Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thoughts About Camping

We have had a love hate relationship with camping for many years. When the Engineer and I were first married we did a lot of camping. It was pretty rustic too. Pit toilets and no showers. I shudder now at the thought of it! Although, it was very beautiful where we were and we always had excellent weather.

As we started having babies, the camping dwindled to once or twice a summer and usually pretty close to home -- or at least not too far from some sort of civilization. Then we had Squirt, and we had to throw all previous parenting knowledge out the window -- nevermind what we had learned about babies and camping! She didn't sleep through the night until she was two, camping with her was a bad experience indeed! She was six months old on our first outing. She was just starting solid foods and ended up being very uncomfortable. My dad and the Engineer put on a lot of foot miles at night that weekend walking her. It was the only way she would relax. I was able to sleep because during the day, I was perpetually running to the bathroom with a toddler and a preschooler who just always "had to go." It was not our most pleasurable camping experience. I don't think we went again for a whole year! :-)

Somewhere between child number two and three, we bought a larger tent. It was good for a few years, but in the last year or so it has become very crowded, and unless well tarped, gets very wet when it rains, which of course it does everytime we set it up -- even for one night in the backyard. So, crazy people that we are, we bought a brand new, larger tent. We haven't been able to set it up though, because it has rained ever since it arrived. Do you think that's a hint? No wonder we haven't liked camping much!

Last September however, was the camping excursion that has changed our views -- we hope! We camped up in northern Ontario for a week. We went with an open mind and had a surpisingly wonderful time! We canoed, we hiked, we went to the logging museum, as well as the interpretive centre. Yes, it rained, but we were well covered with our giant tarp. It was evening and really only ruined our hot dog roast. We crawled into bed extra early and read until sleepy.

The big disappointment was not seeing a bear! We fed the chipmunks (even though you're not supposed to), saw a loon, lots of red squirrels, and heard the wolves howl (eerie), but we DID NOT see a bear. We didn't see any moose or deer either, but the kid's big goal was to see a bear. They had even made bear sticks at the library program that summer to ward off any marauding bears that might show up on our site. Guess we should have left the rained on hot dogs out after all!

So, this spring we put a trailer hitch on the new van (that's another story), bought a new tent, and hope to buy a utility trailer (to pull all our stuff), made reservations for another northern campground, and told the girls to get used to the idea of pit toilets -- yuck!! We're going to try camping again! I'll let you know in a couple months how it went. Maybe we'll like it so much we'll buy our own canoe!

The following are some highlights in pictures:

The children waiting outside the logging museum.

Our rental canoe tied on for a canoeing daytrip at another lake.

Hiking one of the trails.

Taking a break off the trail.

Feeding "Chippy"!

"Waaah! We don't wanna go home!"

See, I said it was a good experience! We'll see what this summer's excursions bring.

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