A Return to Civilised Camping – Cook Forest State Park, PA

In the midst of my return to work after Mat Leave, buying a house, and being laid off – my PR card expired. This is an ID card that says “I am a permanent resident of Canadaland” … we’re still legal, we’re still landed immigrants – but we need the card for travelling. So this year, we have an application in for renewal – but wouldn’t you know – they’re on strike.
Great.
hey ho.

And then recently, I came to find out that I don’t need a valid PR card to come and go over the border if we’re in a car.

WUT?!?!

We could have been camping all this time?

NO!!!!!

… so with ONE last long weekend left in the ‘season’ – we hightailed it. We got the heck out of Dodge. We ran for the hills.
And we stayed at Cook Forest State Park, PA.

And what a relief it was.

Our experiences of camping during long weekends in Ontario have been very sour. I am completely aware of how un-loyal it makes us, how un-Canadian it is of us – but – I don’t like camping in Ontario.
I’m not sorry, cos, well… it kinda sucks!!!!
First of all – COST.
Seriously – $30-45 a night for an unserviced tent site is NOT cool. It’s a rip off. On which planet is that OK? In the State Parks? That could get me 2-3 nights. Some places are $15 a night. AND!!!!! That site fee? Will often get you free access to other local State Parks (HELLO!!! FINGER LAKES!!! We LOVE you!!! – $16 a night, and free entry to all the State Parks in the area – WIN:WIN!)
In some State Parks? I could rent a CABIN for the same price.

Secondly – NOISE!!!!
Ontario Parks and private campsites – you suck because of the party-hearty atmosphere which implies/breeds a general lack of consideration for the campers who are NOT partying, who would like to sleep before 4am, and/or have kids. When we’ve complained, it’s never been met with sympathy or apologies.

HELLO AMERICAN STATE PARKS!!!!

MUCH more affordable; and when they say “quiet hours start at 10pm” – they MEAN IT.

In Ontario parks? Pah. it’s lipservice. They say the words, but they are hollow.
American State Parks? MEAN BUSINESS.
It WILL be quiet. People are still up and about – but they’re chatting at their campfire, there’s no deep bass of someone 23 sites over playing music, there’s no drunken party games around a fire. It’s nice, it’s respectful, and it’s quiet. I can wake in the morning, feeling rested and know that I will NOT have to encounter a passed out drunk guy in my site, or someone else’s poop stained undies.

Another reason that American State Park camping rocks – Hosts and Ranger Bobs.
Each section of the campsite has a host, someone who lives onsite for help, and to keep an eye on things. Rangers (Bob – we call them all unless we learn their name) patrol in their trucks at regular intervals, even during the wee hours.
This doesn’t feel Orwellian or suffocating; it’s comforting. Not only am I pretty much guaranteed some peace and quiet – but if a bear wanders into camp? I know Ranger Bob will take care of it and/or me.
We’re always “bear safe” campers – but even more so since the “Banana and Chocolate Chip” incident of Bass Lake, June 2012 😉

Minimalist Camping

Minimalist Camping

So. Happy campers were we.
And what did we do? On the Saturday, we arrived and set up camp and hung out at the site, and then on Sunday we went panning for gems (which was really fun – for us – we’re fans of rocks 😀 :D) and a general tour of the area. It is BEAUTIFUL. It would be 20% cooler if there were a few waterfalls 🙂
That evening we went to visit the Fire Tower and go for a hike. On the Monday we actually went BACK to the gem panning place; this time Bean wanted to pan for fossils, and Husbandino wanted to try his luck at an Emerald bag 😀 … and then we came home via the scariest gas station in the world – EVER. And almost home via Ottawa  🙂 Adding a mere 1000 miles onto our journey.

The B-F Clan are once again, happy campers. And already looking forward to the 2014 camping season.

Here’s a few snaps.

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Some of our gems – a decent haul.

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Fossils

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Panning

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View from the lookout

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Green lane

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Lookout

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