A New Challenge!

Posted by Ian On June 5, 2009

I'm pleased to announce that I have started my own little company - mare ad mare, which is latin for 'sea to sea' and part of the Canadian motto (check the cover of your new passports). Our goal will be to build a fresh new brand of clothing for Canadian (and wannabe Canadian) girls. I will be using this blog, much as I have in the past - to continue showing people around the globe (over 50 countries now!) what it's like to be a Canadian girl, tracing the footsteps of our 3 girls as we explore more of this great place we call home.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Now for big girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Fall shirt for Canadian girls

A big pile of leaves for you here! As a Canadian summer turns to fall, the leaves change colours and then fall off the trees. Kids rake them up and play! So go on, Jump into Fall with this Orange T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Pass the Marshmallows!

Summer shirt for Canadian Girls

Summer in Canada is the time for camping, camp fires and of course - Marshmallows! Get ready to go roast some in this summer yellow T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Spring shirt for Canadian Girls

After a long Canadian winter, spring can never arrive too soon! Pull on this Spring Green T and go planting girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

It's not ALWAYS cold in Canada...

Winter shirt for Canadian Girls

How many times have you had to tell someone that it's not always cold here? Well, sometimes it is cold - but to make your point, grab this little winter blue T and let them know that it's not just snow and ice up here all the time! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Girls, grab this little white T, and go get your kiss ;-) Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Before the summer started, Sara and I actually got organized for a change (might have helped that I wasn't constantly traveling!) and reserved some camping weekends. One of the weekends/campgrounds we reserved was at Samuel de Champlain, the girls were going to be camping with their grandparents and cousins for the week, and we would go up and spend the weekend with them (and yes, the week at home alone was nice). Samuel de Champlain is a very nice campground, covered it last year so won't go into too many details other than to say - it's great one of the better ones, but at just over 3 hours away - it's not great for a weekend getaway. The girls loved being able to camp with grandpa and grandma though and they called in the middle of the week to say they had seen umpteen turtles, loads of frogs, a loon and her baby, river otters, great blue herons... on one canoe trip! Was a nice weekend for us - other than all the rain, but that's the way it's been this summer.
For more on Samuel de Champlain, check out my previous post.

Park Hunting

In selecting our other 2 weekend camping destinations, we had a few criterias which had to be met, and luckily, the provincial park website is not bad for checking things out and getting some decent information - whereas my parents used to drive in to the park on the way by to see if would be ok, and check out desireable sites - we can do that online now for the most part. It's not
100%, but far better than going in blind!
We wanted campgrounds that were around 1.5 hours away, sites that were a decent size, fairly private, grass covered and close to water... Not too easy, but we did manage to reserve the long weekend at the Voyageurs Provincial Park, near Hawkesbury and the Quebec border.

Camp Setup

We were anticipating the first half-decent weekend of the summer, it's been raining CONSTANTLY, and we're all getting more than a little tired of it...
We got there, got setup, had a decent enough setup too - especially for not anticipating any rain. We had a new dining tent, and lots of tarp to keep us covered if we did get some rain.
By the way - those are Eureka Apex tents, the 2 XTC and 3 XTC. Nice little tents. The fly completely covers the tent, and the tent itself is nice and airy - go up in a flash too. Have never waterproofed them, and have yet to see drop one inside the tent. Having the tarp over the entrances like this is nice though for when it rains - you can get in and out without getting wet and have your shoes outside. We had some nice little straw mats between the two tents too...
We bought a dining tent too, so we could hide somewhere if it rained, or if the bugs got too bad. Had one spec'd out - but Canadian Tire ran out, so settled on this much more economical model. Actually would have loved the 'Northern Breeze' from Eureka, but at $400 I wasn't that in love with it...
Two main problems of this Woods tent, was that there weren't enough trees around to hook up a tarp over it, and it didn't fit the oversized picnic table...

A Perfect Day of Camping!

Saturday was a perfect day of camping. It was mid-20's, sunny with a few clouds and we got in a ton of good camping activities. We went out canoeing and introduced the girls to fishing! Not that they caught anything, was probably a good thing we didn't, they're huge animal lovers, and even though we told them it would be a catch and release situation - if anything were to go wrong, it would have spelled disaster... at any rate, they had a good time learning how to cast and troll. Caught more weeds than anything - but they liked it.

