A camping we will go
Last weekend was an important first for my eldest son, Cameron. He'd never been camping, and he was pretty keen on roasting a wiener over the fire and on checking out this s'more thing the kids were talking about.
While I grew up in Alberta and on Vancouver Island, spending lots of time in the Rockies and in rain forests, and while my father was a pretty serious outdoorsman of hardy Scandinavian stock, I'm generally more at home in a small boutique hotel than a small tent.
I'm a bit of a disappointment to my pioneering ancestors.
However, I am a good sport and keen on new experiences. So one year ago I joined the Hyndman brothers, Arn and Kyle, with whom I grew up in B.C., as well as Arn's lovely family and Ottawa-area friends for my first Algonquin Park canoe-camping trip.
It was glorious - though wet at times - and I had some great new experiences, stretching myself physically in a stunning setting. Given the opportunity, I swore I'd bring Cameron next time.
So despite hearing many declarations of "you're nuts" and "do you know how cold it's supposed to be?" we headed up there last weekend. This is Cameron, Kyle and I at the put-in, about to start our trip.
Gathering firewood our first night, Cameron begged, "Oh PUL-LEASE bring me back next year!" Exploring the outer edges of the site, he came across the latrine. "Look, a garbage can for our garbage!" he said, sounding every inch the city kid. Emma and Nel quickly set him straight.
The next morning we woke up to a lightning storm followed by hail. Still cheerful, Cameron bounded back to the tent and said, "It's kind of fun having new experiences like hail in the springtime!" Above, here I am posing next to a pile of hail that had collected on the blue tarpaulin over our kitchen area.
Adjusting our plans to the conditions, we decided not to move camp, but instead to do our portaging route without gear.
Here's my dear friend, Arn, super camper and mastermind of the canoe trip. To me, the smile speaks volumes about his adventurous spirit. You see, Arn is keen on besting nature, where as I am okay with admiring mother nature from a cafe window, particularly during inclement weather.
Unfortunately the kids got so cold on the first crossing we decided to hike a logging road instead of completing the canoe route. This is around the time that Cameron said, "I want to have lunch somewhere with a roof and walls."
It was terribly glamorous.
But on how many camping trips can you make a snowman? Huh?
Kids are terrific at finding fun wherever they go.
Temperatures dropped to around -5 overnight on the Saturday.
Here's where it was at 11 a.m. when we got back to the parking lot.
While we didn't get the weather we were hoping for, we came home with plenty of great memories made in wonderful company, and a lot more confidence in our novice-camping selves.