about nine oclock on Friday night. Matthew and Ginnie welcomed us with really cold beers and put the kids to bed. Rod and I were a little bummed that the group vote went against that one last night at Awenda. Although, scoring a site there at 7pm on a gorgeous Friday was unlikely. We sat down on the couch with our beers. The kids were someone else’s problem, and there was nothing to do. We both crashed so hard! It has taken about four days to start feeling normal. I have never seen my friend Rod so exhausted. Saturday I slept in. Coming down to the porch and sitting there to the sound of the birds and smell of the woods, seemed to settle me. It was so weird! After lunch, I took a nap and woke up, had a drink and was ready for another nap. I didn’t think I was so tired!
We are all back in the city. I still do not have my sense of time back. I have no idea what day it is! I came home to the smell of my neighbor’s broken BBQ gas line, a jungle in the backyard and a science experiment in the fridge. I just dove into laundry and camping prep and thank goodness, the Olympics. What those athletes do is so much harder than what I do!
Watch for the kids interviews over the next few days.
On our way back home Ginette had been planning on bringing Josie on a trail ride for her birthday. “I think we’ll be around Owen Sound, tomorrow at noon”, said Ginette. Matthew had done research the day before. He found a great place called Windsong Ranch.
We had to leave Cypress Lake campground by 11AM and drive about two hours to Owen Sound from Tobermory. Pulling a trailer really screws up travelling time and everything takes longer.
We arrived at Windsong Ranch. Gord, the rancher says “Oh you are all wearing shorts. “(he wasn’t very impressed.) Then he looks at our feet and says “I see you’re wearing running shoes” I said, “I thought were better than crocks. I thought we did good.” We had jump into the trailer to change into pants and rubber boots.
Not all of the Party Caravan crew were keen on horseback riding. Gord said Leave it up to me and sure enough he got everybody on a horse whether they liked it or not.
While we were cleaning and brushing the horses, Charlie was getting really nervous. Heather, the lady rancher, said not to worry. They will put her on the calmest horse they have: Magic. Well Magic was the tallest black horse I have ever seen. Charlie ended up trading horses with Arthur. He was supposed to ride Alladin, the pony. Magic was so big his poops could be Arthur’s size! Josie turned to her dad and said, “You’re in my house now Daddy.”
We got a lesson and started on the trail. Charlie really relaxed and ended up having a wonderful ride, thanks to the ranchers. Lily and Ruby were so competitive and kept trying to pass each other. They were comparing passing each other with all the Mario Kart they played.
The views were gorgeous and we had an amazing afternoon. Still feel the pain I tell ya!
Rod and I were so ready to have one last night of camping before ending the trip. It would be nice to have a dinner swim after horseback riding. But the kids were decided. The girls voted us down. Arthur was on our side. But majority wins. So Blue Moon we went.
Food was really a non issue. We have shared meals for many years. Rod and I cook for ten plus people very often. As long as we had some food for 6 year old Arthur things rolled smoothly. We had pizza twice (20$ each) and an amazing fish and chip meal(30$!). one McDonalds meal(35$) and a giant diner meal with all of us in Marmora (60$).
We cooked everything on a two burner coleman stove. There was a total fire ban almost our entire trip so not too many cooking over fire meals. We only went through three bags of firewood the entire trip. We also had a big cast-iron pan. Can’t live without that camping! We also had a lot of fresh corn.
We stopped at fresh farm stands every other day for peaches, and berries and plums. Even kids love almost anything when it is this fresh.
Every stand usually had some kind of berry loaf. I kept a knife in the front seat and we all had a yummy treat. Of course we had good old trail mix granola bars.
Here was our menu:
Spatchcock chicken, with potatoes and salad.
I just cut my chicken on the backbone, threw it in a ziplock with oil, lemon pepper and garlic. I cut up a second one and added oil and paprika. Fried it skinside down for 15 minutes with the potatoes, turned it over and covered with foil. Cook for 45-60 minutes and a yummy smelling easy dinner.
Rotini pasta with mushroom soup, left over chicken and pesto.
Manwich from a can with ground beef and cheese: good old Sloppy joes
Ravioli from a can
Spaghetti with tomato sauce with garlic and basil.
Corned beef hash with potatoes
Chili from a can with sour cream and nachos chips
Fresh perch and trout with farm stand green beans
good old Kraft dinner, and hot dogs
Ginnie gave Rod a salami of the month club membership for Father’s day so we had a beautiful big smoky beef salami. Lots of salami sandwiches!
Peanut butter and Jam sandwiches
more salami sandwiches
I really discovered the joy of a simple camping kitchen. Damn Canadian Tire with the fold out kitchen and portable hot water heater. Why leave your kitchen to care for another kitchen in the dirt? I have always looked at camping cooking as a break from my everyday life. Keeping it simple is what it is all about.
Last but not least, good coffee made in my little two cup espresso maker.
Rod is a workhorse. You need a workhorse to do this. He is a man who just gets it done.
