Sunday, July 24, 2011

Camping With a Bear is No Fun!

Yep, you read that right - a bear! Wednesday marked the beginning of what was supposed to be our 5 night camping trip to Child's Lake in Manitoba's beautiful Duck Mountains. We got a late start, as it was POURING rain when we woke up that day - made it hard for me to get motivated to pack for camping. Eventually, the skies cleared and we sighed with relief as we finally headed off to our destination. It was about 8 pm before we got there, so we ate a late supper and set up camp as quickly as we could. The kids had a quick snack and we put them to bed. After chatting for a few minutes about plans for the next few days, Jared and I packed it in for the night as well. It was incredibly windy, which FREAKS me out! - long story behind that, I'll share it another time - so it took me forever to fall asleep. The kids were up early the next morning, so we were all a bit tired, and unfortunately, the forecast of 27 celcius and sunny did not appear to be happening. It was partly cloudy, windy, and about 15 degrees. Not exactly perfect camping weather, but we figured we had the bikes along and could make the best of it. We ate our breakfast and then ventured off to go get some firewood.

That's when the real fun began. When we came back to our campsite, we started unloading the wood and Jared says, "Hey look - there's a bear in the bush!" (which was just behind our site). At first, I think, "Cool!" and tell Jared to grab the camera. That's when I notice that some of the food from our hard top cooler is on the ground. I was so confused - we had just gotten back, so I knew the kids hadn't been playing in it - and then I noticed the cooler was not tucked under the end of the picnic table where we left it. And then it dawned on me - THE BEAR WAS EATING OUR FOOD!

I quickly grabbed what was left of it from the ground, while Jared shooed the kids into the van. We tried to make noise and scare him off, but he was too busy enjoying his breakfast. After he climbed onto the picnic table to look for more food and instead found the bag of books that we'd brought along for the kids, we decided it was time to get out of there and go report him at the office.

At the office, we were informed that there were two bears that had been spotted in the area - the one we saw, and a bigger one that was older. Apparently they had been in another bay trying to get into people's campers!! Talk about freaky - especially when you have small kids! However, at that point, we figured that since he had snagged all the food he could from our site, that if we were diligent about cleaning up and making sure the coolers were both in the van after meals, that we would probably be fine. We ventured back to our site and cleaned up all the food that he left behind. We dragged the cooler back to our site - it was lying in the bush about 20 feet away - and figured out what all we would have to replace. He made off with the bowl of chili I had packed - we couldn't even find the bowl! And he also punctured a hole in the lid of the container I had our shredded cheese in, as well as chewed holes in both milk jugs and a couple bottles of water. Apparently bears are not a fan of peas. He chewed a hole in the bag, but they were all still there! We threw them out and decided we'd just eat raw veggies in place of those. 

The bite marks in the cooler.

Next stop was the little lodge at the main beach to pick up more milk and cheese. We were able to save the rest of our food so those were the only things we had to replace. We let the kids play at the play structure there for a while before heading back to our campsite for lunch. Jared and I were both on edge when we got back, checking the trees with each little snap of a twig. It was a bit of an unsettling feeling, and I was beginning to think this camping trip might not be all we had cracked it up to be. We made our sandwiches and sat down to eat. We were just about finished when I glanced behind me, and who did I see, but Mr. Bear, coming back for some more food! Again, Jared herded the kids into the van, while I frantically began throwing the food into the cooler. Jared came back and scooped up all the dishes and I grabbed anything else I could that might be scented with food, including Cohen's booster chair - which the bear had taken a bite out of on his previous visit. During this time, the bear made absolutely no pretense of being scared of us in any way, shape, or form. He just slowly sauntered up towards the picnic table until he was about three feet away from me. It was a pretty unreal experience! 

Once we had everything in the van, Jared and I hung around the back of the van to make some noise and see if we couldn't scare him off. When it was clear that it wasn't going to work, we hopped in the van and drove back to the office. We decided on the way there that as much as we didn't want to pack up and leave, we could not stay in the campground knowing there were two bears hanging around. They graciously gave us a refund for the next four nights and while we were packing up our site, we heard the big "SLAM" of one of the trap doors - they had caught the small bear that had been terrorizing our site. But knowing there was another one still out there, we decided to just carry on and leave anyway. I'll post later about the rest of the trip - it was definitely not what we imagined! But we did still manage to have a bit of fun along the way - and hey - a bear on your picnic table - TWICE! - definitely makes for a good story!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hello Summer

{the kiddos enjoying our Toy Story Slip 'n' Slide last weekend}

In just a few short hours, my hubby will officially be on holidays for the next four weeks. This marks the very first summer that we will actually get HOLIDAYS together as a family. In past years, we have been working at summer jobs in between the school year, or were self-employed. So save for the odd day off here and there, we have never spent an entire four weeks together with no work in our entire married lives.

Bring on the Slip 'n' Slide, playing on the new play structure in the backyard, evening fires, camping at Child's Lake, reading a TON of books, and enjoying some much needed - and much deserved! - R and R.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Almost Like New

Our kitchen chairs have been starting to bite the dust for quite some time, but buying new ones was not in the budget. After much thought about what to do, I finally realized that it wouldn't be that difficult to re-do them. So, off we went to Home Depot to pick up a sheet of plywood and then to the fabric store to get foam and material to cover them in. After tracing out new seat bottoms and getting Jared to cut them out for me, I cut out the foam and went to town with the staple gun. It was a very easy DIY project, and I must say, a lot of fun! They're not the most fabulous chairs in the world, but they are almost as good as new. In fact, I like the funky patterns that I chose a lot better than the yucky microfibre they originally came with - which, you can see in the picture, was getting very stained - hazards of having small children, unfortunately. Hopefully the chairs will now last until we get a bigger table and chair set down the road - and even then, I'd like to be able to hang on to these for 'extra' chairs when we have lots of company over.