We went camping for our last time this weekend. I was happy that we were close enough that we could go to gymnastics and be at the Teeter family Thanksgiving on Saturday.
When I think of things that I am thankful for of course the immediate thoughts are of Danielle & Emelia, and then my family. But undeniably a part of my happiness these days would be the journey I have been on since joining Apple a little over two years ago. When I think about what I was doing this time one year ago, I was just finishing day one of Genius Training which would be a piece in my whirlwind time as Lead Genius at the store.
It was a remarkable experience three more weeks in California despite cutting our camping trip short by a day and a half. In six months from returning from my Genius training I was again offered a promotion and another trip to California for training! As I sit here still marvelling at the journey I have been on and that my name tag now says Manager, a lot of my thankfulness this year while rooted deeply in my family, also stems from my job and the fulfillment I get every day from it.
As Emelia spoke about in her bit, yes this was the last outing in Wolfie for the year. Rather than going for extreme proximity to the house in Fanshawe Park we opted for a provincial park that neither Danielle or I had ever been to despite its popularity among our friends or how many times we had been told how beautiful it was. It was only an hour’s drive from our front door and planted on the shores on the Ontario side of Lake Huron, very much like Lakeport we’ve frequented on the Michigan side.
The park was close enough in fact that when we found out I had the Friday off work too, I nabbed Emelia from school at lunch and off we were with Wolfie in tow to get her situated and setup on our site to reduce the mad dash from London when the last daycare kid left at 5:00pm and Danielle was able to leave. Emelia and I got Wolfie landed on the site, the awning up, the outdoor mat down and the electrical connected so the fridge was ready to be stocked by the time we got back. We shot back to London (Emelia slipped in a nap on the ride) and arrived in time to pick up Danielle who was ready to get camping.
Being that it was October we were prepared (more so than last year) for the frigid cold evenings with the space heater we got at the start of the camp season. But, even with the space heater, the first and then more so the second night had more than just a nip in the air—it was downright frigid! Danielle and I both had to double-down in the pyjama department and use everything that resembled a blanket in our trailer to maintain the warmth. Emelia on the other hand in her sleeping bag and fleece one piece pyjamas let us know she was toasty both nights.
The park itself is beautiful. I can’t think of one good reason why we have never been there before, but we certainly won’t make that mistake any more. It’s perfectly situated near Grand Bend a touristy beach town that has plenty of amenities as well as some amazing antique and flea markets for us to waste an afternoon at (such as we did). It is also very close to where Emelia’s best friends’ family just bought a cottage. We were in the Dunes campground and found it to be everything we were looking for and then some. Beautiful, large, tree-covered lots where the sites have enough greenbelt in between to give you somewhat a sense of seclusion. And the campground as the name suggests is situated on a natural dune which makes for much more interesting topography to explore.
We will definitely be back next year. In fact we have already decided that it will be our locale of choice to close out the camping season again on Thanksgiving. As well as we’re going to plan for at least a weekend a month to go to The Pinery in between our two week-long excursions in July and August. There’s just so much to do and once Danielle & I pick up the rack we need to bring our bikes, that much more!
It’s a little bittersweet that this last, great trip in the trailer means it’s now time to clean up Wolfie and get her ready for winter storage, but once the snow starts falling the trailer while cozy in spirit is the last place I would want to bunk down for the night.
One of the nice things about the park being so close was that when the Teeter Family Thanksgiving plans were switched to Saturday to accommodate for everyone’s schedule, we were able to scoot back to town for it and be together with the family. Emelia adores her cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents so she was beside herself that we could camp and have family time too. Even more so when she found out we’d be able to make her gym class as well!
It was a good visit albeit short, but even though we told her we were leaving to head back to the camp site as soon as supper was finished, we still managed to get in a bit of time back at Poppa and Grandmas before we headed back to the campsite in the dark.
All-in-all it was a perfect weekend that congregated all the things I am thankful for together in one place surrounding me all weekend. As we approach the cold, dark months of winter the memories from times like this weekend will be enough to fuel us through the cabin fever, headed towards another season of camping in our beloved Wolfie!
