Our Big Summer Adventure

This year we decided to do one big trip with the boys instead of multiple trips over the course of the summer. So we banked up our vacation days and headed out bright and early on July 2nd towards the East Coast. Since we knew we would only get one chance to take the boys on this type of trip we tried to fit in as many places as possible. I’ll be posting about our big summer adventure over the next several blog posts so stay tuned.

Our first day we drove 12 hours to make it to New Brunswick. On Monday morning we met our friend Steve and he gave us a quick tour of two local spots.

Checking out Grand Falls

After saying goodbye to Steve we hit the road again to get to our campsite for the night. We decided to stay at as many National Parks as we could on this trip. We really found some gems!

Kouchibouguac National Park

Monday night after a long and very bumpy drive we arrived at Kouchibouguac National Park. What a beautiful place! It was so quiet and peaceful there. Our campsite was just across the road from the water’s edge.  The campsite we stayed at was nice and wide and open. Very easy to back in and set up quickly, which we needed to do as they sky opened up just as we arrived! Fortunately the downpour was short lived and after dinner we were able to get out for a walk and the boys could swim.  The boys and the dog had a great time playing in the water. I’m sorry that we were only able to stay the one night but PEI was calling!

Before we left I went out for an early morning run and was able to take some great shots with just my phone. It was so quiet and peaceful. I was the only person around and could hear the birds and the waves. It almost made my run enjoyable…almost but not quite!

Our campsite for the night. Too bad we couldn’t stay longer.

Campsite were nice and open and easy to set up.
 

My view during my early morning run. I could get used to a view like this.

 

A camping we will go!

Another camping season is upon us! Time to break out the sleeping bags and bug spray and hit the road to go exploring!  I haven’t posted in a while but that doesn’t mean we haven’t started our camping season yet. Our family has already had two trips to various mountain bike races.

 

Needless to say it was a muddy start to the biking season!
Finally some sunny weather for a race day!

I’m gearing up for another fun but busy summer with my crew of growing young men. We’re changing it up this year, by not doing as many short trips but instead travelling further and longer we will be able to get the boys to places they’ve never been before. Check back to see where our summer adventures take us!

In case you are new to the blog or are just new to camping here is a packing list that I use every year to stock our trailer at the beginning of the camping season. start of season stocking list. It helps make things easier as I can just check off items as I go.

I hope you will check back to see what the summer has in store for us and let me know what places your family is looking forward to discovering this summer.

 

 

Family Favourite Banana Muffins

These poor neglected bananas!

My family has a love hate relationship with bananas. If I don’t have them everyone is looking for them. If I buy them suddenly no one is interested in eating them and they start going brown on my counter. What to do with overripe bananas? Make muffins…lots and lots of banana muffins. I usually make a double batch and freeze a dozen. When I’m packing up for a weekend away I can pull a bag out of the freezer to take with us. Suddenly when banana’s are in muffin form (with some chocolate chips of course) I can’t keep them in the house or trailer and the kids are asking me to make more!

I’ve had this recipe since I’ve been married and have lost count of the number of times I’ve made them over the years. I can always tell the popularity of a recipe in my house by the number of stains on the recipe card. This one is getting to the point of needing to be recopied! This recipe is also a great recipe for kids to help with. I usually get them to mash the bananas for me, but for some reason they enjoy measuring the chocolate chips more! There must also be sampling of the chocolate chips, the boys tell me it is for quality control 😉

 Family Favourite Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cups white sugar

1/3 cup oil

1 cup mashed bananas

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips (optional…but not in my house!)

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl beat egg, sugar, oil, bananas, milk and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Line muffins cups with liners or spray with cooking spray and fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops springs back when touched. Yield: 12 muffins

Note: If adding chocolate chips I reduce the amount of white sugar to 1/2 cup.

 

 

Sequence

I’m always on the lookout for our next family favourite board game and I think I’ve found it! For Christmas we received a beautifully made wooden board game called Sequence from my parents. It’s great because you can play with up to 12 people and it’s perfect for kids and adults. A bit of strategy is involved but my son’s seemed to catch on faster than poor old mom.  We enjoyed playing when my parents recently came to visit and are looking forward to taking it with us when we camp this summer.

I’m including the link to the gentleman my mom purchased our game from. The board is beautifully made and of excellent quality. I’ve checked out his website and may consider purchasing more games from him in future to give as gifts . If wanting to check out his website it can be found at: http://www.michaudtoys.org/. My mom found this game at a craft sale but his website gives you the option of ordering online.

Explaining the Rules to Nana

Weekend Away in Lake Placid

 

 

 

 

My husband and I enjoyed our anniversary weekend away  last year so much we decided to go away again this year for our anniversary. This year my husband Dave has become more interested in competing in endurance style mountain bike racing. It just so happened that there happened  to be a race in Lake Placid near our anniversary. What better excuse to get away then by combing two events into one!

