Generator use. The Controversial Camping Conversation

I have been part of several heated debates surrounding generators. It is a hot topic among those who are well-seasoned campers.

In my opinion there are 2 types of Campers. There are “Back to Basics”  Campers and then there are  “Glampers”. – Glamper meaning “Glamorous Camper”. Sure there are campers that fall in between these categories and I am one of them. I started off as a Back to Basics camper – tenting, using the fire for warmth and to cook my food. My roasting stick was a carved switch off a tree.

There is nothing wrong with either type of camper or anything in between. The common denominator in both cases is spending time outdoors – some in the form of an RV park and some in the form of a beaten trail in the middle of nowhere.

I have done every type of camping in my 38 years.  I have camped in the back of a truck, tent, tent trailer, camper but I have now graduated to the luxury of a travel trailer. That is my choice and I believe I have earned it.  But that’s okay – call me a glamper. I have no problem with that. In fact, I love seeing what sort of fun luxuries people come up with while glamping.

We do a ton of shoulder camping. Meaning March-June and Sept-Oct. We enjoy backwoods camping and when we do, we take the generator. We do not have solar panels – although it’s on our wish list. So we turn the generator on to charge the batteries once a day. While charging the batteries we usually put on a pot of coffee (Yes, I own a percolator and use it) and charge our speakers up for music. Our kids are still outside exploring the backwoods, playing cards and remaining unplugged. Charged batteries allows our pump to work for our toilet so we aren’t leaving anything nasty  from squatting behind a tree.

We will never take our generator to a provincial park again. Wait… what I meant to say is that we will likely never frequent provincial parks again. There are various reasons for this – most being the high price with no hookups – hence why people take generators. I have never been to a provincial park when campers purposely ran their generator after the posted hours which are usually 9am-11am and 6pm-8pm. What I have seen is people without a generator complain about the generators running during the posted hours. They claim they don’t like the noise and the pollution and then they like to point a finger at the camper and say “That’s not camping” I am here to say – who gives you the right to judge?

We ended up in the middle of a heat wave of 40 degree weather in the Kootenays last June. It was not typical weather for that time of year. We were in a provincial campground for 11 days. We spent ALL of our time in the river to escape the heat but we turned our generator on for 2 hours one evening (during posted generator hours) to cool our trailer down enough for our kids to sleep. This was the first time we had ever turned our AC on as we don’t typically camp during summer. We were ridiculed. I was mortified. WE are helpful camping neighbors. We follow the “good neighbor rule” We leave our campsites cleaner than we arrived. We make sure noise level is always down including music. We are respectful. Here we were trying to co-habitat among other campers and we were being ridiculed all because of our generator. We weren’t the only ones. Many of others were yelled at and ridiculed for generators.

Solution? Easy. 2 options.
1) The bush – away from others. Where you can’t be accused of being a Glamper and you can’t be yelled at for charging your batteries or whatever other reason you may need a generator for.

2) Private campgrounds with hook ups. Plug in and still enjoy the Great Outdoors. No noise or pollution. Just the best of both worlds for those who require power and/or charging.

I could run circles around most people when it comes to camping. I could survive in the wilderness. I know what plants are poisonous. I know what I can eat to survive. I know tips and tricks for just about everything when it comes to bush camping. But I also know how to do a sani-dump, light a pilot light and trouble shoot an RV.

I CHOOSE the glamping life. I LOVE the glamping life. I like to get away from the same views at home and get out and spend time meeting new people, enjoying a campfire and time outdoors relaxing.

If a couple takes their kids camping, consider this a WIN. If the wife (or husband) needs to compromise with drip coffee, toast in the morning and requires power for that WHO CARES. It is not our place to judge. The important thing is that they are our spending quality time together as a family. Our job is not to judge them. Our job is to encourage them to continue to camp and make memories as a family.

Back to Basics Backwoods Camper VS Glamper. A generator does not determine which is which and it most definitely does not determine who is camping and who isn’t.

Follow the “Good Neighbor Rule” and get to know your camping neighbor. Chances are, generator or not – they are camping for the same reason you are.

 

Spring Break camping

After a LOOOONG winter, Spring Break camping can be something that regular campers look forward to. We go camping every spring break. No, the weather isn’t always perfect but we always make the best of it. This year we did 2 spring break camping trips.

In the Okanagan you have few choices for spring break camping. That is, if you want to stay below the snow line. Bear Creek, Okanagan South, Okanagan Falls, Vaseaux Lake and a few other provincials. Of course there are some private campgrounds open year round if you look around. Also a few rec sites that are closer to civilization.

Our first stop was 2 nights at Okanagan South for “winter camping” where you pay $11 a night but have no services. The camp facilitator came by to collect fees but also offered firewood – $7 a bundle or 3 for $20. We took 2 9 year old kids with us so this was a good choice due to the playground. It was 1/4 full. Lots of groups camping together, kids and dogs. We took the generator and confirmed with the host that there are no generator rules during winter camping but to be mindful of the “good neighbor rule”. On my daily walks around the campground I noticed quite a few generators. It was a nice low-key weekend with great camping food and that campfire smell that I missed all winter. I am also glad we stuck close to home because we had problems with our battery and fuses in our trailer. After a 2 night stay and 2 trips to Walmart, we have all the kinks worked out on on trailer.

The playground here was our saving grace for the kids. They played for hours and hours with other campsite kids – only popping in for meals. Nerf gun wars and tag were high on their priority list. $11 a night was well worth that in itself. I wouldn’t stay at Okanagan South during regular season for $35 a night however.

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Next we headed out to Hedley, BC to a rec site called “Pickard Creek” which is free until May.
Directions from Penticton: Drive to Hedley. 4kms past Hedley on your way to Princeton,  you start to pass a few campgrounds – Riverhaven, Gold Mountain, Stemwinder then just past the “West Hedley Mall” and Doug’s Homestead is a brown rec site sign that says “Pickard Creek”. It is a 16 site campground. To see my review last year on this campground with more photos, links and info you can check it out HERE.

