Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Camping We Will Go

Last week we decided to go camping for three days. Due to the upheaval and the new baby this summer, we haven't had much of a holiday. We wanted to do a little something, though, so the boys could feel like we'd been on a "real" holiday over the summer.  We went to Ottawa area, as we had friends we wanted to visit. It was kind of a last minute thing, but we hoped they could fit us in anyway.

 After all the sorting and packing we finally got on our way mid-afternoon on Sunday. Although it is not a super far drive to the Rideau River Provincial park, it is sort of a strange drive. The park is on the south west of Ottawa, and we were driving to Ottawa from the south east. While the main highway route drive into Ottawa and then back out again, there are a lot of side roads that cut across directly to the campsite. We thought we would be clever and take one of these, but it wasn't as clear of a road as we initially thought, and so we had to turn around and go back to the highway. This, combined with a sudden torrential downpour, meant that at supper time we were doing this:
instead of camping. That ended up being a good thing, as we could have been setting up the tent during the downpour otherwise.

The downpour and almost getting lost was a harbinger of other small, non-major disasters - no plugs for the air mattresses (last packed away during our hurried, flu induced early departure from Family Camp last summer), no matches, no ropes to cover our picnic table with a tarp, and very hungry mosquitos attacking my feet before I could get bug repellent on myself. I was pretty proud of Dave and I, because while we could have started arguing and blaming one another and generally being grumpy, instead we just made the best of our situation. The kids didn't know any better, and this trip was for them, after all. As you can see, Owen was happy to be there. We went to sleep (on the ground) and hoped for a better day.
After a quick trip next morning into the nearest town for coffee, bagels and matches, we were good to go.
Since we had missed out on the evening hot dog roast, we had hot dogs for breakfast, and then set out to explore. One of the major treasures we found at this park were pine (fir?) cones:
Lots and lots of fir cones.
After a morning well spent, it looked like rain was coming our way. So we headed into Ottawa to the Children's museum - a small part of the Museum of Civilization. Since it was now lunch time, and the museum was across the river in Hull, Quebec, we had some poutine and a smoked meat sandwich at a little chip resteraunt, and then headed off to the museum. We had been reading Red Racham's treasure, a Tintin book that mostly happens on board a ship, so the kids were most fascinated by the boat part of the exhibit. Hello, Captain Haddock.

That night we had a swim and met some new neighboring campers who had kids the same age as Andrew and Aaron. Their friends were staying the next day, so Andrew and Aaron got to spend a good portion of time playing with their neighbors around their campsite (which was a much cooler set up than ours) and on the beach.

In between, Dave had fun teaching them how to build proper fires and roasting and burning things like fir cones, corn, marshmallows and (sigh) a pop can. The boys had a blast,
and I had a little rest. I napped with Owen while Emma coloured, and then coloured with Emma while Owen napped. Here, Emma is miffed that I'm trying to make her look at the camera while she is so clearly busy.

Dave meanwhile got to prepare his favorite camping / traveling meal. We call it "the Irish Meal" - not because it is intrinsically Irish (although it does contain potatoes) but because we made it a lot a hostels when we were staying in Ireland, as potatoes were cheap and the cheese was excellent.
The boys played at the beach all afternoon with their new friends
while Emma played in the sand and the water
and I hung out with Owen (and washed up after lunch)
Owen did really well on this trip, enjoying watching the world go by, and miraculously not getting a single mosquito bite. I think it must be because he was next to me, and I'm a mosquito magnet.
He got to have lots of Mom and Dad time while the other kids were playing, so that made it all good for him, too.
After our busy afternoon, we all piled into the car and went to visit my sister-in-law and my neice (who is the next youngest cousin at 18). She introduced us to her cool musician friends and Andrew was introduced to Angry Birds on the iPad. We got to talk to my brother on the cell phone, which was great, too.

The next day Andrew and Aaron had a final play with their friends, we packed up the van and headed out to visit our friends Brian and Jean. They have 6 kids, and Brian recently finished his PhD in religious studies, so we have a lot in common. It was lovely to see them settled in Ottawa, to enjoy food from Brian's garden and to watch Jean so effortlessly manage her 6 children (ages 6 - 14).

After a lovely, long visit we all climbed back into the van and headed back to Montreal, glad to see our city, our house, and our soft cozy beds.

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