Sunday, August 15, 2010

v39.2: Back from Vacation

Howdy folks,

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I had half a musing typed up and for some reason my Firefox decided to crap out on me and I lost all of it (apparently Auto-save wasn't working either).  Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes I guess.

Technically I was back from vacation a week ago but haven't had much of a chance to write all week.  Work has been super busy and despite having only worked 4 days, I still ended up working over 40 hours this week.  I don't think work has ever been this busy.

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Let me start off by saying that camping (specifically tenting) and I don't seem to get along.  Every single time I've gone camping (regardless of the weather forecast), it has rained.  I'm not talking a little shower or a light rain, I'm talking full on torrential downpour to rival the wildest tropical storms.  It rained so hard, I thought the tent was going to collapse under the weight.

We made our way out of the city on the Monday and arrived at the camp ground sometime around mid-afternoon.  I had never really been to the Annapolis Valley before so I wanted to make sure we got there as soon as possible so we could take it all in while the weather was nice.  Keep in mind, the weather forecast for the valley was calling for sun Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with a slight chance of showers or rain on Wednesday and Friday late afternoon.  Sounds like a perfect week to do some camping doesn't it?  My father and step-mother were coming camping with us but they were going to be delayed a day so we would be on our own the first night.

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As I mentioned, we arrived at the campground around mid-afternoon on Monday and proceeded to setup our 10-Person Cabana tent and screen room.  This tent is HUGE and I love it.  There are compartments on the side which are designed to hold luggage and even have a rod for coat hangers to hang your clothes.  We got the tent for 50% off a couple years ago and have really only gone camping in it once, (yes, it rained then too).  The people in the camp site next to ours had the same tent but colored slightly different (blue, grey and yellow trim vs. ours which is teal, black and orange trim).  Just a quick word about this campground.  The sites were we were tenting in were basically in a huge field with a roadway all the way around and through the middle.  Each site was designated by a fire pit (made from the hub of a huge truck) and a little sign that indicated this was the camp site number.  Our 10-Person tent filled up the entire site width wise and about half of the length leaving only a few feet to the campfire from our screen tent.  It was cramped.

We had a few "small" tarps with us that we used to cover parts of the top of the tent in the event we did get a little bit of rain.  We also put a tarp between the screen tent and the main tent to create a bit of a shelter between them so we could travel between the tent and screen room without getting wet (again, in the event it rained).  After camp was setup, we decided to go for a walk and check out the campground.  There was supposed to be a heated pool so that was the first place we checked.  It was a pool, not heated and not very big.  At least it had an 8ft deep end but there was no jumping or diving allowed; not a huge deal.  We then took a walk down to the basin shoreline to the swimming beach there.  The beach was quite rocky and the water was cold and looked quite dirty.  Just off to the right of the beach was a huge hydro power facility which (for whatever reason) decided to fire off its siren every day at Noon and then randomly throughout the day.  According to my wife's aunt (who lives in the area) the siren is used to let people know when there is a fire or other type of emergency.  We got to experience that later in the week.

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Needless to say, I wasn't overly impressed with the campground.  The camp sites were much too close together and not nearly big enough.  The campers and RVs seemed to be almost on top of each other and it looked like a trailer park.  For the price it definitely wasn't worth it, but I was out, I was camping with the family and I was in the Annapolis Valley, what more could I want?  After a quick tour of the place we decided it was time to try out the pool so the kids and I got into our bathing suits and headed for the pool.  There were only a few other people in at the time so it wasn't overly crowded.  The water was quite cold for a "heated pool", but after getting in it was quite nice and an enjoyable swim.

We had some supper around the camp fire consisting of roasted hot-dogs.  It was then that I realized we brought nothing with us to cook food other than matches to light a fire with.  It was then that I knew we were going to get rain and we wouldn't be able to cook our meals over an open fire.  Thankfully my father and step-mother would be arriving the next day so we would have access to some form of cooking should we need it.

The first night was fairly calm and clear out.  There was a lot of "highway" noise which was a bit annoying and our neighbors in the tent next to us had some kind of media player and were watching movies most of the night.  We had some roasted marshmallows and then decided to head to bed.  I remember laying in the sleeping bag listening to "Marley and Me" for about an hour before I finally dozed off.