For the second year, we camped at Pickard Creek during Easter weekend. I suggest if you want to camp here during that time that you head out Wednesday or Thursday to get a spot. We arrived Thursday morning and watched the campground fill up by Thursday afternoon. I love Pickard Creek for various reasons. Mostly I appreciate the freedom that a rec site allows you to do what you want – respectfully of course. Since your nearest neighbors aren’t all that close and the sound of the river drowns out most of the noise, generators and music aren’t a problem. I love that my dogs can run free around our site and the kids can use their BB gun and bow&arrow – with caution of course. There’s lots of exploring to be had and the river is BEAUTIFUL. Plus – free is free. You can’t beat that! Pickard Creek has minimal cell service and is close enough to Hedley if you need anything.

Our trip included an Easter Egg Hunt. Always fun to do while camping. It’s tradition for us. It’s easy to do and the possibilities for the Easter Bunny to hide eggs are endless.

Never rule out spring break camping. It’s a great way to start your camping season and get kids out connecting with nature.

March 15th. Tips and Tricks to get your campsite booked on Discover Camping.

March 15th is coming up fast. This is the day that the Discover Camping website opens up and you can start to reserve your favorite BC Provincial campsite for the 2016 camping season.

Every year I used to mark this day on my calendar, sit at my computer and watch the sites book up all over BC. I would check it every day to see what movement there was at my favorite campgrounds. In particular, a large group of my friends and family would book the end of June/beginning of July at Kettle River Provincial Park. That’s when I became a self-proclaimed pro so I wanted to give you some tips.

March 15th is the date that the lines open. 7am is the time. On March 15th at 7am you can easily book May long weekend or any other weekend in April, May, most of June. You need to be QUICK though. Be logged in already. Have all of your information ready – number of people, email address for the booking, address for the booking, etc. Make sure you look at the site map and photos if they are available, a couple days before so that you have a list of your desired 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice. May long weekend in particular will be snagged up within minutes for the most popular campgrounds. IE: In the Okanagan – Fintry, Bear Creek, Haynes Point.

Have you ever gone onto the Discover Camping website to book the weekend you want in July or August only to realize it’s booked up already? You think – “how is this possible? Today is 3 months before the date I want to arrive!” It is puzzling for sure. Until you learn “the tricks”.

Let’s use the example of July long weekend . On March 15th most people think you can book up until June 15th. That’s not the case. You can actually book until June 29th. This year July 1st is on a Friday which creates an actual “July long weekend” This is going to be your trick to getting a campsite for that weekend (or any desired week/weekend this summer). Wait until March 19th to snag your spot. If you log in on March 19th, you will be able to book 14 nights. June 19th-July 3rd. That brings you to Sunday after the long weekend. Even if you only plan on staying June 30th-July 3rd, you MUST book the full 2 weeks or you can kiss any opportunity of having a campsite on that weekend, goodbye. Don’t think it’s as easy as booking on March 19th though. It is possible that your favorite site will be snagged already by someone wanting the weekend before. Highly unlikely but this is why you need to be sure you have a backup plan. At 7am on March 15th you will be able to book the sites for dates up until June 29th BUT for you to reach June 29th, you are booking June 15-29. 14 nights is the maximum amount of days you can book for. There are a few exceptions – Haynes Point (Swiws) in Osoyoos is one of the Okanagan’s campgrounds that only allow you to book 7 nights.

Once you have booked your full two weeks (which can be quite expensive on your credit card), you can go back to the discover camping website and cancel the days you don’t want on the date 2 and a half months before you are expected to arrive. IE: June 15th arrival could be cancelled or changed some where around March 31st or April 1st.

A couple other tips I learned in helping people book popular Okanagan Provincial Parks for busy summertime dates:

– Watch the bookings. 1-3 week before you can book your max 2 week stay, watch the bookings. See when the people before you booked your favorite site. IE: You want campsite #3 for July 29-Aug 5th . A couple weeks before you can book it, you see it’s reserved from July 15-29. That means you need to do 2 things. Check back 2.5 months before July 16th and every single day afterwards to see if they drop the last half of their reservation. If they do, you snag it up – the week before you want to go, for 2 weeks. Then you drop the week you don’t want 2.5 months before you arrive. If they don’t drop it, maybe they are staying the full 2 weeks. So you need to be on high alert on April 29th to book the week you want.

– Pay attention to arrival and departure days. I find that people like to arrive on a Friday and leave on a Sunday. Or, if they are staying a week, they arrive on a Friday and leave 9 nights later on the following Sunday. This is KEY. Because when people “drop” the days they don’t want, you may have to scoop up a Sunday-Sunday of 2 weeks in order to get the weekend you want in between. IE: A site is available Sunday, August 21-Sunday Sept 4th and you want to camp the labor day long weekend. My advice! Book the 2 weeks starting August 21st. Then 2.5 months before August 21st, go in and cancel the Aug 21-Sept 1 and at the same time, add the Sept 5th departure date for the long weekend. Clear as mud? lol

– The most important thing I can tell you is that you need to be “that” serious about booking and “that” set on a specific campground and dates to go through the hassle of booking on discover camping. So do your homework. KNOW the dates you want. KNOW the campsite(s) you want at the park you want. Then log in every day for weeks before you can book so that you can see how long each campsite is booked until (You can look under the calendar feature to see when the site is booked until).

A couple things to note: You will pay $6 for each night (to a max of $18) to book your site online. That’s in addition to the nightly fee. Then if you come back to change/cancel, you will pay another $6 a night (to a max of $18) Add an additional $5 if you cancel via the call centre.

