Wheatley Provincial Park Review

Review Date: August 2013

General Information / Location
Wheatley Provincial Park is located on Lake Erie, near Leamington, Ontario. For me, it’s a quick drive down highway 401. It’s also really close to Point Pelee National Park.

Wheatley Provincial Park
Box 640
Wheatley, Ontario
N0P 2P0
519-825-4659

Click here to reserve, or view campsites


View Larger Map

Entry / LayoutWH.Overview

After a short trip from highway 401, and after going through the small town of Wheatley, you enter Wheatley Provincial Park. The park has 4 different areas. Boosey, Highlands, Middle Creek, Two Creeks. Each one has their own comfort station, and amenities. The campsites seem to center around the creeks. Each one is equal distance of a walk to the beach.

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General Discussion

When I think of a provincial park that’s close to the great lakes, I don’t think it’s a “Forest” park.  I think of it more as a “beach” park.  Lots of sand, open sites, etc, etc.  Wheatley is a combination of a beach park, and a forest park.  Just driving into the park is neat, because you are driving through huge trees.  Yes, there are some open campgrounds, but alot of them have alot of tree cover.

We stayed in Middle Creek Campground, and we liked it.  We found a nice site on the inside of the road, with a lot of tree’s and shade.  Their aren’t tons of private sites here, it’s really a hit and miss.  Some sites have great tree cover, and other sites have alot of bushes instead of tree.  Highlands, Middle Creek, and Two Creeks are all basically the same as far as quality, and privacy goes.  I didn’t make my way over to Boosey at all, so can’t comment on those sites.  All sites seem to be fairly flat, which is good for trailers.  When I first tried to pick a campsite, I wanted one beside the creek, as thought it would give a good view of the water, etc.  Well, the creek is barely a creek, and more of a very weedy swamp.  Unless you have a canoe, their really no point in getting a site along the creek.  Of course, this is just my opinion.  From what I could tell from walking the road, theirs not much water in those creeks.

MOSQUITOS!  They are bad!  Mosquito’s breed in standing water, and theirs plenty of that with the creeks nearby.  Their were mosquito’s out ALL DAY, and not just in the evening.  Also, whenever I was at the beach, their were bugs that bit.  No idea what kind of bugs those were.

The beach is terrible.  It’s mostly small pebbles, and not much sand.  Getting into the water is tricky because of a steep drop-off, and the bottom is mainly rocks.  However, the parking lot for the beach is right at the beach, so it’s kinda neat you can have your car so close.  Their is also a steep cliff you have to walk down to get to the beach, but their are pathways provided.  I would suggest going down to the very end, and park near the circle.  The cliff height drops off, and theirs alot more sand there.

There is a comfort station in each campground, with flush toilets, and showers.  There are also a few vault toilets around.

I believe their are a few hiking trails, you can find these in the camp magazine.  These trails aren’t amazing, more of just a path around the creek.

There are a few picnic shelters around, with BBQ’s, so it might be worth coming for a day, and enjoying the view of the lake.

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Best Campsites

Pro’s

– Tree’s, and beach in the same campground. (However, not the greatest beach)

– Clean park, and walking across the bridge across the creek is neat

Con’s

– Beach is terrible

– Mosquito’s everywhere

Surround Area Activities

Conclusion

I think it’s worth going to this park once or twice.  It’s nowhere near my favorite park, but it’s worth coming here.  I enjoyed the bridge across the creeks, and enjoyed some of the larger trees.  It’s not a spot where you’d sit at the beach all day, but it’s cool to walk around, and check out the creeks, and the views of the lake.

My story, review and guide about winning CAMVAP against Chrysler Canada

**SPOILER ALERT** – I WON!  I won against Chrysler Canada, and they were forced to buy back my 2012 Dodge Ram, full price without any deductions.  Read below!

I wanted to write about my experience with CAMVAP, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of written, detailed stories out there. Most of the story’s on the blogs, or forums regarding CAMVAP aren’t finished, or don’t describe other peoples experiences in detail. I want to write, and tell about my experience CAMVAP, and Chrysler Canada. So below, I have written a review, a guide, and a story all mixed together about my experience with CAMVAP. So here it goes, hang in there, it’s a little long!

On August 18, 2012, I bought a 2012 Dodge Ram, 4×4, 5.7L HEMI, from Dale Wurfel in Strathroy, Ontario. To make a REALLY long story short, shortly after taking delivery of the truck, the engine would produce a low end, dull knocking noise whiling idling. This knocking noise was constant. Whether it was warm, cold, or hot. It ALWAYS did it. As well, the transfer case would grind and bang after switching to 4×4.

