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+°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.

Make a Date With Nature

nature

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The world offers us some really beautiful views in nature. It can be hard to slow down and take it all in, when we are always so busy with life, but we should all make time to do it, because it’s good for our soul. It relaxes us, and provides us with some amazing photo opportunities.

orange

Several weeks ago, we went to a neighbouring city for a family birthday party, and we were in awe of the beautiful colours of the trees along the drive. We also took in some geocaching (read about that here).

yellow

I personally prefer spring and summer over fall and winter… and I know everyone has their own preferences. But all seasons offer us something special to look at and enjoy. Regardless of how I feel about fall though, there is no denying the beauty of the season, with it’s contrasting and changing colours.

trees

The clouds weren’t cooperating but the beauty of this shot couldn’t be left out of this post. Love the way the trees arch over the road.

We encourage the boys to come for walks with us, and to pay attention to nature. Sometimes you can spot wildlife, or a path you haven’t noticed before. Enjoying the peace and quiet, and breathing in that fresh air, not unlike a canoe ride on a camping trip, does wonders for you in so many ways.

red

While on our walk, we noticed the difference in temperature from just a couple of weeks before. The air was cooler, and you could smell summer’s goodbye, and pick up on fall’s crisp scent. The sun, while still warming the skin, had definitely cooled, as if also saying farewell.

fall trees

I’m already looking forward to spring and the perfumed air it brings as everything begins to bloom!

What is your favourite season and what do you like most about it?

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 Geocaching Will Make You Question Everything

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You can mention “geocaching” to just about anyone, and some people will have heard of it (some will even have done it). A lot haven’t heard of it, but are intrigued when you explain what it is.

I first heard about geocaching roughly a year ago, from a coworker who had just done it for the first time with her then-boyfriend. That almost sounds dirty, right? It can be! Let me explain:

The possibility of geocaching was born on May 2nd, 2000, when satellites were given new instructions, improving their GPS capabilities. The next day, a guy named Dave Ulmer, wanting to test the accuracy of the new capabilities but hiding a trackable item item in the woods, taking note of the GPS coodinates. The idea was to “take something, and leave something”. He posted the first “geocache” on Usenet, only then, it was called “the great stash game”. Within three days, two other people found the item and shared the experience. Within a month, people were buzzing about this activity and, in a nutshell, it caught on. (This is the extremely abbreviated version!)

It became geocaching because “geo” means Earth and “caching” means hidden temporarily (in general).

LOTS of geocaches are hidden in wooded areas, which is where getting dirty comes into play 😉

However, some geocaches are hidden in some not-so-private areas too, which brings me to my next point: you need to practice stealth. If the wrong people find the geocache, there is a good possibility it will end up being destroyed.

geocache

Out in the field, hunting geocaches!

geocaching

Tyler & Caleb, searching high, low and inside caves to find the treasure.

My husband and I, with our boys, have found about 30 geocaches at this point, which isn’t great, but it’s not too bad either. Plus, we’ve found them in all kinds of environments. We’ve found one in a grocery store parking lot. We’ve found two separate ones near coffee drive-thrus, and we’ve also found several along the Niagara escarpment (which is close to where we live). We also had one day, where all four of us climbed the side of the escarpment and came out looking like The Walking Dead. Dirt EVERYWHERE, twigs stuck in my hair, war wounds on just about all of us, and what an appetite we worked up…

geocaching

Found it!

Yup… but so rewarding when you FIND it. It’s like a grown-up version of a treasure hunt, and there’s no telling what you will find… some people leave money, trinkets, collectibles, even gift cards. You don’t have to take or leave something, but you should definitely sign the log sheet with your name and the date.

geocaching

Opening up the container to see what’s inside, and to sign the log sheet.

But, to start up with this amazing hobby, your first step really is to go to www.geocaching.com, and create a free account. You need this in order to look for geocaches, because the website tracks every one of them. And to make it extra convenient, you can get the app for your phone, so when you’re on the go, maybe between errands, you can log into your account on your smartphone, and see what’s around you 🙂

I’ll delve a little more deeply into this topic in my next post… I love this hobby, and I think if you enjoy the outdoors, you will too. What I love the most about it, though, is the fact that it’s like a huge, global secret. Some people know about it, and many more don’t. So if a geocache near your workplace or near your home is in view, you can enjoy knowing that it’s right under their noses and they have no idea!

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!

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!