The winter months in Canada can be a challenge for many people. I have learned to use that time productively at home and at work. As a teacher, it is a fresh start with new students as semester two begins. It's also the time of year I look at long range plans and dreams.
Have you ever imagined yourself realizing your dreams? I feel as though I am finally making my goals into reality. Over five years ago, when I was feeling like I was a machine pushing through life, chores and responsibilities, I felt that life was passing me by. I could make important decisions that affected my family but seemed unable to get anything out of our routine to happen.
In an effort to spark a change, I took a one day workshop with Dr. Karyn Gordon on Goal setting. I made a vision board and filled the workbook, and then kept them around in my field of vision to remind me to set my goals.
Adventure Time Begins
I knew that I wanted to bring a sense of adventure to our lives, so I planned the very first camping trip for my family with the Ontario Learn to Camp program. I chose to go to Grundy Lake so my kids could see the rock formations I remembered from camping near that area as a child.
The program was fantastic. They provided detailed lists of what they were going to lend us, as well as easy to follow meal plans that would be nourishing and filling after days spent hiking and swimming. They provided the tent, kitchen shelter, chairs, camp stove, kitchen gear, lantern, water, and even Smores Kits. We brought the sleeping bags, coolers and food.
The park employees were awesome. They taught my kids how to put up the tents and build a fire, as well as safety around a Campsite. Our site was close to their base camp and my kids forged a relationship with the two leaders. We were fortunate to have them join us one night for a game of Scrabble in our kitchen shelter under the glowing light of our Coleman Lantern. We all agreed that the only that could have made a better trip was to have had our bicycles.
That trip gave me the courage to take on more adventures. I borrowed every camping book I could find at the local library and then purchased the most helpful ones: A Camper's Guide to Ontario's Best Parks by Donna Carpenter and Simple Tent Camping by Zora and David Aiken. I also purchased a Thule bike rack and installed a hitch to our minivan
The Pinery and Tobermory
The next year, we camped in a yurt at the Pinery with the whole family, and my kids reveled in the waves of Lake Huron as I watched from my beach chair. It was a bit stressful being the sole lifeguard. I had imagined myself reading and sunning between swims. A highlight of that trip was my bike ride through the Oak Savana forest. Later that summer we also went to Tobermory, and rented a cabin at a private Family Campground. Good thing because the weather was a bit dicey.
The Pinery and Awenda
Year three of camping included the Pinery again and Awenda near Penetanguishene on Georgian Bay. That was the year I started to purchase camping gear. A friend and camping fan told me about the Coleman Factory Sale in North Mississauga. We got in line super early to get the best deals. I bought so much gear I had to buy something with wheels just to get the stuff to my car. At some point that summer, I purchased the same tent that we used at our Learn to Camp session. I still love that tent.
Year four brought us to Bon Echo and a shared experience with my sister and her husband. Significant memories included kayaking and seeing over 260 Indigenous pictographs across the channel up close. Later my children and I went on an interpretive boat tour and then climbed the peak of Mazinaw Rock to the lookout at the top.
Year five was celebrated in Killarney, where we had the special treat of visiting with my niece who worked there as a park employee. She took us on an amazing hike over the Chikanishing Trail, breaking halfway through for a swim from island to island. There were great rocks to jump off of in Lake George too. She brought us on a canoe trip over the length of Lake George, which was idyllic on the way out and miserable on the way back due to excessive winds and unskilled paddling. She and her passenger faired much better. Her love of the outdoors and adventure is truly inspiring.
Turkey Point and Long Point
Year seven lead us to Turkey Point. It was a nice and cozy campground not too far from home with lots of local attractions a short drive away. Driving to the beach at Long Point is a must as there is no comparison to the beach at Turkey Point. The long beach and depth from the edge of the grassland and trees to the water were breathtaking. We got to try out my purple air couch and my daughter's camp hammock. The drive along the causeway was very interesting and included a stop at the nature preserve along the way.
February makes me smile
I always look forward to February now because that is the time of year that all provincial park campers get excited about securing their coveted sites online for their camping vacations. Using Ontario's Best Provincial Park book is a must if you are exploring different parks every year. Happy Travels!