I’m so happy you’ve returned to read up on Part Two of our summer! Camping is the one tradition we look forward to all year. Some people like fall, some adore Christmas, but for us, it’s all about our summer and camping with people we love.
Each year, we come up with a family hashtag to use for all our mobile photos that we upload through Instagram. I noticed a huge difference in the quality of cell service within the park this year. Family members within the same campground said the same thing. Something must have changed, and it was next to impossible for my husband to post his photos.
So this year’s hashtag was #therichesescape2016 and I love how my followers have picked up since we started using that hashtag. I had three-five new followers each day, which is more than I’ve gotten over the past year lol! Anyway, if you’re on Instagram, please check out the hashtag and feel free to follow us!
I left off on my last blog post that we had just celebrated a family member’s 40th birthday. We had some embarrassing karaoke moments (but I treasure the song I sang with my son!).
We had the following day to get all our gear packed and coolers ready to fill. We went out to dinner before packing the vehicle, because at that point, there’s nothing to eat in our house. Jack Astor’s is our restaurant of choice for one major reason: they provide paper on their tables and we get to draw on it! We decorate it with all kinds of camp drawings that include tents, campfires and trees. And let’s not forget the hashtag!
The trip to our favourite park is about 4 1/2 hours, which includes a pitstop or two to stretch and pick up coffee. We stop in Huntsville @townhuntsville to pick up last minute supplies, and then we’re on our way.
This trip was special for all us, and here’s why: It was the first time back since our son came out to us. My parents were meeting us there, from Marathon, Ontario, located above Lake Superior in the Thunder Bay district. It takes them two days two get to the park, because my father despises driving at night for one reason. Secondly, the drive is so long overall, no one should be driving that trip in one go. Lastly, I hadn’t seen my parents since May, in Golden Lake, Ontario for my grandmother’s memorial service.
My other brother was supposed to join us with his family, introducing (my nephew) to our parents for the first time. Unfortunately, work prevented him from being able to, so he had to cancel his reservation. We were all sad about it but it happens!
Cousins of mine were also enjoying the same lazy week we were, and I’m so grateful that we were able to connect and chat as much as we did.
The rest of our family arrived before we did, so needless to say, the cousins were posting pics online before we got there. That made us jealous, but excited at the same time. We knew this trip would be awesome!
It took us about two hours to set up our site. Having camped at the same site for a few consecutive years, we knew exactly where to put everything. My parents were the next site over, with only a walking path between us. This made it very convenient for all those late night campfires we had! Sorry to anyone we may have kept awake, but you paid us back by setting your kids loose at 7:30 a.m.! Most people are in bed by 11, and we were closer to the midnight mark. We had a LOT of catching up to do, and a lot of hugs to catch up on.
So, meals we ate! We ate so well while we were camping, and I know some of my followers (love you anyway) may mock me for bringing a crockpot camping. Yet I adamantly argue that if you have an electrical campsite, USE it to its fullest potential! If that means dinner is less work and helps provide more family time, DO IT like Nike!
- crockpot meatloaf (intended to have with potatoes, but skipped one meal, used it in sandwiches instead)
- Buffalo chicken sandwiches
- hamburgers twice (cooked over the open flame!)
- hot dogs
We also enjoyed:
- pizza subs (a made-ahead recipe will be in a future post!)
- breakfast sandwiches
- pancakes (made from Bisquick ahead of time, frozen flat and double-zip-top-bagged)
- bacon and eggs
- cereal and toast
- canned goods for lunch
- chips and cookies
We spent one entire afternoon with my parents at the Logging Museum and stopped for lunch just outside of the Park @Algonquin_PP in Whitney, Ontario. There is an amazing little fish and chip truck, right next door to Opeongo Outfitters. It’s a great place to pick up supplies for camping and for portaging. We rented a canoe for two days while we were there, and headed back to camp.
Our evenings were full of star-gazing, as my husband used a friend’s SLR camera to snag pics of the stars. The pics definitely look blurry but I assure you, it’s not the photographer’s fault. The lens was open so long that the Earth shifted, making the finished photo appear blurry. He will definitely be working on it for next year to get better photos.
We also spent our evenings talking, laughing, catching up. I forgot how much my dad enjoyed Seinfeld (and how much my mom disliked it) when one evening, they told us they wanted to get to bed earlier (midnight was too late, could we aim for 11?). Eleven o’clock came and went as we reminisced of the old show and our favourite episodes.
Yawning, laughing and talking, we eventually packed everything in at 11:45 p.m., so we saved them a whole 15 minutes. But we ALL could have continued talking for a lot longer! Camping does that to you, I think. You enjoy bonding so much with family, it’s hard to end the day!
The following evening, we got talking about Who’s on First, a comedy routine done by Abbott and Costello, performed in 1937. We referred to it because of the reference in Rainman, another topic we discussed as we were also camping with my autistic brother, Jason. Jason is a non-verbal autistic young man, and he won’t talk to you directly. We can usually tell what he wants or needs based on physical cues we’ve all come to rely on over the years. Jason has a love for all genres of music, the more repetitious, the better. He has a love for rock and roll, Motown, “rap crap”, as my mother calls it, from the 80s and 90s. He also enjoys bands like Korn and Slipknot (thanks to my youngest brother when he was still living at home, thank goodness I wasn’t).
Both my husband and my father were in stitches, while watching this classic. I loved watching Abbott and Costello in action on reruns when I was growing up. Isn’t it hilarious how they always seemed to be screaming at each other and people loved it? We also talked about The Honeymooners, and how they ended up being a cartoon, known as The Flintstones (I touched on this in another blog post).
My mom and I talked about several different topics while the menfolk bonded over black and white classic performances. Which, with my husband’s crappy cell service, took a lot of time to buffer! We talked about work, the kids, my brothers, life in general, how much we missed one another, and every topic was punctuated with hugs and “I’ve missed you so much!” and “I’m so glad you’re here!” not to mention all the times I told her, “I can’t wait for you to meet Mavrick, he’s so freaking cute!”
On our last morning camping with them, I sipped a coffee with my parents, while my husband started to get the packing done. I wondered how I was going to say goodbye to them for another, who knew how long? How could I keep the tears back when I bawled like a baby last time? I tried not to think about it, as I went back and as a family, we tore down everything we had set up just 6 days before.
When we were finished, by check-out time, we still hadn’t had a full family camping photo where everyone was looking at the camera. It was a hot morning, and the threat of rain was in the forecast. Tyler set up the tripod and took a few photos, while my husband helped them finish folding up the trailer. We took two photos, one great one made the cut, and then it was suddenly time to say goodbye.
How did we get here already? We only just arrived!
I’m proud to say, I held it together, and although I got a little choked up saying goodbye to my mom while she was hugging me like she never wanted to let me go, the tears behaved.
We were pleasantly surprised when they told us they would like to come down to Hamilton before the snow starts flying. Now, I don’t know how serious they were, but we told them how much we would enjoy a visit if they came to town. I try not to get too excited because weather changes fast up there, but I’m hoping and praying for a visit from them before Christmas!
It’s sad to say goodbye once again, but we have some fantastic photos, terrific memories and a diet to go on now that we’re back home lol!
How did you spend YOUR summer? Please tell me in the comments!