Saturday 8th – Saturday 15th August 2020 (Fairhavens Family Camp)
We were no sooner home from our three-week exploration
of Lake Superior than we were heading out again on our annual Family Camp week
at Fairhavens. We barely had time to get home, do our laundry, clean up the RV
and then we were back on the road to Fairhavens.
Close family fellowship - much appreciated
in this Covid19 year.
Fairhavens is only an hour drive north of our home, so the drive was easy. Fairhavens is the one time in the year when we set up the RV and stay in one place for a week, so we do a bit more set up than ususual. Elaine and Julia each have their own rented mobile homes alongside each other and our RV forms a third point in the triangle, so we make up a little village community. Laundry lines to go up, wash up tables need setting up and more chairs need to be found. We also set up an extra tent for the kids to use as a hang out space for those rainy days. Most of the cooking happens from our RV so extra tables are needed. Additional hydro plug ins are connected to allow for every possible type of cooking which might be contemplated. All in all, the logistics multiply in direct relation to the number or bodies expected.
|Nanna and Grandda with their precious chicks|
This year there had been much discussion about how Covid19 would affect us all getting together. We eventually decided we would make a Cornish/Trotter/Philip bubble in which we could all get those hugs and cuddles which are mutually enjoyed by one and all. So we had a guilt free extravaganza planned which was wonderful. Unfortunately Chris, could not come as his vacation time is limited and he was needed at work.
Normally Fairhavens arranges a very full program for the adults and all ages for the kids. This has allowed the adults to have a break from the kids. The downside though has been that the program tends to dictate our every move and there is not much downtime. This year, because of Covid, the whole program was cancelled, and we were left to our own devices. Initially we wondered what we would we do with ourselves. As it turned out we had a wonderful week. Everybody developed a taste for sleeping in, our breakfasts were very laid back and our after-lunch nap times were enjoyed by all. Each morning we had our own family devotion. Each of the grandchildren are named after key biblical characters. Cher and I shared a Bible story each morning about each of the kid’s biblical namesakes. Julia led some chorus singing and Elaine told a captivating missionary story.
Swimming was one activity we could all do safely and
it was hot. Our afternoons generally included a swim in either the pool or the
lake. Fairhavens has a nine-hole golf course. Most years, the program is too
busy to fit in a game. This year, I invited my brother Alan up for a day. There
was a pickleball competition on that day, so Julia, Al and I played in that in
the morning followed by golf in the afternoon. I was hoping to fit in a game of
tennis after the golf, but the day ran out on us sadly. It was also nice in the
cool of the evenings to start the process of teaching the kids tennis and pickleball.
We are just at the stage where some of them are starting to get it, which is great
as it is one of my goals that each one of them can kick a soccer ball and play
racquet games, all of which of course are vital life skills. After all they
will have to be able to do those things one day with their grandkids.
Elaine and Julia - a chance to
reconnect in the chaos of life
|Elaine with a captivated audience|
Sadly, the week glided by way too quickly and it was time for the big pack up and farewells. This is the one week in the year, when we all commit to being in one place together for the whole time. Covid19 put paid to the formal program which we normally enjoy, but as it turned out we loved our laid back, informal week of just hanging out and refreshing the ties that bind. Thank you, Lord, for family and times together in which to enjoy each other.
Friday September 4th – 7th (Labor Day Weekend, Beavermead, Peterborough)
We were home for a couple of weeks before heading out
again, this time with Elaine, Sammy and Esther and then for good measure we
added Julia’s boys, John, James and Peter. Beavermead campsite is an ideal spot
to camp with kids. The sites are large, there is safe bike riding and there are
nearby soccer fields for stretching legs and burning off calories. Along with
that there are lovely scenic cycle tracks, a beautiful safe beach and a couple
of kid’s playgrounds.
|Group nap time|
To accommodate all the bodies for sleeping, we decided to put up a six-person tent. The girls, Cher, Elaine and Esther along with Peter, would sleep in the RV dry and comfortable and all the boys, Sammy, John, James and I would sleep on the ground in the tent. I was keen to get the boys all into the idea that sleeping in a tent is way more fun than in the civilisation and comfort of the RV. However, I was not keen on the idea of sleeping on the ground, having grown out of that idea quite a while back. I brought a nice double bed foam mattress to ease my aching bones and the boys all had sleeping mats of various descriptions. On the first night, Sammy had an allergy attack and ended up in the RV where he was given comfort and shelter. That left John, James and I to brave tent living for the duration. As it turned out we had fun, and nighttime story telling was a highlight. They love to hear stories of my life that they haven’t heard before. This gets harder and harder to do, as even I only have a limited number of stories I can come up with.