This weekend was exactly what we needed, time as a family to decompress and relax and cherish those who are part of our lives. This weekend was about thanks. I am thankful every day that I have an amazing husband, incredible daughter and a supporting family in my little sister and John’s entire family. I am grateful for my friends, my daycare kiddos and families who make me smile every day – even the frustrating ones. And I am grateful for our health and happiness. Life has not always been easy, it has been down right horrible at times but through it all John and I were there for each other side by side leaning on each other when we needed it the most and cherishing all the incredible moments and small victories.
So what a better way to celebrate what we are thankful for then spend time with those who love us the most. We were off and running as soon we as dropped Taffy off at my best friend Kelli’s house for the weekend. And with that we were on the road for a weekend of family time. We arrived at the campsite just as it was starting to get dark, it was everything we had hoped for. It was natural, spacious and pretty private for a campground. There was so much natural barriers with the forested areas that you didn’t feel at all you have neighbours around you. It was peaceful and exactly what we wanted for our last trip out.
As John said we had never been to the Pinery before and wow we will be going back for sure. It is so close that we could easily pop up there of a weekend and we have already decided that we will spend a few weekends up there along with Thanksgiving next season. We plan on starting our camping season again at Lakeport in Michigan because it will allow us to stock up on supplies for Wolfie state side but after spending time at three beautiful provincial parks over the last two seasons we know that next year we want both of our weeks away to be home exploring another park at home. We really hope next July we can book Bon Echo for our week away, and what I am hoping even more is that I can convince my sister and her family to book the same timeframe so we can spend the week with them – hint hint Charlie.
Back to this weekend, it was a bit chopped up coming back into London for most of Saturday but time with family was just far to important so we happily made the visit back in. We have not been able to spend nearly enough time with David, Linda and the kids and it was great to catch up with them on Saturday. The visit as always was too short but full of laughs and the Emelia persuading her cousins to run around the back yard and keep up with the full of life 7 year old. This time she even convinced some of her cousins to climb some trees with her. She loved every minute of it.
The day flew by and before we knew it we were back on the road back to the campsite. By the time we got back to the Pinery it was very dark and VERY cold. Down right freezing. Our plan to sit by the fire was short lived and we opted to bundle up to our eyeballs and attempt to stay warm. Thankfully we were well packed this time as we are getting more and more experienced with camping in all seasons. So we stayed warm and crashed for the night.
The next morning we woke to craving bacon and eggs so we made our way to the camp store to get some bacon and explore the park a bit. After breakfast and a quick clean-up we made our way to the Pinery Flea Market. It is a large outdoor market that runs every Sunday from May until this weekend. Being the last weekend there were some bargains to be had. Emelia found a skateboard, John found a record and I walked away empty handed. Well at least at this market. After heading into Grand Bend for some groceries and a coffee we stopped at another flea market and antique store on the way back. And that is where we found the most amazing store of homemade furniture and amazing treasures. And there I scored a vintage Le Creuset french oven in a beautiful blue. I have been searching second hand shops and other stores for years for these pots as they are amazing, beautiful but also crazy expensive. The pot I bought on Sunday new would retail for over $200 for just one pot, I got it for $40! SWEET! Yes I am a geek.
Once we got back to the site we cleaned up and then we made our way off to see our friends new cottage. Through Emelia’s friendship with Anna and Grace we have become friends with their parents. Susan and I get along really well and love spending time together while Emelia and her four girls play. And with their cottage being so close to the Pinery it was a perfect way to spend the end of the afternoon. The cottage they bought was in the same family since it was built in the 1960s, it has been largely unused for almost 20 years as the first generation who owned it were not able to keep the cottage up in their advancing years. So the cottage is a time warp of 1960s decor and unfortunately for Susan and Matt it is also a LOT of work cleaning and organizing a cottage that came as is and had not been maintained for quite some time. When they are done it is going to be a perfect cottage for their family. It is walking distance to the beach, it has a huge property and the kids just love it. Emelia and the girls are already planning trips up there next summer.
And finally today, with rain overnight and now plans to go see a movie this afternoon we made our way home earlier today. We started packing and cleaning up first thing this morning and made our way home. When we got home we unpacked and decided that we would go take in the movie The Boxtrolls. Emelia loved it, and we did too. After the movie we went over for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with two of our favourite people – Poppa and Grandma. It was the perfect end of an amazing weekend.
And on that note – I am signing off and going to enjoy the last of this long weekend before we return to the grind tomorrow.