I got to finally see my friends Courtney & Chloe! And I got to swim almost every single day.
The trip an hour and a half down the road from Kingston to Bon Echo is always a breeze. Check-in time for our campsite wasn’t until 2:00pm, and we were off the island by 10:30am. That gave us time to visit the Gord Edgar Downie Pier that had just been opened this summer. It was a beautiful tribute to one of the causes he championed during his career in Lake Ontario Waterkeepers. Next year, we’ll bring our swim trunks and go for a dip. After that, we still had time to make some last stops to get some groceries and a replacement innertube for my bike front tire which seemingly had sprung a leak and gone completely flat. And then, we were headed down the road to Bon Echo!
On the way up Highway 41 we saw a deer in the woods which we felt was a good omen for our week. The drive was beautiful – I am always amazed how the landscape changes so seamlessly as you head north from Highway 401. First, you’re in hilly rural farmland that doesn’t look that different from Southwestern Ontario. But, then the road becomes more winding, the pines start becoming more prominent and before you know it, the rock outcrops let you know you’re in a more northern part of the province. There is one last bend in the road before you hit the Bon Echo park gate where you get your first glimpse of Mazinaw Lake and that my favourite moment of the drive. Every time.
The one challenge (and in some ways benefit) to Bon Echo is the lack of cell signal. In previous years it was less of an issue as at least one of us had a Rogers phone plan and they’re the one carrier that gets signal in the park (Ask me about my conspiracy theory on that one). But, with both Danielle and I on Telus this year, we’ve been for the most part without without connection which isn’t all that bad either. And we have found spots at Main Beach where we can get some reliable signal to message back home and make sure everyone (most namely Gord) is okay.
The weather this week was stunning. Continuing on from our weekend on Wolfe Island of hot, sunny, blue skies our weather was conducive to swimming at the beach for the afternoons every day, right up to Friday when we experienced our first day of rain. Wednesday evening just after dinner we had a rain storm come through that prevented us from having a campfire, but did allow us to hang out in the Jornitz’s new trailer and play some card games.
As is the tradition when we’re at Bon Echo we did the 1-½ km hike on the Cliff Top Trail to the top of Mazinaw Rock only this time in stead of renting canoes to head over to the start of the trail, we took the Mugwump Ferry over. Because it didn’t make sense to do the hike and then canoe the lake in the same day, so we saved the canoe rental for the next day. The funny part was on top of Mazinaw Rock we got some LTE signal and were able to catch up a little with life back home. After getting a ferry ride back from the hike, we were back down the the beach for the afternoon.
Tuesday we rented canoes and paddled around the lake for a couple of hours. After having done the Wanderer boat tour the last 4 years and Emelia almost able to recite the entire history of the park, we decided to not take in the tour this year and have our own little canoe version of the pictographs on the Mazinaw rock wall. The water was little choppy in the Upper Mazinaw Lake so it made the paddling a little more of a workout. But, by the time we got into the smooth Lower Mazinaw Lake waters and in view of Main Beach the sun was starting to make things hotter, we again hatched plans to turn in our canoes, get a quick lunch and then head back to the beach.
On Monday and Tuesday nights we started a new tradition in our camp travels. I borrowed Dad’s projector for the trip and had rigged up a movie screen by our firepit for outdoor drive-in movie night. So both nights with a campfire going we watched movies under the stars. We had back to back screenings of Bruce Almighty and then, Evan Almighty. The second night we even had a second bill of Ace Ventura. The kids loved it, and I think the parents felt the same. As long as Dad keeps letting me borrow his projector, we’ll keep this tradition going.
Wednesday, after a bit of a lazy start to the day I headed into town to pick up some supplies we needed, and by the time I got back from that, I found everyone at (Surprise, surprise!) the beach. I dropped of the groceries and switched into my trunks and headed back to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. We got a couple of hours swimming in before the skies started looking darker and the rumbling sent us back to our campsites for dinner. Our first inclement weather was a quick 45 minute thunderstorm and before we knew it, it was over and gone.
Knowing that there was more rain in the forecast for Friday, we made getting as much time as we could at the beach Thursday. But, we also stopped by to see the O’Donahue family who were here camping this week too. Danielle has watched two of their kids, one of them having just graduated onto school after 3 years in her care. But, with them living just down the street, we’ve also become really good friends with family. It was funny seeing the kids react to seeing Danielle out of the context of daycare. We had a bit of a visit with them and then after our dinner were over to the Jornitz trailer for a campfire and some mountain pies.
Friday was a day of rain, so we made a day of being super lazy and doing a bit of cleanup. Having commercial sized laundry machines on the campground allowed us to get all the laundry that we would be doing at home, done. And on days like this, we’re endlessly thankful we moved up in trailer sizes because being trapped inside your trailer when you have space for all three of us and movies you can watch all the more bearable.
Saturday was trip back home. While this trip is the last of our week-long trips out and that’s kind of a bummer, there are still 3 more weekend trips planned for sure and if we can swing it, maybe even a 4th. At the least we will have made 8 trips out, like we did last year which is more than we ever did in Wolfie which is part of the reason we wanted to upgrade. With the AC, the furnace and all the extra space it has afforded us to start our camp season earlier and go later into the fall. It has made camping: a) a lot less work; and b) a lot more fun.
Awwwww bliss, this is the single best word to describe the last week. Hands down this is my most favourite week. I cannot say enough about how much I love Bon Echo. No matter what has gone on the weeks leading into the week, not matter what the stresses it all floats away within 10 minutes of set up at the park. The park is incredibly beautiful, the sites are huge, natural and everyone who is camping there loves being there too. This is one of the hardest parks to get reservations at so the people who go up there have been planning and waiting for their trip for 5 months. I love the diversity of the camping styles when we go there, there are few mega trailers but more smaller trailers, pop ups, tents and everything in between.
Once we arrived and set up we quickly connected with our camping friends Chris, Crista, Chloe and Courtney. As always we pick up where we left off and it is like the last year of being apart hasn’t existed. The girls adore each other and the parents get along so well. We had a bit of a challenge this year in that because of the popularity of Bon Echo even with booking 5 months out we were not able to get camping sites together, in fact we were on the opposite end of the Fairway campground. We have never had this before being so far apart. With no cell coverage for any of us we had to go back to some old school communication with walkie talkies. It worked amazing, we set up times and spent a ton of time together while still having our quiet family mornings.
Normally we spent our mornings at Bon Echo at the kids programs but there was a change in the programming this year and although we really missed it it did give us the freedom to have things at a much slower pace and wake when we felt like it, have a lazy breakfast and time with just us. But by the time lunch was done it was all about time with friends. The kids spent every single day at the beach, spent hours and hours in the water, making sand castles and endless time making memories.
The entire week was like this, lots of time with friends and family. To add to the amazing week was the fact that our friends, neighbours and clients Ilka and Pat with their kids also came camping. We got to spend an afternoon in the water with the kids and it was so much fun. It made a memorable week even more amazing.
Sadly the week flew by in a flash and we had to say good-bye yesterday to our heaven on earth for another year. But the good news for us is in just two weeks we are out camping again with friends and in 4 weeks we will see the Jornitz’s again as they have added Sandbanks as their last camping trip of the season. We are so excited as today while texting Crista we were able to move our camping site to a different campground and get sites across from each other!!! So 4 more weeks and we get to see them again.
As always the summer is going by in a flash and it is sad that is coming quickly to an end, but with 3 or more camping weekends still to come we are determined to make this season last as long as possible.