Photo Challenge – Optimistic

photochallenge-optimistic


January is the month that we have to turn vacation requests in at work. I’m usually excited to do it but it’s getting more and more difficult to work around everyone.


This year, we have a wedding to attend in Ottawa (super pumped about that!) and Tyler’s spending 6 weeks at the military college for cadet camp in Kingston. We’re planning a big camping trip, trying to arrange for several families to attend, while still holding out for Tyler’s return from camp. If it all goes well, I’ll get to see my parents for the first time in person in two years. I’ve really, really missed them. It’s really difficult to be away from them.


So I took on the task of checking the calendar, checking dates and trying to map out how we were going to do this. With Tyler away for so long, we will be putting Caleb in day camp for a couple of weeks and figuring out other arrangements for at least two other weeks. That was our big project this week… and I get pretty excited about planning our family time when it’s still cold and dreary outside.


Devin’s vacation has to be approved first, before I can hand mine in… he has to work around his co-worker’s vacations because they have seniority, but for me, it really doesn’t matter. I am fairly lucky that way!


Yes, I can almost smell the Algonquin pine trees and the evening campfires… I can hear the birds chirping, kids playing and wood being cut for fires. The optimistic was of looking at it is that it’s only 6 months away!


Optimistic

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Camp Supplies Checklist

Camp Supplies Checklist

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So, in some parts of the world, it’s nearly SUMMER! I am so jealous, I just have to tell you! The birds chirping, and flowers blooming, the trees are all nice and green again! And you get to look forward to SUMMER CAMPING! You lucky things!

We’ve been using this same list for about 13-14 years… I typed it up for a friend who was more into five-star camping than actually being outdoors (which I respect!), and kept it. Over the years, technology has changed, so items on the list have changed over time.

It’s been downsized along with our vehicle size, and re-prioritized constantly.

I’m offering my family’s list to you, for free! It’s downloadable as a .doc file so you can totally edit it to suit your family’s needs.

(You can left-click to save it as a .doc file on your computer.)

checklist

You’re welcome!

Why Camp At Algonquin Park?

Camping at Algonquin

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My family and I are Algonquin Provincial Park’s biggest fans, and we have been going there for generations, for peace, rest and relaxation. I wanted to share some of the best perks about spending time there and seeing the vast beauty that this area has to offer.

At many of these venues, there is a log book for people to sign their family names, with the date and where they are from. I am always taken aback that people from other countries and continents… I just think it’s so cool to have visitors from so far away, and I love that they made Algonquin their destination! I could probably qualify as a travel agent for Algonquin Park, that is how much I love it!

I’m sharing the top ten reasons to visit the Park, the links will open a new page for you to check out what the Park has to offer. Enjoy!

10. The. Chipmunks. Are. Adorable.
9. The Logging Museum
8. The Visitor’s Center
7. The Portage Store
6. Biking
5. Hiking
4. Canoeing and kayaking
3. The historical aspects of the land and it’s development
2. Stargazing
1. The breath-taking scenery is, by far, the best reason to visit!

Why Camping is Sweeter Than Christmas Morning

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***Just throwing this out there – today, I have 10 followers and that makes my day! Thank you so much for following! Now back to our regularly scheduled program!***

Why Camping is Sweeter Than Christmas Morning

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you now know that my love for camping runs deep. It should, really, since it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a baby. Scratch that, before I was born, really. Yup… my mother was 8 months pregnant with me and went to the same campground that my husband and I camp at now with our kids. So what makes a camping trip so great? I have four important points to share:

Fresh Air

The fresh air knocks people out. We know this as parents of little ones, we know this of ourselves, if we’ve spent any time on any kind of outdoor trip. There are many health benefits to taking walks, strolls and hikes, in addition to exercise. In fact, I am so in love with fresh air, I’ll pile blankets on myself and my husband at 10 degrees out, and still have the window open, because I sleep better with fresh air flowing into our bedroom. It’s just a fact.

sunshine

Activity

Camping usually involves a lot of exercise, in many different forms. Much of it is walking, but can include biking, hiking and swimming. You can skip the gym and still feel good about your workouts because you’re doing them in the, *ahem* fresh air. Exercise and fresh air… with that combination, how can anyone not have a great night’s sleep?