I know what you are thinking. The above sounds absolutely ridiculous. In my opinion, it is. It’s even more complicated when you are camping with a group and they are all arriving and leaving on different days and you want to camp together in one area of the campground.
Last year we hung our hats on provincial sites. We feel as though they nickel and dime us every step of the way. Reservation fees, cancellation/change fees, nightly costs $25-$35, plus $12 a night for any extra vehicle (strictly enforced) plus sani-dump, plus , plus… plus…. plus. Last year we stayed for 11 nights at Kettle River Provincial Park and we figured out that we paid approx. $46 a night in provincial park fees. Plus ice and firewood that we purchased on site. That’s a huge chunk of change.

So enter https://secure.camis.com/Discovercamping/ at your own risk on March 15th!

If you have any other neat tips/tricks to booking, please let us know by commenting! If you need clarification, feel free to send me a message!

Good luck!

Top 5 packing tips for camping with babies and kids

“What are the essentials that I need to pack?” – a common question heard by Moms everywhere when they are anxiously trying to plan and pack for a family camping trip. The true answer to that question is “everything”. However, I will attempt to make it easier for you with my top 5 tips that you may not find in a google search of camping lists.

WIPES – lots of them

The ultimate tool for camping. For kids and adults. You can never have enough wipes on hand. It still amazes me that my son can look like he rolled in the firepit after only a couple hours of playtime. Wipes are especially great when there is no way of bathing your children before the weekend is up. If you own an RV, do not flush them down your toilet. They do not disintegrate. They can cause big problems in your RV.

PLAYPEN

When my son was 4 months old, we bought a motor home. From 4 months to 18 months we went a little overboard with how much stuff we hauled every time. A high chair, the exersaucer, the bumbo seat AND the playpen. I remember rotating him from station to station. Oh… I even took the stroller for the few walks I took him on. I look back now and know it was way too much stuff. If I could recommend 1 piece of equipment, it would be the playpen with quite a few sets up fitted sheets. It can be brought in and out as you need it and doubles for a bed.

playpen

SNACKS/MEAL PREP

Camping is a time to have fun with your family. A time to relax, make quality memories and drink wine of course. Don’t get stuck having to prepare meals and snacks every hour to appease the family. Do your prep work ahead of time!

In those days or even weeks leading up to a big camp-out, do some prep work. I usually start a few weeks before by making a few different batches of cookies/muffins and freezing them. Then I prepare a meal plan. I make my grocery list from that. I make some foods up ahead of time and freeze it. Especially meat. I make taco meat ahead of time and freeze it. I make spaghetti sauce ahead of time and freeze. I make shiskabobs at home and freeze them in marinate sauce. I pre-cut veggies and fruit. I make dips. I grate cheese and dice anything needed to cook (peppers, ham, mushrooms etc). I know it seems like a lot of work but when you are busy relaxing, the last thing you want to do is worry about an hour worth of prep to cook your family a meal. Trust me and try it once. You will be so happy you did.

Snacks are key! Homemade muffins, cookies, hard boiled eggs, meat & cheese, fruit and veggie trays are great places to start. Our kids work up a large appetite using their imaginations.

prep

“NEW TO THEM” TOYS

Just in case you hear the dreaded “B” word,  bring along some “new to them” activities and toys. They do not have to be expensive. Pick them up throughout the year on sale and at the dollar store. Store them away so they are ready for your camp trip. Some of my favorite: bug collecting kits, glow sticks, origami kits, Uno, kites, bubbles and Styrofoam airplane sets. Only pull out one or two activities as needed.

THEIR VERY OWN FLASHLIGHT/LANTERN

When kids aren’t in their own surroundings at night, things can be scary. No bathroom light left on or nightlight for that matter. Give them their own sense of security with a child friendly flashlight or lantern. Don’t give them a metal mag light that they can knock their teeth out with either. Swing by Canadian Tire or Walmart and search out a kid friendly plastic lantern. Don’t forget the extra batteries because I can guarantee you they will fall asleep with their lantern left on beside on them. This tip can help your child wind down and fall asleep after a long adventurous day meeting new friends, riding bikes and making mud pies.

Don’t worry too much about over packing. Just take note of what you didn’t use so you don’t pack it on your next trip.

Oh… and parents – don’t forget your wine and camera!

 

 

Goal for 2016 – take your kids camping. The importance of being “Unplugged”

Goals.
If ever there was an important goal for 2016 that parents should make, it would be to “unplug”. How do parents achieve this? Take them camping.

I have taken my fair share of kids camping over the years. My now 16 year old daughter has had every friend she knows along with us at some point. My 8 year old will start this year having friends come camping with us.

The un-camped kid.
There is something magical about a child who has never been camping. Their eyes are wide with excitement when they arrive at the campsite ready for their adventure. I have had the over-prepared child – packed for 3 months instead of 3 days. I have had the under-prepared child with 1 pair of dollar store flip-flops on a week long trip that broke on day 2. My favorite though was the child who came complete with a brand new fishing rod, brand new sleeping bag, snacks and a brand new life jacket. He had only ever been camping once. He was up at 5am every morning excited and ready for what the day would bring.

Whatever the case, I will rarely say no to one of my kid’s friends that want to come camping with us. Not every family camps… but we sure do. I believe every child should experience camping at least once a year. The memories they create will forever be some of the fondest memories of their childhood.

Unplugged.
Our kids just know… no laptops, ipads, DS, etc. My daughter plays card games from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed. My son is hardly seen –  playing tag, digging in the dirt, identifying bugs and trees. Camping is a time for children to use their imaginations and stretch their brains. This is something we who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s did every day – riding bikes, playing in dirt, making forts outside. It is up to us parents to keep that tradition alive by teaching our children how to do it. Camping provides that opportunity for children to use their imagination.

“I’m bored”.
So your intentions are great. You pull up for your 5 night stay and you have done your parental duties of bringing along 2 extra children for the trip. You spend hours… weeks… months preparing for this trip and the day is finally here. You pull in, set up and you are JUST about to sit down to relax and enjoy your surroundings when you hear those two words that make you cringe. “I’m bored”. WHAT?! Your mind is going a mile a minute. Can’t you see the beauty? Look at that lake. Listen to that silence. Check out those kids over there. What about all the toys you packed? Then you realize. THIS is your job. Training children to use their imagination is our job. So here’s how you can help.

