Sunday, June 22, 2014

Trip Log - Restoule Provincial Park - August 5-7, 2012

I just realized I reviewed Restoule Provincial Park, but didn't do a proper write up of our trip.

Chris's sister and her boyfriend were joining us for this quick two night camping trip.  We were meeting up at Chris's parents house north of Huntsville the day before for their annual family reunion/party thing.  In the past, a lot of Chris's family would show up and sleep in the back field in tents, there'd be a lot of burgers grilled and various types of alcohol consumed.  It's toned down a lot in recent years.   There's still lots of burgers and booze, but each year the number of people camping out in the back yard has fallen.  This year, there was us, Chris's sister and a cousin from the states who brought their little trailer. (It should be noted that the following year, it was just us...Everyone else would rather crash on whatever section of floor they can find inside...)

So since we were already going to be so far north, and Keri had to go back to Petawawa after the trip, we'd head further north and not make her journey any longer than necessary.  Restoule seemed like a good choice.

Chris's dad was upset we were leaving.  He didn't understand why we were going somewhere else to camp when we could camp in his back yard for free, but we had already made reservations (and nobody at Restoule suddenly remembers household maintenance they need help doing since two strong young men are there...)

I felt kind of bad for Matt, Keri's boyfriend.  He'd been having stomach issues the whole day before but swore he was good to go.  He's military, and has a lot of skills in the camping department, so I think it was kind of a let down doing front country camping, and he didn't even get to use his stove or gear because we had all our big car camping stuff.  He did start the fire and impressed the kids by doing it the way they always see in Youtube videos - with birch bark, twigs and a sparker.

The beach at Restoule kinda, well it kinda sucked.  Water levels might have been low and there were fire bans in a lot of nearby areas, so maybe it would be better with higher water levels.  The water stays shallow for quite a ways then drops down to sticks and mush.  Luckily for us it was a little chilly for swimming anyway so we didn't feel like we were missing out.

Dinner was foil roasted potatoes, little pork chops and vegetables.  We had banana boats for dessert.

Keri and Matt only stayed one night.  Matt wasn't sure he'd be able to stay the full time, so we kind of expected it.  They stayed long enough to do a hike with us (The Fire Tower Trail which was awesome but definitely bring good shoes...flip flops are not appropriate as I found out)  and left after lunch.

It was kind of sad for the kids I think.  They really like having other people camp with us. I don't really remember what we did or ate for meals after they left.  Probably spaghetti for supper and cold cereal for breakfast.

I'm not sure where the pictures from this trip are.  I'll try to dig them up but I don't think there were many.  Next time we go camping with Matt and Keri, we are going to canoe camp...we just have to get them a canoe for their upcoming wedding!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Trip Log: Balsam Lake Provincial Park - August 20-21, 2013

This was just a quick one night trip with the Boler.  Bubbie wanted to bring her friend camping with us,  so we just picked a spot fairly close to home, and brought the kids bikes.

For a last minute trip, we obviously didn't have a lot of choices as far as sites go and ended up with one of the back sites in the lakeshore area.  It was fairly close to the bathroom and the park store, so we figured it would be fine.  We'd actually put a lot of thought into picking a site.  Since Bubbie and her friend would be in the tent, while the rest of us were in the Boler, she was worried about being too far back in the bushes (not really a huge issue in Balsam) but since her friend is used to back country camping, Bubbie also didn't want to look like a giant wuss being out in the open.

Mostly, the kids just rode their bikes around.  Balsam is great for that.  There are so many roads through the campgrounds you can ride all over, and the kids had fun making their own little routes.

Supper was spaghetti, and maybe salad or garlic bread.  I honestly can't remember.  Only two memorable things stand out about this trip.  First, Squatch had some issues with his bike, and ended up getting left behind.  The girls showed up without him, and had no idea where they'd lost him. Bubbie and her friend had to go look for him, on their bikes while Chris and I went on foot.  I had a minor panic over him disappearing, but it all got resolved with no problem.

Second memorable thing was sometime in the night, I could hear the people across from us talking.  The grandparents had brought their two grandsons, and they had two tents.  One of the tents was a pup-style tent, and I guess the grandfather and one of the kids had slept in it, while the other kid was with the grandmother in the dome style tent.  For whatever reason, they didn't have the pup tent zipped closed all the way, and the grandfather woke up to an animal nosing around his face.  He figured it was a squirrel and swatted at it.  Turned out it was a skunk.  They ended up spending the whole night showering and washing bedding and clothes.

Oddly enough, none of us smelled anything.  Usually if a skunk sprays 10 feet from you, you notice.  I picked up a hint of it in the morning, but not very strong.  We woke up to a bunch of sleeping bags drying over the side of their truck's box.

We had spam hash and eggs for breakfast, did some more biking, then headed home.  The kids had fun, Chris got to relax a bit, and I was just happy to be out camping.   We didn't take too many pictures, but the ones we did take...well Bubbie's friend doesn't like having her picture taken I guess and she deleted most of them.

Day Trip: Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park - June 10, 2014

Chris and  I went for a little spin in the canoe to check out the campsites on Bottle and Sucker Lakes in Kawartha Highlands.  I offered to keep Squatch out of school for the day (Bubbie was on her class trip) but he very responsibly declined stating he didn't want to miss track and field practice.  While it was nice to spend a day with just Chris and I in the canoe, it also meant we had a schedule, making sure we got back to be there at bus time.

We still had lots of time to explore, checking out most of the sites on Bottle Lake, and the ones we hadn't been to on Sucker.  Some are clearly emergency sites (the little island one on Sucker Lake for example) but there are some really nice ones.  The one we were really eager to check out had people on it, though I think they were just out for a day trip as well, as we saw no tents or gear, just them and a canoe on the beach.

Kawartha Highlands isn't remote, or secluded.  There are cottages scattered throughout the park (with a few being on Bottle Lake across from some of the campsites) but we did manage to see some wildlife.  A few loons on Bottle Lake, a lot of seagulls on Sucker, and a garter snack on the portage back to the car.  Say what you want about seagulls being annoying birds, but baby seagulls?  So cute!  There were a small cluster of the birds on some rocks off shore on Sucker, and about three were babies.

The mosquito population was very healthy (for them...not us) on the portages, but we didn't notice any on the campsites we got out to explore.  It could be that we only got out at ones that had a fairly open look to them.  Anything that was very closed in, we didn't get out to explore.

We didn't end up eating our lunch until we got into the car.  It was just nibble-y stuff like trail mix, dried fruit and crackers with hummus.  Last week I made up a bunch of hummus (three types - roasted red pepper, everything, and lemony) and dried them for camping lunches.  We took one of the packets I'd made up, and it rehydrated beautifully.  Unfortunately, the lemony hummus is rather mild, and the only crackers I had were not a good match to it. Ah well, I'll pick better crackers next time.

All in all, a good day out, with a little bit of sunburn here and there, and a just a few fly bites.  Not really any pictures though.  I kept forgetting I had my camera, and the ones I did take (of the baby seagulls) we weren't close enough to get any decent shots.  Next time...maybe we can go back this weekend!