I am so happy to be camping with my friend Chloe that I met last year at Sandbanks! We’re having so much fun together.
We made it out of London extra, extra early to avoid two very crucial and vacation spirit-dampening things: the weather and Toronto traffic. And on both counts, we passed both with flying colours. While the alarm at 4:30am was entirely too early, breezing through Toronto and not having to tap the break pedal once on either end of the city was the perfect remedy. And by all counts back home, we avoided some cruddy and persistant all-day weaher.
Leading up to the trip (and pretty much for the last year) Danielle and I have been trying to solve being able to bring bicycles along with Wolfie to add to our camping fun. After a text message from Danielle this week with a picture of a folding bike she had found at Canadian Tire, it occurred to me that we might be able to find something more reasonably priced on Kijiji. After one just-missed match set bikes in Stratford I expanded my search to the vicinty of where we were camping this week, and in an hour’s time managed to find another match set and reasonably close to the route to Bon Echo.
With that side trip out of the way, we were officially left with no where to be but our campsite at Bon Echo. We were officially on vacation! And the best part was so were our friends we met last year at Sandbanks: the Jornitz family. Even with our side trip, and their shorter trek from Stittsville, we managed to meetup at The Spud Box – a fry truck at the highway junction heading in to the park. And in a few minutes Emelia and Chloe were reconnecting like they hadn’t missed a beat.
We had heard so much about this park from friends who had been and were anticipating this trip based on the pictures we had seen on the web. The jewel of the park is certainly the Mazinaw Rock—the escarpment rock face wall spanning 100 metres upward on the eastern side of Mazinaw lake that features in excess of 260 aboriginal pictographs. While heading to the camp gift shop in search of a longer extension cord, I stumbled upon the beach and my first view of the rock and it was stunning (as you can see in the header picture).
One thing we have come to love about Ontario Provincial Parks is how much more nestled into nature you are. Without exception, every provincial park we have been in has had large, tree-filled sites that are just the sort of thing this camp-loving fella craves. While the site provided a little bit of a challenge getting Wolfie situated in the perfect flat spot, without a doubt we were once again reminded the colassal difference between provincial and private campgrounds. And even better when your next door neighbours are friends you’ve made because they feel same about camping.
When we finally had our site settled after what was our laziest and slowest unpack ever, we got our dinner and convened over at the Jornitz firepit to enjoy a S’more creation that involved waffle cones, strawberries, chocolate, and marshmallows being roasted over the fire. There was absolute silence around the campfire as we dug into the gooey diabetes-inducing treats. And, after we finished those we took the girls for a dusk stroll down to the lake so Emelia could see Mazinaw Rock for her first time. To our delight, we were serenaded by a loon as she flew around the lake looking for a place to bunk down for the evening.
After that beautiful close to the girls evening, we got them each ushered off to bed, and then we enjoyed a campfire over at the Jornitz’s site with a grown-up beverage or two which was the perfect, relaxing way to end the day. When the rain that we outran all day long started to fall, we said our goodnights and slept to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof of Wolfie and I had one of the best sleeps I’ve had in recent memory.
Today is a misty day so we’re finding inside things to do. But the best thing about the day is that there is no where to be, and no to-do list. We’re flying completely by the seat of our pants and that is the forecast for the next week really. I can’t think of a better schedule to look forward to.
As we end our first weekend of our trip I feel more relaxed than I have in months. Even with cooler tempertares and rain off and on today it has been a weekend of bliss. Bon Echo is a stunnig park. The sites are so natural and spacious. And what makes this trip even more incredible is that we are camping with friends. A year ago we met an amazing family while camping at Sandbanks. Our daughers were only a year apart and equally shy but clicked instantly. This year the girls picked up the friendship where they left it off. Emelia has come far out of her shell and she and Chloe have spent the last two days playing and building memories.
The trip so far has gone off with few hitches. We had to make a run into the small village close to camp to get some unexpected supplies and make due with a limited selection of food at the small grocery store in the town about 20 minutes outside the park . We have certainly learnt our lesson for our return trip in August to be fully stocked before arriving and not buying our supplies near camp like we typically do.
We had an incredible lazy set up yesterday deciding that hanging out with friends was much more fun than setting up camp. But after looking at the radar with the wet weather on the horizon we finally put our butts in high gear. With both camps set up we gathered the two families together for dinner. We followed dinner up with a trip to the beach. The beach is simply breathtaking. The views we out of this world. The girls attempted to skip stones and played at the waters edge for about 1/2 hour. Then we headed back to camp for smores and lots of laughs.
We got some tired girls to sleep before returning to the campfire for some adult conversation and beverages. In short order the rainstorm that had been expected earlier in the evening arrived so we decided to call it a night. The rain continued throughout settling down by morning.
The girls were up bright and ealry so we joined Christa, Chris and the girls at their trailer for some coffee and inside play. The weather was not on our side at least for the morning. By later morning the rain was down to a drizzle and we focused on making the most of the day and going with the flow. The girls played games outside, we explored a bit of the park but more than anything we just hung out and took the day at a beautifully slow pace.
As I type this the rain has started again, we had another big family dinner, more campfire, smores and a couple grown up beverages before the rain cut the evening a bit short. Emelia is asleep and John and I are going to play some cards and just enjoy the rest of our night.
The first two days have been amazing and we still have another week fo family time. Life could not be better!