Ideas.
Card Games. Every time you bring new people, they will know new card games. Play often and play with your kids so that you always remember how to play the games.

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Rock painting. We have a small bucket of craft paints, brushes, glitter and stencils. Kids hunt out their favorite rocks and then spend hours decorating them. Once dry we plant them back in nature. Next year when we return, we look to see if they are still around.
Scavenger Hunts
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I have collected many different scavenger hunts on pinterest. I took them all, combined and edited to come up my own. When it’s game time, every child gets their scavenger hunt list and a brown paper lunch bag. Then off they go! When they have all checked every item off their list, they get a special prize. I pack a good supply of prizes including glow sticks, bubbles, dollar store craft kits etc in my trailer. Here is my PDF version – for children and teens. scavengerhunt
Lego. I use large ice cream buckets – the kind you find in ice cream shops. I wash them out, dry and fill them with lego. 1 bucket is designated to camping.  It’s lego that I don’t mind if it gets dirty or bits get lost because it stays in the trailer. When my 8 year old is being shy and won’t approach other children to play, something very interesting and almost magical happens. I set up the small collapsible table and the lego bucket in plain site of the path in front of our site and my son sits down to start his creation. Before I know it, all sorts of children from the campground have magnetized to our site to play with the communal lego. It’s a fantastic ice breaker. Nobody can resist lego. I know this because the lego table has been known to also attract adults from time to time.
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Bikes. Bikes! How old were YOU when you learned to ride a 2 wheel bike? I was about 6. My daughter was 6. She learned in a campground. My son was 6. He learned in a campground. I have taken children camping who are older than 6 who do not own a bike nor do they know how to ride one. We can blame this on too much screen time and not enough outdoor time. Camping helps promote exercise and bike riding is a part of that. It is never too late to learn how to ride a bike. It is a prerequisite that every child who comes camping with me, must bring a bike. My kids spend lots of time exploring on bikes. So we encourage bike riding! Bikes are key. Training wheels are fine too.
Fishing. Fishing is a sport of patience. It takes practice. Practice and patience will pay off when there is a nice rainbow trout on the end of your child’s fishing rod. Be sure to spend at least an hour fishing on every camp trip with your children. It also teaches children sustainable living. Something that is becoming more and more important. Father’s Day is one day a year that you can fish without a license if your child wants to try it out first.
fishingPrevious years - Camping in the Okanagan - photos88a2a-img_3140
There are many other great ways to promote imagination while remaining unplugged. I could go on for pages on activities my children take part in while camping. However, it’s also important to make your own traditions.

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Please be sure to comment with  what activities your kids do while camping. We are always looking for new ideas.

 

Tips to an organized 2016 camping season

Every year I take some sort of “camping newbie” on one of my well planned camping trips. This is always secretly an attempt to convert them over to my side of the world. Last year it resulted in one of my favorite families of 6 loving our camping time so much that they bought a travel trailer. It also could have been the fear of having to tent with 4 children again for a week. We will never know the truth.

In every group camping trip, I am the go to trailer. “Do you have a bandaid?” “I forgot a can opener” – “Do you know what kind of plant caused this rash” I can almost ALWAYS deliver my fellow camper’s needs.

I have been asked on numerous occasions to provide tip sheets, packing lists, hints and hacks. 2016 is the year! So here it is.

My 2016 top 10 list of “things you wouldn’t think of” but make some camping trips much easier.

  1. 1 large rubbermaid bin. When my kids were little and before we had a trailer, hook ups and all that fancy jazz, I packed 1 large rubbermaid. Along with that I packed a very large pot. At dinner time I would fill the pot with lake/river water. Once boiled I would dump it and another 2 equal size pots of river/lake water into the rubbermaid. Complete with something to make bubbles. Then, next to the warm fire, my kids would happily slosh around in the “bathtub” until they were squeeky clean and ready for a good night’s sleep. adc2f-headwaters4
  2. Meal lists. I found this PDF  years ago. It comes in very handy for long trips – 4+ nights. Of course I always meal plan ahead of time. Then once prep work is complete and packed into the trailer, I fill out these cute little meal lists and hang them daily on the trailer. My kids LOVE coming in and out to check what’s cooking every day. It also helps keep me organized. Especially when the coolers and fridge are jam packed full and I can’t dig around.  This is my favorite one! camping meal lists for kids
  3. Separate toothbrushes/paste. This is a trailer hack for the most part. Every year at the gateway to camping season, I hit up the dollar store to re-stock the trailer. One of the things I buy is brand new color coded toothbrushes for every member of the family. I also stock up on a few tubes of paste. There is nothing worse than forgetting your toothbrush on a trip. These designated toothbrushes stay in our trailer until the end of camping season every year. 1782158_10153060733787394_3281340086661006331_n
  4. Cooler Organization. Again, especially on long trips. This goes hand in hand with #2. Once I know what meals I have planned this is easy. The last thing I do before I leave is layer my cooler according to each days menu. Especially meat! IE: on a 5 day trip I would put the frozen meat on the bottom for day 5, day 4 on top, day 3 on top of that etc. You get the picture. Trailers never have enough freezer space. I also use empty milk jugs filled with water and salt and freeze ahead of times. 1 litre jugs are best for space saving. As the days go by and you clear fridge space, you can move some of these defrosting meats into the fridge for a slower re-frost period. Marinated frozen steak, smokies, bacon and frozen ground beef typically stay on the bottom (all in ziplock bags to keep from cross contamination) and chicken and fish above that. It’s all about the organization!
  5. Pre-scramble those eggs. We eat a LOT of omelets and scrambled eggs when camping. I don’t know about you but 18 eggs barely gets us through 3 days camping. Egg cartons take up a ton of space and if they are cardboard cartons, they get soaked and soggy in the bottom of the cooler. So instead we crack all of the eggs we need into a water bottle (or 2 or 3). This makes transport so much easier. Also a big space saver.
  6. Activities for kids. Children using their imagination is probably my absolute favorite thing about camping. We have a no electronics rule while camping. This forces my kids to play board games, hours and hours of card games and to explore. My 2 favorite kids camping activites: rock painting and scavenger hunts! During my dollar store trip at the beginning of the season, I purchase cheap acrylic paints and brushes. I pack them all up in the trailer for those “I’m bored” moments. Then I send them to collect their most favorite rocks. I set up the paint station and watch the creativity flow. Then the kids place them around the campground and when we return next year, the kids look to see if their rocks are still there. Scavenger hunts are a fun way to pass some time. Give them each a list and a brown lunch bag. Send them on their way. I always keep prizes in my trailer for the winners. Bubbles, stickers and glow sticks. We make our own scavenger hunts. Here is a good place to start. I like to add “something alive” to the list. ha!
  7. A pudgey pie/sandwich maker. I finally purchased one last season. I can’t believe I went without this wonderful invention for so long! Use non-stick cooking spray and coat the inside of the cooker. Then make your sandwich up like you would a grilled cheese. You can literally put ANYTHING in the middle of those 2 pieces of bread. Close it up and lightly cook over the fire – turning frequently. Once it is ready – open it up and voila. The best looking grilled sandwich you will ever lay eyes on! There are endless recipes on the internet. ashnolas2
  8. Nutella. This is the KEY to s’mores. I don’t think anyone I know has ever had a melted piece of chocolate inside their s’mores. It’s usually a hard chunk – never melted by the marshmallow. Enter – Nutella. Spread on your cracker. Add roasted marshmellow. Voila. No broken cracker and no hard chunk of chocolate. Yum.
  9. Electric Blankets. Tenting in a full hookups campground? An electric blanket and a small extension cord. Your sleep with be heaven.
  10. Book holder. If you are a seasoned traveling camper like me, you will have a large collection of backroad books, fishing guides, maps and brochures. Add to that books to read, crossword puzzles, coloring books and the local newspaper. All of this and NOT enough drawer space in my trailer. I found a fabric scholastic magazine rack and had the more handy half install it on a bare wall within the trailer. Ta-da! Organized and good utilization of wasted space! This one is not mine but it was my inspiration!
    enhanced-buzz-7989-1375740738-12Do you have any “must haves” or “must do” that you can share with us?

