Camping

Daily Photo: Camping at Sandbanks

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Camping in Canada Finally Digitized

Camping in Canada Finally DigitizedEight years ago, I shared the story of Camping in Canada, a Sesame Street cassette I thoroughly enjoyed in the early 80s. I knew the words to every song and just loved the story of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch attending a summer camp in Ontario.

Feeling nostalgic back in 2006 and wanting to hear Camping in Canada again, I found a vinyl copy in a little shop in Saskatoon and had my buddy Mofo dub it to cassette. I always intended to have it digitized to MP3, but never got around to it...

Then, yesterday afternoon, this comment from Swiss-Canadian Ignacio was published.

Hello

I came across your post in 2009, that is when I became a father. And I wanted my son to grow up with the same record I grew up with. So I bought a Vinyl on ebay and digitalized it to mp3s. I took my time with removing the vinyl sounds, and I think it came out great. If anybody wants the files, just ask me.

Cheers Ignacio (SwissCanuck)

Twenty minutes later, I had the MP3 of every song from Camping in Canada. Jarvis is going to love this...

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Camping in the Ford Edge

Camping in the Ford EdgeI enjoyed the 2013 Ford Edge so much when I drove it to my wedding last month, I borrowed it again for our camping trip this week.

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This time, instead of Tuxedo Black, we went with Ruby Red.

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It's great for highway driving and roomy as heck. We fit two tents, six sleeping bags, a propane BBQ, a propane stove, a big cooler, chairs, food and clothes for four people and assorted camping essentials without a problem.

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We had the Edge index my 427 song playlist and never heard the same song twice there or back. That was awesome.

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Getting the Hang of Power Outages

Getting the Hang of Power OutagesFriday evening, that little thunder storm knocked out our power for almost five hours. That was less than two weeks removed from the storm that knocked out our power for almost 24-hours. I'm starting to get the hang of these power outages.

Friday, for example, wasn't inconvenient at all. In fact, it was pretty sweet. I lit some candles, grabbed my crank radio with flashlight and my George Carlin anthology and chilled.

At 9pm I was reading Carlin with the flashlight while listening to the Jays game. It was like camping without the bugs.

Speaking of camping, it always amuses me that these power outages present such a major inconvenience yet I'm camping with the family next week and that means no lights, no TV, no computers, no fridge, no microwave and no A/C.

Of course, there's a reason camping is fun while power outages are a pain in the ass. It's all in the planning...

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Amazing Week Camping at Pinery (A True Escape)

campingFor as long as I can remember, the only time I can truly unplug is when I camp. Time ceases to matter, emails can wait and ignorance becomes bliss. All week long I've enjoyed camp fires, hikes, visits to the beautiful beach on Lake Huron and great conversations.

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A big thanks for Ford Canada for lending me a 2012 Ford Escape for the road trip. It handled beautifully, was nice and roomy and sounded great when I connected my Samsung Galaxy S via Bluetooth to play our favourite tunes.

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I can't wait for our next trip.

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Just What I Needed

campingSo... what did I miss? I unplugged for a few days, went camping with the kids. It was just what I needed.

The Ford Fiesta I planned to drive to The Pinery was suddenly unavailable, but the good folks at Ford let me keep the Taurus SHO an extra week. It's a big car, which was perfect for a load of camping gear and campers. I'm not sure the little Fiesta would have been able to hold us all.

We're "park once" campers. That means we park once at our site, and we don't drive the car again until it's time to go home. Anything we want to do during our visit must be reachable by foot. I've camped with this rule all my life and it's part of the fun.

A typical day includes:

  • the kids waking up way too early because some bird made a racket at 6am
  • me ordering them out of the tent to figure out life while I try to sleep until 9am
  • a trip to the facilities for toiletry duties - I'm happy if the teeth get brushed
  • a leisurely breakfast - Rice Krispies will do, I get 3 days of cold milk out of one cooler load
  • a little catch - football or baseball, we alternate
  • a hike on one of the many trails - often the walk to the trail is far longer than the trail itself
  • sand dunes, anyone? the best hikes at The Pinery are the unofficial trails over the sand dunes
  • lunch time - ham sandwiches, grapes and Doritos did the trick yesterday
  • more catch - long ball catch with your kid is the absolutely best thing in the world
  • beach time - The Pinery has the best beaches
  • more sand dunes because the kids can't get enough of them
  • hike time!
  • spark up the bbq, it's time for hot dogs, even though daddy forgot the ketchup
  • cards, reading, colouring
  • campfire time - marshmallow roasts rule
  • a little crank radio fun in the tent and....
  • zzzzzzzzzzz

I could get used to that. Here are a couple of videos of the kids at the aforementioned sand dunes. You can see the beach in the background.

And here are a few pics culled from the photoset.

Camping at Pinery Camping at Pinery Camping at Pinery Camping at Pinery

It really was just what I needed.