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The next day was spent mostly just bumming around the camp ground and awaiting the arrival of my father and step-mother.  They didn't get to the camp ground until around 4PM which meant we spent most of the day just touring the campground and chasing the baby around.  She discovered that there were no walls in the great outdoors and decided she was going to go exploring at every chance she could get.  The kids went for a dip in the basin (which apparently was VERY cold) and we ate supper at my Father's camp site inside their screen tent; pork steak, potatoes and vegetables.  My Father has a fairly nice rig to camp in.  It has a TV, couch, queen sized bed and a bathroom with a stand-up shower.  He's definitely roughing it in that rig.  We spent the evening around the camp fire until the rain started and then played some card games while the kids watched a movie on the TV.  My neighbor had put up a huge tarp which covered his entire tent and I was a little jealous since I had two tarps on my tent and most of it was still exposed.  According to Environment Canada, we were only supposed to get a little bit of rain so I wasn't  too worried.

A little bit of rain turned into a LOT of rain and a lot of thunder and lightning.  It kept us up most of the night and there were definite signs of water making it inside the tent which threatened to ensure most of our stuff was nice and wet.  In fact, our suite case, which was along the side of our air mattress, was completely soaked and most of our clean clothes were drenched.  I got up at first light and started to assess the damage.  Thankfully nothing happened at our camp site but my Father didn't get away so lucky.  His screen tent (which had seen a lot of usage and was falling apart anyway) had collapsed under the weight of the rain and wind sometime in the night and was a pile of twisted metal filled with water.  His campsite was full of water and it looked like his camper was sitting on a little island in the middle of a small lake.  The water was deep too as it came up to the wheel rims of his truck.  The rain eventually broke and we were able to start cleaning up.  My Father and I made a quick trip into Annapolis Royal in search of rain boots only to find every store (all 2 of them) were completely sold out.  We decided we would make a trip down to Digby which is where the closest Wal-Mart was.  It rained off and on all afternoon, but nothing major.  While at Wal-Mart we picked up a huge tarp for my tent and got some change for the dryer at the campground so we could dry our clothes and bedding.  The tarp was huge and easily covered the entire tent and half of the screen tent; we were ready for rain!  As luck would have it, there was no rain at all Wednesday night and most of Thursday was foggy and overcast.

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We spent the day Thursday touring Annapolis Valley and taking in the sites.  My Father and step-mother has camped in the valley before and they knew some nice places to take us.  Once place in particular was a small zoo just outside of the town of Aylesford called "Oaklawn Farm Zoo".  Normally I'm not a big zoo person but there were a few highlights I would like to point out:

  1. They had a Zonkey!  Now I don't know what kind of sick twisted person it takes to make a Zebra and a Donkey mate, but this zoo had one.  It was odd looking and I still wake up at night with nightmares of a Zonkey attacking me.

  2. Watching my baby girl playing with a baby goat; what a kid (hah).

  3. Lions and Tigers and ... where were the bears?  I think this is one of the only zoos I've ever been to that didn't have a Bear exhibit.

  4. 6:30PM is big cat feeding time!  We didn't stick around to witness massive cat animals eat, but I'm sure it was disgusting.


After the zoo we decided to head back to camp and get some supper going.  It was a simple supper of hot-dogs and hamburgers but it was good.  We were all exhausted from the day so we spent the evening sitting in my Father's camper watching movies.  It has been on and off all day with light rain and I was a little disappointed that it wasn't raining harder so I could test out my new tarp.  Fortunately someone was listening and as soon as our last movie was over and I was about to head back to the tent, the downpour came.  The rain was thundering on the roof of my Father's camper and I knew I was going to get completely soaked walking from his site to ours.  I waited for a small break in the rain and then ran over to our tent, it was bone dry inside.  The tarp was keeping the rain out and I was happy.  It rained most of the night and there was thunder and lightning again which kept us up most of the night but at least we were warm and dry.

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jubife uji    vjuf

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Apparently my baby daughter wanted to say hi while I was away from the keyboard.

Friday was beautiful, sunny and hot.  Perfect weather for taking down tents and packing up the camping stuff.  We loaded the truck up and headed out shortly after lunch.  After a "quick" stop at a nearby town to pick up some food (why do they advertise food along the highway and make you drive for 30 minutes after you exit?!) and made our way back to the highway and headed for Halifax.  We were exhausted but happy that our week of camping went so well.  My Father and step-mother were making their way to another campground where they planned on spending the weekend before making their way home.

Of course the relaxing week was quickly forgotten my first day back in the office and this week has gone by in a blur.  I wish I had enough vacation time to take off the entire summer and do nothing but camp with the family.

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Well folks, time to get back to my Sunday and do absolutely nothing.  Hope everyone had a great weekend and hopefully things have quieted down enough at work that I will have some time this week to post more.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Al