Camping Meals, keeping it tasty and easy

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.

Merchants of Green coffee coffee.

The work it takes to make it through this trip.

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!

Charging station.

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.

Last leg via Tobermory

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!

North to Lake Huron

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!

LESSONS LEARNED:

When on a long camping trip, always secretly pack some coffee whitener and a firelog, just in case.

Close the windows at the back of the trailer when on a gravel road or everything will get covered with grey dust.

Bring lots of quarters, toonies and loonies for the laundry machines.  TIP:  do not use this change for ice cream!

Catfish creek.

We are at Springwater Conservation area campground. A beautiful place within the catfish creek conservation authority. We are in a Carolinian Forest, a protected area that runs like a banana from grand Bend to Toronto down to the Carolinas. It contains over a third of all of Canada’s rare species of trees, birds, etc. Last night we heard new bird songs. Cool weird bugs like the albino caterpillar, a giant wasp thingie live here.

So Rod went to pay up for our site at the front gate. This is the conversation that was had between Rod and the teenage attendant:

ROD: Catfish creek eh? You got any catfish?

TEENAGER: I think they call us that cause we are right next to catfish creek.

ROD: Well if the river was full of pike, they wouldn’t call it catfish creek would they?

TEENAGER: I don’t know. I don’t fish.

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15 minutes before noon we realized that noon was check out time and not two. Everything was packed, we were enjoying a shady beer o’clock and the kids were just playing on the next site. Rod read the camp rules and we realized we have broken every campground rule in the last 18 hours! Matt walked with beer, we parked 2 cars on site, we were 9 not a maximum of 6 people per site, the dogs have not been on a 2 metre leash, we brought the dogs into the bathroom with us and we had a trailer and a tent on a site designed for one or the other.

GAMES the kids play.

Day 11 was a non eventful day. Yesterday was jammed pack and Matthew and Ginnie arrived to meet us. We have also allowed the kids to stay up too late too many nights in a row playing UNO. Fatigue has caught up, so we thought we would slow it down.

We also have a killer drive to Point Pellee tomorrow so we drove half way to break it up. We had a great spot at Rock point Provincial Park but the beach did not deliver so we left early for Point Burwell. Beach. The provincial park was full so we just went to the public beach. It was sandy and nice, extremely shallow. The water quality was unknown but we had a nice time. The great view from the beach were the 29 windmills on a point to the east.

I thought I would use this slow day as a post about the games the kids play.

Number one is UNO. A classic card game. Sadly they left the deck by the sink and the cards got wet and stuck together! They ended each day playing three rounds. It was so funny listening to them. One day they said, let’s play without saying a word! Their silence was the funniest of all!

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They also play funny make believe games at every campsite. Changing campsites allows the kids to create different worlds every night. They really are funny! They play town hall, and nail salon. I had to pick up all this play money they had made from scraps of paper at the site this morning. The other day they played some kind of Mystery Date game show where Arthur had to pick the best girl. As we made dinner tonight, I heard them on the next site opening a bar I think? Five bucks a beer.

Here is a picture of Josie “hypnotizing” Ruby with her new pocket watch.

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I love it! I just can not keep up with their imaginations.

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A great game, until they lost the ball, was HOT. Rod and I would sit in our chairs and marvel at the fact that our kids were happily playing ball!
Josie explains the game:
We all stand in a circle equally apart and pass the ball randomly to each other, or a bad throw. If someone misses the catch or throw they get a letter spelling hot. It is a game we like to play with Arthur when he is acting normal.

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STATS DAY 8

 

Day 8
Distance: 1643 km

Blog hits: 1922

Unusual spots to see: 14
Depot Harbour
Peterborough Petroglyphs
Warsaw Caves
Marmora Hole
Lake on the Mountain
Camp Picton
Birdhouse City
Sandbanks dunes
Chetelham Badlands
Bel fountain park
Rockwood Potholes
Elora Gorge
Dwarf Cedars

Animal/crazy bug sights: 42

Snakes: 5
Deer: 6
Bats: 4
Hawk: 2
Ground hog: 1
Dead miles: 1
Frogs: 3
Giant spider: 3
Stick bug: 1
Eagle: 1
Llamas: 2
Rabbits: 4
Eagle: 1
Rabbits:  4

Lessons Learned: 11

Albino Point

Point Albino:  Canada’s most luxurious lighthouse.

 

GINETTE’s version.
Point Suckino is what it is!

We decided to tack on a quick visit to the shore of Lake Erie Point Albino Lighthouse on our way back to Rock Point Campground after Fort George.
We read that before the lighthouse was automated, the last one to be automated in Canada, the poor lighthouse guy had to wade through the waters to get to it because the lighthouse’s rich neighbors would not let him walk through their grounds to the light house.  Here we were, arriving at 5:35 ready to super hike it to the lighthouse before the Point Albino residents association closed the gates at 6PM.  Anyway some lady came out in her moumou and said no you cannot go through.  The hike is a mile and you won’t make it out by 6.  So we turned around and drove away.
Thank fully Ginette had misdirected the caravan earlier, again, to the wrong edge of the Lake and we saw the white Lighthouse from way far away.  That was our only view.:)

ROD’s version

We get there, and even though they have to let us in until 6 o’clock, they do not let us in.  How do they know how fast I walk?  Why are they blocking us from our own protected monuments?  Clearly, these wealthy American yacht club owners are really just trying to keep us out.  She said come back tomorrow, but I bet she would have a new reason to keep us out.   The last thing she said was, “And you won’t get in with those dogs!”  @#%$@^

My sincerest apologies……

Crawford Lake and Iroquois Village.

