The End of a Beautiful Day

The End of aBeautiful Day


The sun is setting behind the great pines of Algonquin, and the humidity is easing up. Dinnertime has come and gone, and everything has been washed and put away so that bears don’t come looking for snacks.


Four folding chairs are placed around the fire and everyone is freshly showered and in pjs. My husband pours me a glass of wine and kisses me on the cheek as he hands it to me, right before cracking open a can of Canadian for himself. The boys have marshmallows out, and I’ve set up chocolate bars and graham crackers for s’mores. The roasting sticks wait for their calling.


A loon calls out from the the nearby lake, and we all stop talking to listen. What a beautiful sound.


One by one, the stars begin to appear in the darkening sky above us, as the fire crackles. We can faintly hear the fires of fellow campers doing the same. My youngest son exclaims that he saw a shooting star and we encourage him to make a wish. He thinks hard for a second and then smiles. Done.


We discuss what we’ve done today as a family. We began the morning with a nice little hike on a trail close by. We packed some water, granola bars and bug repellent just in case, and we took a lot of stunning photos. We made sure to get some family shots, too. We took our time on this hike. We enjoyed the smells, and the views. We even brought a few peanuts for the chipmunks on the trail.


We came back to the site and made soup and sandwiches for lunch, before heading out on our bikes for a bike ride. It was a good workout, being a little overcast made the ride a little more comfortable. We saw a bear along the way, as she munched on blueberries behind one of the campgrounds. She paid no attention to us, she was all about snacking.


When we came back, the boys did some exploring on their own while I headed for a nap. I fell asleep listening to kids playing, squirrels chirping their warnings and crows clucking. My husband also gave into his exhaustion.


Tomorrow is our beach day. It’s supposed to be sunny and very warm. They’re calling for 30+Β°C and it’s going to be so relaxing. We all love our day at the beach. Caleb will be building sandcastles and moats, and Tyler is talking about swimming out to the island. I have a feeling it won’t happen, it looks closer than it is!


The sun has disappeared completely now, and we can spot the nearly full moon through the trees. The sky is lit up with stars. Millions and millions. I look up to enjoy them, and see two satellites gliding along. I cannot explain the amount of peace and happiness I feel, being here, with my family.


It feels like I’ve come home.

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

It’s My Party!

PARTY

Today is June 30th, 2018.

We are at a friend’s house in Newcastle, Ontario. TJ, and his wife, Steph, have graciously opened up their home to us to let us celebrate our vow renewal in honour of our 20th wedding anniversary which was actually in December, 2017. We had a winter wedding, so we decided to do our renewal in the summer months.

The weather is warm, sunny, with a smidge of humidity (which is normal for southern Ontario). The breeze takes the edge off. The kids just finished school this week, and Tyler will be heading off to Kingston for a full 8 weeks of cadet camp at the military college. He really, really wanted to be a part of this special day. He wants to give a speech in honour of our day.

The house is in the middle of a farmer’s field, there is literally no one for miles. It’s a big, country house, a sizeable property with a woodshed and fire pit in the back. They’ve recently redone the deck to make it bigger, not at our request, it’s something they wanted to do anyway. Over the fire is a partially cooked pig on a spit, turning slowly and continuing to cook slowly for pork sandwiches later.

The local Hamilton band that my husband and I have known since we began living together in 1994 is starting to trickle in, with their gear and coolers. We consider them to be friends, we make a point to see them whenever we know they’re playing in town. We love their music… they play everything from Sass Jordan to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Greenday and so much in between. We technically grew up with them.

There are many folding lawn chairs placed around the firepit, and the surrounding trees have white Christmas lights hung on them, for when the festivities really get under way later. A few tents have been set up for guests who are staying the night, so they don’t have to drive the distance to get back home.

I busy myself in the kitchen, helping to organize and prepare salads and crockpots full of chicken and beef. Devin’s shucked the corn and is putting them into a clean cooler. Later, he’ll pour boiling water into it, and the corn will cook itself. Buns are stockpiled for sandwiches as the buffet is starting to come together.

The pastor who married us, Todd, joins the crowd in the backyard, sees Devin and I, and immediately heads over to catch up. He will be saying a few words for us, to us, about us. It’s his first vow renewal. We’re the only couple he’s married who are still together. This makes us proud… I think it makes Todd even more proud.

Portable washrooms have been set up along the side of the yard so that we can cut down on traffic in the house. We’re not sure who is more pumped about this; us or TJ. This party has been in the making for two years, but Devin and I have been talking about it for much longer.

