2013 Trips

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Camped  Camped | 6 places | 29 nights | 2164 km


Camped Westcott Beach State Park (Henderson, NY)

At the lookout - 08

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

May 17-20, Plateau Loop, Site 137: 30A, 118VAC. We gambled on the hope that Dawn would forego the strep throat this year, and we came up a winner! We had a great time with the MFCC group at this beautiful park.

The park is 20 minutes west of Watertown on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. It's split through by highway 3; the lower section is to the west with the park office, beach and campsites. The Plateau loop is up a steep hill to the east; near the top there's a great lookout.

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This park is on the list for a return visit.

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Camped Coles Creek State Park (Waddington, NY)

A little further back

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 8/10 | Our experience: 9/10

June 14-16, Loop A North, Site 93: 30A, 117VAC. Back to this gem of a state park again, this time with some tenting friends a couple of sites down from us.

Coles Creek is on the St Lawrence Seaway almost directly across from Morrisburg, ON. Loop A North has a plethora of waterfront sites and 93 is one of the best. We enjoyed cool breezes, warm sunshine and watching the birds and boat traffic: everything from kayaks to oceangoing freighters.

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We'll be back.

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Camped Higley Flow State Park (Colton, NY)

Site 56 among the tall pines

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

June 21-24, Loop C, Site 56: 118VAC. A fun and relaxing long weekend among the pines at a perennial favourite. We had good friends next door and family around the corner so this was a very social trip.

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Another trip to Higley is in the books and we look forward to returning.

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Camped Sandbanks Provincial Park (Picton, ON)

Sunset and waves at Outlet beach

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

July 21 to 28, Woodlands CG, Site 733: 114VAC. What a week! We had a very active stay, biking, hiking, kayaking and swimming. The weather was great and we were at the beach just about every day. Bella the camping kitty enjoyed herself lounging in the sun or shade as was her pleasure or stalking bugs inside and out. As usual, the touring was great in Prince Edward County, though we spent most of our time in the park. This is a magical place.

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Another awesome trip to our all-time favourite destination. This is our eleventh since we started trailering.

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Camped Pog Lake (Algonquin Park, ON)

Beaver Pond guided hike

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

August 8 to 18, Pog Lake CG, Site 315: 113VAC. A wonderful ten days in one of our very favourite parks. This was a very active trip with lots of biking, hiking and kayaking. We participated in a lot of park programs - there are so many that you need to pick and choose. And on Thursday nights in August you can participate in the Public Wolf Howl.

The Public Wolf Howl is very involved, days in the making each week in August. They've been doing it since 1963 and we were lucky enough to participate in two of them, the second of which marked fifty years to the day since the first Howl. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, park naturalists go out late to try to make contact - by howling - with one or more of the five wolf packs whose territory borders or crosses highway 60. If they are successful, the Howl is on for Thursday. At 8:00 PM, participants convene at the the theatre for a presentation on wolves and the logistics of the event. Park naturalists are on hand to help park the five hundred or more cars that often show up. The cars are counted as they enter.

Here's where the logistics come in. When the presentation is finished the head naturalist leads half of the cars out of the parking lot and down the highway. The cars are led to a point where they are turned around (with more participation from park naturalists). At some point along highway 60 is the spot where the wolves were best heard on previous nights, and the cars travel back towards the theatre with the lead car travelling past the point of contact. The lead car parks at a calculated position and all the other cars pull in behind. Engines, lights are turned off and people get out of their cars.

Shortly after the first group of cars departs, the remainder follow. They continue to another calculated point where the lead car stops and all other cars pull in behind. The idea, in my understanding, is to have about half the cars on one side of the highway and half on the other, centred at the point of contact.

When all the cars are in place and the howlers (again, park naturalists) are ready, the park wardens close the highway a couple of kilometres past the line of cars in each direction; this may be well over an hour after the first cars leave the theatre. At this point it's important to be quiet. VERY quiet. No walking on gravel, no scuffing of shoes, no talking, no whispering, no yawning, no eating, no drinking, no opening and closing of doors or adjustment of seats. No noise whatsoever. It's unbelievable how many people, mostly adults, have trouble doing this. Even so, it's impressive how quiet 2,000 people standing by their cars along the highway can be.

When all is silent there's a single howl, followed by a pause. If there's no response the howl and pause are repeated, then once more. Next, a duet of howls of varying pitch and duration, also followed by a pause, also repeated twice. The first time we went, we heard a very clear reponse from the pack right after the first duet. The second time, a very faint response after the second duet. Whether or not there's a response, the park wardens briefly reopen the highway to allow the buildup of waiting cars to pass through - after the silence it's surprising how much noise is made by tires rolling on asphalt. After a few minutes, the highway is closed and the sequence is repeated. The end is apparent when the head naturalist starts up his car and drives off; naturalists are around at a safe turning point to help re-point those that want to change direction.

A truly incredible event and well worth your time if you are camping at the park in August.

There's something about Algonquin that sets it aside from other Ontario parks. Maybe it's the size, maybe the number of programs or the number of people, but it's something. When we camped at Rock Lake CG in the park last year, we met the nicest folks on the site over from us. They have a boy a little younger than Emily and all of us got along really well. Almost by accident we found out they were going to be in Algonquin at the same time as us; they didn't reserve and the spot they found was three sites down from ours. It was great to camp together again and we hiked, kayaked, talked and sat around the campfire with them. We also made the acquaintance of the folks on our left, and they joined us all around the campfire too.

It's definitely something. We came home after ten days and it felt like we'd be gone for a month.

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We'll be back... we're planning on another long stay next year. Mew Lake CG this time, I think.

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Booked Sandbanks Provincial Park (Picton, ON)

Sun and florae

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

October 10 to 14, Woodlands CG, Site 672: 116 VAC. Our 2013 camping season ends on a high note - our fifth annual Sandbanks Thanksgiving gathering. And since the three of us started camping together, this is our 12th visit to Sandbanks... and our 100th trip overall!

A great time. John almost missed it due to pressing priorities at work, but thanks to his excellent team he was able to attend. We had perfect weather - probably warm enough to swim, though we didn't test that theory. Mornings came with heavy dew on the grass but the rising sun dried things out quickly. In place of turkey, we had a big fondue for all nine of us late Sunday afternoon - very tasty and a complete success.

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