Turns out mums who don't travel with earplugs can learn a lot on a four hour car-ride with kids. Like, 'The Song That Never Ends' really never does. That bloody axe murderers (apparently) like to hang-out in campgrounds doing their evil bloody axe-murdering. And that combining kids and Jolly Ranchers most definitely does not lead to peace and tranquility in the back seat.
Four hours of happy mayhem and we arrive at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. A sign warns 'Active Bears in Campground' - no worries - this mum has survived wild animals in the car - I can handle a bear or two.
Grundy Lake is over 30 square kilometers of iconic Canadian wilderness - think Group of Seven, and you'll be picturing our campground - all marshes and bogs, windswept pines, and countless murky lakes. And lucky for me and those animal-loving kids - Grundy Lake is also home to a whole lot of iconic Canadian animals - we saw beavers and raccoons going about their beaver and raccoon business. Loon-calls with the setting sun gave me chills. And eagle-eyed Anika spotted a black bear ambling by the campsite.
But all that wilderness and outdoorsy stuff aside, what comes first? As any mum of fast-growing tweens and teens knows, whether camping, glamping, or just sitting around at home - it's all about the food! Forget canned-stuff and freeze-dried astronaut staples. And forget that campfire-cooked might mean half-burned and rescued-by-the-5-second-rule. As long as the original food article had potiential for tasty, and as long as quantity was as important as quality, we'd have happiness by the campfire. And we sure did - working in pairs the two older boys cooked up a storm for dinner, then Anika and Tor filled our bellies with hotdogs for breakfast.
Most memorable moments - and why every parent should try a little wilderness with their kids? Campfires are the best! More 'Song That Never Ends' (and it still didn't). S'mores instead of Jolly Ranchers. And I learned that bloody axe-murderers make for great bedtime stories - but don't look behind you in the dark!
For more information: Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Ontario Parks, TripAdvisor
And the best indoor activity if you have a rainy day (and we did!): Science North
Instagram for Adam Bialecki - my son, and editor of that sunrise photo at the top: @aabialecki