I can hear the band doing their sound checks, as more people join us with coolers and chairs in hand. A couple of people, who are what I lovingly call, 5-star campers, will be heading into town to stay the night at a local hotel. I’m just thrilled that they could come out for this.

My friend Beth-Anne is busy arranging and organizing, insisting that I sit and relax, but I can’t. I feel bad. Friends of ours shouldn’t be doing all of the work… especially since the entire thing was our idea. The thing I love about Beth-Anne is that she thinks about all of the tiny, little details that I never even thought of, but it justs adds to the specialness of the day. She is amazing, and I am so glad I asked her to be a part of this. She is literally my right-hand lady.

The band is now all set up, and they are making their rounds, meeting friends and family. Country music is playing in the background and the roasted pig is smelling amazing. I cannot wait to eat.. I’ve been so nervous all morning, I didn’t eat a lot… and snacking on veggies here and there has done nothing to tame this hunger!

I take a seat, half-listening to the conversation going on around me, but not directed at me. I see TJ and Devin over at the woodshed, as TJ shows Devin the gigantic pile of firewood he’s been storing for the evening… and then promptly drags out three skids from behind the shed. I think we’ll be lighting up the entire field.

For years, we’ve talked about this. This is the only way we wanted to celebrate. Our closest family and friends, good food, guitars and our favourite band playing as we dance the night away. I finally let my breath out and relax. It’s all about enjoying it now… with the love of my life.

Here’s to another 20 years!

It’s My Party

Last Weekend’s Set List

Last Weekend's Set List


Today’s daily prompt is to write about last weekend like I’m a music critic. I needed some help from my friends, since I don’t listen to as much country music as they do (I do have an appreciation for it though, I’m a fan of many types of music), but I was familiar with a lot of the music that we heard throughout the evening, and even fell in love with a couple of new ones.


The first step was setting up the light show. A Christmas tree was ripped apart and added to the fire pit, before being set ablaze. Seating and beer was provided for the attendees. Guitars were brought out by people who were seasoned strummers. Even the weather cooperated for the duration of the outdoor venue.


The set-list was more or less as follows:


Brown-eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Put Another Log on the Fire by Waylon Jennings
Family Tradition by Hank Williams Jr.
Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lodi by CCR
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Guitars and Cadillacs by Dwight Yoakam
Bad Mood Rising by CCR
S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats


I’m probably missing a few songs here and there.


It was a great mix of music, different styles, eras and beats. There was something for everyone to enjoy listening to.


Even though I love today’s music, when I listen to older songs, I listen to the lyrics. Back in those days, people had something to SAY in their music. They often had a story to tell, the music meant something that people could relate to. I think even young people today, if they took the time to listen to the musical roots, they could develop an appreciation for the classics.


What is your favourite musical genre, and why?


B+

Guitars on Fire in Vineland!

Guitars on Fire in Vineland!

There was pandemonium on Saturday, as folks gathered in Vineland, Ontario to celebrate a young woman’s “29th” birthday with friends and family.

It began as a surprise, as the guest of honour answered the door to several, unexpected guests. She was force-fed a delicious, gourmet meal, and coerced into drinking several adult beverages, under the pretense of celebrating.

A hoe-down occurred outside, around the campfire, with the onslaught of several guitars and much merriment, with singing and dancing. Hits such as “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Simple Man” were strummed and sung along to. Indoors, “S.O.B.” was blasted on repeat over the home theater speakers. YouTube videos may or may not have been posted on social media.

A homemade, chocolate cake was later introduced to the crowd of party-goers, to infuse them all with further energy to withstand the fun-filled evening.

The evening was full of laughter and good times, as people eventually made their way home or to bed, in the large, beautiful house. However, the party didn’t end there. Four inebriated people stumbled their way to the host’s hot tub outside. Water was consumed at this point, to offset the results for the following day, as the hot tub light show carried on, invoking relaxation and a sense of peacefulness. Perfect for slumber.

The following morning, or perhaps, later the same morning, the opening song for Gone in 60 Seconds, “Bring Sally Up” by Moby, could be heard blaring over the home theater in the living room, welcoming any guests who spent the night to enjoy a movie accompanied by a big pot of strong coffee and more laughter, as reactions on social media from the previous evening’s shenanigans came to light.

”It was a phenomenal time… the entire evening was a blast. Good people, great food. Couldn’t have asked for a better night, or better friends.”, one party-goer stated.

Stay tuned to this breaking story… this reporter has a feeling that there may be a repeat performance.


Ripped Into the Headline

Why Camp At Algonquin Park?

Camping at Algonquin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

***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!