Part 2: Camping and biking at Parc de Plaisance

As if biking to our campsite wasn’t a big enough challenge, we decided to tent camp as well for the first time.  We’re pretty urban and enjoy our creature comforts of good coffee and comfortable pillows, but we were up to give it a try.  Tent camping seemed like one of those childhood experiences that everyone needs to do at some point.

After a “test camp” in our backyard, we were ready to tackle the “great outdoors” albeit with some inflatable air mattresses.  An achey backed parent is not a fun parent.

We rolled into our campsite at Parc de Plaisance and got set up.  Tent design seems to have gotten a lot better since my youth and we had the tent popped up within minutes.  Out rolled the sleeping bags and mattresses.  Easy peasy.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

And we all put our bug spray on.  The mosquitoes were plentiful and hungry.

We cooked our food on a little portable gas stove.  It worked really well.  We cooked a combination of packaged freeze dried meals (better than they sound), pasta, popcorn and even pancakes all on the little flame.    Much easier than getting a campfire set up.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

Since we used a lot of energy with biking – we always added more carbs to the packaged meals by cooking extra rice or pasta.  We love our carbs.

We unhitched the trailers from our bikes and set off to explore the park.  Alden rode on the back of the MinUte which proved to be the ideal kid transport vehicle for the weekend.

First stop – the floating boardwalk.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

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Second stop – the marmot house and playground.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

We had a good walk around our camp area and then settled in for the night.  We needed to be up early the next morning for the bike and turtle tour.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

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Yes – a bike tour to a turtle nesting site.  Technically, kids had to be over 12 to join the tour so that they could keep up on their bikes, but with the MinUte, we didn’t need to worry about that since Alden rode along at our speed on the back deck.

The first part of the tour required a pontoon ride to another area of the park.  The pontoon is set up for cyclist shuttling with side rails serving as bike parking.  Roll on, roll off.  Easy.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

We learned about the work being done to protect turtles along the highway and within the park.  Our guides explained how the new gravel bikes paths in area affected the turtles (and their predators).  Turtles were digging holes in the bike path and predators were using the path as a turtle egg eating buffet line.  Problems.  But they seem to be working that out by protecting more nesting sites and adding nesting “buffer zones”.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

Those snapping turtles were big.  And snappy.

Bike camping to Parc de Plaisance

There was an option to bike the 10km back to the main part of the park, but we opted for the speedy and comfortable pontoon again.

After a lunch time picnic, we ticked off another “Canadian to-do” item by renting a canoe.  We are not great boatists and after 45 minutes “on the water”, I was ready to hang up the paddles.

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We rode the bike trail back to the campsite, cooked dinner, and told stories in the tent looking out of the “sunroof” and onto the trees.  We popped more popcorn and settled in for our last night.  On Sunday night, we had the area to ourselves.  Everyone had returned home for the start of the workweek.

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The next morning, we packed up our trailer and rolled our way home.  But not before one last turtle sighting.

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Overall, we’d give our Parc de Plaisance experience top marks.  Between the complete bike paths throughout the park, range of activities and friendly staff, we couldn’t have asked for a better holiday and first camping experience.

Top marks!

Now, to fix a persistent squeak that developed in my front wheel.  Hmmm.

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Modal mom: The grocery sherpa

Despite having a Vrtucar membership, I started to do more grocery shopping using my bike and child trailer to add a bit of exercise to my otherwise chair and desk work lifestyle during the week.  Sometimes the Vrtucar near us wasn’t available at my preferred times or I just tired of walking to the car, shopping, dropping off the shopping at home, returning the car and then walking back home.  Biking to our local grocery store was just less hassle and I didn’t have to worry about returning the bike on time.

And sometimes, I just wanted a little peace and quiet for myself.  Three year olds are chatty.  Very chatty.

The child trailer just wasn’t designed for grocery shopping.  Only the seat provided enough firm support for grocery bags – which is fine for a small shop.  But we tend to shop once a week, so my purchases were more than the little trailer could really tow.

I looked into cargo bikes (this is what started my cargo bike lusting), but then came across Wike trailers.  They had a trailer called the “cargo shopper” that looked like the perfect fit for my needs.

(Wike is a Canadian company based in Guelph, Ontario.  All of their trailers are made in Guelph and materials are sourced from North America where possible.  The “made in Canada” stamp really means something with these trailers.  )

I opted for the upgrade that includes a third “swivel nose” wheel, 20 inch alloy wheels and a pushbar – this way you can use it as a shopping cart when not attached to your bike.  We do a large amount of our shopping at farmer’s markets in the summer – and it was usually more than our panniers and baskets could carry.  The boy had some very cozy rides home in the trailer nestled beside tomatoes last summer.  This cart can carry 100lbs of goodies.

The trailer arrived when I was out of town, so the husband and boy had “fun” assembling it together.  Despite the five-year old who demonstrates the easy assembly in their how-to video, the boys struggled at times to put it together.  The chirpy five-year old claiming the “ease of assembly” did not help his attitude.  Upon my return, the cart was fully assembled.  Easy!

The hitch was easily mounted to rear hub of my mountain bike.  Sadly, the same hitch does not fit on my new bike (Raleigh City Detour Deluxe) due to the rear frame configuration.  And there was no way to make it work.  On closer inspection on the Wike website, there seems to be a drop-down hitch option, so maybe I just need to order a different style of hitch for my Raleigh.

The cart definitely gets some looks when I’m out and about.  I love the raised eyebrow the cashiers give me when I say that “no, I do not need parking validated, I’ve got a bike trailer”.  It’s stylish, carries a solid week’s worth of groceries, and best of all… folds for storage.

Yeah!

 

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