At long last, our vacation had arrived! We had plans to camp in the spring which had obviously been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was feeling thankful that we were able to get out at all, and nervous because the girls and I haven’t really been anywhere in months. We decided to leave early Saturday morning. We were out of the house before 7am! Our first stop was at the Flying J near London. Masks were mandatory for entering, for which I was thankful. The bathrooms were very clean and we had them to ourselves. Our second stop was at an OnRoute past Toronto. It was busy but we were able to use the family washroom and get in and out quickly. We arrived at our campsite, #126 at Silver Lake, just after 2pm (check out/check in is 2pm at Ontario Parks).
Site 126 is at the end of the road, a decent-sized site with a large area for the kids to play. We only used the portable toilet in our camper, but the vault toilets and comfort station were quite a hike away from our site. Highway noise is audible in the park, but it was very quiet and not at all distracting at our site. The park does have some sites closer to the highway. We were surrounded by a marshy wetland area on two sides. This would prove excellent for privacy and birding, but came with an excessive amount of bugs at nighttime! We saw and heard Belted Kingfisher, American Bitterns, and Virginia Rail right from our site! Forest birds included Black-and-White warblers and lots of Red-eyed and Warbling vireos.
After quickly setting up, we changed and walked down the camp road to the beach. It was busy! We secured a socially distanced spot and the kids jumped right in! The beach was nice. I’m assuming that the park brings in extra sand as the sandy area was quite wide, extending well out of the water to a grassy area and the parking lot. The water was calm and shallow – perfect for our small kids. There is a boat ramp next to the beach and several power boats on the lake. We could see cottages across the lake. There is a second, smaller beach in the campground that we did not have time to explore.
After a swim, we went back to our campsite, ate dinner, and got the girls ready for bed. Lyssa was pretty excited about our vacation and it took her awhile to fall asleep. Just as she fell asleep, an incredibly loud noise started. It turns out that it was an airboat speeding through the marsh! Thankfully, Lyssa stayed asleep and I called Em in to bed. The airboat came back again – this time around 9:30pm. Eventually the boat drove off and Em fell asleep. I joined Kory at the campfire, donning my bug jacket. The forecast called for temps near 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) all week. I was swarmed by mosquitoes! I tried to enjoy the fire for awhile but it was so incredibly hot with my pants and bug jacket on that I retreated to the trailer for some relief. It was very hot in the trailer as well but the girls were so tired that they slept well. We have a small fan for hot nights, so I’m sure that helped.
I fell asleep and Kory joined me shortly afterwards, only to wake up to a mosquito biting my face at 1am. My girls and I are mosquito magnets, and Lyssa especially reacts strongly to bug bites. Out of bed I leaped, flashlight in hand, to search for the insect. I found at least 20 mosquitoes, several moths, and 3 massive Dobson flies. In my haste to rid our camper from mosquitoes, I didn’t take a picture of the Dobson flies, but they were really neat – google it! They are massive! Soon, my antics woke up Kory. We’ve never had an issue with bugs getting into our trailer, so he got up and searched around for holes. We have an ancient pop-up trailer that we bought for an excellent price. Kory has worked hard to fix it up, but we admit that the canvas is nearing the end of its lifespan. Actually, the canvas is still fine but a couple of the screens and the Velcro need to be replaced. We are tent campers at heart, having done several backpacking and canoe trips before having kids. We are so thankful that Kory’s brother bought this camper with us. We never would have looked for a trailer on our own but it has made camping with two littles infinitely easier! Anyway, I was finally satisfied that the trailer was mosquito-free, and passed out with my bug jacket over my face. Thankfully, the girls escaped unscathed.
We awoke to a beautiful (and hot) morning. After breakfast, we walked over to the only trail at Silver Lake. The Marsh Trail is 0.5km and connects two campground areas. Silver Lake is a smaller, recreational park but nature is still all around. Lyssa quickly found a watersnake just off the boardwalk!
Even in the heat, Pine warblers and Vireos continued singing.
After our short hike, we returned to our trailer to pack up. Silver Lake is a lovely park, but we were all excited to go to Bon Echo!