Here are the 2 videos of my issues.

1) Engine knocking

2) Transfer case grinds when using 4WD

I immediately notified Dale Wurfel, and they offered NO help at all. In fact, the service manager told me to go elsewhere. I wrote a detailed story / review about Dale Wurfel here. This link tells the story of the troubles I had with this dealership. You can get an idea of what I went through trying to service my BRAND NEW truck. TL;TR: They did ZERO troubleshooting, and told me to take it elsewhere.

I decided to take the truck to Oxford Dodge for them to have a look at it. Well, that didn’t really help either. I wrote a detailed story / review about Oxford Dodge HERE. This link tells the story of what happened at Oxford Dodge. TL;TR: Oxford Dodge rebuilt a brand new motor, then replaced the short block, then rebuilt the transfer case, then changed the front axle, but still couldn’t get the 2 original problems corrected. It seemed like they had no idea what they were doing, or how these trucks work.

During all these dealership visits, I was also corresponding with Chrysler Canada Corporate. This is important! CAMVAP isn’t about resolving a dispute between YOU and the DEALER. It’s about resolving a dispute between YOU and the MANUFACTURER. If you’re having problems with the dealership, not fixing your vehicle, or not fixing it properly, your first step is to call the manufacturer customer assistant line. They will assist you in getting your vehicle repaired properly. If the manufacturer is unable, or not willing to help, and you’ve given them, and the dealer ample time to fix your issue, that’s when you can use the assistants of CAMVAP. I see CAMVAP as your LAST RESORT.  CAMVAP is NOT a way to manipulate the dealer to fix your vehicle.  Don’t waste CAMVAPS time unless you are willing to put in the work to see it to completion. Make sure you exhaust all avenues with the dealer, and manufacturer first.  This might mean calling the manufacturer numerous times and pleading with them,. This is very important! Trust me!

Here’s a TIP: You bought the vehicle, and it’s yours to keep through THICK AND THIN! If you have a problem, let the dealership fix it. That’s what warranty is for! Cars and trucks have A LOT of moving parts, and sometimes things can go wrong. Don’t assume that because you have an issue within the first few weeks of ownership it automatically gets you an excuse to have a new vehicle, or your vehicle bought back. If you think this, most times it doesn’t result in this, and y0u’ll just stress yourself out. Alright, now onto the rest of my story.

A couple things come to mind when you’re in this stage:

  1. Keep a word document of everything that goes on at the dealer, and with manufacturer. Add everything that everyone says to this document, and create your own time line.
  2. Use a calendar to keep track of the days the vehicle goes into the shop, and days it comes out
  3. I would suggest voice recording ALL conversations, just in case. If this goes to arbitration, voice recordings are way better then ‘he said, she said’
  4. Give the dealer, or multiple dealers AMPLE opportunity to fix the problem. In my case, my truck was at the dealer for 12 visits. I understand that if you have a major issue, you don’t want it repaired, and just want a new vehicle, and your first instinct is to go to CAMVAP, and hope for a buy-back. This ain’t gonna happen! You MUST give the dealer time to fix the issue. And if they can’t, try a different dealer. You must show CAMVAP that you were willing to let the dealer do the repairs.
  5. Make sure you get Work Orders for ALL repairs. Also, make sure they are accurate, and have detailed information in them.
  6. Don’t threaten the dealership, or the manufacturer that you are going to contact CAMVAP.  It doesn’t work, and they don’t care.  It’s an empty threat to them, and most times they are right.  As well, don’t bother saying you are going to get a Lawyer.  Most times as soon as the manufacturer hears the word lawyer, they shut down, and send the case to legal.  Now your screwed unless you were actually going to contact a lawyer.

After all the failed repairs from Oxford Dodge, they got so frustrated in the truck, and gave up. They basically said that everything was fine, their are no problems, and refused to look at it any further. As well, Chrysler Canada gave up, and refused to allow a fix for my 2 issues. Chrysler Canada’s response was “Your vehicle is performing as intended, no further repair”. I begged them to continue trying to find the issue of the grinding noise, but they refused.

