Camping on Lake Ontario At Four Mile Creek State Park, New York

Our H.O.M.E.S Summer/Lake Ontario

I have been out of school for 41 years (Sheesh, I can’t be that old!) but, I still love hearing the words,schools out for summer

 This year, we celebrated the kid’s new-found freedom by taking the second trip of our H.O.M.E.S summer. We camped in New York, on Lake Ontario.

basinMap2Lake Ontario lies below Lake Erie, at the base of Niagara Falls. It is bordered by New York, on the American side, and Ontario, on the Canadian side.

Lake Ontario is 193 miles long and 53 miles wide. It is the fourteenth largest lake in the world but, the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area. It has an average depth is 283 feet with a maximum depth of 802 feet, which is second only to Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

The province of Ontario was named after Lake Ontario. In the language of the Iroquois people, Ontario means; “beautiful water.” DSCN5621

Lke OntarioPlanning a camping trip on Lake Ontario made me a bit nervous.   It was the first time  I would be taking my grandchildren camping   outside of Michigan.

I was  worried about hauling a trailer full of camping equipment through customs, twice each way. What if the customs agents thought I had shifty eyes or something? I had a vision of them tearing everything open, and letting their drug dogs drool all over our sleeping bags and underwear. What a nightmare that would be!!! I packed my trailer as neatly as possible and used clear bins. The customs agents didn’t even glance at my trailer, way far less, tell me how nicely it was packed.

 Our reservation was at  Four Mile Creek State Park. It is located at 1055 Lake Rd, Youngstown, NY.,14174. 4mile sign

The park is lovely and quiet. Our  campsite  was perfect. It was a very deep site at the top of a cul-de-sac. We had neighbors to our left but, none on the right side of us, which meant that our camping and playing area was huge.

We went to two different Lake Ontario beaches during our stay.rockyshoreThe beaches  were very rocky. I was unable  to walk on the beach without shoes. The water  of Lake Ontario was clear and cold. water rocks

The number one thing that I wanted to do during our stay, was to spend a day at Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls has always been one of my favorite places but, I have always spent time on the Canadian side. Exploring Niagara Falls N.Y. would be a new experience for me, and I love new experiences.

I purchased the Niagara U.S.A. Discovery passes online, before our trip. The passes gave us admission to 5 of the most popular tourist sites, plus all day access to the trolley system.

The first site that we visited was the Niagara Imax  theater. I had seen the Imax feature several times and  enjoyed it every time. The feature begins with  what the first explorers experienced when they discovered the falls. They were in awe of the size and power of what they were seeing. It goes on to tell the native legends about the maid of the mist. The kids enjoyed hearing about the Niagara Falls daredevils. My favorite part is when you feel like you are flying over the falls.

Next on our tour was the Niagara Aquarium. It is a small aquarium but, has a variety of aquatic creatures. We had fun looking at the exhibits and watching the penguins, sharks, and sea lions.

The  Niagara Discovery Center is a hands-on museum that focuses on how the Great Lakes were formed by the receding glaciers of the last ice age. I was fascinated by the displays and reading about the history of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. The kids went  through the discovery center trying  all of the hands-on exhibits.Maid of the mist water

The Maid of the Mist boat ride is always fun. I took Bree to Niagara Falls, Canada,  a couple of years ago, and we went on the Maid of the Mist with my cousin, Chris. I was happy to see that Bree was eager to go on the ride again. It is so exciting to me to be right in front of a  waterfall  that is crashing 188 feet at the rate of 150,000 gallons per second. Niagara Falls is so powerful. I can’t believe people say; “it’s just a waterfall.”

Our last site of the day was the Cave of the Winds. You start out on the lower deck. As you climb to the upper decks, you get closer and closer, to Bridal Veil Falls. Being at the top, right next to the rushing water, is both intimidating and bridal falls

We had a clear hot day for sightseeing. I was glad that we didn’t have to find our way from site to site or, worry about how far we would have to walk in the heat. Having all day access to the Niagara Trolley,  made an already enjoyable day even more pleasant.

The Niagara U.S.A. discovery passes cost $160.00 for 2 adults and 2 children. It was, in my opinion, well worth the money. Would I recommend the Niagara U.S.A.  Discovery pass to my friends? Absolutely!

The next day, after the kids took a cool dip in the lake, we went to Fort Niagara.castle Fort Niagara

Having this fort on the Niagara River made it possible to control access to the Great Lakes during colonial wars. The fort was built by the French in 1728 but, there were military posts at the site  as early as 1679. Over a 300 year span, the French, the British, and the Americans have all occupied the fort.fort Niagara Fort Niagara’s last armed conflict was the war of 1812. The fort was restored between 1926 and 1934.

 In 1963, the last army units were withdrawn from Fort Niagara. Today, the only military presence is the U.S. Coast Guard.inside fr. Niagara

We thoroughly enjoyed walking through the buildings of the old fort, seeing the living quarters, and antiques. While Chase and Tiler had fun watching the musket firing demonstrations and pretending to fire the old canons,ti chase canons Bree enjoyed posing for a picture with a handsome soldier named Gavin. bree gavin

I told Bree that Gavin was 200 years too old for her but, she just rolled her eyes at me…. What?

