a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Aug, 2015

Camping at Achray, Algonquin Park part 1

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

We’ve been camping every summer since the girls were toddlers. I was REALLY looking forward to going this year, more so than usual. Maybe it’s work stress or too much time in front of the computer, or that long winter we had, but I couldn’t wait to pack up and skip town.

When I think about why I enjoy camping so much it ultimately comes down to this: I love being outside in a natural setting and exploring the world around us. Family camping does require some work, but for me, it’s work worth doing, especially knowing that the payoff is a BLISSFUL NIRVANA OF PEACE AND SOLITUDE THAT HEALS MY BRAIN.

Natural beach off Jack Pine Trail, Achray

There was a great article in Fast Company which gives the low-down about what makes a memorable holiday. The author made a lot of good points, including one about being mindful about our holidays, which I solidly believe. If you spend time planning and thinking about it – before and after – it definitely adds to the overall enjoyment factor. I have one thing to add to that list: transportation. For me, getting there is part of the adventure: whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile.

We were loaned a Ford Expedition for the week and it was a dream. This is not the first time we’ve test driven a Ford, and once again, I am wowed by their smart, user-first design. Our Prius is fine for city driving, but it’s not cut out for this kind of camping trip (especially since we pack everything except for the kitchen sink). I deeply appreciated the Expedition’s safety features and maximum comfort as we effortlessly sailed over long stretches of dirt road. Mark was all about the power and storage capacity (not to mention having an auxiliary power port at the rear of the vehicle so we can blow up our air mattress) and the kids loved having their own comfy space in the back seat with their own temperature control.

Also, the back up cam is a GODSEND when manoeuvring between trees/children/rocks at the campsite, and even in our own driveway:

Ford Expedition back up cam view

Look at this beauty

Our holiday truly began when we packed up, closed the trunk, and hit the road.

This year we decided to go back to the Achray campground  in Algonquin Park. We were here five years ago on the recommendation of friends and it is just as impressive the second time around.

We had booked a spot on the water near the beach, although we didn’t know what it would look like until we pulled up. I could feel all my troubles falling away as soon as we stepped outside.

Our site and our ride

Tall trees, lovely views, and great privacy (well, as good as it gets in Ontario Parks campgrounds).

We couldn’t believe our good fortune on day one. Not only did everything fit into the vehicle, but we managed to get out of Ottawa without too much delay. It was smooth driving in record time with perfect weather and minimal construction en route.  We also stopped on a whim in Cobden for lunch which turned out to be stellar. (TIP: go where the locals go and you won’t go wrong!)

That night we fell asleep to the sounds of loons and a very vocal bullfrog (in fact, the girls didn’t even believe it was a bullfrog because it sounded so much like a guy with a hand crank and a big rusty bucket). The next day began sunny and hot, but the wind picked up and the clouds gradually took over. I couldn’t complain, because this means (a) no mosquitoes (b) no sunburns (c) less ice meltage in the coolers.

We had an incredibly long and drawn out breakfast that first morning, mostly because in our rush to get out of town we forgot to pack a few important things, but I will tell you more about that, tomorrow.

3 Responses to "Camping at Achray, Algonquin Park part 1"

1 | Brenda A

August 4th, 2015 at 10:05 pm


Can’t wait to hear more!

2 | Mark

August 10th, 2015 at 10:10 am


Looking forward to hearing more – we will be heading up to Achray later next week for the first time so any tips on family activities would be great.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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