waterfall

Relaxation

I’ve touched on this before, but being outside with nature is a very good form of relaxation. It’s been proven to reduce blood pressure and stress and is terrific for the soul. The natural elements are something that we, as a civilization, have fallen out of touch with, because everything in this day and age is about technology. Being away from that forces you to take notice of things that you might not readily take notice of every day.

familybonding

Family-Bonding

Take away phones, laptops, iPads, deadlines, the regular household hustle and bustle, and you are left with time to spend together as a family. You are spending uninterrupted time with your loved ones, giving you the chance to reconnect with one another. The best family conversations happen around the campfire, under the stars. Can you hear the fire crackle and pop? Stir the logs, and watch the embers float into the air. It’s mesmerizing and also causes you to relax… and relaxing with your loved ones helps you to open up, be honest and talk about things you don’t ordinarily have time to talk about. This forms memories you will keep with you for a lifetime.

Do you have anything to add? Please feel free to share!

3 Problems with Camping (and How to Remedy Them!)

canoe

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1. Bugs

There are many ways to combat the bug situation, from bug repellent sprays and bracelets, and mosquito coils to bug zappers (man, those things are COOL!).

But if I’m being honest, and I usually try to be… the best way to beat the bugs at their own game is to plan your trips around their seasons.

We camp in Algonquin Provincial Park, along the highway, and we camp in August. The end of May and all of June are known for black flies. Been there, done that, it was nasty. July is bad for mosquitos… that was so irritating. When we camp in August, a nice, dry month, their time has come and gone.

It may take some experimentation on your part but nailing the bug schedule will save you money on bug deterrents.

camping

2. Rain

As I mentioned, for us, August is usually a dry month for us to camp. Usually. We have had times where it’s rained nearly the entire week, with only one really good, hot and sunny day.

A prepared camper knows to plan for everything. And to pack accordingly.

Tarps will help keep your tents as dry as possible. Packing rain boots is a smart idea as well, but you could always check out Pinterest for tips on how to waterproof shoes (I’ve seen some easy instructions), and you can get a cheap raincoat at any outdoors store. Even Walmart sells emergency rain protective covers to wear… I’ve seen them for a dollar (dollar stores may have them too).

Bring an extra tarp for your firewood because you’re going to need to keep the wood as dry as possible if you still want a campfire. Yes, it is still possible to have a campfire in the rain!

Bridge

3. Dirt/Pine Needles

It. Gets. Everywhere.

This is why our vehicle needs a complete overhaul when we get home! There are three ways you can keep everything as clean as possible:

A. Bring a camp broom and dustpan. You may have left home for a vacation,, but let’s be honest, you didn’t leave housework at home.

B. Bring a small, handheld vacuum. Whip that baby out and get to it (just be super quick about it to reduce the noise levels for your fellow campers, it’s sooooo not cool to vacuum your entire vehicle and three tents every single day.)

C. Invest in some protective plastic automobile mats. We just bought one for the back of our Journey, and it was only $10. This is going to save us a lot of time on cleanup!

There you have it. Solutions to the 3 biggest problems with camping! Enjoy your trip!

Have I missed something? Please share your ideas in the comments!

The First Rule of Camp Club


rules of camping
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I’m going to tell you a little secret. You may or may not already know this secret, but if you don’t know, you definitely should.

Camping is a quiet activity.
 
 
There. I said it. It’s out there. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you make the awesome decision to go camping, the first rule of camp club is BE QUIET, so that your fellow campers can also enjoy their trip.

If you are WAYYYYY out in the bush, and there is literally no one around for MILES, then by all means, make as much noise as you like. Party it up until the wee hours! The world is your oyster!

But if you are close enough to your neighbour’s campsite, that you could probably carry on a full conversation without needing to get closer to them in order to hear them speak, please show some courtesy and tone it down.

Children are probably the biggest challenge… because when kids are little, let’s be honest, folks, they don’t care about anyone other than themselves, right? A two year old is going to throw a tantrum, regardless of their environment, if they aren’t happy. If that is the case, follow the tips I offer in a previous post: http://bit.ly/1My22li. I am confident that I can help tame the beasts!
nature and relaxation

The purpose of camping is to get away from everything, and enjoy the sounds of nature.