We exited through the gift shop and bought some souvenirs. After chilling  with ice cream cones we made our way back to camp.Ice cream Ft. Niagara

Sunday was a special day for me. My cousin Chris, and her family, Margo, Carrie and Carrie’s kids, Scotty, Logan, and Haylee came to visit from Toronto, and Niagara Falls,Ont., respectively. We spent some much needed time catching up while the second cousins swam and got acquainted. We had a cook-out and a nice afternoon. All too soon, it was time for our Canadian family to headed back across the border.with canadian fam

We ended our New York vacation with an evening of fishing, swimming, and watching the sunset over  Lake Ontario.

I won’t be afraid to take my family camping out of state again. In fact, we have decided to take at least one camping trip out of state each summer. I’ve already made plans to camp with my friend, Shannon,  at South Bass Island, in Ohio, next year.

I will continue to try to widen my horizons. I love taking my grandchildren to new places and, experiencing new things with them. I would like to be  remembered for my love of family,  nature,  history, and of course, sleeping in tents!

I hope you are  making special memories with your family this summer!

Happy Camping,


me 4 mi creek

“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Hans Christian Anderson

My Photos:

  • The featured photo is of Chase, fishing in Lake Ontario
  • Lake Ontario after sunset
  • My family at Four Mile Creek Campground
  • The beach on Lake Ontario
  • The clear water of Lake Ontario
  • The Maid of the Mist and the base of Bridal Veil Falls
  • My grandkids at Cave of the Winds
  • The castle at Fort Niagara
  • Fort Niagara
  • Inside of Fort Niagara
  • Tiler and Chase with an old cannon
  • Bree and the soldier
  • Eating ice-cream at Fort Niagara
  • Us, with my Canadian family
  • Me, at sunset, on the beach between Lake Ontario and Four Mile Creek




The Tent Camping Checklist

The Tent Camping Checklist

Several times I have forgotten my own pillow, and had to Google directions to the nearest Walmart. I have also forgotten other small items but, it was when I was at Straits State Park, in the U.P., without a bed for one of my grandkids, that I decided that I needed  a permanent camping checklist.

How could I go camping with everything except 1 bed? Easy!

Because we have families to feed and bills to pay, most of us work full time jobs. nursing deerWe have a few free hours after work to organize the camping equipment, the kids, their personal things, your own personal items, the food and everything else.

This mama was feeding her family in my back yard!

I have learned a lot about organizing camping trips. I keep all of my camping equipment together on shelves in my basement. I discourage my family from borrowing  from our camping equipment when they need a flashlight or batteries.

Several days before the trip, I start staging everything in a line down the middle of the room. As I move things from the shelf to the staging area, I do the first run down on my  check list. I check everything off the list again as I load it for the trip.

A friend of mine worked on this list with me. She has used it, I have used it, other friends have used it too! You might feel that it is overly detailed but, this is what works for me. My checklist covers personal items as well as camping gear.  Since I have been using this list, I have not forgotten ANYTHING!

Camping Checklist

The curling iron is for my granddaughter, I just cover my unruly curls by putting on a hat! sun ball capI hope that this camping checklist serves you as well as it has served me.

Happy Camping,



“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Photos:

  1. The featured photo is a bee hard at work
  2. A fawn nursing
  3. Me at Lillydale, N.Y.


Camping on Lake Michigan at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park


Our H.O.M.E.S Summer/ Lake Michigan


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”

John F. Kennedy

Memorial Day weekend finally arrived. This is the day that is designated for us to   stop to remember, and thank our  soldiers and their families, for making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

I was not born an American. I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. My parents moved to Canada when I was 11 months old. We lived in small mining town in Northern Ontario, and later, Guelf, Ontario.flags

On November 9, 1963, we immigrated to the United States of America. I consider it a privilege to be an American citizen.

I would like to take this time, on behalf of my parents, of blessed memory, and my entire family, to say thank you to the men and women who have bravely defended this country that we love.


Memorial Day weekend is also considered the first weekend of camping season. Anyone who knows me, knows how excited I get. I have waited all winter, prepared all spring, and I am ready.

This year my family is committed to camping on all 5 of the Great Lakes. We are calling it our H.O.M.E.S. summer. We won’t be camping in H.O.M.E.S order. The first Great Lake that we camp on will be Lake Michigan.basinMap2

Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is located entirely within the Untied States. Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and, Lake Erie are also bordered by Canada. The shores of Lake Michigan are shared by  Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Lake Michigan is 307 miles long and 118 miles wide. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and the third largest by surface area. It is the sixth largest fresh water lake in the world.

Lake MichiganThe average depth of Lake Michigan is 279 feet with a maximum depth of 925 feet.

The largest fresh water sand dunes in the world grace the shores of Lake Michigan. In several places, the dunes tower hundreds of feet above the lake. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers 35 miles of lakeshore and has a reported 1,143,857 annual visitors.