This is when I was basically forced to start the CAMVAP process. The dealership refused to look at my truck any further, as well as Chrysler Canada. I even made a few more calls to Chrysler Canada, and asked them to reconsider, and they would not. So, after fighting for 6-8 months regarding my engine knocking, and transfer case grinding, on May 2nd, I filled out a CAMVAP form to start the process for arbitration. If you feel that your ready for CAMVAP, first, READ THIS PDF. If gives you a great overview of how the process starts, and finished. It’s a MUST read!. After, when you’re ready, you can start the arbitration process using this link. Here, you fill out basic information about your case. After filling this out, a CAMVAP representative will contact you, and verify some information. They ask questions like, “How many times was the vehicle in the dealership”, and “Have you contacted the manufacturer”, etc, etc. I think at this point, they are trying to filter out any cases that aren’t yet ready for CAMVAP. If they feel your case is ready for CAMVAP, they send all this information to the Manufacturer. According to the above PDF, the manufacturer has 3 days to respond to your claim, and give a brief answer to your issues. Once this is complete, CAMVAP will send you a packet with all the information necessary to start the process. I received my packet via email, but I think sometimes they mail it. Give the CAMVAP office a call, and let them know how you prefer your package.

Once you received your packet, the first question you must ask yourself is if you want a buyback, or a repair. At first, I decided to ask for a repair. All I wanted was for Chrysler Canada to repair my truck properly so I could drive it. I think this option gives you a better chance of winning your arbitration. It shows CAMVAP that you are willing to allow the manufacturer to fix your issues, and your not just looking for a quick buy-back so you can buy a brand new truck. Proving, or showing the arbitrator that you allowed the dealer to repair the issue is very important! After some consideration, I decided that Chrysler Canada, and the dealership has had AMPLE time to fix my truck properly. This is when I decided on asking for a buy-back.

Here are my reasoning’s for asking for a buy-back, instead of a repair:

  1. After 72 days, and 12 dealership visits, that is enough time to fix a truck properly. What will ordering another repair accomplish if they already had 72 days?
  2. After 2 engines, 1 transfer case, 1 front axle, I was concerned with the resale value of the truck. I was concerned that if I brought the truck to a dealer for a trade-in, they would use this repair history against me and offer a lower value.
  3. Since I was still having the issues, how could I ethically sell this truck to someone else down the road?
  4. I really didn’t feel Chrysler Canada knew what was causing this problem, and didn’t think they could fix it properly.

Because of those reasons alone, I felt I had a good case to prove that a buy-back was the best, and most fair option for everyone.

Along with the form inside the packet, you must send all Work Orders that you’ve accumulated during your dealings with the dealership. If you have any other evidence, send it in with the form. Any pictures, videos, recordings, articles that support your theories, etc, etc. All these details get passed along to the arbitrator, as well as the manufacturer.

** NOTE! – Once you sign this form, and send it back, you are agreeing to the rules of arbitration. If you lose, you are bound to that decision. Keep this in mind! If you give a bad presentation, and lose, the manufacturer doesn’t have to fix your vehicle down the road if the issue continues. Maybe, instead of CAMVAP, your better off driving it for a few months, and maybe revisiting the issue later down the road. Or maybe wait till the issue gets a lot worse, and easier to convince the dealer to fix it! **

After sending in all forms, and evidence, and WO’s, CAMVAP then sends everything to the manufacturer. According to the above PDF, the manufacturer has 10 business days to send back their “answer”, as well as any documents, or evidence they have collected. In my case, their answer was “To the best of our knowledge, Consumers vehicle is performing as intended at this time.” They also list everyone they plan to send to the hearing. Basically, you, and the manufacturer are “disclosing” any evidence you have on one another.

After about 1 month, CAMVAP called, and gave me a hearing date which was only about 2 weeks away. I was expecting it to be months away, so I felt unprepared. However, I was determined to give a good, thorough presentation, and do my best at telling the arbitrator my story.

A couple tips that come to mind, when you’re preparing, and giving your presentation:

