This is not one of my usual post-trip posts. If you follow along on our family adventures, you’re used to hearing epic stories of family vs. nature…big bad storms and clouds of biting bugs, wading through ice-cold swollen rivers and marathon portages. This is NOT one of those stories. I’m not one to gush, and I always give the straight story, so believe me when I say that our trip to 1000 Islands National Park last week was perhaps the best family trip that we have ever taken.
The fairy tale trip goes something like this…Once upon a time (namely last Saturday morning) in the most charming town of Gananoque (side note: I loved this town so much, I want to move here. Anyway, back to the story) began the vacation of all vacations. We checked into the gorgeous stone home of 1000 Islands Kayaking, the company that was going to be taking us on a tour of this BEAUTIFUL area of Ontario. All the staff that we had contact with were funny and personable and helpful. We bought a parking pass at the local marina for a whopping $6 a day, got set up with drybags for the gear we’d be bringing and headed out for a lesson on kayaking 101. The weather was perfect…sunny and not too hot, not too cold. It was hard to believe that we were on a trip and it wasn’t raining! I’d also like to note that all of our trusty steeds (the boats, pfd’s and drybags) looked brand new and were in mint condition.
After shoving off from the dock, Scott (owner and our guide for the day) had us play a game of ball tag in order to get the hang of controlling our boats. It was ingenious and hilarious and it broke the ice with all of the participants. I could go on and on, but let me just hit the highlights instead…we paddled over a sunken ship, into an outdoor chapel in Half Moon Bay that still holds services on Sunday afternoons and heard stories about whatever cottage, island, channel and bird that struck our interest. Scott and all of the guides have an arsenal of history on the area not to be rivaled. It was so much fun and so interesting, the time just flew by. We parked our rides on an island and hiked around exploring while Scott put together a dreamy lunch feast of assorted meats, cheeses, fruit, veggies and juices. A quick online form submitted before the trip allows the guide to tailor the menu to accommodate any dietary restrictions. Total class act. After lunch we hit some bigger water and it was like a roller coaster ride complete with squealing and face-cramping grins. It was all over far too soon. We were escorted over to McDonald Island where we were staying for the next couple of nights and waved goodbye to the rest of the crew. The boats however, stayed with us. 1000 Island Kayaking not only offers tours, courses, certifications and camps, but also just plain up rentals for those lone wolves that like to explore solo. I’ve got to say though, the tour should not be missed. To top it all off, when we got home, we got an email with a link to pictures that Scott took throughout the day, which meant that I was actually in one of our trip pictures!
Next? How about we didn’t have to set up camp! Our castle awaited us in the form of an oTENTik tent/cabin. It was getting muggy outside but there are tons of windows that can be used with just screens and the breeze off the water kept us perfectly comfortable. This is no B&B and is quite a rustic structure, but beds with mattresses and a table and chairs inside are camp luxuries. A small solar panel also powers up a battery inside that runs a light when necessary. This park without doubt and without exception, has the cleanest bathrooms of any park we have ever visited. Not fancy…no running water, no showers, no flush toilets, but clean composting toilets and a hand sanitizer dispensor in each and every one. There is a lovely covered outdoor eating area, adirondak chairs, fire pit and wood fuel bbq for cooking up tasty meals. The most impressive feature though, is the setting amongst the trees, no neighbours in sight and the water laid out in front just tempting one more dip and one more paddle.
We didn’t complete the quest to find the castle, but rest assured there is one on one of the thousand islands. It’s just an excuse to go back and go back we will. We have found a place that we not only want to visit again, but maybe one that we’d like to make a more permanent situation. Dreamy? yes. A fairy tale? Happily ever after remains to be seen, but it’s looking pretty good to this princess.