13 Great Reasons to Go Camping

13 Great Reasons to Go Camping

School is out here and the weather has finally turned warm.  Yay, summer has arrived!  With the arrival of summer comes the time to plan summer adventures.  For Greg and me, our thoughts turn to camping.  Going camping is one of our favorite summer activities.  We are reminiscing about past camping trips and planning where we will go this summer.

Is camping part of your summer rituals?  Or is camping something you haven’t done in a long time? Maybe you’ve never gone camping?

If the thought of camping is new to you, here are 13 great reasons to go camping.

  • Being outside all day: So much of our daily life happens indoors. Going camping means spending the days outdoors. Each day is filled with different sights, sounds and smells when we spend it outdoors.
  • No schedule: While camping we eat when we are hungry, go for a walk when we feel the urge, go swimming when we are hot, go to bed when we are tired, get up when we are awake. There is no schedule, no need to do something at a specific time. I don’t have that freedom in my regular days, so really enjoy this when camping.
  • Swimming: Who doesn’t love going for a swim on a hot summer day? Here in Ontario most campgrounds are on or close to a lake or river, allowing lots of opportunities to swim while on the camping trip.
  • Wildlife viewing: Some of my greatest wildlife viewing opportunities have happened on camping trips. Last summer’s highlight was seeing a beaver swimming in the river, just ahead of our canoe. We were going in the same direction, so we followed him for probably about 5 minutes. Our presence didn’t seem to bother him, as he just did what he was planning. Typical wildlife encounters on camping trips include rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs and many kinds of ducks, but sometimes include turtles, deer, moose and porcupines. Big or small, it’s always exciting to glimpse wildlife.

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Wildlife

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Wildlife

  • Paddling: We don’t own canoes or kayaks, or have easy access to them at home. Many of the parks where we go camping offer them for rent. Renting a canoe or a couple of kayaks for a day or several days gives us the opportunity to get out on the water and view the landscape from a different perspective. I love the peace and tranquility of an early morning paddle.

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Paddling

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Paddling

  • Hiking: Most parks have several hiking trails, some long ones and some short ones, that allow us to get out and explore. Many hiking trails have some great viewpoints along them, with special things to see along the way. I love hiking; it’s exercise, fresh air and an adventure all rolled into one activity.

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Hiking

  • Campfires: I love the tradition of a nightly campfire. There is something very primeval about sitting around a campfire, watching the flames, feeling their heat, telling stories and smelling that campfire smell.

    Great Reasons to Go Camping - Campfires

    Photo by Cape Cod Cyclist – Used under licence CC BY-NC 2.0

  • Roasting marshmallows:  That campfire creates the opportunity for roasting marshmallows. Did you roast marshmallows on the charcoal grill after are bbq dinner as a child?  I sure did. Now that we have a gas grill, roasting marshmallows isn’t an option. We always pack marshmallows when going camping. Sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows always creates a bit of competition, seeing who can roast the perfect one. Roasting marshmallows around the campfire is a great experience for kids, and an opportunity for adults to relive childhood memories.
Great Reasons to Go Camping - Roasting Marshmallows

photo by Nina Hale – used under licence CC BY 2.0

  • Spectacular views of the stars: With all the light pollution in most cities, the view we get of the stars at home is nothing compared to the views when we go camping. A dark clear night and an opening in the trees are all that is required to do some stargazing. While out camping we see thousands of stars and even see the Milky Way, which just isn’t visible in the city. If we are extra lucky we are there on a night when the Northern Lights are active. Seeing the Northern Lights dance across the sky is pure magic.
Great Reasons to Go Camping - Stars

photo of Milky Way by Steve Jurvetson – used under licence CC BY 2.0

  • Great night’s sleep: Nothing helps me get a great night’s sleep better than spending the entire day outdoors. All that fresh air really lulls me to sleep at night. Of course, we do have one trick that helps with the great sleep. We have an air mattress. Sleeping on an air mattress is a completely different experience than sleeping on the hard ground.
  • Get away from the everyday: I have no worries while camping. There are no obligations, or tasks waiting for me. No work emergencies, or things that must get done right now. We are in our own little bubble while camping, with no knowledge or care of what is happening in the world around us.
  • Connecting with family/friends: Going camping means spending a lot of time with the people with you. You do everything together. You make new discoveries and have adventures together. It’s a wonderful opportunity to really connect with them.

