Camping -- Two nights in Point Alexander

For various reasons, we have been unable to go for a proper canoeing/camping trip this year. Diana had been saying she didn't want to pass a whole year without sleeping out in a tent at least once, so just to keep the rust off a little we went camping in our yard for a couple of nights. It turned out to be a very successful outing; it was surprisingly effective as a break from our normal routine. Here is an account of that trip (mostly written by Bob, and somewhat edited by Diana).

2020 Sept. 24

We had arrived at this campsite about 30 years ago, but it was just this afternoon that we set up our campsite. For the tent we chose our MSR Mutha Hubba. We pitched two tarps, one above the tent to provide shelter over the door and a second one out front for the cooking area. Pitching the tarps was a bit of a challenge because of the lack of available sky hooks. But with long enough lengths of cord you can usually manage.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-24 - explore

Our campsite. You think you have a relatively smooth lawn until you look for a comfortable place to lie down. Lawns are softer than granite but not by a lot.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-24 - explore

The edge of our campsite features feature a pleasant young mixed bush.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-24 - explore

Diana in her Petawawa Research Forest hat and exhibiting her quit-playing-with-that-damn-camera expression.

For a stove we tried our new MSR butane stove and our new 1.4 litre Trangia Kettle — a couple of upgrades to our kit for this season. We also had our Trangia stove because I didn’t want to crack open a new butane cylinder if we used up the current partial one.

I had also decided that I didn’t want to continue using barbecue lighters, so for this trip I used a flint and steel for ignition (with storm proof matches as a backup).

Because very little planning and preparation had gone into this trip, the meals were a weird mixture of camping and non-camping fare.

We had our normal pre-dinner Cup-a-Soup. It went down well, but seemed very salty in this somewhat civilized context. For dinner we had Diana's homemade pizza but prepared inside rather than on our MSR stove. (We hadn't purchased the pizza oven attachment.) Needless to say, the pizza was very good.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-24 - explore

Home-made pizza to keep our strength up. This was followed by fruitcake and Bushmills for Bob (who got rather amusingly tipsy), and peanut butter oatmeal squares and water (conflict with medication, so no Bushmills) for Diana.

Sept. 25

(My mother’s 98th birthday but I couldn't visit her because of COVID-19 restrictions.)

Out of the tent at 6:10, temp ~9C. Sun not up yet so can’t tell if sky clear or not. It was clear during the night, but I suspect a slight overcast.

It was a quiet night except for occasional highway noise. Up twice during the night; stars seemed exceptionally bright.

As the day got brighter, it became obvious that the sky was overcast but probably just high morning mist that would burn off (and this is consistent with the Environment Canada forecast that I could check because this campsite has good internet).

We had camp coffee – Via, sugar, and Coffeemate – but normal civilized cereal for breakfast. Our usual camping breakfast is hot granola followed by a chunk of Brie or Camembert, but we didn’t have any granola made up.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Diana: 2020-09-25 - explore

Morning coffee. We had started with our Helinox chairs, which work much better on a relatively flat hard lawn than at the usual bush campsite, but by the first morning we reverted to more civilized lawn chairs as a favour to our senior bodies.

During coffee, we fed the local wildlife – squirrels, chipmunks and bluejays – their morning ration of peanuts. But there was a certain amount of confusion among them because we were situated on the lawn rather than our normal location on the porch.

After coffee, but before breakfast, we went for a walk on the local trails to photograph the fall colours.

Sunup  Deep River Waterfront  20200922

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-22 - explore

If we had been sufficiently ambitious, we could have walked down to the river and perhaps seen something like this. (The Ottawa river a couple of days previous at Deep River).

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

Instead we opted to walk around some of the paths in our yard.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

Looking down into McConnell Creek ravine.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

A water "feature" (with frogs) It is also popular with the birds and chipmunks for drinking and bathing.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

Two canoes. And a plastic kayak. It isn't ours, I swear!

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

Campsite access is rustic but quite serviceable.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

Back to our campsite.

After breakfast we transitioned from camping mode to normal-life mode. We had several normal-life issues that we needed to attend to (one of which was the major hindrance to us getting away this season).

Before returning to camping mode in the afternoon we changed out the tent. That is, we took down the Mutha Hubba and replaced it with our CCS Lean. The Lean is a more comfortable tent – it’s bigger, which is important as you get older and stiffer – but it is probably not as weather worthy or as warm as the Mutha Hubba.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

For our second night, we switched tents to a Cookes Custom Sewing Lean. Note the appropriate social distancing. (This was the setup Bob made to start with - the sleeping bags were moved to a somewhat friendlier arrangement later on. After all, we are in the same bubble.)

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-25 - explore

We started today’s camping session, as yesterday, by having soup cooked on the MSR butane stove. For supper we had President’s Choice macaroni and cheese. Not our usual camping fare or our normal non-camping fare. But it was something we bought as an emergency backup in the early days of the pandemic and thus it seemed somehow appropriate. We cheated and cooked it indoors. We also augmented it with bacon bits and croutons. Bob had some hot Thai sauce on his.

For a dinner for two that cost $1 (before garnishes) it was excellent.

After dinner Diana had a couple of peanut butter chocolate oatmeal squares, whereas I had fruitcake and my usual Bushmills. This time I measured the Bushmills which worked better than the previous night.

Sept. 26 Saturday

Out of tent at 6:30. Temp 8C. High overcast.

Late getting up. I found the light levels very confusing last night. The ambient light from the metropolis of Deep River made it seem like just before dawn for most of the night. But it eventually got bright enough that there was no denying that the sun was rising.

Both Diana and I prefer the Lean to the Mutha Hubba because of the space. However we retain reservations about the Lean in a storm, and our mattresses tend to slide around on the ground cloth.

We ran out of butane making the morning’s first cup of coffee. Rather than start a new canister we broke out the Trangia. It worked well, but I found it difficult to light with the flint and steel (I eventually succeeded). I have done it previously without issue but that may have been at warmer temperatures. The butane stove is pretty quiet, but the Trangia makes no sound at all.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-26 - explore

A red squirrel defending his morning peanuts. Our wild-life sightings were pretty well confined to squirrels, chipmunks and bluejays. The previous evening after dark, we had seen a dark shape scurrying across the lawn. It was too dark for a definite identification but probably a rabbit. Diana heard something during the night; probably bigger than a mouse and smaller than a moose — although both are possible.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-26 - explore

Keeping a suspicious eye on Bob. (There he is with that camera again.)

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-26 - explore

Our trusty old Trangia and our new Trangia kettle. The kettle was inspired by watching Justin Barbour videos. Our initial impression is favourable but it is just a little small for two rounds of morning coffee.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Diana: 2020-09-26 - explore

Got to keep up the journal.

After coffee we declared our "camping trip" as complete. It was a surprisingly effective break from what has been otherwise a stressful several months.

Camping trip  two nights in Point Alexander  2020092426

(photo by Bob: 2020-09-26 - explore

Leave no trace — sort of. (After another day of leaf fall, the footprint is gone.

Notes

I mentioned that I wasn't able to visit my mother on the occasion of her 98th birthday because of COVID-19 restrictions. For the same reason, I wasn't able to participate in this year's Camp Day of the North Renfrew Long Term Care. But it seems like they had a great time: North Renfrew Long Term Care Facebook Timeline photos. (Click on the resultant photo and then you'll be able to scroll through the timeline photos in reverse order  — I hate Facebook!)