2009 Trips: 12 places | 42 nights | 4575 km
May 1 to 3, Row C, Site C-3. We had a great time with an impromptu mini-MFCC gathering at this nearby KOA that consistently defies the KOA stereotype (Kamping On Asphalt). Dan, the owner, works hard to make sure that his customers are satisfied with their camping experience and the sites, while tightly placed, are nicely treed. The facilities are clean and well kept, and the jumping pillow is always fun.
The weather was a bit chilly at times but the for the most part the wind that cooled us kept the bugs away. Quality time with the family and around the campfire with friends made this outing a winner. It was during this trip that I got to talking with a fellow camper about his Hensley Arrow hitch. That discussion led to a lot of research and the decision to purchase a ProPride 3P hitch. Check out our 3P page for installation and experiences.
Higley Flow State Park
May 15 to 19, Loop C, Site 56. A PUX event and a great time... we revisited the site of our first PUX group camping event - The May Two-four weekend of 2007 on this, the May Two-four weekend of 2009.
Higley Flow is a beautiful park about 16 km (10 miles) SSW of Potsdam NY and very quiet (except for the noise we made ourselves). As always the company was great and the potluck was delicious. The weather, on the other hand...
Friday, our day of arrival, was warm and sunny. Saturday, warm and rainy, as in steady downpour. Sunday, cold and sunny. Monday, of course, warm and sunny.
Murphys Point Provincial Park
Park | 8/10
June 12 to 14, Hogg Bay CG, site 70. This was our first trip with our new ProPride 3P hitch... what a difference! As usual we had a great time at Murphys Point though we spent the bulk of Saturday at a cottage on nearby Otty Lake to celebrate a friend's birthday.
The weather was good and the wildlife was out. On Saturday morning we saw loons come out of the water onto the beach to mate. It didn't last long and they were back in the water within a minute. A short while later Dawn was surprised by a hummingbird very close up at the water's edge. We saw deer along the road to the park and on Saturday evening a brazen raccoon came on to the campsite and had to be chased away. And as we were heading home we saw a very large snapping turtle making his way across the road... hope he got to the other side okay.
Although Dawn and I were both fighting colds it was a nice trip and a good time.
Sandbanks Provincial Park
June 28-July 12, Woodland CG, Site 665. Two weeks at our favourite park in our favourite site - how can you top that?
We spent time at the beach in the water, on the sand and flying a kite. We did some kayaking, canoeing, fishing, cycling, walking and sat by many a campfire. We toured the surrounding area and found wineries, back roads, ice cream parlours, beautiful views and ClearWater Design where we bought two kayaks. The weather was good for the most part and we never had to turn on the heat or the air conditioner in the trailer.
We've never camped for two weeks anywhere before... but Sandbanks was the perfect place to do it. And I learned that taking the trailer to the dump station mid-stay is not the end of the world.
Rideau River Provincial Park
July 17 to 19, East CG, Site 40. A weekend trip to the closest Ontario Provincial Park to home at which, curiously, we have never camped before.
This park is sandwiched between the well-travelled Rideau River and County Road 5 and, as a result, is not exactly tranquil. However, the fishing is good and the beach is pretty nice. The weather was better than predicted, and we had a good time. We wouldn't choose site 40 again, though... it was a little too tight for our rig.
On Saturday John's parents came for the day - a special treat. The five of us had a lot of fun.
Murphys Point Provincial Park
July 24-26, Hogg Bay CG, Site 69. A visit to one of your favourite parks is always sweetened by a stay on favourite site, and that's what we got this time around. John spent some time making a new batch of fire starters while Dawn and Emily played at the beach, and Dawn went kayaking while John and Emily hung around the trailer.
We have Ottawa neighbours who rent a cottage in the area every summer, and they came for the afternoon and for dinner with us. A very nice time.
Foster Fishing Centre
July 30-31. We stopped here for one night on our way to the Elora Conservation Area. We picked this private campground because it was only a kilometre or two down the road from ClearWater Design, where our second kayak awaited pickup.
The FFC's motto is "Campground for the serious angler & their families". Dubious grammar aside, that's exactly what the place appears to be, though there weren't any serious anglers in evidence. In fact, nobody but campground staff were in evidence (and they were scarce enough). We were the only guests that night... which was a little creepy.
The weather was perfect and the place is nice enough... if you like the idea of parking-lot camping. When the parking lot is empty it's not so bad. Like a lot of private campgrounds they have rules up the wazoo and fees to go along with them. Dawn wanted to launch her kayak and was told it would normally be a $10 charge, but they waived it. They insist on launching and recovering all trailered boats themselves... maybe that's why the place was deserted.
Unless we buy another kayak, we won't be back. Maybe not even then.
Elora Gorge Conservation Area
July 31 to August 3, Loop F, Site 374. We had a great time camping here. The weather was great, the park was very nice and we visited some beloved family members in Hamilton and nearby Breslau. We toured African Lion Safari, walked in the beautiful nearby town of Elora, and went swimming in the Elora Quarry. On the return trip we stayed off the 401 and had a much more pleasant drive.
