Add Some Nature to Your Summer

Summer is finally here, and it is meant to be spent outside soaking up the warmth of the sun and storing it up for the upcoming winter. You don’t need to go away on a long extravagant vacation to the Caribbean or an African safari to get closer to nature. There are many ways to add more vitamin N to your everyday life, even in the city.


grasses in the sun

Summer is here – time to soak up the sun!

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Summer Farewell at Pinery

Our Labour Day weekend trip to Pinery Provincial Park is always bitter-sweet. As we are soaking in the last bits of summer, we also have to come to terms with the fact that our busy life of school lunches, after-school activities and bus schedules is just around the corner. This year the bitter-sweet flavour was even stronger than usual. And not because the summer finally decided to show up as we were about to say goodbye to it. We were also saying goodbye to our older son who is starting university this year and moving to Waterloo. Since camping has always been such a great part of our lives, it seemed very fitting for him to leave for college from a campground.

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We have been coming to Pinery every summer (and once in the winter) for the past seven years. I still remember the first time we camped there. Our campsite turned out to be in one of those rare for Pinery clusters where all your neighbours are in plain view and where you are awakened by the sound of tents being unzipped as people hurry on their early morning, or occasional middle of the night, trips to the bathroom. After giving up on trying to go back to sleep, I crawled out of the tent and decided to go for a walk. I found the closest dune crossing and headed for the beach. Crunchy, coarse sand between my toes. Gentle warmth of the early morning sun at the back of my neck. The way all sounds cease to exist once you descend between the sand dunes. The feeling of awe as I climbed the dune and looked around.

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To me, Pinery has something that speaks directly to a kid in each of us. It is home of quintessential summer and childlike  joy. It’s the land of water fun, sandcastles, spectacular sand dunes and mesmerizing sunsets. It’s made of mid-summer dreams and languid musings.

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This year was no different. The slightly colder than usual waters of Lake Huron were still filled with excited splashes and delighted screams. The sandy beach (or, as our friends’ three-year-old son once called it, a huge sandbox) with its endless building possibilities was full of adults and kids alike working on their sandcastles and forts. In the evening, as the excitement of the day faded away, crowds of campers would return to the beach to watch the sun dip into the lake. It’s always inspiring to see people waiting for something other than a traffic light change or their double-double in the Tim Hortons drive-through.

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While the beach is one of the main park attractions, there are lots of other things to do at Pinery: hike trails, check out the Visitor Centre, watch wildlife, paddle along the Old Ausable Channel or go fishing. One of our favourite activities is biking along the 14-kilometre Savannah Trail followed by ice-cream. This year was no exception. The trail was fun, the ice-cream was delicious.

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Unfortunately, as all things in life, the trip came to an end. Our son moved to Waterloo. We took our ritual end-of-summer dip in Lake Huron, stopped for fish’n’chips at Denny’s in Grand Bend and headed towards our back-to-school life. Until next year!


Canoeing in Kawartha Highlands

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, one of the largest in Ontario, offers almost 400 square kilometers of wilderness and majestic beauty of Canadian Shield. Located in south-central Ontario, it is only 200 km away from Toronto, a perfect destination for a weekend canoe trip. In 2011, it became an operational park with over 100 backcountry campsites that can mainly be reached by a canoe (there is no car camping available in the park). Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring with a grate, and a privy toilet, a.k.a. thunder box.


Beautiful Kawartha Highlands sunset

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