Camping in the rain.
The thought conjures up images of soggy sleeping bags, damp air and drippy tents.
Add gusting winds and rain-filled tarps and that is a fairly good description of our Canada Day weekend at Twin Shores, Prince Edward Island.
Now, glampers all know the secret mantra for success is: ‘live and learn’.
And it’s true and unfortunate with camping, you really have to learn from your mistakes. Every trip we take, we make a few more and eventually, I think we’ll have this camping-thing perfected.
Twin Shores is a fabulous family-oriented campground in Darnley, P.E.I. Only 20 minutes from Cavendish and all things ‘Anne of Green Gables‘, the campground offers true ‘glamping’ style for families wanting to take in the great outdoors, plus a few little glampy extras.
- tennis (not us), bikes (maybe next time) and three-wheelers (families seem to like them but if you ask us they could use a few more gears);
- kiddies program including movie evenings and morning arts and crafts;
- doggie park – woof!
- cafe stocked with fresh baking, coffee, tea (a minor footnote: don’t get excited about a latte, the closest they offer is a sugar-pre-sweetened cappuccino, which we had to dump);
- and most importantly a beautiful warm, clean, sandy beach
This was our second July trip to Twin Shores, the first being in 2012. Our last trip was sun-soaked, camp-fire stoked, shear bliss.
This weekend?…not so sun-soaked. More soaked.
Red and white, maple-leaf trodden T’s all packed, along with sparklers, we left in the rain and were confident ‘Irish Luck’ would be on our side. And perhaps it was…
The rained prompted several smart campers to cancel their in-demand reservations, which opened up several ‘sheltered’ sites compared to the one we had booked. We were supposed to be on Leeward Lane, which is an open site, overlooking a farmers field, where you can hear waves crashing as the tide rolls in and out. We decided to play it safe and moved to Lighthouse Lane with more sheltered pitches.
The clouds started to unleash hell as we pulled in, and while our site wasn’t completely water-logged, we soon became soggy. I’m actually feeling super-grateful.
My folks are camping in Ontario this week and have been hit by the same storm that flooded Toronto streets. Their campsite is looking more like a river voyage!
We parked up, got Tahloola set-up and decided to try-out the ‘outside room’ for the first time. Try-out is a gentle word for struggle, curse and with great stress, hoist up the outside room.
The outdoor room zips onto the awning. We didn’t realize we needed to angle the front entrance poles in a way that would allow adequate drainage and water quickly pooled in the centre. Major blunder.
That wasn’t the bad part. It was when we decided to tip the poles in and let a waterfall of rain come gushing down and proceed to pour into our outside room, over chairs, coolers and shoes. Muck-fest.
It was laughable – yes we were idiots.
Lesson learned, box ticked, never again to be repeated.
Day two we purchased an outdoor rug and tarp to cover the mud-slick which welcomed us into Tahloola.
I must say, these outdoor rugs really have a way of ‘glamping’ up our electric-picnic entrance way. Glastonbury, no more, we are happy campers. (I was having memories of the U2 concert at Magnetic Hill, Moncton, N.B.: another mudfest).
Now if we could only tone down the wind…
If camping with children ages 5-12, the board game Catan Junior could be a great addition to your games box and it definitely came in useful this weekend when it was too wet and windy for a campfire.
Next, we noticed our neighbours.
Our new site wasn’t quite as private as we had thought and our neighbours, with their tween-age boy slept directly across from our girls pop-out. He however, liked to sleep with his window WIDE open with full view of him in his boxers, snoring until about 10 a.m. It was a little uncomfortable.
I remember fellow campers telling us, when we were first starting out, the cardinal rule of camping is that you never set up with your door directly facing someone elses front.
So, what do you do when their back window is as open as an Amsterdam Red Light district shop window?
Our solution was to erect Tipsy directly in front of the window, to block the uncampy view. But our van also worked well when the rain got too much for Tipsy.
While the wind was a curse for most of the weekend, it managed to blow the rain clouds away for a blissful Saturday afternoon at the beach and a glorious Sunday afternoon.
We had actually decided to pack it in and admit defeat on Sunday morning when we woke to more rain, wind and grey skies.
But after persuading the family away from the rain-soaked site up to the ‘arts and crafts’ room, where very amateur Canadian flags were being colored and glued to popsicle sticks (only to be blown away on our way back), we managed to have a change of heart and decide to stick it out – for better or worse, it was too far to come to admit defeat after only two nights.
The cafe’s sickly sweet cappuccinos didn’t help with our decision but the idea of getting a coffee we didn’t have to make, was nice.
We stuck it out for one last night and were rewarded with a hot and sunny day at the beach.
And while the wind whipped our campfire that evening, we were happy we could simply light one. My fabulous grilling partner-in-crime managed to have three cooking vehicles going at the same time: flanks on the Coleman, corn on the hob and roasted goats-cheese topped peppers and spuds on the fire. It was a feat with or without the wind.
The piece de resistence…fluff-dipped roasted strawberries and organic popcorn. Seriously yummy.
We packed it in before the fireworks on Canada Day and made for home.
The reason — more rain in the forecast and my sister went into labor. A proper excuse to be close to home. And while we heard the fireworks on Canada Day at Twin Shores are second-to-none, we’ll have to wait until next year to confirm it.
Happy Canada Day and a big welcome to the girls new cousin Quinn Gabrielle, who arrived Sunday, June 30th, just in time for flank steak on the grill and fluff-roasted strawberries.
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