I have done my fair share as well. I try to keep all of our stuff organized, so we can get going quickly when we need to.. Sadly I have a horrible memory, so I keep forgetting where I put everything… At least the trailer is small enough, that I do eventually find the stuff.
We had all good intentions on getting the kids to do some of the work. Every kid would have their task when it came to packing up the trailer or setting up camp. There all had a specific blog to keep up with.
At first, the endless driving seemed like work to Rod. Now that he is used to it, It is a vacation from the work. It is an opportunity to look at the sights and get some fresh air. The kids are buckled in.
The work really starts when we get to the campground. Just pulling onto a site is a project in itself with the trailer, where you want to park the trailer, where you want the door of trailer, how you will back in or pull through the site. If you do not give it enough thought, you will scratch the fender off.
Then there is the levelling. Travelling with little water in the tank, the trailer has to be levelled just right or the taps will not work. Travelling with too much water, you can increase your load by a thousand pounds. If do not stabilize it right, it feels like you are sleeping in a canoe.
Then, you let the kids of out of the car. Crap falls out of the car, crap follows them around the site for you to pick up later, and the worthwhile crap gets lost in the crap in the car. So much effort is put into charging all the electronics. We are four laptops, three smart phones and a dumb phone. Cords are constantly being mixed up and all you here, is That is my cord, No it’s mine! Who cares? Let’s just charge your itouch!
When the kids are at their best, 40%0of the time, one opens all the windows in the trailer and a couple take out the camping chairs. But if we are stopping to camp, inevitably, it’s dinner time. I laugh to think of what the other campers are thinking as we pull up in this old trailer with writing all over it. The doors open, out come seven people and within 12 minutes, the kids are making noise sitting on chairs, Rod has removed the propane tank and set-up the outside stove and something is already cooking and we each have a beer in our hand.
sidebar: after tasting so many microbrewery craft beers, Id like to say one thing: ENOUGH WITH THE HOPPS ALREADY. We both like the hoppy beer, but hopps doesn’t make the beer.
Packing up takes a steady one hour. Dishes, putting away the beds and laundry.
Always laundry, no matter where you go!
Laundry. Our first weekend at Auntie Mo’s House, she did all of our laundry. Bliss. I have had to do laundry twice this trip. If we were close to a comfort station with laundry, I took advantage of it. I never had enough quarters. My loads were always too big. The first time we almost drove away from the campground leaving the clothes in the dryer! What a save that was. Three nights ago, we were folding laundry, a little drunk, at 11 pm. We have a little sorting to through at the end of this trip with all those girlie underwear!
Then we have the blog. I know we would boot have taken so many pictures had it not been for the blog. After twelve years and all these kids, we are a little lazy about taking shots any more. The kids were good about taking pictures. I overheated my lap in the car, uploading pics from my camera, Rod’s and the Nikon camera. I have to admit, we missed a few turns because I was busy editing. Rod says the first priority is figuring out where you need to go before you blog. I tried, I really tried.
Having walked the 3km hike to the Grotto from our campsite and back last night, we knew we needed a serious plan of attack to get the kids to do the hike. Rod was really pumped, since I had told him to hold back from climbing down at Indian Head cove last night. We sold it as a day long adventure! Pack awesome lunch and snacks! Lots of points of interest on the way! Ignore the grey skies, put your bathing suits on anyway! but bring a sweater.
So 5 PB&J and 3 salami sandwiches later, with three backpacks on our persons, we started on the hike. The girls were having a rough morning and people were not getting along, so we just kept our spirits up and light and pointed our the rock shelves on Cypress lake, the dwarf cedars and bizarre root systems. Are we there yet? Are we half way there? Are we a quarter of the second half way there?
We did get there. And all the problems and fights and long hikes were forgotten.
It was so different from the evening before when Rod and I went. Last night there was not a soul and the water still. Today it was full of people on very piece of cliff, just looking out at Georgian Bay. There were six foot swells hitting the rocks. Even though the skies were grey the colour of the water was beautiful. Apparently, it is only in this bay that you will find this colour on the entire planet. The algea only grows in our waters. Cold waters.
Of course, we had to swim in it. Ruby was right in there. Stay away from the rocks!! The waves will knock you right into them. She was tiny on the big rocks and crashing waves. Rod got in, and Josie and I followed him. It was co-old, people. Cold and super clean. The water felt incredible and Josie and I waded on the rocky bottom in the waves for like 15 minutes. You just didn’t want to get out, the view was so beautiful.
We then hiked the cliff up and then down the face of the grotto. The kids found a cave deeper in side and they all climbed in it. The only light we had was the flash so they took the camera and flashed to peek inside.
We then climbed out and higher and down again through tight rocks into this gorgeous little grotto with a pool inside. It was magical. A tunnel came into the cave and shone light into the pool. A good swimmer might be able to swim from the grotto to the outside on Georgian Bay if it weren’t for the waves. Ruby and Josie jumped in. They were the only ones who still had their bathing suits on. DANG! Ruby jumped off her second cliff of the vacation.
