August 25-26, 2017: I had never been to the northern part of Ontario before to Tobermory. I had heard of its beautiful waters and landscapes so when we rented a campsite to stay there for an extended weekend, I was super excited! It turned out that the last week of August was the best time to go camping outdoors as it wasn’t hot outside at all and the nights were cool with minimal mosquitoes (always a hindrance and annoyance when camping). It was a little chilly at night time but as long as you are prepared with enough layers and blankets, the temperature and weather were fantastic. We were also really lucky that weekend since there wasn’t any rain at all. Toronto had a ton of rain in the summer of 2017 and the fact that we had a dry weekend really speaks to a lucky one. ^_^
We already had the essentials like a three-person tent, sleeping bags, cooler, car to get there, and others. Although we planned out a list of items that we needed to bring, we did still need to swing by Wal-Mart the afternoon we departed to pick up some more food and last-minute items. It just so happened that we both had unfinished work up until the night we had to leave so departing at 2 p.m. to Tobermory from Richmond Hill was a fair trade.
Google Maps informed us that it was going to be a 3.5 hour drive. We arrived before 6 p.m. Since it was a Friday driving up north, we didn’t encounter too much strenuous traffic at all which was nice.
Upon arrival, we went to the campgrounds to check in. The cabin office was kind of bare bones but it was a relatively easy check-in process. I did wish that the other female staff had checked us in though instead of the one we got because the other one seemed much more thorough in her explanations — I was overhearing her speak to another customer and she was much more precise in her instructions. Anyway, we got our shower tokens, bag of ice, and bags of wood for the campfire.
Harmony Acres Campground was easy to navigate and we found our camp site easily. It was definitely a middle-of-the-woods feel kind of campground, one that I hadn’t experienced before. I had only been camping three times and the other campsite lots were all more far apart and urbanized. We had a really good stay here due to the abundance of nature surrounding our site.
We quickly got to unloading our stuff and set up the tent. We knew that coming in by 6 p.m. was going to be a battle against the sun to set up our ‘home’ for the next three days as well as start our ‘stove’ for dinner.
The ground was made of gravel (not like grassy campgrounds that I had been on), so it was a little more difficult to stab the tent pegs in in order to set up the tent.
Both of us hadn’t started a campfire by ourselves before so it was definitely a learning process. Good thing that Ken had brought firestarters otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to get the kindle on fire. I ended up buying a package of kindle from the office but it actually didn’t help. Once we learned the next day about putting the waxy part underneath the soft wood, we were able to get the fire started easier.
It was getting dark so we made a quick dinner before washing up, headed to the showers, and dove into bed. The sleep that night wasn’t good because it was very chilly at night! I hadn’t expected it to be so cold and the gravel ground was also so hard. I had already doubled up with two yoga mats as a mattress too!
The next day, we got up bright and early at 5:45 a.m. I had set the alarm so that we could wash up and head 5 minutes down the road to Cyprus Road to get to the parking lot at Fathom Five Marine National Park for a parking pass. This year for 2017, the national park had implemented a rule for visitors and parking. There were three designated times for parking: 7-11 a.m., 12-4 p.m., and 5 to 9 p.m. In order to get to your desired parking allotted time, you had to get there early. The staff at Harmony Acres recommended that we got there by 6:45/7 a.m.
Once we got there, we were certainly there in line by 7 a.m. along with many other cars. We did achieve our goal of getting the 7-11 a.m. parking time. Yay! We only had bananas and a granola bar for breakfast by that point but it was better to be able to nab a spot than risk not being able to at all. We strolled leisurely through the national park and passed Cyprus Lake to get to the Grotto.
I’m glad that we brought some snacks and energy gels with us to keep us going!
The Grotto was indeed beautiful and the surrounding waters were impossibly clear! A lot of people were swimming in the water too. We also saw a lot of divers down the cliffs. There was a sign saying that diving was dangerous and illegal though…
By 11 a.m., we returned back to where we came and drove back “home”. We were so excited to set up camp and cook lunch! 😀
By this point, we were very familiar with the fire and Ken used a piece of cardboard to fan the fires which helped SO MUCH! We were fire-starting newbs but finally discovered a trick.
Lunch and dinner were so good that day. 😀
Between these meals, we also visited the local stores after lunch to get some extra items. We bought a fire starter made with wood chips and wax and booked our cruises to Flowerpot Island for the next day.
Since we had an early dinner, we had time to stroll around the campgrounds and see what our neighbours were up to. We also visited the on-site horses!
Stay tuned for my blog post tomorrow for the rest of our camping trip! 🙂