The campsite was very nice and there were no mosquitoes at all - a first this year for us. The campers were friendly and the park was pleasant and peaceful, likely due in large part to the alcohol ban that's been in effect for the past five years. Strangely enough for a Conservation Area, though, recycling facilities were woefully underequipped and difficult to find... they're not mentioned in the park newsletter and we had to ask a couple of staffers before they were found.
Coles Creek State Park
August 14 to 16, Loop A North, Site 87. This was our first time at Coles Creek, situated in upstate New York along the St Lawrence Seaway. We had a fantastic site on the water with a clear view back across to Ontario and plenty of seaway traffic to be seen.
The sites are nice but not especially private and mostly exposed to the sun. Ours was shallow and we parked our trailer parallel to the road, giving us a great view. The shore was rocky and not ideal for swimming but it was easy enough to launch our kayaks there for a nice paddle.
There are plenty of noisy boats around during the day including annoying personal watercraft. But things quiet down as the sun sets and the park is nice and peaceful.
Wood was cheap and of good quality and the park staff pick up garbage and recycling if you leave it bagged by the road.
This park makes our short list for nearby camping destinations.
Presqu'ile Provincial Park
August 21 to 22, High Bluffs CG, Site 80. We arrived after 8:30 pm for this one-night stopover and the lineup of campers checking in was crazy... I had to wait for half an hour. Next time I arrive prepaid with reservations I'll probably just proceed to the campsite.
So, we set up after dark. Luckily site 80 was huge and we were easily able to pull in... what's more, it was fairly flat and we didn't have to use blocks for side-to-side leveling. We just left the truck hooked up so we could leave the next morning.
The stars were out in abundance that night and were a wonder to see. A warm wind blew inland from Lake Ontario and it felt great. Next morning dawned clear and bright and after a little exploration we were off to Inverhuron.
Inverhuron Provincial Park
August 22 to 26, Lime Kiln CG, Site 154. Inverhuron is a pretty small park and its charms were not immediately evident to us. However, time spent on our private and well-isolated site and the limestone-strewn shore made this one shine for us.
We spent a lot of time travelling the area, from the touristy Sauble Beach to the quaint towns of Southampton and Goderich. We also spent some time on the beach at Point Farms provincial park. And wind turbines abound in this region. I found it fascinating to see so many of them.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park
August 26 to 28, Lakeshore CG, Site 152. This is a big park. We camped at the southern tip in the Lakeshore campground with lots of friendly neighbours.
We started out on site 158, which is huge but has a fair slope. We parked uphill and in order to get the tongue of the trailer low enough to the ground for front-to-back leveling we placed blocks under both sets of tires - left and right. Whether we didn't tighten the tire chocks enough or the air cooled in the tires enough to shrink them I don't know... but when we unhitched, the trailer rolled. off the blocks and just a foot or two until one of the chocks dug into the forward tire on the left side, carving a chunk out of the tread.
We pulled forward, extracted the chock and relocated to site 152 (with permission from the park). I called CAA and they showed up about 5 hours later to change the tire. Lesson learned... check those chocks!
The next day we drove to nearby Fenelon Falls for an excellent 2-hour boat tour of Sturgeon Lake. The trip included passage through Trent-Severn Lock #34 - twice. The weather was perfect to be on the water and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Pres'quile Provincial Park
September 4 to 7, Pines CG, Site 124. We spent the long weekend right across the road from Lake Ontario. The weather was perfect and we spent most of our time relaxing on the site. The folks we talked to were friendly... and except for John fighting a nasty cold, we had a great time.
There were plenty of activities in the park. The Friends of Presqu'ile Park organization held fundraising BBQ lunches on Saturday and Sunday - this is the group that rebuilt the park's marsh boardwalk, raising $300,000 and 9000 hours of volunteer labour to do so. A fellow named Don Davis was also present both days, tagging Monarch butterflies and getting plenty of help releasing them prior to their migration to Mexico... Emily got in on it too!
The girls went to one of Presqu'ile's three beaches but the water was full of algae so their stay was short. The rest of the swimming we did was right across the road from our site at the rocky shore there. The water was very refreshing.
All in all, a great stay. Just down the road from Sandbanks, so to speak, but so much more peaceful!
Charleston Lake Provincial Park
September 25 to 27, Bayside CG, Site 222. This was a special trip, because our not-so-little Emily turned five on the 26th. We had a family camping event - Dawn's folks brought their trailer to the site next to ours. Dawn's sister, brother-in-law and niece came for the day on Saturday, and my parents also came on Saturday and spent the night.
Saturday was a beautiful day - we took Emily to the nearby park and took a stroll on the boardwalks of the Quiddity Trail. We need a longer stay next time because there's a lot of this park still to explore.
We didn't plan for Charleston Lake to be our last trip of the year... two more (at least) were in the wings but the trailer was sidelined with storage tank issues until the season was effectively over.