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.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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!