Rod here.  Yes, we did walk 2km around an incredible miromictic lake in a prehistoric no, primordial forest.  Iit was amazing and worth the effort to get here. We saw a pre-contact Iroquios village.  A real surprise. that shifted the day.  We have a picture of a man starting the fire from scratch.

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Our overall rating was 8 but Lily’s score was a 9, so I’m sure her day went way better than she expected.  Mine however was less than perfect. It started with the repairs on the tire, quick and cheap but a sign of things to come. Within a short distance we found ourselves headed to Rattlesnake point.  When we discovered the price for camping, we had to keep on trucking’. The only problem was we were on top of some mammoth escarpment and the road down may as well have been straight down. I was breaking so hard that the only thing slowing us down was tires skidding through serpentine curves with a steady chirp chirp chirp. At the bottom we could smell the break pads more than we could feel them, it took me 200 yards of flat ground to stop. The end of the road was blocked by an OPP cruiser and a clean-up crew dealing with a garbage scow foolish enough to try the same hill. I pulled over to the shoulder and my brand new heavy duty pads and disks had turned blue from heat. We killed the next 45 minutes there on the shoulder eating hotdogs cooked in the 7000 lb soon to be anchor. When the breaks had cooled we got moving again and thats when I realized we had only covered 40 km so far. En route to Crawford Lake as we bounced along county road whatever, we heard a fairly loud boom but didn’t worry too much because the truck and trailer looked fine and we had been slowed down by several dysfunctional destinations. After the amazing Crawford lake and Iroquois village we only had about 15 km to travel bringing our daily total to 84 km, a big letdown for me, but many of our spots are in this area and the kids were looking for shorter days. The campsite at Valens conservation area was great but I’m not sure what the focus of this conservation area is. It surely isn’t the semi-arid pond whose coliform count exceeded allowable levels and was closed to swimming. Anyway we needed a spot in the area and this is all we have. As we backed into the campsite, an act I’m getting fairly good at, we noticed an overwhelming smell of urine. Not just the site but inside the camper too. Upon inspection I discovered the source of the aroma. The loud boom we heard driving the country roads was the sound of 35 year old plastic giving out with the weight of 5 or 6 gallons of sewage. No need to dump this baby out any more, our bathroom had become an outhouse with a hole to the nether world. And so my title, some poor slob on some dirt road somewhere is driving through my 5 gallons of sewage. Sorry buddy shit happens.

Give a little, Get a little

Rod here.  I could tell these kids were about to pop, all we did was drive 250 km to see Belfountain park and the Cheltenham badlands and they acted like we took them on a 24 hour endurance race across the Sahara. I can’t remember what that’s called but i know it’s grueling.  We needed to find a campsite last night and stayed at Rockwood, which turned out to be an unusual site!  We went on a night hike and saw bats and these giant potholes.  They were about 12 feet around.  We were impressed and only realized that they were on the list this morning driving away!

Rockwood Potholes, although very impressive.

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway we had to give them a break if we were going to keep them in this so we decided to whimp out and hit Elora Gorge only an hour away. That better buy us some mileage later on.

Elora Quarry

We figured the hottest day of the year could be spent floating down the gorge on a tube and we told them so. Ooops, no sooner had we explained our plan to treat them to a relaxing drift in visual heaven we discovered that the drift would cost us 25$ a head plus extras. WOW, we were looking at 175$ plus registration charges plus 75$ per person deposit on the gear. At the end the kids were expected to haul a 4 foot truck tube back the 2 km to where we started. Man we just can’t get a break, you should have heard Arthur start balling(maybe you did we’re not that far away) as if his life had just been altered forever. Either way this just wasn’t going to happen, that kind of money can be spent much more wisely especially with Josie’s birthday right around the corner. So we cheaped out and hit the Elora quarry where we could swim for free and enjoy a beautiful limestone quarry likely a hundred feet deep. Ginette thought it was so cool to swim in a quarry, after seeing that huge Marmora Hole quarry a few days ago.

Rules, rules,rules, no floatation devices which aren’t CSA approved, really, is that what the CSA does? I thought they tested light fixtures for safety hazards. So we left a few floaties behind only to find that no one follows the rules here anyway. Not only were people floating around on any dollar store item that had an air pocket but the rule about not jumping from the cliffs seemed to be confusing all the teenagers.  Seemed they didn’t see the signs, so neither did I. I was the first one up in the group followed by Ruby the smallest.  Scared the crap out of me but I have a rep to uphold so off I went and Ruby came right behind me. Shortly thereafter, Lily and Ginette, but to my surprise Josie mustered the guts to follow along too. Nothing shocked me about the Davies jumping off cliffs, Ginette has been known to do it nude, but when my spawn actually pull off something like this I’m always impressed.  It’s usually Josie, she was so scared I could see her shaking from the water below.  These were only the smaller cliffs. The rangers let the public get away with it.  This nutso family started jumping off the 50 foot cliffs and they were booted out of the quarry.  Josie and Charlie stick by the rules.  This was a learning moment:  break the little rules if it is safe and fun, but push the limit and you get will get caught.

So that was our easy day of little driving and a little diving, more chicken for supper and perhaps an aperitif after, nothing hard of course, there’s an alcohol ban at this park. But they promised they wouldn’t search the trailer.

A few pics of just chill in on the campsite, in the intense heat.

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Lessons Learned

DAY 6

  • When things are getting really bad, just hang in there, cause something good is about to happen.