We then climbed around across the rock onto Boulder beach. That is what it is. A beach of boulders. Thousands of boulders, big and small just lying there, with pretty purple flowers growing out between them.
When we finally reached the campsite, everyone was tired but satisfied. Rod went to get us a fabo steak, played a few rounds of cards with the kids, made tacos and took it easy.
Rod also bought his souvenir for the trip: his very own pair of wooly moccasins.
We watched the sun set over Cypress Lake. It was nice but what was cool were the two sun dogs(mini rainbows) in the clouds on either side.
We have been offline for a few days now, but we are back on the highway.
(Funny. As if Tobermory is a way to anywhere.)
Tobermory is far up there!
Here we are finally at Tobermory: chilly, grey skies, exhausted but happy to be settled for the rest of the day. Even perhaps two days!
We took three hours to get nowhere this morning. We woke up expected to swim in Huron with hot weather when the kids surprised us with”well if we can’t stay here and swim until 2 pm, we might as well leave early and swim in Tobermory. It’s still lake Huron right?”
Well okay we said and we were off by ten. We drove right out of any sun into Greer and greater skies. We never stopped at McDs for cones or ice cream, we just stopped for gas,
food and beer. ( Two days later, Josie is still pissed at her Dad about not following through with the McDs ice-cream!) And, of course, I made us all stop at the Visitors centre at Bruce Power. We were north of Goderich and drove through so many fields of windmills. You couldn’t count them there were so many. The area is called Power Valley. Ten off in the distance, everywhere you looked. It is amazing, so when the turnoff on highway 21 appeared I said turn left Rod. “Out of the car kids. It’s not an unusual spot but energy is your future. Don’t know if you noticed, eyes on iPods and all, but all these windmills are important. Here’s a peach, so walk. Let’s go learn.” We spoke with some man who was so excited to talk to us about Nuclear Energy. Yes, we were at the Bruce Nuclear Power plant. The largest facility in the world! Still, it only supplies 1/4 of Ontario’s power needs Hung there for 20 and left. So much for learning about windmills!
Onward to Cypress lake provincial park and the campground was full. No probs there are quite a few private campground/ trailer parks in Tobermory. 40 minutes later, we were seriously contemplating boon docking in some backlit with no septic tank. These campgrounds had tiny sites and a max person per sure of five. We would have had to book two sites for our one trailer and five kids. Screw that. We had no choice but to cross our fingers, literally we all roared them, and return to the national park.
What a site! Rod running out of the registration booth waving a site permit for two nights, and only 48$!
Tonight was movie night and I don’t think the kids left the trailer for anything else but a pee and a manwich.
We discovered the most incredible sight: Indian Cove. It was electric turquoise, calm pools and a killer view of Georgian Bay. It was a heck if a walk but I was so excited to tell the kids that we would be going somewhere beautiful in the morning.
Rod jumped in the trailer and said ” Girls we have a surprise for you in the morning. It’s beautiful”. Then Josie cut him off and said “Sounds great. Now don’t ruin the surprise.(meaning get out if the trailer, we are watching a movie.) HA!
So far this trip has really followed the shore of Lakes Ontario, Erie and now we go to Huron. Up from Point Pelee National Park is Petrolia. The world’s first oil town. I have been waiting for this the whole trip. Petrolia Discovery, a sort of pioneer oil town museum. Well, it’s Tuesday and the countryside shuts a lot of things down on Mondays and Tuesdays. Not even a decent turn around for the trailer! I had all these kind of things worked out, but since we have changed course like 4 times, I just lost track. Bummer. We did picnic at a neat little park across the street from Petrolia with some awesome scupltures in the cut down tree trunks. Sadly, the ash borer invasive bug has killed so many ash trees in Ontario. While we were eating and walking around looking at the 7 sculptures, they had chainsawed 5 trees on the opposite side of the park. The sound of a falling tree is like a car crash!
Off to Rock Glen Gorge, near Grand Bend in Arkona. The Ausable river runs through this gorge and there are so many fossils to be found. It was a wonderful 2 hour stop, a great walk along a boardwalk, up the rocky valley with beautiful potholes and treasures to be found. Rod wishes we made it to the museum, but by the time we got through we had forgotten to look for it.
JOSIE SAYS: 7: I liked lots of clay and if you stood really still, 3 damsel flies would land on your arm!
LILY SAYS: 7: It was fun and lots of great life there. I liked rubbing the clay and the fact that there are such old fossils to be found three hours away from our house in incredible.
ARTHUR: 7: There was a big pool under a cliff. Not the kind you swim in though.
RUBY: 7: It was fun and nice.
CHARLIE: 8: I really liked rocking across the rocks up the river.
Arthur had a knack for finding the smallest pieces of fossils.
We are now headed past the PInery and will camp where we run out of gas and patience! We are headed for Tobermory the top end of the Bruce Peninsula, one of Canada’s newest National Parks. It’s far, I need to turn five pages in the map book!