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!
In the face of dwindling interest and awesome things overload for the kids, we had to throw the big guns at them: Point Pelee. The most southern tip of Canada and an Eco wonderland.
Point Pelee Provincial Park
The trip isn’t over yet but it is a constant battle to keep them focused. As soon as we arrived at the visitor’s centre, they were running around enjoying a really good interactive museum. It was really well set up, everyone from Arthur (6) to Josie, almost 12, found something that excited them. On the shuttle down to the tip of Canada, we discussed that perhaps this would be our last day, three of the five were very upset. Majority wins! We reached the southern tip, and tried to keep Arthur from jumping into dangerous undertows. We found another beach and swam on a pebble shore with four foot waves. The kids were smiling and laughing and throwing themselves in the waves. A rating of 9 and 10 s for Point Pelee.
At Point Pellee the waves were massive. i could go there all the time except you swallowed a bunch of water.
I don’t think they realize that they still have five weeks of summer after this, enough time to catch up on reruns and sleep.
Rod just bought an assortment of micro beers and fresh perch, so we are here for a while longer. Back to Wheatley Provincial Park, a perfect place to rest for these two days. The campground host came by to say hello and brought some colouring pages for the kids. When we arrived from our little trip to Point Pelee, there were 7 eggs sitting on our picnic table. Freaked us out, cause Rod had been searching for our four leftover eggs this morning, and all of a sudden there were 7, 1 for each of us, on the table. We assume from our host and not some wild chicken in this amazing bird sanctuary.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I love it! I just can not keep up with their imaginations.
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.
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.:)
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!” @#%$@^