Tag Archives: beaches

A-Camping We Went (Plus Some Luxury Living, and a Bit of Thomas the Tank Engine)

We’re back from our long weekend at Long Point provincial park, on the shores of Lake Erie.

It was the most interesting experience, to say the least.

Downpour

We arrived in the midst of a rain storm. I took this picture from inside the van, while waiting outside the park office for Ward to get us registered. Yes, I stayed nice and dry.

But that wouldn’t last!

You know the expression, “the rain was coming down in buckets”? That is a very apt description of the weather at the time.

So we pulled onto our site and waited until the buckets were set upright again.

That’s the thing with Ontario rain storms. There’s a lot of water involved, but it hardly ever rains for extremely long periods of time. Unlike Vancouver, where I grew up – there, the rain is more like an everlasting drizzle, rather like living in mist all the time.

When the rain stopped going “whoosh” and “splotch, splotch, splotch”, and became more of a gentle pitter patter, we began setting up our tent.

I actually found this fun. But then again (maybe due to growing up in Vancouver), I like being out in the rain.

We got all wet, but it was quite enjoyable. (At least, I enjoyed it. I’m not so sure my husband did.)

Campsite view

The rain stopped midway through our setting up. All the camping pictures are from my iPhone, so they’re not great quality – you can’t read the sign above, but it’s the one that warns there are no lifeguards so parents are responsible for their children.

The beach was literally less than a minute away.

I loved that! At night, we could hear the pounding of the surf. The only downside was the comfort station being farther away than I’d like. There is, I have decided, an optimal distance to a comfort station while camping – not too close, but most certainly, not too far. We discovered that cutting across the beach made the walk almost (but not quite) close enough.

First day on the beach

The skies started clearing (it was only mid-afternoon by then), and we headed out to the beach.

There was a lovely wind blowing (because, you see, there were severe thunderstorm warnings in effect for the evening).

Wind + camping = NO BUGS.

I really enjoyed our first night there.

The most lovely thing happened that evening. Mother Nature put on a gorgeous lightning show. We all stood on the beach and watched as light flashed from far across the horizon over Lake Erie. It was absolutely breathtaking. I managed to video some of the event, but I wasn’t quick enough to catch any stills. Here’s what the skies looked like from the beach:

Sunset

Sunset

We stood watching the lightning show until it got very dark and started raining. That night, heavy winds with a smattering of rain fell on the campsite. It was an incredible experience, lying in the slightly-shaking tent, the window flaps down, listening to the wind and the surf.

Day One: Very enjoyable.

Day Two began with more rain; there was another rain storm mid-afternoon, and then it cleared up and became beautifully warm and sunny.

Unfortunately, that meant very little wind.

Very little wind + camping = BUGS.

Biting ones.

I collected an assortment of bites, and as soon as it got dark, I retreated into the tent and read the evening away. It was okay, but not ideal.

Day Two: Not as enjoyable.

The weather forecasters had predicted that the series of thunderstorms would result in the “perfect day” on Day Three. But we woke up to a downpour again. Which was okay with me (because, you know, NO BUGS), but by then, I’d had the perfect amount of camping experience. Enough to last me for the next little while, anyway.

Since we couldn’t cook over the campfire, we headed out to the nearby town and had breakfast. At the place we went to, we were handed a full page menu with the following choices: Breakfast.

So we decided on, um, breakfast. (I’m having a bit of fun here with this, but it was actually a very delicious breakfast, lack of choice aside: eggs, choice of bacon/ham/sausage, toast, hash browns, fairly decent coffee.)

The perfect day showed up by noon but we’d already decided to go, a day earlier than planned (which was, you might recall, already four days earlier than originally planned). So we took down our tent in the hot sun, and got the van all packed up.

Here’s when our camping trip got really good.

First, we stopped at the park office to let them know we were leaving, in case any last minute campers came by and needed a site (after all, it was booked through until Thursday).

They gave us a full refund for our unused days! We certainly hadn’t expected this.

Then, things got even better. On a whim, we called the Kettle Creek Inn, a deluxe inn we stayed at in Port Stanley, Ontario, about ten years ago, and managed to land a luxury suite on a last minute deal.

Perfection. Jacuzzi tub, gourmet dining, lovely soft bed.

We checked in, then walked down to the Main Beach. It was really hot, so when we got there, we slipped off our shoes, and splashed in the water. When it’s that hot, you don’t care that you’re getting your clothes all wet; it’s actually quite wonderful because you stay cool on your walk back!

The next day, after a nice breakfast (lots of choices), we took a ride on the Port Stanley train, which really thrilled our little resident train aficionado. After a very leisurely lunch, it was time to head back home. But by our calculations, leaving right then would have landed us in the midst of Toronto rush hour.

Not a good plan.

So we took a side tour into St. Thomas, to visit the Elgin County Railway Museum. And we got very lucky indeed. It turned out that A Day Out With Thomas took place this past weekend; over 15,000 people attended (most, I gather, being of the knee-high variety).

And guess who was outside the Elgin County Railway Museum, waiting to be stored?