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Connecting with Family

  • Camping is fun: There is so much fun on each and every camping trip. Isn’t that the best reason of all?

Great Reasons to Go Camping - Fun

 

Greg and I are veteran campers.  We’ve been camping together for more than 10 years, and both of us were camping long before that.  We’ve done it with and without kids. Each camping trip is an adventure, with new things to do, new places to explore, new things to experience, and special memories to be created.  I hope we never feel too old, too tired or too busy to plan a camping adventure.

There are so many great reasons to go camping.  Why do you go camping?  If you’ve never been, I urge you to give it a try.  There is a great adventure waiting for you and your family.

 

A Note About Photos:  Most of the photos in this post were taken by me, and as such are copyrighted to me, Julie Rivet.  They can be used if proper attribution is made, with a link back to this post.

The three photos that are not my own are used under various creative commons licences, as noted in the caption under each photo.  

Advertisements

St. Lucia

We’ve been back from our trip since very late on Monday (almost Tuesday, really), but unfortunately I’ve been sick since we got home, so haven’t been able to do much, not even download our photos, let alone do a nice post here. 

So for just a quick peek, here is the resort where we stayed, the Sandals Regency in St. Lucia. 

http://www.sandals.com/main/lucia/lu-home.cfm

It was awesome!  Definitely worth the splurge (although we still did get an awesome deal)!  St. Lucia is beautiful and this resort was just fabulous! 

I’ll tell you more when I feel better…

Leaving on a jet plane…

Every time I’m getting ready for a trip, that song runs through my head.  I get all excited thinking about it.  But yet when I listen to the whole song, it’s actually sort of a sad one, not one filled with excitement…  Oh well, for me, that song is about the excitement of going somewhere new!

Tomorrow morning, very early tomorrow morning, Greg and I are leaving for St. Lucia.  A week in the sun!  It’s something we desprately need right now with all the cold and the snow. 

We’ve never been to St. Lucia, we usually go to the Dominican Republic or to Cuba.  But this year we splurged a little and off we go!  Greg wants to go windsurfing of course, and I plan to go diving… 

I’ll post some photos when we get back.

The best job in the world!

Island Caretaker – Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia…

That’s it, the job that is being billed as the “Best Job in the World”.  Tourism Queensland is looking for someone to live on Hamilton Island for 6 months, spend time outdoors enjoying adventures and to blog about it all.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?   And for this the person will have a house to live in plus gets paid AUD $150,000!   Of course everyone wants this job!

Who wouldn’t want to be there, doing that?

I want to meet the people who came up with this idea.  It’s an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign!  Brilliant!  The publicity they are already receiving is crazy!  Last week, their website crashed because so many were using it at the same time. 

This campaign has been carefully thought out.  It launched January 9th, winter for those of us in the northern hemisphere.  When it’s -30 Celsius, the idea of spending 6 months on an island in the Great Barrier Reef sounds pretty darn good!  The job (and therefore the blog) begins July 1st and ends January 1st.  It will run during the time that those who want to visit Australia in January and February will be doing their planning.

They are creating a buzz by having the application videos available for people to view, plus they will have the public vote for one person to get a wildcard spot for an interview, in addition to the 10 candidates Toursim Queensland selects.  They are already creating a following for this blog 6 months before it will launch!  

And the cost of this amazing promotional campaign?  The $150,000 salary, providing housing to the person for 6 months, plus airfare to the interview for the 11 candidates, plus airfare for the successful candidate…  Now there is good value for money!

