Even though the weather outside was frightful, adventures and fun abounded at Rondeau Provincial Park! Rondeau is located near Chatham, Ontario, and is the second oldest provincial park, having been established with an order in council in 1894. It’s really beautiful — steps away from the beach and tons of greenery.
Shawn and I drove up on Friday, July 26, and met his cousin Justin (who is also our best man!) there. We set up our tent and new, super-thick double-tall mattress, and helped Justin set up his stuff too. Justin’s girlfriend Nicole came up a little later and we made dinner and played Dutch Blitz (which is one of the greatest games ever) even after it got dark out!
It rained overnight, but our wonderful tent kept us dry overnight — thank goodness! We woke up pretty early on Saturday morning and made bacon and pie irons for breakfast. Pie irons truly are the greatest invention known to mankind… if you haven’t cooked with them before, you’re missing out! We were joined by a blue jay, who proceeded to steal a strip of our bacon and fly away with it! I had no idea blue jays liked bacon… guess you learn something new every day!
It got dark early in the afternoon, and very quickly started raining pretty heavily. We all piled into Justin and Nicole’s tent and played some more Dutch Blitz and other card games (always have a deck of cards with you when you travel!). The rain slowed down enough that we thought we could get our campfire going again, so we ventured out to the nearby store to get some more firewood (you aren’t allowed to bring in outside wood) and ice cream, and Nicole stayed back and had a nap. I decided to have a nap as well when we got back… the fresh air just does something to you!
A couple hours later, Justin’s sister Amanda and her boyfriend Mark came and joined us at the campsite. We cooked a fantastic dinner of steaks (chicken for me), corn on the cob, green beans and baked potatoes. Dinner took a little longer to cook due to another downpour, but this one didn’t last very long, thankfully! After dinner, we took a walk on the beach, and then headed back to our campsite for another fire, complete with s’mores and more junk food!
Sunday morning we got up early again, decided not to chance another rainstorm, and packed up our site pretty quickly. We drove into Ridgetown for breakfast in our unwashed glory, and enjoyed eggs and pancakes and French toast and of course, more bacon.
I would definitely recommend camping at Rondeau. It’s not far from London but far enough that you feel like you’re getting away from your everyday life. The sites are a good size, you have a choice of electrical or non-electrical and we had a great location with lots of privacy. It’s steps away from the beach and a general store, and there are activities and hikes that campers can participate in. (There was a spirit campfire on the Friday night when we got there, but we were more concerned with filling our faces with food!)
Incredibly useful items that I brought (please, applaud my brilliance!):
- Duct tape! As soon as we got there, Justin asked if we had tape so we could fix the canopy he had brought with him. Problem solved!
- A battery-operated air pump. Our new air mattress is amazing but it only came with an indoor pump! Seeing as we were on a non-electrical site… there was obviously nowhere to plug it in! If we didn’t have that pump, we’d have been sleeping on the ground!
- My Shrew’d Business hat-with-light-attached. It got crazy black at night and I didn’t want to walk to the bathrooms in the dark!
- A Nalgene bottle full of drinking water. Rondeau does have bathrooms and water hookups but it was nice to have it handy for, well, drinking of course, and also brushing our teeth.
- Tums and Pepto-Bismol, for the morning after over-indulging.
- Rolling coolers. Shawn has one and it’s so handy for keeping our food in (obviously) but it’s great not to have to lift it all the time. Shawn also has a smaller cooler that stacks on top, and they’re different coloured, so it was easy to identify drinks and food (blue and red, respectively).
- Rubber boots and an umbrella!
- My pirate blanket and my travelling bear, Dante. He goes everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with bringing some items from home to make your home-away-from-home more comfortable! Plus, I’m always cold, so the blanket was necessary!
Items I wish I had brought… boo urns!
- Even though I generally am against them, I wish I had a pair of sweatpants with elastic bottoms. All my pant hems were too long and dragged on the ground and got filthy.
- I wish I had brought a hoodie. I’m glad I brought my fleece sweater and it was super warm, but it would have been nice to have a hoodie to keep my ears and neck warm.
- A bigger tent. Justin and Nicole have a HUGE tent, and when it rained on Saturday, we were very thankful to be in there!
- More dish towels. I brought three, which I thought was excessive, but they came in handy for drying everything when it rained, and got soaked and dirty really quickly.
- More healthy snacks. We had lots of chips and junk food, but by Sunday I was seriously craving fresh fruit and juice!
What I Learned:
- Camping really is fun. Just be prepared. Peruse Pinterest for packing ideas and lists; there are tons there!
- Red Bull and I don’t mix. It kept me awake half the night and paranoid.
- You will need way more firewood and ice than you think you need.
- Hand sanitizer, and lots of it.
- You may engage in questionable hygiene habits while camping (such as wearing the same pants, t-shirt and sweater for an entire weekend and sleeping in them as well; not showering; not brushing your hair) but nobody really cares. But don’t feel bad about setting limits. Certain things, like brushing your teeth, are non-negotiable…
- But try not to fuss too much about cleanliness. Yes, be sanitary, but remember that most everything can be washed. And if it can’t, you probably shouldn’t bring it camping.
- There is nothing wrong with bringing a pirate blanket camping.
- Cover your food very securely, even when you’re sitting right there eating it, in case of a sudden gust of wind or rogue blue jay.
- Bring dark coloured pants, so you can wipe your hands on them and they won’t show dirt.
- It’s fun to pretend you’re Godzilla destroying Tokyo while crushing empty beverage cans with your feet.
- Bring tons of plastic bags for garbage and recycling, food storage, laundry storage, hiding dirty stuff in the car…
- Tarps have multiple uses (groundsheet, makeshift canopy, firewood guard…).
- Teamwork is important when it comes to pretty much everything camp-related.
What are your best lessons learned when it comes to camping? Do you have any packing tips or site recommendations? Share them in the comments!