So here we are unpacking after the first trip out in Wolfie this summer—Danielle and I both sporting varying states of sunburn from the amazing weather we had all weekend long. The entire family is to put it mildly: exhausted. And for no other reason that we had such a great time relaxing in the sun and staying up too late and getting up to early. It was just the weekend we needed.
We got away just after lunch on Friday after the last of the daycare kids left. It took us a little longer to get away because Wolfie needed some more air in her tires and because Canadian Tire was have a sale this weekend that had an 40 Watt Coleman RV solar panel we’d been researching about on sale – down from the $250 price tag to $99 – a price we could not pass up. Once we got those two side trips out of the way, we were en route to Lakeport State Park.
Once we arrived at the park, we had the site completely set up well under an hour with everything in its place for the weekend and ready for us to camp. This is completely the result of our hyper-organized, Wayne-Gretzky-of-storage, in Danielle who absolutely adores every aspect of finding the efficiencies and economy of space. With the camp setup out of the way it was off to Meijer to get some food and much-needed cheap American liquid refreshment. Another hour and we were back at the site ready to relax and unwind.
One of the things that we love about Lakeport, and especially on this Canadian holiday weekend, is that more than half the park is filled with license plates from Ontario. The rest of the park does fill out with Michigan residents, but it is almost funny how the park empties of all the Americans on Sunday at checkout and left are all the Canadians who still have the holiday Monday to enjoy. The park becomes like an extra province of Canada for the final day.
We found out towards the end of the week last week that one of our good friends Michael and his wife Paulette were also going to be camping at Lakeport this weekend too. Ironically enough we ended up right behind them in the lineup at Customs crossing over the Bluewater Bridge. Shortly after we got back from Meijer and we were settling in to the site, Michael dropped in with his beautiful hound Gracie. We had a great visit and all of a sudden this camp an hour and a bit from London – in another country no less – was feeling like home.
The site that we picked had perfect sight-lines for the playground and was exactly halfway between both of the bathroom/shower stations. So for the most part Emelia spent her entire weekend at the playground and Danielle & I were able to sit at our site and see her having fun from the comfort of the matching zero gravity lounge chairs—the Mother’s Day present and then the second one Emelia wanted that I was able to commandeer for the weekend.
By the time Saturday rolled around we finally had next door neighbours show up to the site on the left side of us, and the trailer that rolled in was towed by a car that featured Ontario license plates and a sticker from a car dealership in London! Danielle the eagle-eye that she has, noticed as the trailer pulled in a faux-fur, bright pink pillow on one of the beds in the window—that could only mean kids and likely girl kids!
As it turned it out the family that pulled in had two girls – a seven year old and a nine year old. And Emelia, beaming, was right in between the two of them at eight! Now it did take an hour before the formal introductions would happen and that had to be brokered by both the Moms as it seemed that Emelia’s new BFFs were just as shy and reluctant to introduce themselves as Emelia. And they were in fact from London… well Byron to be exact.
From that first introduction and then a trip to the playground later, any chance the girls got they were playing together either at each other’s sites or at the playground. Emelia went for bike rides with their family and even stopped last night as she was running from the playground to the girl’s site to tell us “our campfire is better than yours!” She didn’t stop long enough for us to explain that the campfire that Danielle and I were seated in front of, was actually hers too. Our daughter had jumped ship and it was pretty comical (and reassuring) to see her out of her shell and not needing us to be at her side.
Saturday we also decided to return the visit from Michael over to see his trailer and their site. There are two campgrounds at Lakeport that are joined by some nature trails through woods that divide the two campgrounds and Michael and Paulette were at the other one. We took a walk over and enjoyed seeing pretty much the complete opposite of Wolfie. In fact, I think we could fit three Wolfie’s inside Michael and Paulette’s beautiful thirty-five footer. The trailer is part of their retirement strategy to spend six months of the year exploring all over the continent and it would be a very comfortable way to do so. If Danielle & I ever do go bigger than Wolfie it will be for a beautiful and if-not-more vintage Airstream trailer. But their setup is beautiful and we got to meet some of the friends from the group they frequently camp with.
By Sunday Danielle & I were completely unwound and the weather was perfectly suited for doing just that. Emelia was spending every moment she could with the girls. We got down to the beach while girls collected stones that they had planned on painting and bringing back to leave as mementos of the trip and a sign that they would be back which seems to be a right of passage at this park that we discovered last year.
The girls got back to the site and decorated a plethora of rocks for a good hour or two before returning to the back to leave their hard work. And then, as though they were acutely aware this was their last night together, they proceeded to stay up way past their bed time before the parents ganged up and ushered them off to bed at 11:30pm!
Today was really about packing up and getting ready for the return trip home. As the parents busied themselves packing up trailers the girls squeezed out some more time together over at the playground. It was pleasant for all of us not having to deal with the boredom of packing that kids seem to never enjoy (though I don’t think we do either) and we were able to get the site packed up rather quickly. Danielle and the girl’s mother exchanged contact info and we were all pretty much on our separate ways back home.
