October. Fall. Temperature dropping. Sweater weather. Most people are putting their gardens to bed and packing away lawn chairs and beach toys. Yet, we’re packing and loading the truck and heading up the Ottawa Valley for our last camping trip of the season.
Fall is my favourite time of year. As someone who has spent most of my life as a student or as a teacher, September has always meant back to school for me. And I have always loved the feel of things kicking into gear in the fall. Usually by early October I would be back at work. Prepping lessons, getting to know new classes, bracing myself for the onslaught of marking before the midterm report in a few weeks.
But I retired from teaching in early 2013. And this September was my fourth September of freedom. And while fall still seems like a time of beginnings…. they are beginnings of a very different nature now.
Hubby and I love camping. Summer camping is great for swimming and canoeing and fishing. But fall camping is the best. Our favourite. And now that we’re both retired, we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving Weekend for our fall camping trip. And this makes fall camping even better.
And here’s why.

Here are our neighbours at Bonnechere Provincial Park on the Sunday afternoon when we arrived.
To the south…
Fall camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park
To the north..
Fall camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park

At the beach…

Fall camping, the beach at Bonnechere Provincial Park
That’s right. Empty. No crowds. No one at all. There are (according to the girl at the park office) eight other sites occupied this week. But we might as well have the park to ourselves.
Fall camping, the beach at Bonnechere Provincial Park
So we walk, and cycle. Sometimes in the bush.
Walking the woods roads near Bonnechere Provincial Park
The fall colours are not as breathtaking this year as in the past. But the golden poplar leaves against the deep blue sky are wonderful. And not out shone, like most years, by the maple leaves, which are either still green on some trees.
Walking the woods roads near Bonnechere Provincial Park
Or have fallen already.
Fall camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park
Oops. I spoke too soon. On our drive back from Paugh Lake we spy a little branch of red maple leaves… not to be confused with the Maple Leafs. Hockey joke…. seeing as how the “season” begins very soon. Sigh.
Fall camping. Driving by Paugh Lake, red leaves on the maple trees
One day during the week, Hubby golfed and I walked the course with him. It was a perfect fall morning. Bright and chilly.
Playing golf at Wolf Ridge, near Wilno, Ontario
But the cool breeze and my scrutiny didn’t put Hubby off his stroke.
Playing golf at Wolf Ridge, near Wilno, Ontario
The golf course is very hilly and most golfers use carts. But we loved the walk. At the top of one steep slope, we could see far out over the hills behind Wilno. I could happily spend an hour on this bench with my book.
Beautiful view on the Wolf Ridge Golf course near Wilno, Ontario
It feels odd when we leave the golf course and drive into the village of Killaloe to have lunch at Dan’s Country Diner. There’s a whole work-a-day world going on that we have forgotten about while we’ve been walking and golfing. And for a moment I feel a lurch in my stomach. Guilt. As if I’m forgetting some chore I need to have done. Or as if I’ve been doing something I shouldn’t be doing. Like a kid playing hookey from school.
This retirement thing takes some getting used to, I guess.
And lest you should think that the whole week of fall camping was sunshine and breezes. We did have some rain.
Fall camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park, Round Lake, Ontario
But I can handle a little rain when there’s a hot cup of tea and a good book waiting for me back at the camper.
Fall camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park, Round Lake, Ontario
And when I realize that not too long ago at this time of year I’d be staggering under an enormous pile of marking and soon calculating marks for all my new classes.
Instead, when we return from our new tradition of mid-week fall camping, Hubby starts back playing hockey. And I’ll be digging out the new-ish skates I bought last year and planning to use them at least once a week. Not to mention looking forward to my new fall knitting project and finishing “turning my closet.”
And I’m sure I’ll be well able to handle the tiny pinprick of guilt I’ll feel at all this freedom.
Are you able to escape the “madding crowd” this fall? (Apologies to Thomas Hardy.)


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24 thoughts on “Fall Camping…Far From The Madding Crowd”

  1. I've been retired for 1 1/2 years now so I know what you mean about feeling guilty when you see others in work mode. It does take some getting use to. No camping for me though and the leaves in Pennsylvania are just starting to turn. I'll enjoy them and a fire, with some wine of course, in my backyard this year.

  2. This sounds so nice and your pictures are beautiful. My husband and I took are 3 little girls tent camping for the first time a few weekends ago in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We only stayed 1 night and it was windy, cold, and rainy (they had to wear winter coats) but they had so much fun and the fall colors were amazing!

    1. Three little girls in a tent…in the rain….you are brave. But when the weather is cool and sunny, there's nothing like fall camping!
      Thanks for reading, Stephanie.

  3. I would like to…..maybe next year :-), or after that….
    I had some plans for this season, involving a little fall get-away,walking,reading,watching leaves falling-very zen,but it is not written in the stars
    Looking forward to the new camping post

    1. It's lovely to be outside in the fall doing pretty much anything, I think. But fall camping is my absolute favourite. You are right, Dottoressa…it's very "zen."

  4. I can imagine I'm there Sue! Loving the Autumn colours and the bright and crisp sunny days. Your pictures are beautiful. Hope you have a wonderful time with sunny Autumnal weather! (no rain!) Looking forward to hearing all about it when you return.

    1. Thanks, Rosie. We had great weather, including a bit of rain at night. All the better to snuggle under the duvet! Are you having fall where you are now???

    2. We are but it's really lovely …sunny bright and quite warm, no need for a coat yet 🙂 cold and a little frosty in the early morning though.

  5. It all looks beautiful . I'm sure it's just as lovely this year . We try to escape the crowds too but not always easy on our crowded island . That's why the wilds of Scotland appeal to us . Have a great time – look forward to hearing about it
    Wendy in York

    1. That absence of crowds makes everything better, in my opinion. I'd love to go back to Scotland…especially the highlands. We had some great walks when we were there.

  6. Alas I'm in the midst of the maddening crowd and from here you're trip sounds very appealing. Lovely to manage an escape before the cold of winter and of course the autumn colours are beautiful. Iris

  7. Looks serene Susan.
    There is a lovely place called Killloe here in Ireland. I wonder is there an Irish connection somewhere in the past. Maybe an emigrant story.
    Enjoy your break.

    1. Well spotted, Mary. There certainly is an Irish connection in the Ottawa Valley. Lots of Irish immigrants made their way here in the 1800's as well as into the part of Canada where I grew up.

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