Coolers and Darlington Provincial Park

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car camping at Darlington provincial park, one of the best provincial parks near Toronto
Camping at Darlington Provincial Park

This is the transcript from our podcast. If you would like to listen to the podcast, you can check it out here.

Pamela Frank 0:00
Hello, and good day, eh. I’m Pamela.

Tim Good 0:02
And I’m Tim

Pamela Frank 0:03
and we’re from We’re here because we wanted to inspire other families to enjoy camping adventures, such as we have with our kids. Today we wanted to talk about Darlington Provincial Park, and coolers and maybe we’ll get into mess kits if there’s time. So, Tim, cooler wise, we talked a little bit about coolers in terms of how to pack them, but you also want to look for certain qualities around your cooler and Tim has some other insights as far as coolers are concerned.

The Best Coolers for Camping

Tim Good 0:33
I personally, I’ve used probably three different types of coolers just over time, simply because I’m very familiar with Coleman coolers. That’s my go-to now. Go to like I have five, maybe six coolers, I have some issues, okay. I’ve used Igloo though, and they were fabulous. The particular one that I got the layout didn’t work for me. I like a long, narrower one, this was a little more sort of a sideways version of it. It just didn’t work. I’ve heard fabulous things. And for the brief amount of time that we used it works well. The Colemans in particular that I like to use are Xtremes that starts with X not an E. They’re rated for five days, your food will stay frozen for 5 days. I would say that that’s darn close with one caveat. And here’s the big thing to know about coolers, don’t open them.

Pamela Frank 1:26
Especially if you have kids, they want to open it to grab something and then dig around in it for a little while.

Tim Good 1:30
Don’t take one cooler. For starters, take two coolers, take one that is the one that gets opened all the time that you’re going to replace the ice in all the time every single day because kids but you as well. I mean, whether you’re going in for a beverage or somebody needs a second breakfast, and it needs to be hot dogs or what have you. That’s the sort of stuff you put in the everyday use one. The other cooler is your meals which as I talked about last time you pack in reverse order. It will stay frozen. The stuff on the bottom will stay frozen for five days. If you only open it, take out the meal, close it and make sure you close it well. Push it all the way down. Don’t leave it in the sun. We’ve talked about putting it in your car at the end of the day, or if you’re leaving your site so that it doesn’t become an animal attractant. I’m sure that there are other ones that are of equal quality. I’m most familiar with the Xtremes and they have worked fabulously for us. We have two big ones. They eat up a lot of space. We’ll take one it depends on how much space we have, how much lugging we’re going to do, whether it’s all four of us going for seven days, five days, that sort of deal that determines whether it’s worth eating the extra space with the wheels and the handle and that it. I know it sounds small but every little bit helps when you’re taking everything under the sun camping with you in your car camping, it makes a big difference.

Pamela Frank 2:50
What about putting a block of ice in it versus ice cubes?

Tim Good 2:55
I pre-freeze them I have a lot of ice packs as well. So the night before we go, I don’t load them with the food but I load them up with a bunch of freezer packs to get the temperature in the cooler or coolers ideally down. And then the next day I put freezer packs in. I put the frozen food in, then I put freezer packs on top of the frozen food assuming I have enough space. When we do get to a point where we need to refresh, especially in the one that’s the all-the-time use one, it depends how much space we have. Blocks are the best for sure as far as lasting and keeping things frozen, because a solid like that takes that much longer to melt. Most parks have both blocks and bags of cubes. Bags of cubes are much easier to distribute in your cooler. They will also, sort of, cover more food, keep it cooler. You’re forever draining your cooler. Certainly the one that you’re into all the time. And yeah, pretty much every day you’re offering another bag of ice that’s kind of the speed at which you know everybody’s in and out and kids aren’t always paying attention. They don’t always push it that last half inch and that makes a massive difference on how cold the interior of your cooler stays and your cooler packs stay frozen. Eventually they will thaw out. I tend to pull them out put them in a plastic bag because they will have some condensation and stuff on them and bury them in the trunk somewhere and then switch to either blocks or or bags of cubes.