  1. Read this website – It’s about another person who went through CAMVAP, and won. He shares a lot of good tips on how to present your case, and gives a list of what to do, and what not to do.
  2. Go to the CAMVAP website, and read through EVERYTHING! They also give some great tips on things to say, and things not to say. This is really important. I strongly urge you to read everything here. It even gives you an outline of what the hearing will look like, and really helps when you’re putting your presentation together.
  3. Get a piece of bristol board, and tape monthly calendars to it. Use this to place an X on the day that anything happens. Example: If your truck goes into the dealership, X. If you have to call the manufacturer, X, etc, etc. It really gives a good picture of the amount of time you put in getting this truck fixed.
  4. Type out your presentation in full, with all dates the trucks went into the shop, and all dates that you corresponded with Dealer or Manufacturer. This is basically your oral presentation that you will read from during the presentation. The reason why it’s good to have this paper, is because the arbitrator can take it afterwards, and have something to review when they make their decision. This is important, and it helped 100% in my case.
  5. Like the CAMVAP website says, and the blog above, create a route from the meeting place, and make sure you can duplicate the issues your having. It’s very important to show the arbitrator the issues with you vehicle. So practice and make sure these issues appear during your hearing.
  6. Remember, the arbitrator is NOT a technical expert. So, if you need to bring diagrams to help illustrate your issue, then do so. Also, you can find articles on the internet that help prove your issue is a problem. Print these articles out, and submit them as evidence. (Just make sure you also submit this article with your CAMVAP form, along with Work orders, etc)
  7. Practise, Practise, Practise. Read through your presentation numerous times until you are completely comfortable with it.
  8. Avoid slander in your presentation. The arbitrator isn’t concerned about all the bad things the dealer said to you when you were in for repair. However, sometimes you need to show the arbitrator the struggles you went through with the dealer. Just make sure you tell about it in a tasteful way. Just remember, your problems should be between YOU, and the MANUFACTURER. Stick to the story!
  9. Don’t think you can go into CAMVAP and just wing it. Seriously, put some effort into your presentation, and really show the arbitrator the struggles you’ve been through so far. Convince him!

My hearing was scheduled for August 31, 2013. It was set for 10am. I arrived at the hotel around 930, and went into the hotel meeting room. To my surprise, someone was already there. I introduced myself, and setup my presentation. I had an stand brought in the room to hold my bristle board calendar. I also had my presentation, and my articles, all set out. I also had the above videos, and pictures of the engine damage on my iPad, all ready to go. The arbitrator arrived, and basically give us an idea of what’s going to happen here. He also described what an Arbitrator is. We then swore to tell the truth, etc, etc. It was pretty laid back. He asked whether we wanted to demonstrate the noise on the truck first, or go right into my presentation. I asked if I could go ahead, and start presenting.

Here is a photo of my calendar.

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The premise of my presentation was to convince the arbitrator that I had been through enough, and that further repairs were not fair to me as a consumer. I was to convince the arbitrator that these previous repairs hinder my future warranty, and resale value. So I centered my presentation around proving, or convincing this. This is important! Before creating your presentation, or story, figure out what you want to tell, or convince. Create a premise that your presentation resolves around, and incorporate that premise in with your story, or timeline.

I started out with an opening argument. It basically gives the arbitrator an idea of what’s to come. It’s almost a summary. After the opening statement, I went right into my presentation. I read my presentation on paper, while looking up at the Arbitrator, and marking off the calendar. Every time I had a correspondence with anyone, I added it to the calendar. During the presentation the Arbitrator did ask a few questions, trying to understand the timeline. Also during the presentation, I showed pictures of what I collected, as well as the videos of my problems. My presentation took about 30-40 minutes to go through.

My presentation was about 16 pages.  It basically gives the whole story from the start, to the end.  I tried my hardest to keep on point, and short.  A lot of the point I had to make need to show that this whole process was extremely frustrating, and going through it again for a repair was not wanted.

Once my presentation was finished, CAMVAP said it was now the manufacturers turn to speak, and tell their side of the story. In my case, my presentation, and story was so compelling, that the Manufacturer didn’t have ANYTHING to say or add. He did say that he was disgusted, and flabbergasted by Chrysler Canada’s behavior and decisions. He said it was mind boggling how they decided to rebuild that engine, instead of replacing it completely. I think he was a little embarrassed about representing Chrysler Canada. He was however interested in hearing the knocking noise, and grinding noise.

So, after the presentations we went out to the parking lot, so the manufacturer, and the arbitrator could hear the noises in question. (Previous to this hearing, I figured out that the best way to hear the noise, is a short drive after starting the truck in the morning. So the night before the hearing, I left the truck at the hotel, so I could cold start it in the morning.) I started the truck, and the 3 of us went for a drive around the block. When we got back, the knocking noise was very evident. The manufacturer listened to the noise, and didn’t know what was causing it. He said in order to determine that, a engine tear down would be needed. We also discussed the grinding noise, and I explained that I couldn’t demonstrate that noise right now, because it only happens on snow, ice or mud. I also said that I’m not comfortable reproducing this grinding noise on dry pavement, or anything other then a very slippery surface, because of the damage that happens to the transfer case when this noise occurs.

