Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So, with the beginning of August, came not only the end of Carlo's summer teaching schedule and the beginning of his vacation, but also my birthday and our planned trip to go camping with our three year old son. Camping you say? Why not to Italy, to visit fabulous art galleries, majestic cathedrals, having tantalizing gelato and succulent wines? My vote seemed to have been vetoed. We went camping.

Not that it wasn't amazing. I'm still going to bring up the Italy trip again next year (and every year thereafter, until I can browbeat them to go :) )

We decided to go north. We always go north. Every year in May, I get online with our National Parks reservation service and book our camping trip in Algonquin Park. We go there as much as possible. The views, the lakes, the wildlife, are all truly beautiful and worth every second of the four hour drive in weekend bumper-to-bumper traffic to get there...really.

This year, like clock work, I logged on-only to find that our retreat, our haven in the north, was completely booked. There were no sites available-and I was looking all the way into August for Pete's sake!

So instead of Algonquin Park, we headed up north to a park on Georgian Bay. It was a good choice, still latitudinally the same, still a Provincial Park, still camping, right?

Well, all Camp grounds are not created equal, as with everything else. It was still a quiet camp ground, which is something we really look for. And the water was marvelous, crystal clear, warm and with a fun, sandy beach for playing. Yet, the natural benefits that we had come to cherish in Algonquin Park seemed to be sparse. There was a more definite feel of "human invasion", and very little flora to behold. There were no nature walks and no fish to pull out of the lake.

Still, for our son, it was heaven on earth. He absolutely adored the beach. He loved the fact that he slept in his sleeping bag in a tent, and didn't have to go to bed until it was really dark out, after stuffing his face full of mushy white marshmallows. He also got the undivided attention of his parents and his uncle, who accompanied us this year.

So all in all, while I will still press for Italy next year, we won't be ruling out camping either. For this family, the experience is one to savour as often as possible, and we'll always make the time to go...although we might stick to Algonquin Park, as that's where our hearts seem to be.