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* Camping in the Fall Season - Our Holiday Tradition
Camping in the Belgium Ardennes in October
In the early 1980s, when our kids were still rather young, we used to go camping in the Belgium Ardennes during the Fall Holidays. We had found this very back to basic camping site, situated along the river the Ourthe, close to the city La Roche-en-Ardenne.
It was just a clearance in the woods along the river. It had one toilet and one sink and the owner came during the afternoon and if you happened to be there, you had to pay a small amount of money.
It was a beautiful place at the river bank with at the other side the Ardennes mountains covered with orange-brown colored trees. Of course at that time we didn't have the digital cameras yet and the photos we took are not all too well, but at least you'll get an impression how it looked like.
That little white van in the picture was ours.
Copyright text and photos, if not mentioned otherwise: Titia Geertman
I could write a lot about Les Ardennes in Belgium
This article however is about our Holiday Tradition
In the 1980s my hubby was a Handy Craft and Art History teacher in secundary school (comparable to Highschool I guess), so he was free too when the kids got free from school. As we're rather back to basic people who love nature, we decided to take a short holiday in the Fall Season, because then the woods in the Ardenne in Belgium would've been transferred to the Autumn yellow-orange-brown colors.
We didn't want to take too much stuff with us and we decided to leave our big tent behind and just camp in the little Toyota van we owned at that time. But how do you camp with 2 adults, 2 kids and 2 dogs in a little van???
How to camp in a little van with 2 adults, 2 kids and 2 dogs - We did it and we loved it
Camping in a small van is a question of organizing
My hubby likes to invent things and think up solutions for making things easier or possible. This is what he came up with:
Mind you, it was the time that nobody said you couldn't have kids in the back of your van.
He made a wooden box for our clothes
This wooden box was also the seat for the kids when we were driving. We put some anti slip stuff on there and our cusions and that worked fine. The box was divided in 9 small compartments in which a plastic storage bin would fit. One tray for Mom, one tray for Dad and one tray for the kids. It was enough for all the clothes (we didn't take that many though)
He measured the kids
He found out that they still fitted in the width of the van, so they could sleep from side door to side door. The kid's bed bottom was made of plywood, strong enough to hold them both. When we were driving it was sitting between the wooden box and the front seats of the van. When in place as a bed it was hanging from the ceiling and secured to the side.
So we slept in the length of the van and the kids above our feet (we didn't want them to fall on our heads).
We had two dogs at that time, both Sky Terriers. They were on a long leash during the day and at night they slept under the van outside or if it was stormy and rainy, they slept on the front seats.
It worked all very well.
Taking a bath in the ice cold river
Each morning we took a bath in the cold water of the river the Ourthe. At the point where we were camping this river was not deep at all as you can see. It was only somewhat deeper towards the mountains at the other side. It was cold, but refreshing and as you can see it didn't take too long for the kids to go in.
Sometimes we had some nice Indian Summers when it was still rather warm outside during the day.
Camco Grilling Table - if you want some more luxury
Camco Grilling Table - You'll need something to cook on
We always took a small camping gaz with us to be able to make some hot drinks for breakfast or coffee and tea.
We never cooked whole meals on the few days we were there. I took along one or two cans of split pea soup and we ate that with some bread and cheese.
We took the kids out for french fries and a hot dog or a cheap dinner at a cozy restaurant.
At tha time there weren't all those fancy cooking and grilling equipments yet, but if there would have been a grill set like the one on the right, we certainly would have taken that one along. Camping and grilling just go together so well.
An overview of our Holiday Tradition Camping site
The little white van in the middle is ours
In the years that we have visited this small camping site, it only happened one time that we were not alone there. All other times none of the owners of those caravans were there when we were there. It was so quiet and relaxing, we heard only the water running through its bedding and the birds singing in the trees.
It's been a long time since we were camping there and I have tried to find the spot on Google Earth, but failed to do so. It probably is given back to nature. It was only a rather small meadow in the woods with one open sink and one closed toilet for all campers.
Some years it so happened that we never saw the owner in the afternoon. We could've cheated the man out of his money by just leaving, but we never did. We always put money in the mailbox that was haning on the side of the toilet house. There wasn't a shower, but who cares when one can be one with nature. There was a whole river to wash us in.
Early Morning walk along the river the Ourthe
Early morning sunrises were just amazing
We used to take the kids and dogs for an early morning walk each day along the river the Ourthe. The nature there is so beautiful, especially in the Fall season when the woods colors turn into a flaming yellow-orange-red palette. After our walk we took the kids out on a ride through the surroundings, visiting small villages, seeing natures beauty in full glory. Visiting musea, having a drink on the terrace of the local café.
In Fall season you can't do without boots while camping, because each morning the grass is covered in morning dew for a few hours. Today's boots for kids are so colorful.
Some videos about the river the Ourthe - If you love nature, than this is it.
I've tried to find English speaking videos about the river the Ourthe and the city La Roche-en-Ardenne, but that wasn't so easy, so you'll have to do with these.
The Ourthe river is a long one and it has many faces. Wild river rafting is one of the outdoor sports you can do on this river. There are a lot of beavers living in this river and you can go troutfishing too.
Enjoy yourself watching these videos.
The dogs: Sky Terriers Masha and her daughter Olleke
We always took the dogs where ever we went.
They loved to camp with us and they loved to go off on their own, so they had to be kept on the long leashes or they would've gone off wandering into the woods.
We also took some camping gear with us in case the dogs pooped where they were not supposed to.
Actually some camping gear is a must to take along. On various occasions we were glad we had brought it with us.
The beautiful Belgian Ardennes
Don't forget to take a camera
You will ever regret it if you don't take a camera along on your camping trip. There's nothing wrong with the today's small pocket cameras, they let you make beautiful pictures.
You probably might have one already and today almost each mobile phone can make excellent pictures, but in case you don't have all that, this Kodak easyshare is not expensive and easy to handle.
The Kids are grownups now
We don't camp wih the family anymore, the kids have grown up and are living their own life. However I still camp in my big van on a regular base, when I have to go on sheep inspection trips.