Our three or four days flew by in a blur of morning
activities with beach activities, bike rides and fun abounding. This was
faithfully followed by mandatory afternoon naps and the occasional car ride to
explore Peterborough and surrounds. We were so blessed to have Elaine with us.
She has a knack for quickly diverting attention away from sibling/cousin spats
which inevitably arise from time to time and getting everyone back into having
fun again. We would not consider a five-cousin multi day sleepover like this
again, without extra adult supervision. Having said that, these large family
jaunts are the stuff of which great memories are made and we would not exchange
them for anything.
Peter, Esther, James
hang out time
Our final RV revamp challenge, for this season at least, was to replace the decals on the sides of the RV. The decals were 16 years old, peeling off and very faded. We had tried earlier in the season, with a couple of sample decals, to remove the old ones and repaint them after having thoroughly taped them off. This would be a relatively easy job if the decals were designed on straight lines, but they were all curved and the taping of a curve is a nightmare. We decided to bite the bullet and go for a quote on having it done professionally. This turned out to be one of those win some lose some ideas.
It was a good job we were sitting down at the time of
getting the quote. The couple of young guys we’d been referred to, cheerfully
announced that they could halve the price if we took the old decals off ourselves
and then they could do the easy part of the job for only half of the monstrous
sum. We took a deep breath and decided to go for it. After all what is Covid19
isolation all about if not to give us all time to get things done at home? And of
course, in these Covid times, it is important to be circulating the cash to
keep the economy going. Helping us in our decision was that our only other
quote was 50% more costly than our two young guys.
Sample ready for painting
It was a dismal failure
It’s fortunate that Cher and I are such an easy-going couple and that we never bicker or differ on anything. Suffice to say that I reckon we must have spent at least 50 hours of combined time on removing the old decals. Occasionally our patience would fray, and harsh words might have been exchanged, but mostly we were grateful for an excuse to be outdoors enjoying the glorious weather and improving our sun tans. My advice for anyone considering taking on a job like this is just don’t. Rather trade in your old RV and buy another with decals that you like. So what if it costs you thousands of dollars doing the trade? Our marriage did survive the project, but at times it was touch and go, for sure. Our neighbors are no doubt relieved that they won’t have to watch us torture ourselves for days on end every time they pass our house.
Like most stressful activities, the benefit lies in how good one feels when it’s finally over. We delivered the RV in all of its bald nakedness to be re-dressed and daintified by the eager decal duo. We were not disappointed with the outcome. We had chosen to liven up the color scheme a bit and our dear old lady came back to us with a sparkle in her eye, looking good for a few more years yet. If outward appearances mean anything, she is good for at least another 16 years. I’m not so sure we will outlast her. I digress.
I’ve lost track of all the jobs we did on the RV this season, but they are significant. My bank balance confirms it, even though we did so much of it ourselves. The RV is now looking so good on the outside we are starting to look at the interior with a jaundiced eye. By comparison, the carpets need encouragement, and the upholstery is looking grim. Ah well, fortunately the budget and the season have run out on us. It’s time to hunker down for the cooler months and those jobs will keep.
Along with the dreadful prospect of being cooped up indoors for the next 7-8 months during the cooler weather due to Covid cloistering, we decided that we would risk a late season final fling for a week in the RV to flaunt her new look and spend some time with good friends.
Our first stop was to Presqu’ile Provincial Park about
an hour and a half east of Port Perry. We were to meet Neil and Carla Daniel
who were making the most of their relatively newly acquired travel trailer this
season. Our neighbors Bill and Karen Anderson who had been missing not having
done any camping this season due to Covid concerns were also joining us. Bill
is an ex Rhodesian and we have become good friends since moving into this area.
Al, my brother and Rose, came by on our first evening for supper and a sit on
Enjoying a late September warm
fall evening on Presqu'ile beach
We have known of Presqu’ile for many years, but never visited. It turns out to be a gem and we were delighted to add another lovely Provincial Park to our growing list of “must return someday” camps.
Bill was having his 80th birthday while we
were away and he had been hoping to keep it quiet, so he figured hiding out in
the bush would be a good way to escape any unwelcome well wishers. As it turned
out it was nice that he could at least have a few folks with him on the day. Karen
and Cher and I had conspired to arrange for Bill’s friends to send in stories
and memories of their times with Bill. We put together a simple memory book for
him to digest at his leisure. On the night of his birthday his daughter Lori
joined the six of us and we had a campfire and showed a slide show of pictures
from friends and family on the TV that we borrowed from our RV and set up in
the back hatch of Bill and Karen’s SUV.
It was fun to surprise him in that way and we had a good evening of memory
swapping and yarn stretching.