The conclusion of the 2015 Camping Season

Well, we finished off our 2015 camping season with back to back weekends of camping at Gold Mountain RV Park in Hedley. This was the way to do it!

First the last weekend in September had 2 Pro-D Days for the kids! Friday and Monday. So we headed out for a 4 night stay. What a great time! The weather was phenomenal. We had a large group rent campsites and cabins. The kids tried their luck at fishing and gold panning. There was quadding to be had up on Old Hedley Road. We even frequented the Hedley Museum again! Saturday night, we all met up around the group campfire to play a game. We laughed until we cried! The kids played happily together. Dogs enjoyed the fresh air. We were in camper heaven!

 

When the weekend was over, we batoned down the hatches and returned on Friday night for the final camping weekend of the year. This also just happened to be the Mexican Fiesta theme weekend. Hosts Dave and Tracy organized horseshoe and bocce tournaments. Guests participated with costumes and margaritas in hand. It all started with tequila shots early Saturday morning! Saturday night we all got together with our favorite Mexican dishes. Dave served up his favorite margaritas. There were a few large group bonfires. We all left Sunday and Dave and Tracy closed down the campground. Nobody wanted to leave but we said “so long” to our favorite campground and as soon as we pulled away, the countdown to May 2016 began!

2015 was a GREAT year for camping. 12 camping trips under our belt for the year. We will try for lucky 13 next year 😉

 

** On a side note, Gold Mountain has 4 theme weekends for 2016. They are almost full already so book soon! Cabins, full service sites and even a trailer rental!

 

Camping in August and September 2015 – it’s all about Gold Mountain!

 

We didn’t exactly have any plans to camp in August. We actually never really “plan” August camping trips. It’s hot, there is always a fire ban and usually we are too busy with other things happening in and around our community.

This year however, we had to attend a wedding in Hedley so we booked Gold Mountain RV Park for a weekend without the kids or dogs. What a treat for us! We booked Site #6, which is arguably the best site they have, especially when you are having adult time alone.  Site #6 is on the edge of the grassy area and this is your typical view:

We didn’t spend much time at the campsite as we were busy with wedding festivities but let me tell you again, what sets camp hosts of Gold Mountain, Tracy and Dave, 5 notches above the other campgrounds in our area. We pulled in. I jumped out and went up to see Tracy in the office, pay and catch up with her. When I returned, Dave had backed Nick into position and together they leveled the trailer and were done setting up. I walked up, poured a glass of wine and sat down in my chair. Voila!

The weather was great. The river was low. The fellow campers were fantastic! It was a quick weekend August 21-23rd but it was wonderful none the less!

It was so wonderful that I booked a cabin for one night the following weekend!
This was my first staying in a cabin at Gold Mountain. It was definitely a different experience than the trailer. This trip was just my 8 year old and myself. We booked cabin #4. It comes with a bunk bed set and a double bed. My son slept on the bottom futon bunk. I slept on the double. I packed minimally for the 1 night stay. Coffee, filters, cream, sugar, snacks, and cereal and milk for the morning. I brought my own bedding and chair. That was about all I needed!

The cabins come quite equipped. Each cabin has a hot plate, a coffee maker, a toaster oven, a fridge, dishes for 4, dish clothes, and a dish pan with soap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BEST part of the cabins is the view from the beautiful decks. I could have sat all day and watched the river. While having coffee we watched a giant bald eagle make her way up the river with her full wing span out. It was incredible to see. Nothing beats this view.