Dylan and Thomas the Tank Engine

Yep. Thomas the Tank Engine.

To say Dylan was thrilled is to put it mildly. Thomas wore a black face mask (for copyright reasons, apparently!), but that was okay. I doubt very much we would have gotten such great pictures if we’d gone to A Day Out With Thomas, along with the 15,000 other wee ones.

We also got to see a 4-6-4 Hudson steam locomotive, the No. 5700 (it actually started life as the 5703), and it was so impressive. I’m not a train fanatic, but standing there beside this massive piece of machinery was quite an experience. The historic feeling was almost palpable.

No. 5700

No. 5700

And I have a better feel for the allure of Steampunk as a result!

When we left, it was the perfect time, traffic-wise.

All in all, this is my idea of the ideal camping weekend: two nights in a tent on a beach, followed by four star accommodations!

[TSS] More Beach Reads, Movies and Writing (Not Really)

CIMG2225Not very original, I know, but I can’t believe how this week has just flown by. I seem to be caught up in a routine of eating, drinking, reading and relaxing, not necessarily in that order.

My husband is on his way back from the fish market right now, with fresh lobster and deep fried clams, and I finally managed to snatch my netbook out of the hands of my daughter, so the time feels perfect for blogging.

This Week’s Reads

The Blue CastleAfter finishing The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, on my first full day here in Nova Scotia, I decided the atmosphere was perfect for some L.M. Montgomery – we aren’t that far away from P.E,I., and the sand beach near us has red sand in it, which reminded me of the Island. I have almost all of Montgomery’s works on my netbook in ebook format, so I decided to re-read The Blue Castle, one of my favorite Montgomery works. Unlike Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, The Blue Castle is the story of an adult heroine, Valancy Stirling. It’s a wonderful Cinderella tale, and I’ve read and re-read it many times. I’d forgotten that it’s set in the Muskokas in Ontario, rather than P.E.I., so I will probably read Emily of New Moon sometime this week just to get my Island fix.

Hell HoleAfter The Blue Castle, I started Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, Book 1 of the Dresden Files series. I’m about halfway through – I love the concept of a wizard detective in current-day Boston, and it’s a fun book, but it wasn’t quite fitting my mood, so I also started listening to Hell Hole, by Chris Grabenstein, the fourth book in the John Ceepak and Danny Boyle series. I am quite addicted to this series now, and finished Hell Hole yesterday while we were at Crescent Beach in Lockeport, N.S.. Jeff Woodman, who narrates the series, is a superb narrator, and if you’re wanting to get started with audiobooks and like mysteries, I’d definitely recommend the audio version of this series. Just make sure you start with the first book in the series, Tilt-a-Whirl, not because each book doesn’t stand on its own, but mainly because characters from previous books do show up again (or not, as the case may be), which can give clues to the mysteries in the previous books.

Rounding up my reading for the week, I also started Wayne Dyer’s Excuses Begone!. It’s a great read so far; I like in particular its emphasis not on our feelings or desires, but on our identity.

Movies, Movies, Movies

It’s turning out to be movie night for the family every night here at the beach cottage – there’s just something really nice about gathering together after a great seafood dinner to watch movies (especially since it’s pretty bug-heavy outside at night).

So far, we’ve watched Music & Lyrics, The Dark Knight, Dirty Dancing, Miss Congeniality, Disturbia, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Gone in 60 Seconds. My older son did excuse himself to play the Sims 3 on the nights we watched Dirty Dancing and He’s Just Not That Into You, but otherwise our movie nights have been perfect family time (the little one was in bed, of course).

Writing (Or Not)

I think I must have been dreaming when I last blogged that I was thinking about writing 6,000 words a day! The only writing I’ve done so far has been in my journal; not only has it been tough to lay my hands on my netbook, but the ergonometric keyboard I brought along in order to, well, write, isn’t working very well – the “o” and the “b” keys don’t work at all.

And really, the days have been so lazy and idyllic, I just haven’t felt like doing much except (have I mentioned?) eating, drinking and reading.

Pictures!

I finally started remembering to bring my camera with me when we went on our our outings, which have been mainly to beaches so far, although next week we plan on heading out for day trips to Yarmouth and Mahone Bay. A visit to Peggy’s Cove is also planned, although the days are slipping by so fast, I’m not sure we’ll have time to do everything on our list.

The beaches here in Nova Scotia are just gorgeous – many of them are white sand beaches, and if it weren’t for the weather, you’d think you were in the Caribbean. I don’t actually like to swim, and I love cool, windy weather, so it’s been perfect for me. While they’ve been calling for clouds and rain every day we’ve been here, the weather has been beautiful and sunny  so far (just not particularly hot).

CIMG2165 Sandy Point Lighthouse Beach

CIMG2160 Red Sands at Sandy Point

CIMG2204 Dylan & Daddy at Crescent Beach, Lockeport

CIMG2206 Oops! Forgot My Sand Bucket!

CIMG2234 Beautiful White Sands

CIMG2302 Bit of Sand Beach at Our Beach Cottage

CIMG2322 View from the Side of the House