Friday, September 29, 2017

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Do you remember those long ago days as a kid when summer was winding down and school was right around the corner? The days seemed to get shorter and the weather seemed to get nicer, and it was all a cruel reminder that time marched on. One of the things I dreaded most back then was that inevitable essay waiting for me on that first day back in the classroom, where each one of us had to sweat out an adventure worth sharing with the others: "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."

What was there to share in a small town with one general store and one main street and one muddy lake for swimming? I could have made up something really good, and hoped that the others simply for it: kidnapped by aliens, discovered by a Hollywood director, found a secret tunnel to a hidden civilization, that sort of thing. Instead, I just wrote about the quiet simple pleasures: riding a bike down narrow forgotten roads along the Rideau River; playing frisbee golf between all the old twisted oak trees in town; serving as altar boy to Father Manning at St Ann's Parish at the end of the street. And, of course, our annual August drive to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

This was the place my mother grew up loving herself. She told me over and over again that getting there was just half the fun. At first, I didn't believe her; but, later on, I began to appreciate the drive for all that it offered. As we drove through the Green Mountains of Vermont, she told me the count all the dark shadowy hillsides that rose up to scare her (I think she was just pretending). My dad told me to count all the American flags we passed (I lost count just before my first nap). I remember reading and drawing pictures and occasionally looking up to see if my parents had taken a wrong turn somewhere, because that was also part of the fun of getting there: getting lost. There was no GPS or Google apps to guide us back then, only outdated faded maps folded over and frayed one too many times and the differing memories of my parents disputing a right turn here and a left turn there. There were, of course, the usual stops: the gas station and McDonalds just past the Canadian border, along the way to Rouses Point, New York; the lunch break at White River Junction, near the Vermont/New Hamsphire border; and the grocery store near Exeter to pick up our food for the week. Staying at a cottage near the beach was our well earned reward for an arduous twelve hour journey in our run down 1975 Ford Torino with its loud engine and ugly rooftop rack that look like antlers holding my bike for the trip. All in all, it mattered that I remembered getting there as much as being there.

Thirty five years later, I have discovered that this is the life motto for the RV traveler, even though I had no idea such a life lesson way back then would prove so beneficial. And now, on this day, Chantal and I have completed our first year of "getting there", and are already working hard on our next year, which should prove more challenging and more ambitious. But, no matter where we go from here, we cannot forget where we have been, as our first year as taken us through two provinces and twenty states, before finally returning to Ontario to reboot and regroup.

Ontario, while still our home, held a different perspective for us as "mobile visitors". We came back to rest and to work and to reunite with loved ones, but we also came back to camp. For the first six weeks, we stayed in a variety of provincial parks and private RV campgrounds, from outside Windsor to just outside Toronto. We focused on earning money and visiting friends and playing a little tennis where and when we could. For the bulk of the summer we camped at a quiet secluded place called Lawson Family Campground, just outside the small town of Carlisle, north of Waterdown. It was there that we were able to settle and wait for the rain to pass (it finally did months later). We explored as we did in the United States, discovering small towns such as Kilbride, Flamborough and Leamington; we did the tourist thing, too, by visiting key places such as the Montrose Covered Bridge and the Crawford Lake Native Conservation Area; and we renewed our passion for great food, as Chantal finally got her sushi fix back, and I reunited with my favorite pub burger at our local hangout the Pump just outside Port Credit.

Aside from all the extras, the camping experience remained the same. Campfires were still campfires, with or without smores (mosty with); RV maintenance was still RV maintenance, forcing us to break camp and replace our batteries at our local dealer; and the peace and quiet was still very much that, providing an undisturbed stillness that is impossible not to embrace. We slept under a tree every night, and the birds woke us up each morning, and the mid morning rain gave us a soundtrack while we drank coffee under awning. We met other RVers, too, all with their own stories; many thanks to Don and his wife for all the magazines he left at our door. We did all the things we'd wanted to do: hike, take pictures, cook outside, enjoy a swim or two, and, of course, plan our next adventure.

Route planning is key to the success of any RV travel experience, an absolute must not only to ensure seeing what you want to see, but also knowing what you're willing to give up because it's too far or too expensive or simply not feasible. The RV adventure, like anything else in life, is about selection, and committing to those choices. It is also about the willingness to share space and to work through problems and to communicate at all times. The reward for all that? Being planted firmly and confidently in that driver's seat, ready to follow that road in search of simple pleasures.

Many thanks to all those who follow us down all the roads we have taken and have yet to take. We hope you enjoy the attached small video compilation of our camping stops so far.

Rob & Chantal


  1. Bonjour a vous deux ,déja une année de passé.L'hiver en Floride sur de belles routes ,et surtout a la chaleur .Nous sommes allez vous rejoindre a Orlando et ca nous a rassurés tout les deux .Et pour finir 2017 en Octobre vous planifier de rapartir pour faire une autre parti des Etas Unis .Prenez soins de vous deux soyez toujours prudents sur les routes .Tes parents xxxx

    1. Ouiii toujours prudents! Merci beaucoup xxx <3

  2. you 2 are having way to much fun, lol. glad to see it and love your blog.

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