The arbitrator also did a walk around of the truck, looking for any damage to the vehicle. We then signed a piece of paper showing their was no damage, or visible scratches.

We came back in, and finished up the case. The arbitrator asked both myself, and the manufacturer what we thought about a technical inspection. I said I would be willing to do that, but just like the manufacturer recently said, the inspector would have to tear the engine down, to find out where the noise was coming from. I explained that another repair, or inspection is what I’m trying to avoid, since it’s been repaired and inspected for 72 days already. We talked about the buy-back amount, and made sure both myself, and the manufacturer agreed on the amount in case their was a buy-back. I handed out my presentation to the arbitrator so he had something to review when he was making his decision. He said he would review everything, and make his decision within 14 days.

Well, on August 9th, CAMVAP sent me the award from the arbitrator. It was a lengthy award, demonstrating why the arbitrator made the decision to award a buy back.

I won! I received a buy-back of my Dodge RAM in FULL, with no deductions of use! The arbitrator ruled on my side. The process took exactly 1 year to complete. 6-8 months fighting with dealerships, and manufacturer, and the rest going through the CAMVAP process. It was such a relief!

On August 23, I received a call from Oxford Dodge saying they have a cheque waiting for me, in the full amount of the truck. I simple drove the truck there, handed in the keys, and walked away with the cheque.

I have learnt A LOT about the CAMVAP process, and how dealers and manufacturers handle the process. If you have any questions at all, please email me, or comment on this story. I will do my best to help out!

The best part?  I got to trade my RAM in for a Ford F-150.  LOVE IT so far!

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Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park Review

Review Date: June 2013

General Information / Location
Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park is located about 30 minutes north of Parry Sound.  It’s directly off of Highway 69, and located on Sturgeon Bay.   The park is located on one of the bays on the lake.

Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park
P.O. Box 271
Point au Baril, Ontario
P0G 1K0
705-366-2521
Click here to reserve, or view campsites


View Larger Map

Entry / Layout

ST.Campground

Once you get off Highway 400, it’s a fairly quick drive to get to the park entry.  The park only has 1 area, and it’s a fairly small park.  Unless I missed it, I didn’t see a bathroom with running water, but there are vault toilets.  There is a beach in the park which is nice.  There’s also a boat ramp, and parking for your truck and trailer.

General Discussion

 

The atmosphere when entering the park was kinda neat.  Can’t really explain it, but it felt really cozy and rustic.  After the front gate, that’s about where the excitement stopped.  The rest of the park seemed really “Homemade”.  The sites were small, and unused.  There was 2 foot long grass growing in most of them.

I didn’t see any flush toilets, or showers.  There are alot of vault toilets around.

I guess the beach is a nice addition, but I generally don’t enjoy beaches unless it’s on a large, “great” lake.

There is no hiking here, there are no trails here.

I think the only reason to stop at this park, is if you’re into fishing (and you brought a boat), or your stopping over for a night.  There is just nothing to do here.  I think Sturgeon Bay is great for fishing, so bring your boat, put it in the water, and enjoy your fishing, then back to the campsite for the night, and repeat.  We stopped here just to sleep for a night, then left in the morning.

One thing I noticed is the black flies were TERRIBLE!  The next day we drove to Killarney and there were NO blackflies.  So not sure why they are so bad here.

Best Campsites

The only site I would suggest is Site 6.  It’s near the water, and you have your own rock to sit on, and enjoy the water.   However, there is a marina right there, so the view isn’t amazing.

The other sites are just MEH.  Site #8 is small, and you can’t even view the water from your site.

Pro’s

– Beach

– Boat Ramp

– Boat and fisher friendly

Con’s

– Small

– There’s just nothing to do

– No running toilets

Conclusion

We just use this park as a stop over, as it’s right on the highway.  That’s about it.

Costco Preston 10×12 Hard Top Sun Shelter Review (Sojag)

There aren’t many reviews on this specific model, except for a few on the costco website. They are indeed helpful, but I wanted to create a review with a bit more info in it, and pictures of my setup.  I will continue to update this post with the condition of the gazebo, hoping that it will help others decided to buy or not.  I will put the updates at the top, and the review at the bottom.  So, I would suggest going to the bottom, read the review, then come back up for the updates!  Hope this helps!

** May 22, 2015 **

Here’s a video that shows some severe rain under the gazebo.

