Me and Daddy went camping together all by ourselves. And I loved it!
To say that the impromptu six days out in Wolfie was great would be the understatement of the year. In fact, it could not have been any better. The first three nights and four days with just Emelia was a perfect mixture of board games, bike rides and snuggling at bedtime. And the weekend, when we added Danielle to our campsite became the perfect addition—bringing our whole family together in our mutual, favourite activity: camping in our trailer!
When we first starting putting the week together – talking about having Emelia join me for the week – I was prepared for the notion that she may back out last minute for fear of being away from Mummy for too long. But, that never came to be, an instead I had a happy girl telling me how excited she was to go camping with just me and that made me a very happy Daddy. She was excited at the notion of being able to sleep in the big bed and snuggle with me and (like I would be at her age) elated to be skipping school to be hanging out and camping with me.
Tuesday we struck out from London mid day and were up at The Pinery setting up camp on site 717 by the middle of the afternoon. We got everything set up and in place in time for dinner and cooked ourselves and tradition camp meal of hot dogs and potato chips. The weather called for some potential bad thunderstorms so we didn’t venture far away from the site nor did we have a campfire that first night. We got in a phone call to Mummy and then retired to the trailer for some board games before deciding to hit the hay for the night. We both feel asleep fast and deep.
The next morning we were up early to bring Emelia back in to London for her year-end school trip to Stratford to see the theatrical version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which they had read in class earlier in the year. I dropped her off for school, ran an errand at work and was back at the campsite in the early afternoon. With more rain and potential bad thunderstorms in the forecast, I spent the afternoon putting a tarp up over the firepit to keep it and our chairs dry.
At dinner time Danielle and Emelia showed up—Emelia returning to camp and Danielle, her driver, visiting for dinner with us before heading back in to London. We had dinner and then showed Danielle around the campsite, and had a quick visit at the campfire before sending Danielle back home for the night. Emelia and I spent our first time together at the campfire and then once we heard from Mummy that she was back home safely, we wrapped up our evening and again went to bed.
Thursday was our first full day at camp where we didn’t have anywhere to be during the day. So after our lazy start to the morning and playing board games after breakfast, we got out on the bikes to see the campground. Emelia the trooper managed to ride a solid nine and a half kilometres on the bike, roundtrip which is a lot even for me. Mind you half way through that we did manage to fit a stop in at the camp store and got an ice cream cone each. By the time the middle of the afternoon arrived, it was time to head back in to London for a special night with the three of us, to go see our friends Jill and her brother Matthew Barber play The Aeolian Hall. We had an amazing time at the show, saw other Radio 3 friends which was a great surprise, and even got to say hello and thank Jill & Matt for a wonderful show. We dropped Danielle back at the house and then skedaddled back to the campsite and Wolfie and were fast asleep by 11:30pm.
Friday was our last day where we had to make a trip in to London, but it was with the best reason: it was the day we picked up Danielle to join us for the weekend and no more need for the back n’ forth. The morning delivered us beautiful blue skies and sun. The weather could not have been more perfect. Once again Emelia and I got in some board games and bike rides and occupied our day quite nicely until we arrived at the time we needed to head back in to London to pick up Danielle. We of course managed to fit in another stop at the ice cream stand and got cones to fuel us on our trip back to London. And roughly three hours flat, we had made the trip back to London grabbing some supplies and Danielle and then were back at the site in time for dinner.
It was amazing to finally have us all back together and a forecast that called for nothing but clear, blue skies, sun and summer like heat all weekend long. We campfired, we s’mored, we played board games, we biked, we canoed and we even swam in Lake Huron to cool off! It was the perfect weekend. Danielle and I even got to spend two amazing nights talking like two best friends beside the camp fire until the wee, wee (even later than we stay up at home) hours talking about life and our journey together—that might have been my favourite part of the week.
We realize how these memories that we cherish in Wolfie for the last three years and as much as he hoped they would become part of Emelia’s identity too, we weren’t certain that was a lock. That was until this week. There’s no more powerful reassurance in that that Emelia telling me on more than one occasion this week that she is so happy I took her camping with me and that she loves camping with us. And no further affirmation of that, than seeing her a little melancholy (like her Mummy & Daddy) today when she realized today was the day we packed up and returned home.
In closing this week I want spend a little time moving the spotlight from us to some other special people in our lives. My love of camping comes directly from my father and for that and well the job he has done being my Dad I wanted to say thanks and Happy Father’s Day! As well to my brothers—I know two of you are Dads, and one of you isn’t yet, but in the end the people you are has shown me who to be and convinced me that I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to try and for that thanks and Happy Father’s Day to you too. And to every other father out there whom I have borrowed a good example or three from, thanks and Happy Father’s Day to you too.
And lastly but certainly not least: To Danielle and Emelia, thank you for giving me a title that no one can ever take away from me, nor can any one understand just how important and loved it makes me feel. Thanks for making me a father, you two!
The week went by in a blur and and my focus was to get to the weekend to spend a weekend together doing our favourite activity – camping.
This week was the first week I think since Emelia was born that I have been away from her that long at bedtime. It felt empty and quiet in the house each evening once the daycare kids left but I did cherish some quiet but I was more than ready for family time by the time Friday night came along.
Friday finally arrived and just after the dinner hour I was at the campsite with John and Emelia. We quickly got into the camp groove we have with camping. I got some things set up and then we settled in for our nighty camping activities of cooking over an open fire, going for a long bike and finally snuggling in around the campfire to have some family time.
I love that Emelia loves camping and time together as much as John and I do. She is already telling us whenever she has children of her own one day she wants to camp with them. I love that this is part of her DNA and childhood memories. Some of my most cherished childhood memories was camping with my family and my extended family. Each summer we would borrow a pop-up trailer and we would go to a provincial park with my family of 4 as well as my mum’s younger sister Barbara, my Uncle Bob, and cousins Jeri-Lynn and Rob.
Those camping trips are still some of my favourite moments as a child and I love that Emelia’s core childhood memories have the same ties to both my and John’s childhood. On Friday night once Emelia was tucked in bed, John and I spent hours talking at the campfire. We talked about our memories of family and our own memories of our early relationship. It was the perfect.
The next morning we all slept in a bit and then took the morning at a perfectly slow pace. The weather was perfect and we took full advantage, we spent the day canoing, riding bikes, swimming in the lake and spending as much time togehter as possible. I am holding on to these moments as hard as I can, there will be a day Emelia won’t want to spend every moment with us (although she told me this weekend that was never going to happen), I hold on to these times and realize how short and precious her childhood is. We are determined to fill that childhood with as many amazing memories. I hope this weekend and this week is one of those memories that carry her through, the moments when she was spending her days camping with her parents. And I hope she cherishes those times as much as I do with my family.
This morning we woke to another perfect weather day and a wee girl who had a sad face becahse she didn’t want the week to end. We spent every last moment we could hanging out at the park before we finally had to say our good-byes and head home.
Today is Father’s Day and coming home not only meant celebrating with John’s family but we were also there to celebrate our nephew Vaughan’s 13th birthday. As always time with the family was incredible, lots of laughs and celebrating.
I wanted to finish this weeks blog talking about Father’s Day – today we celebrated John and the incredible father he is. His little girl is the centre of his world. I could not ask for a better father for our little girl. He is her rock, her champion and her hero. We love you so much John – Happy Father’s Day!