Whether it’s the weather or the yard work, some commitment on the weekend or the fact that you have family coming to visit in a week and you have to finish the trim in the spare room, some weekends you just can’t get out camping.

That’s not something we can accept easily, the symptoms of withdrawal can be as hard as when I tried (successfully … eventually) to quit smoking. It’s as hard or harder on the kids, and if it’s hard on them they can make life really hard on Mom and me.

So, this weekend we faced three out of four of these reasons not to camp. We hadn’t acknowledged this and spent the whole week discussing, preparing for and looking forward to the weekend of camping.

When reality set in early on Friday, we had to find something to replace the camping trip, both for ourselves but more so to placate the kids or we would never hear the end of, “DAD, YOU PROMISED!”

We went on a scouting trip.

It had been a while since we had camped in the sites around Haines Junction, so we headed out early in the afternoon with one dog, one picnic dinner complete with hot dogs, roasting sticks, fixin’s for s’mores and a mission to check out the campsites and day use areas in and around Haines Junction.

There are three within easy driving distance: Pine Lake, Kluane Lake and Dezadeash Lake.

I won’t take this column to describe the individual campsite to you … what would I have to write about next week after the camping trip to Pine Lake? I will tell you how this adventure filled the void of a weekend camping and got us through the weekend intact.

We could drive a little aimlessly because there was no rush to get to a campsite before:

a) It got to late.

b) The best sites were all taken.

c) In time to feed the kids.

d) Before the rain started.

e) Before the dogs got so squirrelly they tore up the seats.

We drove a little slower and spotted a little more wildlife on the way.

There was no rush, so Tammy had more time to try and take some photos (bears can be elusive to the camera lens).

We took the old highway down through Champagne hoping to get into Kwaday Dan Kenji (Long Ago Peoples Place) with the kids. It wasn’t open, but we drove down the road and saw what looked like a campsite in the middle of town and a very nice new playground area.

We didn’t stop, as the big sign on the way into town very explicitly said “NO DOGS” but it looked like it would have entertained the kids for a while.

Once in Haines Junction, we went to all three of the nearby campsites, played on the beach at one, hiked around a bit at another and started a fire in the day use area and cooked hot dogs and s’mores at the third (note to self, remember the hatchet next time we do this).

The best part of the trip, for the kids, had to be the Visitor Reception Centre/Parks Canada office in Haines Junction. They have a display there that is labelled, “Please Touch”. This isn’t a phrase the kids are used to seeing.

The drawers are full of animal signs and parts for the kids to handle and identify … Ben loved identifying the animal scats and even placed a few requests for some new ones.

Also, just outside the centre, there is a fresh/potable water tap. That is something that will come in handy on the camping trip and I could refill my water bottle there for the drive home as well.

No trip to Haines Junction is complete without the stop at the Frosty Freeze. We got back in the car to head home late with our clothes smelling like campfire, the dog wet and tired, the kids with dirt and sand that would take two baths to wash out and eyes burning just a little from the campfire smoke. All the right feelings of camping.

This kind of trip would never replace the camping trip, but it is enough to take the edge off and get you through, kinda like Zyban for campers.