** Update May 7 – 2015 **

Gazebo lasted the winter with no problems.  Towards the end of the winter, I did prop a 2×4 up in the center, to give it some support IN CASE it needed it.  It would have lasted with it, but wasn’t taking any chances.  The roller shades I bought are holding up great!  A few clips have broken, but I’ve managed to continue using them.

** Update May 25 – 2014

I created a video showing the shades, and how they are mounted, and how it slides.

** Update Mar 5 – 2014

Still no problems with the shelter this winter.  You’ll probably know that this winter has been a particularity cold one, with A LOT of snow.  I have had no issues with the shelter.  It’s almost completely iced over right now.  If I remember, I’ll take a picture of it.

** Update Jan 13 – 2014

The shelter is holding up GREAT during this winter.  We’ve had A LOT of snow throughout November and December, and have had NO problems with the shelter.  I’ve left the snow piled on top (1-2 feet) for the most part.  One time I took a shovel and pulled it down, but it wasn’t necessary.  We had some crazy wind as well, and the shelter hasn’t budged.  Good to go so far! (FYI – I do NOT have the winter shelter)

** Update Sept 6 **

Still havn’t had any issues with this Gazebo.  Winter is coming in a few months, so I’ll def continue to update this review.  I don’t think I will do the winter cover, because I’ve heard that it really flaps in the wind, and I hate that.  I think this thing will stand our winters perfectly fine!

One other note, I still haven’t gone back through and tightened bolts.  I’ll have to remind myself to do that.

 

** Update July 21 **

As requested, I wanted to post a pic of the mounting of the coolaroo shades. The shades are about 2 inches too long to fit perfectly on the 8′ sides. So, they are mounted on the angled pieces / the legs to the gazebo. It kinda works out good, because you can reach around, inside the legs and put nuts on the bolts holding the shades on. Here is one picture showing the mounting, and one showing the 8′ shade on a 10′ side.

The third picture shows how the 10′ shade is mounted. There’s a hole drilled through the metal which the shades mount to, which then goes into a slat of wood, behind the roof mounts of the gazebo. It then slides side to side. It’s not perfect, but works until I figure out a better solution. I also made a YouTube video to help with the mounting. (Ill upload that tomorrow)

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** Update June 24 **

So, as below, I returned the privacy curtains as I didn’t like them. However, I still need some privacy and sun shade from the sides. So, I thought about it, and remembered seeing the Coolaroo roller shades at Costco for $60. They are 8′ x 8′. Two sides of my gazebo are also 8′. 🙂

So I bought 3 of them, and installed them into the Preston gazebo. Wow!! I love them!!! They fit really well into the gazebo, and you can roll them down half way, or all the way, depending on how much sun shade you need. When you want privacy, or more shade, you simply roll them down, and viola!! On the side that is longer, I allowed the shade to slide back and forth, depending on which end you needed the shade. Below are some pics.

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** Update June 21 **

I bought the privacy curtains for the gazebo. They come setup exactly like the screens. They are good quality, and the fabric is fairly thick. They come with hooks for it. To install the hooks, I simply undid the last screw in the track, and slide the new hooks in. Then the previous mosquito screen gets removed, and the privacy now goes on the outside. Then the screen gets put back up on the inside.

Well, I don’t like it. The fabric blows around too much, and it really blocks you in. Feels like I’m no longer outside. I can went out and came back 4 hours later, and all the Velcro had already been separated and the privacy curtains blowing in and out. I’ll have to find another way to get some privacy.

Review

photo 4

 

We needed something for our deck to give us some shade. We thought about having a couple umbrella’s, but didn’t really like the look of them, and we wanted something more permanent. We wanted something that stayed put, and you didn’t have to move around. We wanted something that we could turn into a decorated outdoor room.

Here’s why we ultimately picked the Costco gazebo:

1) Costco return warranty is one of the best out there. It’s my experience that they really take care of you, if there is a problem with a product.

2) This sun shelter has a number of accessories that you can buy for it. One of them being the privacy shades, and the other one, a winter cover.

3) The mosquito netting on this shelter is far superior then any other gazebo. It’s not that thin, nylon netting, but a thick textilene type netting. The privacy curtains are also alot thicker, and more rugged then other similar models. This is the reason we bought this one over the Essex Metal roofed gazebo from Canadian Tire. The netting, and privacy curtains on that one are HORRIBLE.

4) The poly-carbonate panels are 8mm thick, instead of more other gazebo’s which are 6mm thick.