Bill giving Cheryl a
map reading lesson
|Taking a break on our beach ride|
The weather was good at Presqu’ile, and the colors gorgeous, allowing us to do some nice bike rides, hikes, kayaking and enjoy some good sunsets on the lava like rock beach. All too soon, a few days later, it was time to move on to our next leg. Bon Echo Provincial Park was next on the list, where we planned to meet another couple from our Small Group at our church in Port Perry. Bon Echo was another place we had intended visiting for a long time, but we had never quite made it happen. Unfortunately, the weather report was indicating rain for all the days we were to be there.
Our two-and-a-half-hour drive to Bon Echo was a gorgeous display of Canadian shield fall beauty. The colors were spectacular, and the granite outcrops added to it. We got settled into our campsite and did an explore of the huge campsite on our bikes. Fortunately the weather had shifted, the rain had receded and we had some iffy sunshine. Bon Echo is famous for its Indigenous Pictographs, which can only be viewed from the water. Seeing as we had sunshine, we decided to launch our newly acquired kayak and check that “must do”off of our list before the weather precluded it on another day.
Our challenge was how to get our inflatable kayak down
the boat launch area with our RV being about a kilometre away from the
waterfront. We decided to use our kid’s wagon, hitched up to my bike with
bungee cords. Rose and Roy had given us that wagon, used, about twelve years
ago when they left for South Africa. We have used it in so many ways for the
grandchildren and has been invaluable over the years for lugging beach
equipment to and from various campsites. It is virtually indestructible. Loading
up the kayak like this was a first and probably is the heaviest load it has
carried yet. So apart from giving my legs an extra workout, we had a perfect
solution. Doing it this way just ensured that not only would my arms be stiff
from kayaking, but my legs would be stiff from pedalling the heavy load.
Ancient wagon, 20 year old bike and old man
Three old warriors, soldiering on
as long as they last
|One of two hundred pictographs|
Only visible from the water
Our kayak viewing of the Pictographs was really good. The two hundred or so rock painted images are spread over about a kilometer of cliff face all at canoe height, only visible from the water. The lake was deep all the way up to the cliff face, so it was great to be able to kayak close up and get a good look at them before heading home for a well deserved supper and warm up in the RV. The next day, we repeated the kayak launch exercise to paddle across the lake to the base of the cliff for a hike which ended on the top to show off the gorgeous fall colors and spectacular views of the lake.
Rob, Cher, Mike and Jean
- top of the Cliff Hike
We were meeting our friends Mike and Jean Lorish the following day. They have just sold up their house in Port Perry and moved all of their surviving worldly possessions to a one bedroom apartment in their son’s house in Ottawa. They are about to hit the road for a number of years, doing full time RVing in their newly acquired new to them 35 foot fifth wheel RV. Unfortunately Covid19 has interrupted their well laid plans. They were due to be heading south to the USA for the winter months round about now. With the border being closed, they now face the prospect of eight months stuck indoors at their son’s house in their one roomed apartment. Such is the capacity of Covid19 to disrupt even the best laid plans.
Mike and Jean arrived at Bon Echo earlier than
expected. We had booked a site alongside ours. We had a fun couple of days, canoeing,
kayaking, hiking and sitting around the campfire, which miraculously I managed
to light on our final evening despite having had lots of rain on already damp
firewood. A tribute to the flammability of good quality firelighters, not so
much my skill in camp craft.
Seasoned Kayakers by now
Sadly, all too soon, it was time to pack up and make our way home. Adding to our sorrow was the fact that it was raining while we packed up. Everything was wet: towels, outside carpet, tarpaulins, kayak, bikes. You name it, it was wet. I have vivid memories of doing this on previous camping trips. We have spent the last few days trying to dry everything in our garage.
Our drive home was sad but tinged with relief. We had enjoyed so many experiences related to our RV, but the season is over and it is time to put down the toys and get back to real life again. On our arrival home, we spent most of two days cleaning the RV and getting all the equipment into tip top shape so we can make a clean start in the spring. In a few days, once we have winterised the plumbing system, we will put the RV to bed in it’s cover for it’s winter hibernation.
|It has been a good season. |
Time for a bit of indoor hibernation
It has been a memorable year. Our RV has been our best friend, in so many ways , especially in this pandemic season. She has kept us busy when Covid inspired boredom might have killed us. She has given us many weeks of getting out of our home, where cabin fever would surely have suffocated us. She has enabled us to explore parts of our beautiful province, which until now have only made it onto our bucket list, but never off it. The RV has let us share moments with family and friends which has taken our relationships deeper. We are thankful to the Lord for a good RV related spring and summer season. Now it is time to hunker down and focus on less frivolous matters. Sleep well my Beauty. We look forward to waking you soon from your slumber.