Now - it might not have looked like the nicest of days - but that was relatively early in the morning and was actually quite nice for being out in the canoe (no burning hot sun).

We got back in time for lunch, and put on a fire to have pie-iron grilled cheese sandwiches. Normally, you do pizzas, but we screwed that up... The secret to a good pie-iron sandwich (just like marshmallows) is red-hot coals. Getting a fire going with camp store firewood is near impossible - since it's ALWAYS soaking wet! But we did get it going and got our nice grilled cheese - btw - this is what pie-irons look like:

After lunch, we went on a very lame frog hunt. There were some park guides telling the kids about the lifecycle of frogs, a little info about frogs and then we ALL went on a walk to find frogs. Now anyone that knows anything about frog catching, knows that you have to be quiet, slow, sneaky - so how does parading 40 something kids and their parents through a swamp help them find frogs?!?! Needless to say it was a complete waste of time - told the girls we'd head back later...

We headed to the overly crowded beach after that. Weekends at provincial parks are havens for family get togethers. The picnic areas usually surround the beach, so it's packed too. Lots of 'new canadians' at the park too. Couple of burqa's out too - one in full gear - IN the lake! Never seen that before.

For supper that night - we were tempted by the 3.99 spaghetti offer - but decided on bacon, eggs and beans. We had brought out the cast iron skillet, so we started another fire, got it down to a nice low burn and slapped the bacon in the pan - right on the fire! Tastiest bacon we've ever had - bar none. Perfectly crisp with a nice smokey flavour. Check it out:

Sara on the other hand, got to fight off mosquitos while cooking under the tarp next to the bush...

It was a late supper (we had gone for another canoe ride) so we were able to just let the fire go, and move right into marshmallow country - ending our perfect day of camping.

Then the rains came...

It was SUPPOSED to be nice all weekend, but we were rudely woken by raindrops at 6:30 the next morning. Sara ran out and put away all the things that had been hanging, and then headed back into the tent to wait out what we hoped would just be a short shower. But it didn't go away... and it gradually got worse. One of our bungees that was holding the tarps out over our table and dining tent had given way with the rain, so there went our cover! We decided to head into town for breakfast, get out of the rain for a bit and hopefully wait for it to pass over.

But it didn't. It kept raining and raining. Luckily we had a nice breakfast in Hawesbury, but we couldn't stay all day. Decided to head back and heard on the radio that it was supposed to rain all day. That was it - we decided to pack up and go home. No sense in sitting in rain all day to just pack up in the morning. So I sent Sara and the girls in the tent to play cards, and I packed up. The tarps covered me for at least half the pack up - but as we started to pack up the tents and then the tarps - we got soaked. The tents were a muddy mess and the tarps were worse... but we managed to jam everything in and get away.

Voyageur Provincial Park - The good, bad and ugly
Close to home (1.5hours), decent sites, pretty good privacy (except when the neighbours feel responsible for providing the music broadcast for the area...and I love Metallica, but NOT while camping) I suppose you could say that the beaches were ok - but I'm stretching for good things here.

Close to the highway, you could hear traffic all the time. The water was not great for canoeing, way too many motorboats coming in and out of the Ottawa River into the bays. The park store barely had any supplies, and of course the wood was completely soaked.

Dirty. The bathrooms were not nearly as well kept as some others we've been to, and there was garbage overflow at the cans - because the garbage dropoff was not within walking distance.

Overall - wouldn't go back... but not the worst place by any means.

Maybe next post I'll do a little bit on the amount of crap you need to have a 'nice and easy' weekend of camping!

    About Me

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    It's not about the money you make, the toys you have, the clothes you wear - it's about the life experiences you go through, the challenges you face and the stories you tell... Having just moved back to Canada (after almost 8 years in the U.S and Germany), we have lots to show our girls and our friends around the world about Canada. We're going to be telling our stories, hope you enjoy our adventures. Mare ad Mare means 'sea to sea' and we want to show the world, from Sea to Sea - this is what it's like to be a Canadian Girl!