If you bring your dog, a fellow camper’s ONLY request of you is to please make sure the dog is well-trained and well-behaved. If this is not the case with your dog, put the dog in a kennel.

Even if your fellow campers don’t say anything about it, it doesn’t mean your dog isn’t annoying the heck out of them with the whining and barking. Yes. I know. I’m not a dog person at all, but I do understand. Your dog is part of the family. You can’t possibly NOT go without them. But yes. You can. Paying some attention to your camper neighbours will clue you in on the kind of job you’re doing. Glares are usually a dead giveaway that you could improve. One word. Kennel.

I may get some heat for this post, but it’s about respect. Really. It’s not just your vacation. Your fellow campers deserve to enjoy their trip as well, so if bringing extra toys and dog treats doesn’t work, maybe paying some attention to your dog’s needs will help keep them on the down low, so that everyone’s trip is a happy one.

Getting away from it all means exactly that. And most people try to get away from the noise too. Being a quiet camper will win you major points, and maybe some friends in the camping world!

Are there other rules that I may have missed? Please feel free to share!

5 Things to do When You Camp

5things

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There is often a toss-up between wanting to do a lot when you’re camping, and wanting to do nothing.

We’ve had camping trips where I literally fell asleep on three different beaches! Sometimes you don’t realize how drained you are until you’re there and everything is unpacked. You have a bite to eat, and you suddenly cannot keep your eyes open a minute longer.

We’ve also had camping trips where it’s been literally one physical activity after another, and it can be so exhilarating! (I believe the saying goes, “sleep when you’re dead”.)

To make your trip enjoyable and relaxing, be sure not to forget to do these five things:

Our favourite place to camp!

Our favourite place to camp!

5. Hiking

Most public campgrounds have trails specifically for hiking, or you can explore on your own, depending on how well you know the area, and if you have a GPS or a map with you. Make sure to bring bottled water, something to snack on, and definitely your camera, because photo ops are literally everywhere. Scenic nature shots and wildlife photos are just waiting for you.

4. Biking

Some trails are good for biking, and some are definitely too rugged. Be sure to plan ahead and plan accordingly. Biking along some simple trails at a leisurely pace soothes the soul, and offers the same kinds of photo ops as hiking. Really notice your surroundings… pay attention to the sound of the wind through the pines, breathe in that fresh air and enjoy your ride.

The best way to travel!

The best way to travel!

3. Canoeing/Kayaking

If hiking and biking are just not peaceful enough for you, pick one of these activities and head for the water. Check ahead of time to see if there are any rental facilities nearby, if you aren’t able to borrow from a friend. You can paddle at whatever pace you desire, and because the activity is such a quiet one, the chances of seeing wildlife are that much greater than being on a bike or stepping on twigs on a trail. Some animals to watch for could include herons, beavers, frogs, turtles, ducks and geese, to name a few, but you may get lucky and see something even more awesome!

Nothing's better than the sun on your skin and sand in between your toes!

Nothing’s better than the sun on your skin and sand in between your toes!

2. Visit the Beach

When my family and I go camping, we make sure to block out one entire day for the beach. Look at the weather forecast and try to plan it around any days that include rain. We bring beach toys, a picnic blanket, towels, snacks, sunscreen and the camera and we make a day of it. Laying on the beach, soaking up the sun’s warmth while keeping an eye on the kids building their castles and moats. Just make sure to keep reapplying that sunscreen and drinking water!

1. Napping

Seriously, is this NOT what vacation is all about? A couple of hours of shut-eye in the middle of the day, whenever you feel like it, just makes your entire vacation feel that much more successful, because you have actually RESTED. If you and your spouse can’t nap at the same time, see if you can work it so one takes the kids for an hour while the other naps, and switch when the nap is over. Who needs a spa day when you can nap in the fresh air?

I feel like our trip is a huge success when we’ve ticked all of these activities off of our unspoken list. We come back feeling pretty refreshed from our vacation!

Do you think I missed anything? Please leave your ideas in the comments!