I’m going to try and start documenting the camping trips we take, because I get asked frequently for advice about camping with kids and we totally are not experts – we just love it.
Ross and I spent a lot of time hiking and camping while we were dating, hauling around 50lb packs and hiking for miles and living off of carefully prepared dehydrated foods, but we are a tent- trailering family now, after a single tent trip with Kale to Alice Lake [check out that post for some of my top tips for taking a preschooler camping] told me that a) my hips are not as soft as I think they are, and b) we needed a trailer. After lamenting publicly that I wanted one, friends let us know they were selling and BOOM – we have a tent trailer. It’s an older model Rockwood trailer that was kept in near-pristine condition for its whole life. We’re planning a few modifications to it as our budget allows, like working out some power options and replacing some pesky wiring and lighting, but it works great for us and I have had a total blast outfitting it with all the comforts of home. After buying it as a family Christmas present late 2011, the still unnamed trailer got its first workout last September at the 2nd Annual Camp-Tacular at Hicks Lake, but we didn’t get out nearly as much as I had hoped in 2012.
So, for this season we made an executive decision to forego a traditional family vacation (like Kihei! OMG I miss Kihei) and instead I spent more than few anxious mornings booking like mad at provincially operated campsites all over this province when the three month window for reservations opened up.
First up was Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast and it was a nice, easy trip. It rained for a while in the afternoon of our second day, but the campsite has a playground and a long, accessible beach, which definitely made up for it. The campsite was nearly deserted – I guess May 24-26 is a slow weekend for camping – and so the group firepit in use at Porpoise Bay (which I’m not that keen on) was basically all ours.
This past weekend, we went to Vancouver Island and stayed at Englishman River Falls. It is a fairly forest-y campground, located at the very end of a long windy road in Errington. I have a special fondness for Errington as Ross and I were married in the little townlet (village? neighbourhood? region?) just about six years ago. The campsite was not heavily populated, although the park operator mentioned that starting this coming weekend when the kids are out of school it will likely be packed for the rest of the season regardless of the weather. It was grey and overcast for most of the weekend, with a bit of rain Sunday late morning as we were packing up, but it was awesome that my parents and Ross’ aunt were able to drive up to see us. We did the hike from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls and looped back around again and generally puttered about the campsite in slow motion.
Ferries are my biggest beefs with both of these campgrounds – for our Jeep and trailer (not more than 6’5″ tall and about 28′ long total) to go on these two excursions, we have spend just over $400, and Kale is still free till his birthday next month. To give you some context on that amount, I can fly to Cancun and back for about $450. Resident tourism in BC is suffering because of the cost of ferries – people opt out of our province because it is not economical to stay here when there are options to go somewhere more exotic, tropical, or interesting for not much more money.
As a result of the cost of the ferry, this past weekend will also likely be our last trip over to the island this year with our car. Now that Kale is in a booster seat, we can do a walk-on and get picked up by family, or even use the Nanaimo Car Share (a benefit of being a Modo member!) but it still means inconvenience or an additional expense for someone. This irritates me on so many levels, but such is the price of Vancouver Island. Maybe one day we’ll live there.
Next up is a birthday group camping trip to North Beach at Golden Ears Provincial Park. I’ve picked it because it was the only campsite that had space for our party (there’s 12 of us going!) that was within 2 hours drive. I’ve never stayed in Golden Ears period, but I’ve heard a lot of good reviews for the family-friendly nature of this particular site. I’ll report back.