$61 a night gets you a cabin with everything you need aside from food and bedding. Some are equipped for kids with bunks. Some have upgraded beds. This one did not and it was a very stiff mattress. If that isn’t you thing I suggest bringing a foamy! 🙂 You are a small hop, skip and jump from the bathrooms and showers. There are fire pits to use and of course the endless fun adventures to take advantage of. Sitting at the river, gold panning, horseshoes, chess, trails, Mascot Mines, Hedley museum and Doug’s Homestead – just to name a few.

Gold Mountain RV Park does it again with their top notch customer service! Why go anywhere else? We don’t anymore. Gold Mountain has everything we need for exactly the right price.

Labor Day Long Weekend….

We decided last minute to see if Tracy and Dave had any campsites free for the long weekend. They had 1 site left. Site #15. In our humble opinion, there are no “bad” spots at Gold Mountain. We didn’t mind #15 and were happy to get a site last minute! Tracy emailed me back a couple days later to let me know that a river site also came up as a cancellation if we wanted it instead. We decided to stay where we were but my Brother and Sister in law booked it up quickly for a weekend of fun!

 

The weather was great. We were able to have a campfire. The vibe at the campground was fantastic. As always Dave and Tracy went beyond their calls of duty. What I would like to make special mention of for THIS camp trip is the regulars. Never have I camped somewhere that held such a sense of “community”. There is nothing better than taking a walk around the campsite and having smiling faces and waves from other campers who you recognize from previous weekends. Personally, I am all about the dogs. I absolutely love animals and recognize someone’s dog before I recognize their owner. I love meeting up in the park with other campers and their dogs. Regular campers come to Gold Mountain from the lower mainland, Penticton, Kelowna and even further. When I set up at Gold Mountain I usually recognize about 4-5 campers now. THAT is an amazing accomplishment for Tracy and Dave. They have honestly created a community at Gold Mountain and to me, it is magically. I will be the first person to admit that I “keep to myself” most of the time when I am camping. However, I don’t do this at Gold Mountain. I engage in conversations, pet dogs (and cats!), help out fellow campers with whatever they may need. My kids become friends with their kids.


Our long weekend was peaceful and enjoyable.

Also big shout out to Doug’s Homestead. I bought a package of bacon for roughly $6. The bacon was thick and when I cooked it, it didn’t change size and there was no grease. It tasted phenomenal! We also purchased ground beef, beef&bacon sausages and steaks along with the token jerky and pepperoni. Nothing was greasy. I will now buy my meat when I get out there instead of packing it from home.

Every time I am at Gold Mountain, I forget to take photos of the “front stoop” at the office. What a welcoming site when rolling in! Rocking chairs under a covered porch, a selection of books to take and leave. Always morning coffee for all guests on the porch! In addition this campground has a laundry facility on site. Handy!!

We have booked the last weekend in September as the kids have a couple Pro-D Days. We also booked the Mexican theme weekend for the 1st weekend in October. So our Gold Mountain days for 2015 are not quite over yet! That will make it a total of 7 camping trips to Gold Mountain this year.

On that note, Tracy and Dave opened their reservation lines up on Sept 1st for next years bookings! They have 4 theme weekends next year and most are at least 1/2 full already. DO NOT delay in booking or sadly you will miss out on the fun of theme weekends!!

The purpose of this blog when I first started it was to blog about all of the different campgrounds that we stay at. Sadly, the cost of the provincials have surpassed some private campgrounds with zero amenities. So with this being said, we are sticking to Gold Mountain next year with a mix of some rec sites only. Provincial campgrounds in our area are now at $30-$35 plus a $6 reservation fee per night with no hookups, extra fees for vehicles, sani, wood, etc…. It isn’t worthy of the money anymore. So we will be sticking with what we know, what we love and the best bang for our buck! Gold Mountain. 🙂

For the 2016 year I am going to concentrate the blogging on tips, tricks,  recipes, checklists, ideas for camping with kids, how to maximize space in RVs, etc.

Stay tuned for many more articles!!

My Review of Kettle River Provincial Park – Camp Trip #7 of 2015


Camp Trip #7 of 2015

When: June 25 – July 2
Where: Kettle River Provincial Park, Rock Creek, BC
Who: 18 adults, 16 kids, 6 dogs.
Kettle River… the 3rd Annual trip. The last 2 years we have had rain for most of our trip. Our time in the river was limited and when it was time to pack up and go, we were so sad – it was never long enough. This year we weren’t going to make that mistake again. So we booked 8 nights. We ended up staying for 7…. And that was too long.
We arrived on Thursday, June 25th around 3:30 in the afternoon. EVERY year, as soon as school is out for the summer, we hop into the truck with the trailer hooked up and head out of town. The last 3 years have been Kettle River. So we headed off to Rock Creek. This is an hour and 45 minutes from Penticton.  The anticipation was more than we could all bear…. But somehow, we made it! We always drive bone dry. Kettle River has a water fill up station AND sani dump located right within the park. So we stop and fill up our water to the brim when we get there and dump all when we leave. We pulled into our campsite – # 39. We carefully picked this campsite because of its close proximity to the river trail, bathrooms and the openness to the sites around us. Our group booked 9 sites together. There was 1 double site in the middle that we couldn’t scoop up in time. They ended up being fine neighbors. We had sites 31-41 (with the exception of a double). In my opinion the best area to secure a spot in is 29-44. You are close to the river – which is where you should spend most of your time.
Check in went okay. There was a few camp facilitators working that day that really didn’t understand the rules in regards to motorcycles, extra vehicles and pre-paying for sites. Either that or they were just trying to get extra money out of us. I quickly corrected them. They were polite about it and wished us a good time on our camping adventure.   That didn’t last long though as the older couple then had a few days off and a few new camp facilitators came on shift. There is one camp facilitator that is AMAZING – his name is Greg. He was happy, friendly and he waved at us every time he drove by. He went out of his way to help us get a FCFS site for our friend. He really outdid himself. This guy deserves recognition. His wife on the other hand, she needs a lesson on how to speak to people effectively. This happens to be the same lady that we had problems with last year. When will people learn?