Pillar Rock

The image in my header is of Pillar Rock along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island.  I saw it the first time as we were headed to Chéticamp, but we didn’t stop then as it was late and we wanted to get to our destination.  I absolutely wanted to stop the next day though and take the photo. 

I have seen pillar rocks or spider rocks or flower pots or monoliths – take your pick of names – in lots of places in my travels.  Somehow, they always fascinate me.  They are grand, yet they are isolated.  They inspire awe but also loneliness.  I love this photo in particular because to me it evokes melancholy, even though it was a bright, sunny day… 

What is it about them that fascinates humans so, to the point that we feel compelled to name them, photograph them and turn them into tourist attractions?

The Cabot Trail

I’ve wanted to see the Cabot Trail since my parents went in 1988 without me…  Last week I went, and Greg was able to join me!

The north part of the Cabot Trail, which winds through Cape Breton Highlands National Park is absolutely fabulous!  Especially if one is fortunate enough to have sunshine, as we did.  The road winds along, between the ocean and the mountains.  What more could one want?

We hiked the Middle Head Trail, which is close to Ingonish.  It is a headland that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, giving us amazing views of the water and the shore.  It was a calm day, but still the waves hitting the rocks were mesmerizing…

The next day, we hiked the Skyline Trail, one of the park’s most popular trails, which is located on the east side of Cape Breton Island.  The trail leads out to a bare headland, with gorgeous views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and dozens of whales in the water down below. 

The is the end of the Skyline Trail.  It has an extensive boardwalk and stair set-up, with lots of benches so one can sit and take in the wonderful view.

The is the end of the Skyline Trail. It has an extensive boardwalk and stair set-up, with lots of benches so one can sit and take in the wonderful view.

As we were heading back along this trail, I heard some rustling in the grass, so I looked to my left to see if I could spot the bird or squirrel that was making the noise.  I looked, and standing there, about 15 feet from me, was a moose!  She was so close I could see the individual hairs in her coat!  I’ve never been that close to a moose other than in a car, so my heart pounded for about 30 seconds.  After I calmed down, I noticed that she didn’t seem to mind us, so I decided to take a picture.  I wasn’t able to take the photo because she started walking toward me!  I gathtered my wits enough to start walking up the boardwalk away from her, but still keeping an eye on her.  She got to the boardwalk, looked left toward Greg and I, looked right and then thankfully decided to go right.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had a moose walking down a boardwalk toward me, but I don’t think it would have been good.  Eventually, my brain started working again, and I remembered that I had a camera…

Here's the backside of the moose as she walked away from us...

Here is the backside of the moose as she walked away from us...

and here is one of the tracks she left on the boardwalk...

and here is one of the tracks she left on the boardwalk...

As the moose made her way down the boardwalk, I was worried that some hikers behind us might come around a corner and end up nose to nose with her…  So we waited to hear any screams…  There were none.  The moose moved a little into the forest before the next people reached her. 

Here is her face…  She really is beautiful.

At this point, she is again about 15 feet from the trail...

At this point, she is again about 15 feet from the trail...

I grew up in moose country, so seeing moose is always one of those love-hate things.  They are fabulous animals and fun to see, but one doesn’t want to be too close, as they are very large and can be dangerous.  One especially does not want to see a moose on the road in front of one’s car.  They are hard to spot in the dark as their dark coats don’t reflect any light, and if you hit one, you might not survive to tell the tale.  So it was very exciting to see the moose, but also a little scary to unexpectedly be so close to her!

We also saw several bald eagles while we were there, both juveniles and adults.

The scenery along the Cabot Trail is pretty spectacular, and the roads are pretty interesting too.