Darlington Provincial Park

the woods at darlington provincial park near Toronto Ontario
Darlington Provincial Park

Pamela Frank 4:18
Alright, and then Darlington Provincial Park. So Tim and I have each been there not together and I told him earlier when we were talking about this that my recollection of Darlington is I don’t remember that much about it. It was kind of in my mind, I think non-descript. The nice advantage of it is that it’s close to Toronto so it doesn’t take long and it was actually close to where my mother was living at the time too. So I could pop in for a visit with her and then go to Darlington and camp. Our site there was not great it was very open with the site next door to us. It was this big grassy open space and our next-door neighbour was a smoker so sitting in his lawn chair smoking it was wafting over into our site which wasn’t pleasant, but it was nice to be close to Toronto. And we are also talking about the fact that Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is nearby so you can take the kids for a tour of that once those things are available to us again

Tim Good 5:08
Yeah, the generating station is quite cool. I’ve been there a couple of times with Thomas when he was quite short would say he was six’ish maybe I’ve been to Darlington a couple of times, maybe three times. Twice with Thomas just didn’t happen that it fit my schedule and again with with parental units very close to there. It was dead easy for the record, Darlington in the many camping groups that I follow, etc. Darlington doesn’t get the love I think it deserves. Yes, it’s close to the 401, highway 401. Yes, there are trains. Although I’m almost positive that the one that is not too far from Grundy, I’m sure I’ve been more annoyed with that. I can’t even say I recall hearing it at Darlington and I’ve done long weekend trips. I’ve also done a six-day or seven-day there. I think it’s a great park. Dead easy to get there from anywhere in southern Ontario GTA-wise. Yes, the sites in particular, if I remember correctly, the ones that are along the lakeside, which some of them are quite high up with a fairly substantial cliff below. Some are a little bit lower, heading towards more marshy land if I’m not mistaken. Those are definitely open and grassy. There’s probably a tree that defines the barrier between you and your next camper but there are, farther in, there are ones that are much more private. I absolutely recollect taking pictures at the east end of the park. There’s a bunch of trees that were planted. Just because I’ve done it as a Scout, these were planted by Scouts because they’re in straight lines. They’re perfectly spaced from each other all that sort of deal. In particular, I remember a very early morning shot where the fog was rolling through and it’s kind of spectral – quite cool, but it’s nice. It separates the park from a farmer’s field. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the farmer out there. Yes, you can hear the highway. No, it’s not particularly loud. Anytime outside is a good time outside. You can fish in Lake Ontario and there are marshlands to explore – don’t do it in June or July you will get eaten alive. There is a kid’s playground which at the time worked very well for a six-year-old and then I think I took him when he was seven as well. I’m fairly certain there was a store at the park.

having fun at the playground at darlington provincial park
The Playground at Darlington Provincial Park

You know it’s a quick jaunt into Bowmanville, it’s 15 minutes. The kid, being young, we had an accident and needed to go wash a sleeping bag. So laundry facilities were 15 minutes away. How cool is that? But you’re still in greenery, you’re camping. It’s not terribly dissimilar to Sibbald Point on the weekends, especially if it’s a long weekend or something like that. There’s going to be rowdier people. I quite liked the park. You know, there are lots of RVs. I don’t camp in that campground. I would find the one that’s higher up in the East End. You can see the CN Tower, which is so cool to just look out and see the big wind generating fans at Pickering generating station weirdly enough or near there. And that’s a cool thing to check out. Yeah, I like that park. I don’t have any issues.

Pamela Frank 7:59
In terms of facilities, it’s open year-round, but only from May to October for camping. Outside of that, it’s open for winter activities like snowshoeing you can take your cross country skis there and go cross country skiing, there are hiking trails, there’s fishing there. You can do their discovery programs, especially in the summer months. So that’s where we love to take the kids to the programs that the Rangers offered, evening campfires, sing-alongs things like that are always fun.

Tim Good 8:24
There’s also a very cool biking trail. I can’t say I’ve ridden the whole thing although I looked at it on the map. We have ridden some of it I want to say it starts somewhere east of the Darlington generating station and heads towards the lakefront and runs along the lakefront. I’m almost positive runs, at least to Pickering. But I think it runs to the Rouge and how cool is that? I don’t know the one time that we did ride on it. We saw like nobody else on it. So that’s awesome.

Pamela Frank 8:50
And a lovely lakefront bike ride or hike or whatever you want to do. Anyways, that’s it for me. How about you?

Tim Good 8:56
I think that’s probably good for me. Awesome.

Pamela Frank 8:57
So enjoy the rest of your day. It’s Super Bowl Sunday as we’re recording this. So go Bucs go!

Tim Good 9:04
Oh, go Kansas. Tom Brady’s already done it 10 times, give one to Maholmes.

Pamela Frank 9:12
Alright, that’s it for us. Talk to you next week.


Tim Good 9:15

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