I need to get this out now as I have been fuming since we left.  Camp facilitators can honestly make or break a camping trip. I am a firm believer in recognition when due. Like Greg. What a great guy. Same with Dave and Tracy at Gold Mountain. Fantastic people who know how to be excellent hosts, after all, they are HOSTS.  But Greg’s wife at Kettle River? NOT.SO.MUCH. When we have 9 sites together, I would like to assume that walking across the path from one site to another (your family’s site) with a beer in a covered coozie, would be okay. Nope. She yelled at someone in our group – not politely reminded either, she yelled at him. Then there was the situation with the generator…. At 8:04pm on Sunday night, a woman from the campsite behind us stormed over to our campsite and demanded that we shut off our neighbor’s generator. I stared blankly at her and said “I am sorry – who are you?” She pointed to her campsite and then demanded that generator hours are over at 8pm. I turned my back to her. This woman had a lot of nerve coming into my campsite and telling me to shut my neighbor’s generator off!  Allow me to set the situation for you. It’s Sunday afternoon – 38 degrees and hot as hell. The site in which the generator was running is temporarily home to 3 children including twins under 1 years old. That family had turned the generator on to cool their trailer in order to put their kids to bed. We then found out the lady behind us had stopped off at my sister in law’s site just prior to that, knocked on the door of their trailer while they ate dinner and demanded they shut theirs off because she had to put her kid to sleep. This had to have been at 8pm sharp. Since the generator owners of the site across from us were in the washrooms bathing their kids, we ignored her demand and went back to cooking dinner. Along came Mrs. Camp Host with the Attitude Problem. She jumped off her golf cart on a mission. She marched over gripping her walkie talkie and spewing threats at us – again, the people not staying in the site with the generator running. My brother guided her away from our site and attempted to diffuse the situation. She threatened him that this was “warning # 1” and that next time it would be an eviction – for all of us. What? All of this at 8:17pm in 38 degree weather. I understand. Generator hours are 6-8pm but there is a way to speak to people effectively. If this had been Greg he would have smiled at us, walked into our site and said “Hey guys, not sure if you noticed the time but generator hours are finished. Would you mind shutting your friend’s generator off for them?” Well Mrs. Camp Host continued to bark all week. As we were leaving on Thursday at exactly 11:04am (check out is 11am) she hopped out of her truck and yelled at my sister in law that “check out is 11am and people want their site!!” This as they were clearly backing their truck onto their trailer to pull away. Might I add that check in is at 3pm. Come on Kaloya Contracting!! Don’t you put your camp hosts through customer service training? The guy working shoulder season at Bear Creek? FANTASTIC. Greg working at Kettle River? FANTASTIC. Greg’s wife? Come on…. she is giving your park a bad rep!

So as if it wasn’t enough that this controlling camp facilitator left a bad taste in our mouth, the final straw was when my friends and family left and new neighbors moved in behind us, beside us and across from us. Neighbors without generators might I add. I had now been in my campsite for almost a week. Every morning at 9am, I turned on our generator to cool our trailer down from 35-39 degree weather and to charge our battery. I shut it off before 11am every morning. Then when I got home from the river, I would again turn it on from 6-8pm. All of this is during generator hours. These are posted park rules. On Wednesday night after a ridiculously hot day, I turned the generator on at 6pm. When I thought the battery was charged and the trailer was cool enough for my son to go to sleep, I went around to the back of the trailer to shut it off – this was at 7:30pm (half an hour before posted generator shut off time) When I did this, the neighbors behind me, beside me and across from me cheered and hooted and hollered. The campground was silent and I realized I was the only one with a generator in our area. Surrounded by a-holes I was done. Here I had obeyed the hours and considered my neighbors with noise and music levels for a week. I had put up with out of control barking dogs, screaming kids, speeding vehicles and bikes with water bottles shoved into the spokes to make them loud and annoying. I had put up with all of this. Now, I was done. When Nick came back after his bike ride, I told him about my experience. He agreed, it was time to go home. A day early. We packed up the next morning.

I want to add a few tips for those of you still planning a trip to Kettle River. You can read up on my previous blogs about Kettle River Provincial Park if you are interested in learning more tips. In the meantime, here are my tips/reminders for this time!

1) Bring bikes. The park is HUGE.  You will regret it if you don’t bring bikes to explore the area or even to head over to the showers.
2) Bring OFF… about 1 can per day for a family of 5. We went through 5 cans. Every time you shower or go into the river, you need to re-apply. The mosquitos are ridiculous. Bring a gazebo too if you have one with net sides.
3) Be careful of wasps. After 3 days we seemed to have a wasp infestation. We took garbage away every day, cans and washed down tables. They still appeared – tons of them. If you are allergic, I suggest you bring a can of RAID and a fly swatter. Again the gazebo would be helpful.
4) Bring floaties and chairs you can stick in the river. You won’t regret it!
  5) Bring cash – $5 loonies for the sani dump, ice and wood (assuming no fire ban) and of course if you are bringing an extra vehicle, $12 a day for that.

You cannot possibly beat this for river days….

