After 20+ years of camping with family and friends Blair and I took our first 2 week camping trip ALONE. Sure we had done a few nights alone but this was our first extended trip on our own. We figured we had practiced enough over the years and now we were ready to go it alone. Some may question our decision but we have had some recent achievements so we believed we could do it! Here are some of our proud milestones:
We usually back the trailer up without bickering or ending in hours of silence. Go Us!!!!
We have not lost keys in the last 3 trips. Those who travel with us realize this is a big accomplishment.
We have remembered to fill the water tanks on 3 of the last 5 trips, without being reminded!
We have found common ground on our “gas war”. Blair likes to see how long we can travel after the gas light comes on and I go into panic mode once we get below half a tank.
With that kind of success, how could we not feel ready? We decided to make our first trip to Northern Vancouver Island. We did this for a few reason:
It is beautiful with lots of opportunity to hike and kayak, two of our favorite things.
It is remote – no one will witness our bickering if it does occur!
We are on an island – if we decided to bail on the trip it is not easy or cheap to get home giving us a better chance of sticking it out.
In 2017 we camped at Blue Lake Resort with 4 other families. To entice our teenagers to join us, we needed an exciting activity. It had to be thrilling enough for the young and young at heart and safe enough for those who didn’t want to admit they weren’t either of those. After much research we agreed river rafting fit the bill. Safety was a key factor, we had some nervous swimmers and some even more nervous moms, so we needed to go with a reputable company. Based on location and company reviews we decided to go with REO River Rafting.
The summer of 2017 our annual group camping trip brought us to Blue Lake Resort. For previous 4 years we had camped in the Cariboo but all of our kids are now working full time or going to school so we needed to find a location within a couple hours of Vancouver. We also required 5 campsites, with at least a couple being lakefront, one cabin and, oh yeah, we all wanted to be together. We knew this would be a tough order so when the folks at Blue Lake Resort said they could accommodate all our needs we were thrilled and confirmed our reservation.
Before we booked we did some research on the resort and, as expected, there were many pros and cons. Our biggest worry was the access road from the highway to the resort. Many reviews claimed it was very steep, full of pot holes and narrow so if you met a vehicle coming the other direction one of you will have to back up the to allow for passing. This made us a bit nervous because we all have RV’s that range from 20 to 26 feet and not all of us tow vehicles often. That being said, the resort fit the bill in all other areas so we decided to take the risk
THE INFAMOUS ROAD
I can say the reviews are accurate! The road is everything it promised to be, very steep, very narrow, and very short, only about 1.8 km long. We were lucky not to meet an approaching vehicles on either of our trips. Playing chicken while towing a trailer up hill was not something we were looking forward to. We drove cautiously (AKA slowly) and were able to navigate the road fairly easily. The resort gives tips on the best times arrive and leave and I would recommend following the check in time rules. It really is your best chance to avoid having vehicles meet on this perspicacious road.
Once at the resort we were directed to our campsite and met up with our friends. We were in Lake Site 1 which claimed to have a private dock and great views. Our friends were in Lake Site 2, with the other families being across the road in sites 3, 4 and 5. We were all close together and very near the beach, exactly what we were promised.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and the resort was very busy. It is large resort with a beautiful beach area but the beach is really too small to accommodate the number of guest at the resort. Our campsite looked right onto the beach area giving us very little privacy and our “private dock” was not so private. Many of the beach visitors made their home on the end. You might think that is not a big deal but they had to walk through our site to access the dock so it was a bit annoying. Due to the large crowds and openness of our site we felt it necessary to lock our trailer door whenever we were away from the site and we kept our cooler and belonging locked in the truck when not in use. This is not how we usually feel when we camp so our initial impression of the campground was not great.
As the weekend proceeded we found that the rules at this campground were very loosely enforced. I think this could be in part because many of the sites are seasonal leases and those guests had a sense of ownership to the space. For example the resort has a “dogs must be leashed” rule but I think there were more dogs off leash than on leash with very little regard for pooper scoopers. There was also a large number of vehicles driving to the beach area beside us but no designated parking area. The downside was vehicles were parked everywhere and made it difficult for us to move in and out of our site. Another concern was the lack of presence by the staff. BC was in the midst of the worst forest fire season ever with tinder dry condition’s. On our second night a family near to us started a real campfire. As soon as we noticed this large fire, one of our group walked over to inform them there was a campfire ban. Their response was that they had seen so many real fires in the resort and they thought it was okay to have one. I am pleased to report they put it out right away. The lack of staff patrolling is what lead to this dangerous situation.
Needless to say that by Sunday afternoon I wasn’t loving this campground but then it happened…. All the weekend campers headed home and the campground quieted down. There were still several families around but it wasn’t the chaos of the weekend and we started to feel like campers again. The traffic to the beach turned from vehicles to walkers, people didn’t traipse onto our dock and dogs were on leashes. It was an entirely different feel and relaxation started to set in. We stayed until Wednesday of that week and I am glad we did because my impression of the resort was very very different by Wednesday and there were far more pros than cons. If you plan to visit this campground I really would AVOID the weekend.
