Motorcycle camping and touring is increasing in popularity but like RV’s it’s great to do an overnighter as preparation before the longer tour.
Bruce: Hey buddy
Bill: Hey Bruce, so you know we have that ride coming up in June and we’ve got camping gear to check out for the two weeks across Canada.
Bill: So, how about we head up to Parry’s Park in Parksville and check this stuff out with an overnighter?
Bruce: It’s a little early in the season, isn’t it? I mean its only April and it’s a little cool at night.
Bill: So, bring your teddy bear or fill a water bottle with hot water and you’ll be fine.
…and with that, the ride was on. We had to check out Bruce’s new CB rig and I had to check out my new queen sized air mattress. I was tired of waking up on the cold hard ground every morning.
Bruce had recently bought a mint ’09 Suzuki Bandit – a great touring rig. My trusty ’06 Yamaha Royal Star Venture was the ultimate touring machine and my cargo trailer allowed me to carry all the necessary cooking gear and cooler so we were going to be self-sufficient all the way, but we needed a shakedown trip.
The early April weather was spectacular with bright sun and light winds so when we rolled into Parry’s Park we both looked forward to setting up camp and sitting in front of a blazing campfire.
I’ve been going to Parry’s since my son was a little guy in the early 80’s. The facility is family friendly and geared to kids, with a pool, rental bikes, and the meandering Englishman River providing a small sandy beach so they can paddle around with their air mattresses.
Approaching the office, we noticed the sign that read “Open May 1”. Wow, were we screwed or what? Looking around we noticed someone working in the washroom/shower area so we approached, who we later found out was Mr. Bang, the new proprietor – a more gracious and hospitable person you couldn’t hope to find.
He allowed us to set up in the closest campsite to the river and provided a picnic table from the stack which had been stored for the winter then rode in with a stack of firewood. A new flush toilet and wash area facility had been built closer to the river so the shaky flashlight, midnight hike to the old facility had been eliminated.
The tents went up, the new air mattress was inflated (damn, that’s a comfy looking sucker) the lawn chairs set up by the fire ring and my trusty Coleman stove, complete with stickers from the 1966 Mosport Canadian Grand Prix, warmed up tonight’s gourmet dinner of smokies.
Once dishes were done, we lit a couple of cigars and wandered around the deserted campground and I was able to fill in some of the local details for Bruce.
“This is where people park their trailers for the summer”
…pointing out a couple of semi-permanent verandas and BBQ areas, but mostly we simply drank in the beauty of the expanse of lawn and canopy of mature trees. Long shadows from the setting sun on the grass made it look like a set from “CSI Miami”.
Soon, we put the firewood to good use and (don’t try this at home kids) with liberal doses of fire starter, had a blazing fire going which lasted well past our bedtimes and we finally turned in at 11 o’clock after solving the world’s problems.
Yeah, it was cool that night but the full moon lit things up like a ghostly noon hour and the river sang us a song just like momma never did. That extra blanket from my old truck sure helped too.
What a great sleep on that new air mattress!! I slept in ‘till 8 and found that Bruce had already been up at 6, wandering up and down the river, getting the lay of the land. We had seen a fly fisher last evening just upstream which was fitting – the river was perfect for it, bubbling over the rocks with plenty of pools where the rainbows can gather.
Camp breakfast consisted of camp toast (you know you love it – burnt on both sides), Starbucks coffee, fried eggs and chili, and the remainder of the firewood provided the perfect smokey atmosphere to kick back and reflect on the previous perfect night in a beautiful, peaceful setting.
I can’t say enough about the hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Bang. They were more than accommodating to a couple of guys on bikes who rolled in unexpectedly well before the season actually started.