Don’t get me wrong….. Kettle River Provincial Park is a fantastic park… It might suit your family just fine.  It has a ridiculous amount of things to do. Floating the river, bike riding, neat shops to visit in Rock Creek and eve cliff jumping!! Not to mention just sitting in this crystal clear river for hours and hours a day. The park is beautiful. Shaded and huge. They have flush toilets, pit toilets and showers. They have a playground, over 100 sites and trails to walk, bike and dog-walk. We floated the river into Rock Creek one day. We got in right behind sites 37/38 and we  floated to the Hotel in Rock Creek. We parked a vehicle there in advance. It took us 3 ½ hours and there were some areas that of the river that barely moved and some areas where we had to walk. The float is beautiful though. I highly recommend it. I know that if we had been able to secure the group site without neighbors and rules, our own river front and private washrooms, it would have been a MUCH better trip. The park facilitators just have no tolerance – or allowance for “groups” camping in a large area together. Note: You can book the group camping 1 year in advance. I guarantee you it’s one of the best group sites in all of the BC Provincial Parks. Covered kitchen area, flush toilets, 13 picnic tables, private riverfront, even electrical in the kitchen area.
From my letter to the park contractor last year, they took my suggestion and opened up the handicap washroom this year 100% of the time – to accommodate families with young children and to avoid limiting showers during cleaning hours. The one suggestion that they didn’t change yet and they REALLY need to address is more speedbumps! There are WAY too many speeders going through the campsites. We had numerous little kids in our group riding their bikes. Vehicles were going over 30 kms an hour around the blind corners and almost taking out kids, bikers, dogs etc. They need to put more speedbumps in the 30-44 sites.I guess sadly it may take a child getting hit for them to take this suggestion seriously.
After trying to secure the group site for 3 years and failing, making our “own” group loop and still getting our hands slapped for ridiculous things, we have hung up our hat on Kettle River. For $30 a night plus reservation fees, plus extra vehicle charges, plus sani dump plus, plus, plus…. and no hook ups…. I would rather go somewhere closer with less rules or more for my dollar. Bush camping is looking better and better every day – no rules and no generator hours.  Gold Mountain in Hedley is also a better option for $31a night and the ability to enjoy air conditioning in my trailer with full hookups.

Thank you to the wonderful shop owners in Rock Creek. You are all so accommodating and tourist friendly. You are truly blessed with such beautiful surroundings.

This year my rating dropped from 5/6 to 3.5/6 stars. They lose a point for location. They lose a point for the cost. It went up to $30 per night from $28 with no electrical and you still pay for sewer. They lose another point for certain staff’s customer service but then earn 1/2 a point back for Greg and his exceptional people skills.

The lack of customer service by a few hosts are ruining it for the ones that excel. The dictatorship of rules is getting out of hand. When people have paid GOOD MONEY to camp for 8 nights they expect to have a nice holiday with happy smiling people. Step up your game Kettle River! You have the potential to be the next Bear Creek!

Now it’s time to plan next year’s trip – in a new location.

My Review of Banbury Green – Camp Trip #6 of 2015

 

Camp Trip #6 of 2015

When: June 19-21st – Father’s Day Weekend
Where: Banbury Green, Kaleden, BC
Who: 5 adults, 5 kids, 2 dogs
Annually we book Father’s Day weekend at Banbury Green in Kaleden. This is our 3rd time for Father’s Day but it is about the 8th time I have camped at this location. We book this campsite because of its close proximity to Penticton and full hookups. We also love the beach front. However, like all Okanagan campgrounds, fees keep creeping up due to increased popularity.

Allow me to give you a description of Banbury. This campground is on private property. The property is lakefront (Skaha Lake). This campground has a shower house (free showers) and flush toilets scattered throughout the property. It has a boat launch and in the summer you can rent paddleboats and canoes right from shore. It has a dock and a small playground. The KVR trail is accessible through this campground. Some of the sites are small, others large – especially lakefront spots. I find that most spots are shaded. Campers may argue which sites are the best. My favorite spots are North 22-24. Here is an updated site map for you to take a look at. http://www.banburygreen.com/PDFs/site_map.pdf

Now, if you are willing to pay the fees to stay at Banbury, by all means, this is an awesome campground. We paid $57.50 per night for Father’s Day weekend in June. “High Season” started on June 19th, the day we arrived. We were in an RV so we paid the most. They even asked us at check-in how many adults and kids we had in our party as there are now extra charges over and above your family of 2 adults and 2 kids.

Here is the pricing direct from their website:
Tents:
Low Season: $30.00 per night + Tax
High Season: $45.00 per night + Tax
RVs/Trailers etc:
Low Season: $40.00 per night + Tax
High Season: $55.00 per night + Tax

The daily rate per site is based on a family of 4 i.e. 2 adults and 2 children. An adult is any person 17 years or older. Children 16 and under stay free. The maximum number of adults per site is 4. The maximum number of persons permitted on a site is 6 – no exceptions. Additional adults are $5.00 per person per night.

If you have read my previous blogs about Banbury you will know that 3 Father’s Days ago, we received a noise complaint for our 90’s on 9 sirius satellite being too loud for the tenters camping next to us. Again the camp host brought it up to my brother when he checked in. Ugh. Get over it! It almost makes me want to register as “Mickey Mouse” next time just so we aren’t attached to one infraction 3 years ago.
Some of the good things about Banbury – they are dog friendly, safe roads for kids to bike, beach front sites, flush toilets and free showers. You can bring an extra vehicle and park it for free by the office (assuming there is space). There is a pie lady that frequents the campground on weekends. Her Mom makes pies, jams, treats, bread etc. The food is awesome! I recommend trying her food.

 

 


Some of the not so good things about Banbury – the price and the management. This is my opinion as this is my blog. I have said it so many times – campsite hosts can make or break a camping trip. When you are trying to get people to return and book again, friendliness goes a long way. When you want locals to recommend your campsite to tourists, you should leave a lasting impression on them. Nobody at Banbury comes around to say hi. Nobody asks how your experience was. Nobody even smiles. The office isn’t even open most times you drive or walk past it.

This year we had a ridiculous wind storm. We couldn’t enjoy our fire or each other’s company. Bad luck for us! We spent most of our weekend hunkered down protecting our awning and tent from blowing away. The kids did have 1 day of swimming in the lake which was nice. Lots of bike riding to be had and we always have a potluck dinner on Saturday night to honor the Fathers.

3 Father’s Day trips is enough at Banbury for us. We are booking elsewhere next year. As much as we love the spot, we don’t love the price. So we will be looking for a better suited spot next year! Possibly we will duke it out to get a spot at Chain Lake next year for a 1/4 of the price – on the lake.

I rate Banbury a 4/6. They lose points for customer service and price. They should also add a sani station. No sewer hook ups on the lake.