According to Chippewa legend, a mother bear and her two cubs entered the lake to escape a forest fire on the western shore. The mother bear  was able to swim to safety,  and climbed to  a high bluff to wait for her cubs. The cubs drowned in the lake but, the mother never stopped waiting or hoping that her cubs would come. Eventually, the wind buried the mother bear under the sand of the dunes, and it is said, that she is still there waiting for her cubs to this day. The Great Spirit, Manitou, was so moved by the mother bear’s love, that he created two islands in memory of the cubs. They are North and South Manitou islands.beardune

What a beautiful story.

Lake Michigan has been known by many names. It has been called Grand Lac. Lake of the Puants, Lac des Illinois, Lac St. Joseph, Lac Dauphin, and Lake of the Stinking Water, before getting it’s final name of Lake Michigan.

There are state parks all along the shores of Lake Michigan. We  are camping at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.


Hoffmaster State Park is located at 6585 Lake Harbor Rd., Muskegon, Mi., 49441. The park was named after Percy James Hoffmaster, who served as the Director of the Department of Conservation, which preceded the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He also served as Superintendent of State Parks, and is considered the founder of the Michigan State Parks system.hoffmaster sign

I camped with my grandchildren, Bree and Chase, and our friends, Denise, Kenzie, and Charlotte, on sites 33 and 34. image001They are big, woodsy sites with a clean, shallow, pretty little creek running behind them. The kids had fun through out the weekend, playing in the creek with the other young campers.

Our campsites were next to the beach path. It was a pleasant scenic walk to the beach. There were benches along the way to sit, rest, and enjoy the serene beauty.  DBeach pathSCN4805

On our first night in camp, we took the kids down to the beach for a night swim. They all wore glow bracelets so that we could keep track of them in the dark water. They splashed and swam  in cold Lake Michigan until after 11:00. They had so much fun!

The beach is huge. It was never crowded.  Twice, we were able to catch a  breathtaking sunset while the kids played in the water, and climbed  on the dunes.Sunset lkmi may28

sunset may 31,2016Besides swimming, and an unsucsessful geochaching hike, we took a day trip to tour the submarine, USS Siversides, silversides liferingand the Coast Guard, Cutter. With the exception of malls, I am not the least bit claustrophobic  but, I cannot imagine what it would be like to spend long periods of time in the confined quarters of a submarine, espessially, when it is submerged. I have a whole new level of respect for our soldiers, who serve on submarines.

My brother-in-law, Ron, did his service on a submarine. Ron, I salute you.

One afternoon, we taught the kids to make bird feeders. These are simple and fun to do.  If you want to make some with your kiddos, you will need:

  • Knox gelatin
  • Water
  • String or yarn (looped and knotted)
  • A cookie cutter
  • Bird seed

Dissolve the gelatin in water. Let it sit until it starts to set up.desolved gel5036 Add 1 cup of bird seed (if it looks runny, add more bird seed.)adding birdseed Scoop 1/2 of the bird seed/gelatin mixture into the cookie cutter. Place the loop of string or yarn on the seed, and add the rest of the bird seed mixture over it.bird seed in cutterjpg Let the seed filled cookie cutter sit until the gelatin is set completely before removing the bird feeder from the cookie cutter. Bird feederPut the bird feeder on a branch and use the string to secure it. The birds will love the treat.

Speaking of treats; I had my first “walking taco” on this camping trip.  If you haven’t had these yet, you should try them. They are fun to make and fun to eat. Start with a single serving size of your favorite nacho chip. You can use any flavor. You can even use Fritos. Crunch them up in the bag a little bit. Open the bag and add your favorite taco fixings. Mix them up with your fork and eat them right out of the bag.  I made mine with cool ranch Doritos, taco meat, cheese and taco sauce. I look forward to trying these with lettuce and tomatoes, and other chip flavors. I will definitely put walking tacos on my lunch menus for future camping trips.

That, to me, is what camping is all about. Being out of doors, doing fun silly things,  eating fun foods, and spending quality time  with family and friends.

I  had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend at beautiful P.J. Hoffmaster State Park with my family and friends. I hope your weekend was just as awesome.

We have a whole season of camping ahead of us. Let me know how your camping season is going. You KNOW I will tell you all about mine!

Happy Camping,




” Spring is natures way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”

Robin Williams




My Photos:

  1. Featured Photo: The girls, posing in Lake Michigan, May 30, 2016
  2. Flags at the Soo Locks, 2015
  3. P.J. Hoffmaster sign with Bree, Charlotte, Chase, Denise, Kenzie, and Denise
  4. The creek behind our campsite at Hoffmaster State Park
  5. The scenic path to the beach, Hoffmaster State Park.
  6. Sunset over Lake Michigan May 28, 2016
  7. Sunset over Lake Michigan May 30, 2016
  8. Dissolved gelatin
  9. Adding birdseed to gelatin
  10. Scooping birdseed/gelatin mixture into a cookie cutter
  11. Birdseed heart hanging from a tree in camp.
  12. Me at Straits State Park, 2014 (I am wearing a shirts that says, “Camping is in tents” Just sayin!