OFF GRID – no power, no technology – just good ol’ nature and us – DAY 4

This past week was our Family Camping trip.  Tent, cook stove, sleeping bags, and non-perishable food items (non refrigerated).  That meant NO electricity, NO computers, NO phones (except for camera use only), NO movies/tv, NO radio.   Continued from Day 3.

DAY 4 – Thursday

Our last “full” day at Sandbanks.   We woke to some drizzling rain, so we headed off to the showers.  After feeling refreshed and clean, we had some lunch and decided to visit the sand dunes.  This is a separate beach area in the Sandbanks park.   The entire area is on sand dunes, but because of the amount of vegetation that has grown up over the many years, you would find it hard to believe.   One of the plaques at the dunes explains:

Two hundred years ago, the Sandbanks dunes were… 

               “…partially covered with vegetation on the Lake Ontario side and thickly wooded with cedar and mixed hardwood on the West Lake slopes.   …Large grassy openings and deep hollows were found which afforded considerable pasture for cattle…”

By the mid-1850’s, the area was changing dramatically.  Trees had been cleared, fires set and cows allowed to roam freely.  With the removal of the stabilizing, natural plant cover, the dunes began to advance with the winds, covering roads and crops and threatening buildings.

2011 marks the centenary of the first forestry efforts at Sandbanks.  In 1911, local farmers made an effort to slow the shifting sand.  They cut furrows and laid White Willow (salix alba) cuttings in them.  This was followed in 1921, with the establishment of a forestry station and the planting of three million trees over the next 40 years.

If we had been able to bring our bikes we would have biked to the Dune beach, but because we could not mount them along with the canoe to the car, we had to drive this time.   (Clicking on the picture below will enlarge it and you can see the trail area)

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This two-and-a-half kilometre trail loops through a section of the world’s largest freshwater baymouth barrier dune system.  Steps and boardwalks are provided along the way, as well as viewing platforms and benches.  The trail explores this unique dune habitat and wetland areas called pannes.  Hikers will be able to see unusual flora and glimpses of wildlife.   In addition to the main trail, a non-kilometre, barrier-free side trail loops through a panne and along the edge of one of the larger dunes.

This was always one of my favourite spots to come to when I was little.  Hiking up and down the sand dunes was so much fun.  Now I got to watch my kids do the same.  In the trail plaque image above, you can see a frog on the lower left corner.   Creature experience #5.   I had told the kids about these very tiny frogs, and was hoping to find some today.  We were not disappointed.   Below is a picture of DD10 holding a frog.   They are called “Spring Peeper” frogs.   So tiny and so cute.

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Spring Peeper frog. Actual size shown on 10 yr old hands.

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After we hiked most of the dune trail, I took them off the path and started hiking up the actual dunes.   When we got to the top, I was so excited.  We had just climbed one of the tallest dunes, and it was “my dune”.   I call it that because I had been going on and on to the kids about a dune that was so steep on one side that we could slide down on cardboard right into the East Lake at the bottom.   I would have to guestimate that the incline of this particular dune was at about a 30 degree drop.   The kids had a blast running down, and I was impressed how well they controlled themselves.  Neither of them went into the lake at the bottom.

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DD8 looking down. You can’t actually see the incline from here. It is almost a drop just past where she stands.

We continued to walk across the dunes for the next two hours.   After a while, we really felt like we were in a desert.   Every chance we could get, we stood in the shade of the few trees that were sporadically growing on the tops of the dunes.   The difference between the shaded sand and the sun beaten sand was unbelievable.  Below is a picture of DD8 running down another dune (while she still had lots of energy).

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After finishing the last of our water supply, we drove back to the camp site.    We all needed to go for another swim, so back to the beach we went.  This time we had company.   All week the camp spots around us kept having 1 night visitors, so they moved in one night and were gone the next.  Luckily we only had a loud group of college age campers on the first night – Canada Day.   On this particular day we had a young family move into the spot right across from us.   They were from Toronto.   DD8 and DD10 spent most of their time left playing with these kids.   Absolutely no worries from this homeschool mom about “Socializing”.

After a big dinner of hot dogs and rice, hubby and I took down the dining tent and started to pack up anything we didn’t need the next day.   The weather was supposed to get rainy again and I didn’t want to chance the old canvas tent getting wet before packing it up.   (Not a nice smell when you unpack).   After everything was packed up, we had a camp fire with our new neighbours – with SMORES.    We finished off the chocolate and graham crackers, but definitely had a lot of marshmallows left to take home.

Tonight, we went for a long walk on the beach.   Had to watch the sunset at least once while we were there.   It was gorgeous.    Below are two pictures.  One directly of the sunset, the other a panoramic shot of the entire outlet at sunset.    After the sunset – back to camp for another chapter of our book.

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Sandbanks Provincial Park - Outlet Beach - Sunset July 4, 2013

Sandbanks Provincial Park – Outlet Beach – Sunset July 4, 2013                                                                                                    (Campers beach to the left, Day use beach to the right)

Creature Experience #6    DD10 woke me (she was still reading her own books) because she heard noises outside the tent.   As I listened we could hear something lapping up water out of the bucket of water on the picnic table.    We slowly opened one of the tent windows and shined the light towards the noise.  DD10 saw 5 or 6 baby raccoon’s.   Guess momma raccoon thought that since they had such a feast the night before, she would bring the whole family tonight.  Unfortunately for them everything was packed up.   Without any concerns this time, we just laid back down and listened to the family of raccoon’s wander around the camp site, making purring noises.  No barking tonight.   It was actually really cute listening to them.  Eventually they wandered away to someone else’s site, looking for a new feast.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Click here to go to DAY 5

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This entry was posted in Bird Watching, Bugs, Field Trips, Nature. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to OFF GRID – no power, no technology – just good ol’ nature and us – DAY 4

  1. Pingback: OFF GRID – no power, no technology – just good ol’ nature and us – DAY 3 | Our Homeschool Blog

  2. Pingback: OFF GRID – no power, no technology – just good ol’ nature and us – DAY 5 | Our Homeschool Blog

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