Last year, Point Pelee National Park opened some oTENTik shelters at Camp Henry. Point Pelee is one of our favourite places, and we were excited to spend the night there for the first time (although I did stay at Camp Henry as a Girl Guide back in the day). We have been able to stay in an oTENTik twice so far this year, in April and again in May, and both trips were amazing. So many people have asked me about staying in the oTENTik that I figured a blog post was in order.
When we booked the oTENTik back in April, it just so happened to fall on a weekend with a terrible weather forecast. Though we were all growing tired of wintery weather, we persisted, packed up the car with a ton of warm clothes, and drove down to Point Pelee following Em’s soccer class on Friday afternoon. Natural areas are few and far between in our neck of the woods, and it is wonderful to have somewhere to “camp” close to home. We arrived at nightfall with two very tired girls (nope, they didn’t sleep in the car…). The oTENTiks are on walk-in sites and the Park provides large wagons to help get all your gear down the trail.
We loaded up and headed down the path to our home for the weekend – lucky number 7! We choose an oTENTik with a wood-burning stove – a new experience for us!
The oTENTik is a permanent structure with a wood floor and vinyl walls. The entire width of the building is bedding, providing ample room for sleeping. Also included was a table and 4 chairs, a bench, and a shelf with pots, pans, dishes and cutlery. Even a small water cooler and bin for dish washing were included!
We felt at home immediately! Kory got to work bringing in our stuff and lighting the stove as I made the beds. The oTENTik comes with mattresses, which I covered with fitted sheets and then our sleeping bags, The girls were delighted! Em quickly chose the top bunk. Kory and I have stayed in yurts at Ontario Provincial parks during the winter, and even with the electric stove running, they weren’t exactly warm. We weren’t sure what to expect with the wood-burning stove, and Kory may have put a few too many logs on the fire. Our oTENTik heated up quickly!! We actually had to pull Em down off the top bunk because it was a wee bit too hot for her to sleep up there! Oops! (on night two, we achieved the perfect sleeping temperature for all of us.) Friday night was cool, but calm, and we were able to hear Screech owls calling around us after dark! It was quite late by the time the girls fell asleep and Kory and I decided not to have a campfire.It was so cozy inside the oTENTik with the wood-burning stove that we were happy indoors! We brought our white noise machine with us to help the girls to sleep. The beds have a sheet of vinyl that hangs down like a curtain to block the light (and give some privacy). With the white noise and the curtain, Kory and I were able to relax inside while the girls slept. I did some knitting – a great start to the weekend!
The forecast called for temperatures near zero with wind and rain all weekend. We woke up to a dreary day, but it was still dry! We took advantage of the calm before the storm and headed put for a walk. We dressed the girls in layers and even managed to enjoy some time at the beach!
When it was time to warm up, we went over to the Visitor Centre. The girls did some colouring and played with the puppets and other nature-themed toys and displays. After a (failed) attempt at a nap for the small one, we walked some more trails.
The weekend was indeed wet and windy. Saturday night was too windy to have a campfire, so again we stayed inside the oTENTik after the girls went to sleep. No need for the white noise machine night two! The lake was incredibly loud! The wood stove, while it does make all your clothes smell like a campfire, is so very warm and cozy!
On Sunday, we went for another nature walk, unaware that freezing rain was falling just outside the park.
We packed up our stuff and loaded the car, not quite ready for our mini vacation to end despite the cold weather. As we drove out of the park, we noticed a Parks vehicle with flashing lights. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but later learned that the Park was closed for flooding shortly after we left! We were thankful that we stayed high and (mostly) dry all weekend, but our thoughts were with those residents of Leamington and Wheatley that sustained serious flood damage.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and we were so happy that we didn’t let the weather forecast keep us from our first oTENTik stay.