The unit comes in 2 boxes. One of them contains the roof panels, and the other contains everything else. The larger box is around 150-175 lbs. It would fit in a van, and possibly in the truck of a car with the back seats down.

The written instructions that come with the shelter are fairly easy to ready, and understand. However, to make it even easier, have a look at this youtube video that shows how to erect it. I found that reading the instructions, and watching the video made putting this shelter together really easy. I decided to use a lock tight on all the hex bolts, just to make sure it doesn’t come apart. One of the reviews said the roof panels fly off in the wind. Well, if you read carefully, he said he was also trying to get new screws from Sojag because those flew off as well. Well, the reason the panels flew out, was because his screws came loose. Ither he didn’t tighten them all the way, or they eventually came loose.

I was able to setup this gazebo by myself. I started by adding the feet to the legs of the gazebo, just like in the video. I then joined the support beams, just like the video. Now, this is where the video really came in handy. Layout the gazebo legs, and the beams exactly like they did in the video. Then, when it comes time to lift one side, lift it, and lean it against the house, or another structure. Then lift a perpendicular side, and attach it to the side that’s leaning against the house or structure. After that’s bolted together, the gazebo should be free standing. Bolt on the third side. Now all that’s left is one long beam. I placed one end of the beam on a ladder, and attached the other end to the 3 sided gazebo. Then bolted the ladder side together. Now you have a free standing structure to work with!

photo 1

Next, I just followed the instructions as in the manual, and the roof went together really easy.

photo 2

 

I also did the roof panels myself. I just followed the instructions in the manual, and put them in, in the order they suggested. Just be 100% that all panels are in completely. Make sure they are completely pushed in, and completely in the tracks they are to sit in. After you think each panel is in completely, give it another good push to make sure! I think this is important.

After the panels are in, there are a few more steps to complete to hold the panels together, and to brace them from any load that might sit on them. Instructions were all easy to follow here. After that, the screen is placed on the hooks. And you’re all done!

photo 4 photo 3 photo 5

 

A couple other things about this shelter

1) Even when sitting under it, the sun is still bright through the roof panels. I’m thinking a steel roof would be nice here, as you are completely out of the sun. However, a steel roof would make it plenty dark underneath, and I think it would take away from the outside experience

2) Make sure you bolt this thing down, as it will take flight in strong winds

3) I would suggest going over all bolts every couple weeks to make sure non are coming loose.

4) In the instructions, when putting the roof cap on, it says to leave it loose, and don’t tighten until the roof panels are in place. It doesn’t remind you to tighten them later in the instructions. So, make sure you reach up, and tighten (from the inside) the 3 bolts holding the roof cap on.

Hope this helps! I will continue to update this review every few months. Any questions, email me!

Killarney Provincial Park Review

Review Date: We are camping here THIS WEEKEND! I’ll complete review shortly after (June 2013)

General Information / Location

Killarney Provincial Park is located about 60kms off highway 400/69. It borders Georgian Bay, and is full of great hiking trails, and canoeing adventures! I like this area because of the rocky and hilly landscape.

Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney, Ontario
P0M 2A0
705-287-2900

Click here to reserve, or view campsites


View Larger Map
Entry / Layout

KI.Overview
When travelling north, south on Highway 400, and you see the Killarney exit signs….. don’t get to excited yet.  It’s still a 57km drive on highway 637 to get to the front gates of Killarney.  However, the road is decent, and it’s a nice drive through the forest!  Also, be on the lookout for animals!  We saw a large black bear, 2 deer, and a fox.  The red fox actually lives in the campground, and you’ll see it walking around from time to time.

Right off the highway is the front gates and front office.  The front office also has a small gift shop / supplies shop.  I found it neat to walk around, and look at the displays that are setup.  There is also a Fox that likes to walk around the front office area. You also sometimes see it walking through the park.  Once past the front gates, the park is split up into 3 sections.   George Lake A, George Lake B & C, George Lake D.  I believe there is one main bathroom, with flush toilets, and showers, and there are plenty of vault type toilets scattered throughout the park.  There are 2 beaches, one on George Lake A, and the other on George Lake D.

