Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Summer Vacation in the Trailer

Our summer holiday this year was to be in our trailer at Gull Lake, north of Airdrie, halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. We'd camped there last year on two occasions ("proper" camping, in a tent) so we knew what to expect, and we'd picked a nice spot within the campsite, where we weren't overlooked by neighbours, and the kids had a nice, big grassy area to play right outside the trailer.

Monday 3rd August
Check in at the campground was 4pm, which meant we had plenty of time to pack the truck, hook up to the trailer, and drive the 160km, 150km of which would be on one highway, then 10km on one other road - navigation wasn't going to be a problem. As it was, the drive was very straightforward, and because trucks here drive as fast as cars, I didn't have to overtake a single vehicle all the way.
It still took us most of the day to pack, so it was 5.30pm before we arrived, but we might finally be getting the hang of leveling and setting up the trailer when we arrive, as we were all done by 6.15, and we set off to the nearest town to stock up on food and drink.
We had a fire, cooked some burgers and roasted some marshmallows, and then the kids went to bed fairly easily, albeit at after 10pm.
Tuesday 4th August
It rained overnight, and was still a bit cloudy and damp in the morning, so Olga cooked a breakfast and we just hung around the trailer until lunchtime, when the weather cleared up, and we took a walk to the main beach area of the lake, about 30 minutes walk away.  As soon as we arrived, the sun came out properly and it was lovely and warm, so Lara couldn't wait any longer to play in the lake, I headed back to the trailer to get the kids' swimsuits. The lake here is very safe, it shelves very gently, only reaching a metre deep more than 100 metres from the shore. By this time of the year, the water, whislt not "warm", isn't freezing either, so it wasn't a problem to pass a couple of hours here with Lara playing in the water and Dan making sandcastles. We headed back at 4pm to light a fire; the kids and I played while Olga cooked a chicken soup on our dutch oven over the fire. Dan was asleep in bed by 7.30pm, and though Lara went to bed at that time, and was up again not long later, even she was asleep by 9pm, so the fresh air and water had its desired effect.
Wednesday 5th August
Wednesday followed Tuesday's pattern, rain in the morning, this time with some decent thunder and lightening, then the sun came out in the afternoon long enough for us to go to the beach for a few hours. Lara made a friend while she was splashing about, Illyana, who is staying here for a week with her grandparents, so we might bump into them again before we leave. Dan wasn't keen on going into the water past his knees, which meant he cuold go about 30m if he wanted, but he stuck within 10m of the shore before coming back, complaining he was cold and wanting a cuddle and to play on his tablet.
We'd inflated our boat before heading to the beach, and I've fixed up our fishing rods as best I can, but we'll see when we get chance to use it. If nothing else it gives the kids something else to play in. They had their lunch of "Pirate Soup" while sitting in it today..
We had another good thunderstorm at teatime which meant we had an indoors-tea, watching a movie, before heading out to light a fire for roasting marshmallows, so it was 9pm before the kids went to their beds, and little while after that before they went to sleep.
They do sleep well here, and it's usually after 8am before one or both of them sneak into our room to see if we're awake.
Thursday 6th August
We decided to do something a little different today, as it was the first day of the 100th birthday celebrations in the local town, Bentley. We were able to park on the main street, which meant that we sat on the tailgate of our truck as the town's parade went past, and the kids collected a very unhealthy amount of sweets. Then it was off to see a magician, then into the town arena to see Mutton Bustin' where kids between 3 and 7 ride on the back of a sheep, like a very junior rodeo. If we'd known in advance we'd have brought the kids' skating helmets, and they would have had a go, but there's always the next rodeo. The weather held long enough for us to cook some steak kebabs on the fire, before retiring early-ish, even Olga and I were in bed before 12.
Friday 7th August
From this morning on the forecast looks good, so after a major lie-in - Dan didn't sneak into our room until 9.15am - we had a breakfast cooked on the outdoor kitchen, then headed down to the beach at lunchtime. Whilst it was sunny, it was rather windy, so after an hour or so we decided to head back to the trailer, where there was virtually no wind, and it felt much warmer. We set plenty of toys up for the kids, and filled a couple of plastic boxes with water for them to play in, and that was the afternoon taken care of.
At teatime we cooked some giant steaks, and opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our second "Canniversary". The weather looks like being hot and clear for the weekend, and the staff at the campsite said they are full this weekend, so we'll soon see how busy the beach will get.
Saturday 8th - Monday 10th August
The weather was indeed hot and clear for the next four days, and those days followed a similar pattern. All through the trip the kids had been very good at not waking super-early, and coming to bother us, and this continued through the weekend. On Saturday and Monday we had nice, lazy mornings, enjoying breakfast then getting everything ready that we might need by the lake, and after a light lunch we head off for a few hours by the water. Or a few hours in it, in Lara's case.
Sunday was slightly different - we decided that we really needed some more floaty things, as all we had was one rubber ring between us, so on Sunday morning we drove to Red Deer, 30 minutes away, to have a McDonalds breakfast, and a wander round Walmart and Canadian Tire, buying a small rubber boat for Dan, another rubber ring for Olga and I to use, and a boogie board for Lara.
I'd blow all these things up at the trailer then drive the short distance to the car park for the beach area, and the kids helped to carry everything, looking very sweet as they did it. A few hours each dayt really was enough, and we'd head back about 4pm to start the campfire, ready to cook whatever was on the menu that day. Almost every meal was eaten outside, and most were cooked on the fire, or on the outside kitchen. On Monday evening I took my last opportunity to go fishing, and the kids came with me, but we were followed by a summer storm, which never actually hit us, but the lightening and thunder were enough to have the kids convince me to return to the trailer - we met Olga on the way back, who was coming down to the lake to rescue us.
Tuesday 11th August
Today was leaving day, and the kids excelled themselves in letting us have a lie in, it was getting close to 10am before we got out of bed, and we had to be off the campsite by 2pm. I'd deflated all the toys on Monday evening before going fishing, but in order to let Olga do the majority of the packing unhindered, I took the kids to Bentley for lunch to keep them out from being underfoot. As usual, we overran slightly, but it's best not to rush hooking a 34-foot trailer to your truck when you're going to pulling it at 70mph on a motorway for two hours. We left at 2.20pm, had an uneventful journey back to Airdrie, dropped the trailer at the storage place, grabbed a burger dinner from A&Ws on the way home and were back at Thorndale Close by 5.15pm.