Road up French Mountain

Road up French Mountain

Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay

If ocean and mountains aren’t enough for you, how about waterfalls?  We reached these ones after driving down a small, windy, very bumpy dirt road…

Beulach Falls

Beulach Falls

 

We totally enjoyed our trip and could easily have spent a few more days, there was so much to see and do…

I love my job!…

Okay, so I know that might not be a comment one hears very often, but it’s true, I do love my job.  In my current job, I get to work on the stuff I love, and don’t have much of the administration and other yucky tasks that I could do without.  Plus, when I travel for work, I get to go to really cool places…

Last week I went to Louisbourg NHS in Nova Scotia for work.  I’ve wanted to go to Louisbourg since my parents went 20 years ago and I wasn’t able to go with them, so I was really looking forward to my trip. 

I was there to spend two days participating in and observing their public archaeology program, as I’m working on a public archaeology project.  So I was able to go to a really cool place – Louisbourg, which is a reconstructed fortress which depicts how life was there in 1744 – and I actually was able to participate in an archaeological dig!  How cool is that!

They have 2 one-week public archaeology sessions that regular people can sign up for ahead of time and they get to learn some basic priniciples about archaeology and then they get to actively participate in the dig.  There are archaeologists there to show them what to do, help them understand what they are finding and answer all kinds of questions along the way.  The five people who participated in last week’s sessions were very excited about it.  It was a lifelong dream come true for some of them.  And I was able to join them for two days!  And get paid to do it!  How can one not love a job like that?

Lots of item were found while I was at the dig.  There were different pieces of glass: window glass, bottle glass (usually blue-green, green or brown) and even some from wine glasses.  There was a variety of pieces of pottery: some with tin glaze, some with salt glaze and even this big piece of St. Onge pottery. 

St. Onge Pottery - It has this distinct green glaze.

St. Onge Pottery - It has this distinct green glaze.

Bottle glass

Bottle glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were also bone pieces found, including a few teeth and what looked like a bone from the knee of an animal about the size of a goat or a sheep.  Some pieces of metal were also found, but I wouldn’t have recognized them as such if someone hadn’t told me that’s what they were. 

I spent less days digging than the others, so I didn’t find as much, but I did find a piece of a clay pipe stem, some glass, some pottery bits and some bone bits.  These are very mundane objects, but finding them was still quite exciting for me.  Also, it’s all these things, regular objects or unusual ones that give the archaeologists information about that place and how it was used.  And that’s the point of archaeology, it helps us to discover how people and societies before us lived.  And it was very exciting to be able to participate in that, even for two days.

Here’s the group (the five paying participants), hard at work.

Public Archaeology Program Participants - August 14, 2008 - Louisbourg NHS

Public Archaeology Program Participants - August 14, 2008 - Louisbourg NHS

So although my focus during the two days at Louisbourg was the public archaeology program, I also did get to see some of the fortress.  It’s really amazing.  The French began the original construction in 1719.  The place thrived for a time, was attacked and lost to the British in 1745, went back the French three years later, but then fell again to the British in 1758.  The British did not want the French to regain Louisbourg, so that time, they destroyed the town and the walls.  No town was ever built again at the site of the Fortress, so the ruins are very close to the surface, which is just amazing for archaeological research.
In the 1960’s, Parks Canada began reconstruction of a part of the fortress.  Although the reconstructed town is super impressive, only 25% of the original town was reconstructed.  So the actual town would have been four times the size!  Very impressive for a French colony in 1744! 
Now if one visits Louisbourg, one will see some very impressive buildings and people in historical costumes that are interpreting the time period (1744).  One may see people cooking on an open flame, weeding the gardens, shooting off canons, etc.  It’s a very lively place to be. 
French drums, marching through fortress

French drums, marching through fortress

Red carrots in heritage garden.  They taste a bit peppery.

Red carrots in heritage garden. They taste a bit peppery.

View of fortress from a distance

View of fortress from a distance

Porte Frederique - a distinctive feature of the fortress

Porte Frederic - a distinctive feature of the fortress

 

So I really enjoyed my visit to Louisbourg, and participating in the archaeological dig was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  And I did this as a part of my job!  I love my job!
Tomorrow I’ll continue with my trip in Cape Breton, which brought me to the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park…