It's summer in Ottawa, it's Canada's 150th birthday, and there is so much to explore + discover! It seems like there's something new to do every weekend, and we're definitely staying busy. Last weekend's adventure was a night staying in an oTENTik along the Rideau Canal. Never heard of an oTENTik before? Basically, it's a cross between a tent and a cabin. There's a porch, wooden floor, and bunkbeds built in, but the walls and top are all covered with vinyl sheeting like a tent. Check out this page from Parks Canada for more info + to make your own reservation!
Now, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here: I am not a very outdoorsy person. I sunburn easily, I don't like bugs, and the only time I've ever been camping was in a tent in my parents' backyard as a kid. When Justin booked our oTENTik reservation back in January, I was a little skeptical! But I always say that I'll try anything once, so last weekend, we loaded up the car and left our lovely Ottawa home with air conditioning and indoor plumbing to drive down to Merrickville and our overnight oTENTik accommodations.
We stayed at the Parks Canada location at the Upper Nicholsons Lock Station at Lock 19 on the Rideau Canal. Each oTENTik came equipped with a barbecue, a fire pit, and a lockbox to stash food outside (we didn't see any mischievous critters, but I'm sure they were around!). Plus, there were real bathrooms + showers on site - yay! I was quite happy about that and figured that as long as there was some running water, I would be okay.
After we unloaded the car and got settled into our oTENTik, we decided to explore a bit. We walked up to see the falls above the locks, and watched a few boats go through the locks on their way up the canal. It was a truly beautiful location! A little family of red squirrels lived in a tree near the locks, the dragonflies were out and about on the water, and we definitely weren't the only people soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the day.
One little hiccup in our plans: it started to rain! We were going to build a campfire and toast some marshmallows, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Instead, we cozied up inside the oTENTik for a board game and reading by lantern-light, a couple drinks, and watching the rain on the canal.
I will admit, this was not the best sleep in my life. It was raining, there were wildlife noises in the woods, and our neighbours in oTENTik #2 were a little noisy. The bunks had hard vinyl covered mattresses on them, and as someone who already has chronic back problems, I wasn't super comfy. This could have easily been remedied by bringing a cushy sleeping bag or air mattress (plus some earplugs), but hey, you live and learn!
I can truly say that I was impressed with the location + accommodations, and it was a great first step into the world of camping. Am I planning to spend every weekend in a tent? Ok, maybe not. But would I book another weekend in an oTENTik and recommend it to all my friends? Absolutely.