The trip back was filled with all sorts of discussion and planning for upgrades to Wolfie this summer—mostly focused on the ability with our new solar panel to have her completely able to camp off-the-grid for the trip to Wolfe Island where that is a necessity. But there’s a few other here and there things that we want get done to her—the most notable is finally getting the door hinge properly re-fibreglassed.
As far as first camping trips of the season go, this one was perfect. A great mix of weather, friends and Emelia making her own friends and enjoying herself too! And the best part about that is in just over a month we’re heading back out in her—but this time for a week and to a brand new park to us in Bon Echo Provincial Park near Ottawa and Algonquin Park. I know I speak of all of us when I say I can’t wait!
What a glorious weekend! We honestly could not have asked for better weather, especially when you take in account the forecast leading in was not very good. We had a perfect mix of sunshine and warm temps. We had a bit of a cool down Saturday night but otherwise it was perfect weather. Warm and sunshine in the day and cool enough at night to sleep with cracked windows and a light blanket. It was heavenly for sure.
This weekend has been long anticipated. We had a brutally long winter and a mix bag weather of a spring so to have a weekend of great weather and time together as a family it could not have come soon enough.
When we booked this weekend and John was able to get the entire weekend off we knew that we wanted to maximize our time away. So we decided that I would close the daycare for the afternoon and take Emelia out of school so we could be at the campground as soon as we were able to check in. We left the house by 12:30 and then making a couple stops we were on the road by 1:30 and ready to hit up the border. The traffic we fast moving and other than a tiny wait at customs we were over the bridge in record time.
We arrived at the campsite just as check in was allowed and within an hour of arriving we were all set and ready to go. I had spent the week or so leading into leaving for the trip organizing and planning out the best way to maximize our wee trailer. I had everything in order, in totes in order and it made for an easy and quick set up. I was warned time and time again to really enjoy compact camp living you need everything in its place or you will make yourself nuts. And we found that out more times. So after using the trailer for a year we finally have a space for everything and everything in its space. It is not to say we are not always tweaking and planning for better ideas but we are in a pretty great place right now.
The first two seasons with Wolfie were about getting the supplies needed, now we have to shift focus to other add ons, some improvements and some necessities. We are so fortunate to have good friends who have lots of experience with camping and I have a feeling that in short order (hopefully before our next trip) we will have a good chunk of the to-do list done. We have some calls to make this week to hopefully get some things in order.
But back to this weekend. As I said we were set up and in order in pretty short order, John and I work really well together and have quite the groove going to get things going and ready for the site set up. Emelia at the campground has the luxury of the playground close to our site so with her entertained we could focus on getting our home away from home in order.
Once we were done with that it was off to our favourite grocery stop of Meijer. With my gluten allergy I love shopping at Meijer, it has a lot of selection and items I cannot easily find here. I was so excited to find flour mix for pancakes and had pancakes for the first time in 5 years this weekend. I was giddy. With shopping out of the way we could focus on camping and time together.
The rest of the night was time together, smores, games, crafts, a few grown up drinks and lots of family time. Emelia took full advantage of the freedom and spent much of her time at the playground and up way past her bedtime.
The next day the campground really filled in and much to Emelia’s delight we got neighbours that were her age. It took a bit but once Emelia, Reese, Allie hit it off, they really hit it off. The girls were attached at the hip at every turn. Emelia was no longer our shy little girl but the social butterfly I often see in her when she is in her comfort zone, like school and gymnastics. I adore seeing this side of her, the amazing, funny girl we know she is.
The rest of the weekend was all about hanging out with what we jokingly called Emelia’s new family. She spent most of her time with her new friends and the parents got along really well so we happily hung out with the girls parents who were enjoying their first time camping in their new trailer. As Sunday night almost became Monday morning we finally got the girls to bed and the parents went to work.
There was a forecast for a storm heading through the area over night. Well, John and I have packed up way too many wet campsites and taking the campsite down in storms so we decided that in lieu of sleep we would take down some of the campsite. And thank goodness we did. We had just taken down the dining tent, the awning lights, pulled the truck to the edge of the awning area and loaded in the camping chairs, got everything from outside into the rubbermaid bins and the skies opened up.
John and I then moved inside to play cards and keep an eye on the storm. Thankfully although strong storm it was fast moving and the heat of the day meant that by morning the awning and RV mat were dry. We took the morning at a bit of a slower pace but once we were in gear we made quick clean up and take down of the rest of the site. By 11:00 we were packed up and heading to Meijer to get some more supplies, some food to make do for a couple days at home and then we were on our way home.
So the summary of the weekend? Amazing success, lots of family time, making new friends, lots of sunshine and home relaxed. On that note I am signing off to get a few more things done, sitting down with John to watch the last episode of one of favourite shows in Mad Men and get ready for next week.