Highway 400 exit sign

Highway 400 exit sign

Sign at front gates

Sign at front gates

Parking lot at front gates

Parking lot at front gates

Main office

Main office

Driveway leading to park

Driveway leading to park

General Discussion

We stayed at the George Lake A campground, in site 29.  If your staying in this part of the park, stick to the sites along the river, and not near the parking lot.  The sites along the river are spaced out nicely, and all fairly private.  You really feel like your camping in the middle of the bush here.  There are 3 vault toilets along the river.  The only issue is that you are fairly far away from the Flush toilets, and the garbage bins, but I didn’t mind as you are also away from all the noise.  There is a turn-around spot at the end of this road, so if you have a truck and trailer, you should be able to turn around.  I have a RAM with a 20′ trailer and was able to turn around without troubles.

I didn’t view all the sites in George Lake B & C.  From what I remember, the sites are closer together, and less private.  Maybe because the bush didn’t seem as thick?  However, this campground is alot closer to the flush toilets, which might be nice for some.

I didn’t go into George Lake D at all, so can’t really comment on this section.  I believe these sites are mostly tent sites.

As I said above, there is only 1 full featured bathroom, and lots of vault toilets around the campgrounds.

There are 2 beaches.  The one I did go to is at George Lake A.  For a small lake, the beach is pretty good.  There is also a roped off swimming area.  This also seems to be the main entry into the back hills of Killarney.  Meaning, alot of people are using this beach to begin their canoe trip.  You’ll also see alot of people coming back on Sunday’s, etc.  I believe the beach at George Lake D has a boat ramp. (Or a canoe ramp?)

The park suggests that you bring any garbage to the garbage containers every night.  If you don’t, the raccoons seem to not be afraid to come right in, and steal anything.  Even if you’re sitting at the campfire.

In order to rent a canoe, check the Killarney magazine, and it offers 3 different outfitters for canoes.  You simple call them, give them your credit card, and they supply you with the combination to the lock on a specific canoe.  The one I called was $28 per day.  The canoe trip was the highlight of our trip.  We paddled along the outside of the lake, and once you get to the other side, the cliffs are AMAZING.  There is even one spot where the cliff hangs over you.  Canoeing this lake is a must!

The hiking here is AMAZING!  So amazing, I’ve created it’s own category below.  I’ll describe the trails that we went on, and provide some pictures.  First, see some pictures below of Killarney Park.

View of lake from George Lake A

View of lake from George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Site 29

Site 29

Campsite in George Lake A

Campsite in George Lake A

Road following river

Road following river

Campsite

Campsite

Pathway to trail

Pathway to trail

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

George Lake

Hiking Trails

Here, I will describe the trails that I hiked on.  I don’t have pictures handy right now, but will add them eventually.  You can see a brief description of all the trails in the park HERE

1) Chikanishing Trail – I suggest taking this trail first.  It only takes 1 – 1.5 hours.  It’s a loop trail.  It follows a river out to Georgian Bay, and brings you a-top large rocks, overlooking the river, and Georgian Bay.  Once you see the view of Georgian Bay, you gasp at how incredible it is.  We walked right to the lake, and went for a quick swim. IT WAS COLD!  On the way back, it winds through the forest, and eventually back to where you started.  This trail is fairly easy, and gives you a good idea of what hiking is like up in Killarney

2) Granite Ridge Trail – I also suggest taking this trail.  Do it at the same time as the above trail.  It brings you out to an incredible cliff, overlooking the Provincial Park.  We sat on this cliff for a long time, just taking in the great views. Here’s a video:

3) The Crack – This is the trail you’ve been practising for.  It’s a must!  I would suggest starting sometime in the morning, having lunch atop the mountain, then start the treck back down.  Bring lots of snacks, and a lunch.  The trail is fairly easy, but it’s long.  There are a few sections where you’re climbing, which can get tiring.  The view atop the final destination, is incredible!  Once up there, take an hour or two, and soak it all in. Relax, and rest.

4) Bike Path – This is a fairly short path that starts near site 30, and goes to the highway. Here’s a video of it:

Best Campsites

– I would say that any campsite along the river are fairly good.  Sites 18 – 30.  I would also say site 63 is pretty good.  It’s got a nice spot you can walk out and see the water.

Pro’s

– Hiking!  If you want to hike, and explore, this park is awesome for that!

– When camping, you really feel like your in the middle of the bush.  Camping in a real remote area (which you kinda are).

– The park is really quiet.

Con’s

– You need to watch out for bears, and throwout your garbage every night.  Which is kinda neat cause I love seeing bears!

– It’s a treck to get there

Conclusion

I really liked this park because it was really quiet.  The sites along 18-30 are spaced out, and give you alot of room.  I love being up north, and seeing all these wild animals.  All the hiking up there is amazing.  Go out and hike all day, come back and relax at your campsite.