Here is my advise for this campground
It is difficult to determine what sites are good because many of the sites are seasonal leases and not open to the public but here are my thought.
Lakefront sites are worth the money (except site 1). You get a private dock and most sites are well treed for privacy.
I don’t want to list any more sites because the resort has undergone some renovations since are visit and many of the sites have changed.
The lake is beautiful: it is quite small but still very clear and warm. The size was perfect for kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing and floating. No gas engines are allowed on this lake so it is also very quiet and relaxing. A great place to spend a day.
The beach: the resort offered a beautiful sandy beach with a roped off swim area, several dock and 2 swim platforms to swim out to as well
Lake Front Sites: there are several sites that are lakefront and these come with private docks. Most docks have signs to advise guests they are private docks and, although this was not the case for us, this kept other guest off the private docks.
The trails: we were pleasantly surprised by the number of hiking trails around the resort. We took one hike to the top of the mountain and had a great view of the lake and resort. There were several other trails around the resort for easy short dog walks.
The weather: Boston Bar is known for its dry hot climate and we were not disappointed. The weather was perfect for all camping activities
Hook ups: Our sites had water and electricity and provided enough power to have our air-conditioner run without issue.
On site store, playground, outdoor movie theater, laundry and boat rental. Great for extended stays or family entertainment.
Sani-Dump: We didn’t use the resorts sani-dump so I cannot comment on its condition but at least they had one which is a nice convenience.
Litter free: although I did comment on the lack of staff presence I can say that several times a day all the garbage’s were emptied keeping the resort looking clean the rodents and bugs to a minimum.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the lake which makes it very quiet and relaxing.
Access road: as stated above it is very steep and narrow but it is more manageable than we expected. What I can report is the resort has noted they are making improvements to the road so I expect it is better.
Weekend crowds: the permanent leasers seemed to have a run of the place on weekend. Driving to the beach, dogs off leash and traipsing through campgrounds made it an unappealing weekend getaway.
Dirt: It is a very dusty campground and really could use for some gravel in the sites. There was grass field area but due to the dry hot summer this was mostly dusty dead grass offering nowhere to play lawn games as a group or family.
Limited staff presence: although the garbage pick was kept up it didn’t seem like the staff followed up on any other things (as mentioned above)
The bathrooms and shower house is located in the center of the campground making it a fair walk from many campsites. It is also up a steep hill so if mobility is an issue they would not be easy to access. There were some porta potty’s scattered around the campground but I was surprised they did not have any near the beach.
Things To do:
Hiking: there are a lot of hiking option you can walk to
Kayaking and swimming: the lake is great for non motorized water activities.
River Rafting: a short drive (back down the terrible road) will take you to river rafting. Our group booked with REO River Rafting and it was tons of fun. For a detailed review click here.
This unique and challenging 9 hole course is worth an afternoon of golf. We were camping at OK Falls Provincial Park and planned to golf each morning and hit wineries in the afternoon. After a round at WOW Golf I think we might have been smarter to hit the wineries before the golf course.
After not posting for 20 months I am starting up again. In August of 2017 I had run out of campgrounds to write about and unique stories to tell. I didn’t want the site to become filled with posts not relevant to the topic so I just put it on hold until I could gather new material and feel inspired.
The older I get, the more conveniences I seem to acquire and a portable ice maker is just another example. We are social campers, meaning, we mostly camp with other families and are often in private campgrounds with hook ups. It also means we go through a lot of beverages!
Regardless of our camp set up we like to keep our beverages in a cooler packed with ice. Nothing says camping like digging around in freezing water and being rewarded with a cold beer. Keeping that cooler full of ice during a hot summer trip is really the only stress we have camping so we decided to buy a portable ice maker. I do agree, if this is our biggest stress, then life is great!
Regardless of where or when we camp there are a few common traditions that occur each trip. One starts each morning around 9:00 am as campers emerge from tents and trailers everywhere. The smell begins to waft in the air as bacon starts to sizzle on camp stoves and grill throughout the park. Fellow campers begin preparation for the ritual of breakfast, a ritual that only exits at the campground. We rarely cook bacon on any other occasion, but when we camp it is a standard item on the grocery list, one that is expected in the same way as smore’s and spider dogs.
April has arrived and with it brings the start of the A to Z challenge. This challenge means I will publish a blog each day, except Sundays, for the month of April. This will be challenging because I have not camped since the fall and I have nothing booked for this year. Not to fear: this challenge, and the sunshine of April, will revitalize me. It is the point that I really start to think of summer and dream of getting away for weekends. This challenge will help me refocus and remind me how much I enjoy getting out in our trailer to enjoy some relaxation time with my family and friends.