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Perfect Weather, Perfect Company, Perfect Weekend

campingWhat an amazing weekend. The weather simply couldn't have been better and we had an absolute blast.

I got a lot of sun, a few mosquito bites, enjoyed outdoor movies, three campfires, plenty of sports and activities and great meals. It really was the perfect weekend.

Here are some photos from our trip. I'll catch up on what I missed later, I've got a tee-ball game to attend...

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Father - Daughter Time

familyI've got a son and a daughter. My son, who's the oldest of the two, loves playing baseball and hockey and doing "guy things". He likes to do this stuff with his dad, so I spend a lot of time with him at baseball diamonds, at hockey rinks and messing around.

Although I try to get my daughter to do similar things with me, she far prefers her dance class and playing with her friends. For whatever reason, I don't seem to score these gigs, either because I'm working or busy with James' many activities. I don't often get extended periods of quality father - daughter time.

That's changing tomorrow. For the first time ever, my daughter and I are going on a camping trip together. We're pitching a tent and enjoying a couple of nights under the stars, just the two of us.

I can't wait.

Family Portraits by LMP

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Tent Camping at Pinery Provincial Park

campingMy personal favourite provincial park for camping is Killarney, but I just realized I've taken the kids to Pinery instead for three summers in a row. The kids prefer Pinery for one reason: the sand.

Pinery is all about sand. It's sand dune after sand dune and the sandiest beach you'll find in this province. We plan these massive sand dune hikes (don't tell the park ranger), sweat up a storm and then spend all afternoon in the water. The nights are for more hiking followed by the mandatory campfire. Sometimes, if I remember, I even feed the kids.

I want to give a big thank you to Canadian Tire for providing me with the biggest tent I've ever slept in, the most comfortable sleeping bags, inflatable mattress and a chair 10x more durable than the piece of crap Maple Leafs chair I bought at WalMart a few years ago. The tent survived an intense thunder storm on Thursday afternoon no worse for wear, and it was larger than the master bedroom in my house. If you're looking for camping gear, check out Canadian Tire, specifically their line of Roots gear.

Next year I'm booking time at two provincial parks: Killarney and Pinery. And, I think the kids are ready to stretch the trips beyond three days.

Here's my Flickr photoset from our camping trip to Pinery.

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White People Like Camping

campingStuff White People Like has done it again. Just like they did with The Wire, they've nailed camping.

If you find yourself trapped in the middle of the woods without electricity, running water, or a car you would likely describe that situation as a “nightmare” or “a worse case scenario like after plane crash or something.” White people refer to it as “camping.”

When white people begin talking to you about camping they will do their best to tell you that it’s very easy and it allows them to escape the pressures and troubles of the urban lifestyle for a more natural, simplified, relaxing time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In theory camping should be a very inexpensive activity since you are literally sleeping on the ground. But as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is.

Camping is a multi-day, multi-step, potentially lethal activity that will cost you a large amount of both time and money. Unless you are in some sort of position where you absolutely need the friendship of a white person, you should avoid camping at all costs.

The first stage of camping always involves a trip to an outdoor equipment store like REI (or in Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-Op). These stores are well known for their abundance of white customers and their extensive inventory of things for white people to buy and only use once. If you are ever tricked into going to one of these stores, you can make white people like you by saying things like “man, this Kayak is only $1200, if I use it 35 times I’ve already saved money over renting.” Note: do not actually buy the kayak.

Next, white people will then take this new equipment and load it into an SUV or Subaru Outback with a Thule or Yakima Roof Rack. Then they will drive for an extended period of time to a national park or campsite where they will pay an entrance fee and begin their journey. It is worth noting that white people are unaware of the irony of using a gas burning car to bring them closer to nature and it is not recommended that you point this out. It will ruin their weekend.

Once in the camp area, white people will walk around for a while, set up a tent, have a horrible night of sleep, walk around some more. Then get in the car and go home. This, of course, is a best case scenario. Worst case scenarios include: getting lost, poisoned, killed by an animal, and encountering an RV. Of these outcomes, the latter is seen by white people as the worst since it involves an encounter with the wrong kind of white people.

Conversely, any camping trip that ends in death at the hands of nature or requires the use of valuable government resources for a rescue is seen as relatively positive in white culture. This is because both situations might eventually lead to a book deal or documentary film about the experience.

Ultimately the best way to escape a camping trip with white people is to say that you have allergies. Since white people and their children are allergic to almost everything, they will understand and ask no further questions. You should not say something like “looking at history, the instances of my people encountering white people in the woods have not worked out very well for us.”

To be fair, I don't own a $1200 kayak, and even before Canadian Tire provided me with new camping essentials, I had camping down to a very inexpensive art. For me, that's only part of the allure. Once I'm out there, with my tent pitched and laptop three hours away, I can literally hear myself decompress. It's plenty of hikes, lots of swimming and hours and hours of playing cards, throwing a frisbee and roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

It really is my holiday of choice, but then again, I'm white.

Camping in Canada

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