We headed to Lake Placid on a Thursday morning after seeing the kids off to school and arrived at our destination in the late afternoon. For the weekend we stayed at the Lake Placid KOA which was about 20 minutes outside of Lake Placid and close to the ski hill where my husband’s race was taking place.

What made the weekend special for me was that I didn’t have to cook once! Other than having breakfast at the trailer we were out exploring for the day.

On Friday we went to Ausable Chasm which was about an hour away. It was a beautiful afternoon for a hike. We arrived later in the day but you could easily spend the day.

Can you see the elephant head?

It took us about an hour to hike the entire route but we were determined to finish the trail before closing time! You could easily spend the afternoon if you had small children. If you were visiting with children the are a number of different activities including rappelling, tubing and raft float tours. I know our boys would have enjoyed the rappelling and rock climbing.

On Saturday it was my husband’s endurance race. While he was racing over 100km’s of trails I spent a relaxing morning at our campsite reading and enjoying the peace and quiet.  Peace and quiet is not something that I usually experience when camping with boys! After Dave finished his race we decided to go exploring and head up Whiteface mountain.

Whiteface Mountain

We were hoping for better weather but it was looking as if Saturday was going to be our best chance of not experiencing rain. We started our drive after lunch and headed up the Veteran’s Memorial Highway. I was glad we decided to stop at a viewing spot on the drive up, the closer we got to the top the cloudier it got.

The view half way up the mountain
Would you believe on a clear day you can see for hundred’s of miles?
I made Dave take a picture to prove we actually made it to the top!

Fun in Lake Placid

Mini golfing
A cloudy view of the mountains

The weather was cool and rainy but we were able to do most activities. We enjoyed walking the main street popping into shops (well I did at least!) we enjoyed a silly game of mini golf (which I lost!) and enjoyed some great meals at local restaurants (I loved not cooking!) It was fun to go someplace new and spend some time as a couple. I don’t know if I need to go back to Lake Placid, I feel we did everything that was of interest to us as a couple but I know the boys would love the skiing in the winter. Now it’s time to start planning next years weekend away!

Ottawa Museum of Nature

Welcome to the crazy world of boys! But oh how I love them.

This is what I get when I ask them to pose for a picture. Goofy faces, bunny ears …or these days hands in front of their faces to keep me from getting a picture of them.  The above picture was taken several years ago at the Ottawa Museum of Nature. It was fantastic place to take kids. We had a great day exploring and it was the perfect size. It took us a full day to go through everything but the exhibits were not too large that the boys would loose interest.  It was a great way to spend a rainy day.

Toronto RV show

I look forward to this every year! It’s our annual trip to the Toronto RV show at the International Centre.

My husband and I enjoy going to the Toronto RV show to check out all the different types of models that are new on the market. We’re not planning to purchase a new trailer for years yet, but we enjoy seeing the different designs and latest upgrades. I’m always amazed at how many different ways a space can be designed and configured. There is something at the Toronto RV show for everyone and every budget. Just for fun I like to go into the huge motor homes and dream what it would be like to take one on the road for months at a time.
We plan to keep out current trailer for at least another 5 years but our next trailer will be very different. Right now we have a 32 foot Sunset trail with a bunk room. At this point in life it’s about fitting growing boys and a dog inside.  I love having the extra 6 feet for the boys to have their own space. However next time it will be about just the two of us.

The biggest change we are planning for our next purchase is to have a fifth wheel instead of a trailer. We like to keep an eye out for the style that appeals to us. When the time comes we hope to find a used trailer in good condition. Several features that I want to have in our next trailer are: more storage space, more casual seating and larger kitchen prep space.

I took several pictures of models that I’d like to keep my eye on in the future. They’re not the greatest pictures as I took them with my phone. It does give you an idea of what I’m dreaming about though!

I liked this model as it has a couch and two chairs plus counter space.
A Durango 2500 315RKD. I love the models that have the living space up top. This doesn’t seem to be as popular a style as it was last year at the show.
This is nicer than my kitchen at home!

The luxury of looking and dreaming is that you can be quite picky. For example I know in my next trailer I want more storage space in the bathroom and kitchen. Another important feature for me is being able to open the fridge if the slide out is in. Often we shop on the way to our destination and getting the groceries put away quickly is handy. My husband and I hope to travel for several weeks at a time in the future, which mean a comfortable spot and relax inside if the weather turns cold and wet.

Dont’ worry if you miss the show, there’s always the Toronto Spring Camping RV show in March! Maybe we’ll see you there!

 

End of Season Blues

My front door after clearing out the trailer. This is not the fun part of camping!


Well we’ve scrubbed, cleaned, emptied and winterized our cottage on wheels for another season. The trailer has been tucked into storage for  a long winter nap waiting to return next spring.  The end of the camping season always gets me down a little. Our family adventures are winding down for the year.  It’s back to running the kids around all weekend and doing laundry on Sunday nights and wondering where your weekend disappeared to!

What’s Ahead 

So what does that mean for the blog? It means I won’t be posting quite as often but I won’t disappear completely. I have one last campground review to post for the season along with some boredom busters ideas for kids.  Winter is the time for planning, experimenting and dreaming. Planning next summers adventures, experimenting with new recipes and gadgets to take along next year, and dreaming of my next getaway without kids! In the next several weeks I’ll be posting about some Christmas gift ideas for the campers in your life. I’ll also have my first guest post (get going on it Mom!) about a fantastic campground in Tennessee that’s on my personal wish list to visit.

I’d love to hear from people about places to visit and if anyone has suggestions on items or attractions that were a big hit with their families let me know!

Smoke Free Campfire Fun

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Nothing says camping to me like sitting outside under the stars with friends around a campfire.  I love a wood fire, the sounds of the wood popping and the colour of the flames.

What I don’t love is when the wind shifts, and suddenly I’m choking on smoke. Or after an evening by the fire everyone and everything smells like the inside of a barbeque smoker. Many campgrounds will no longer let you bring in outside wood. Which means you are forced to buy from the campground supply, it can sometimes be wet and of poor quality.

My husband surprised me early this summer by purchasing a portable propane fire pit.  I was a little skeptical at first but quickly came to love it!  The fire pit hooks up to a propane tank via a hose just like a barbeque would. One propane tank cost us less than $12 to fill and lasts for more than 12 hours of burning time. On average, a bag of wood costs $6 dollars or more and lasts for only two to three hours of burning time.

What I love most about our propane fire is the ease of set up and take down. If we decide to have an evening fire and it starts to rain we simply turn it off and head inside.  The fire pit comes with a storage bag so it’s easy to pack it away and store it in the trailer until the next time we want to use it.

This past summer was so dry that there were fire bans at many of the campgrounds. However we were able to use our propane fire pit as there was no fear of sparks.

There are several places you can purchase propane fire pits either online or in store and I find they are quite reasonably priced. I’m looking forward to being able to use it at home this fall in the backyard as well. Just because campgrounds are closing for the season doesn’t mean I have to wait until summer for our next campfire!

 

Grundy Provincial Park Campground Review

Our last big trip for the summer with the boys took us north. Our first stop was a three day stay at Grundy Provincial Park. This was a return stay for my husband and boys but my first trip. Last year they had a boys only weekend and had a great time so they looked forward to a trip with mom in tow this year.

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View from the cliffs

We have discovered this summer that as the boys are getting older Provincial Parks have a little more to offer them in terms of activities. Grundy offers beaches, cliff jumping, beautiful lakes for swimming, fishing and paddling. The weather the day of our arrival was fantastic for swimming and cliff jumping as it was hot and sunny. We surprised the boys by purchasing two kayaks before we left so they were eager to take them out on the water and go exploring. Arriving on a Monday I was surprised at how busy the park was.  We chose to arrive during the week to avoid the weekend rush but we had no such luck this time.

Ready to Jump!

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Climbing to the top

 

This was my first trip to Grundy Provincial Park and I can see why it is such a popular park to visit. Our campsite in the Trailer Campground was near the water so it was a quick walk to the lake for the boys to go off fishing or to take the kayaks out.  The cliffs are a great place to have fun and see how much of a daredevil you can be jumping into the water below. Last year when my husband was there he and the boys were the only ones jumping at the cliffs. However this year they were packed with people of all ages jumping into the water.

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One, two, three, jump!

Take a Hike!

I was very impressed with the beautiful walking trails. My husband and I hiked two different trails while staying at Grundy and I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. As someone who is  “directionally challenged”  I loved the simple trail markers, spray painted arrows! It’s hard to get lost when an arrow is pointing the way.  Our first evening hike we spotted a deer near the edge of the swamp, but of course I forgot my camera! Bears are also active in the park so make sure you are aware of your surroundings and keep food packed away. We heard one camper yelling to scare a bear away from his site while out for an evening walk.

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I would be happy to go back to Grundy Provincial Park again.  We’ve had such amazing weather for camping this summer as it has been so dry.  It had to come to an end at some point though. Two out of our three days was overcast with rain. It was much needed rain, but it did put a damper on swimming. Both nights it cleared long enough to get the dog out for a hike but we needed to find things to keep ourselves entertained during the downpours. More on that in my next post!