Friday, June 22, 2007

My last few days as a free man...

Yes indeed, after just a little over 4 months of freedom from the shackles of employment, I am but a few days away to rejoining the employed masses. Monday morning, I am returning to work for Ogilvy Renault, with whom I was working before leaving on my Japanese adventure in 2005. Quite pleased to be heading back there, though I hadn't envisioned doing so until recently. Working with the firm again in Montreal was great and opened the door to a return, which I feel I may seek to make permanent over the next few months, we shall see. At the very least, it's good money while I look for a permanent position, in fact giving me 50% more than what I would have had to settle for going in somewhere through an agency, which totally rocks.

So that's one big change in our new life here in Canada, just as we're getting settled in. Another big change is that Yoshiko has begun taking language classes through the LINC program, which stands for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada. This is a government sponsored program which provides full time English (and French) studies for landed immigrants. She's enjoying it so far, and I think it's great because she's practicing things like reading which is something she hasn't had much exposure to in Japan's conversation based schools like AEON. Speaking of which, I have a feeling business is quite brisk at AEON these days, with the major Japanese language school, the much loathed NOVA taking a major hit in the last few weeks. Not only has the government limited their business, suspending them from signing any students up to long-term contracts, but the government's language training subsidy has also been revoked for that company due to their shady business practices. In my opinion, this has been a long time coming, NOVA has been treating their staff and students badly for years while relying on massive advertising to bring in fresh meat... now they're getting their dues. HA!

So with my last days of freedom dwindling down, I'm glad I was able to squeeze in a few more leisure activities. Yesterday, I went fishing with my brother and tomorrow morning, Yoshiko and I leave for a weekend of camping alongside my good friend and former coworker Klaus's RV out East of Ottawa.

This is my favourite little fishing spot, a place Sean introduced me to some years ago after finding out about it from someone at work. This great fishing hole is at the very beginning of this river as it flows out from a major lake west of Ottawa.

The sheer volume of fish here make any day far from boring. The variety is nice too, and yesterday in the couple of hours we spent there, we managed to hook some 14 (or more?) fish from 4 of the 5 species represented here. There's yellow perch, sunfish, bass, pickerel and pike all right here at your finger tips. Granted, some of our catch were quite tiny as you can see here.

I am pleased to report that despite having the unfortunate luck of catching the 2 smallest fish of the day, I also had the chance of catching the biggest of the day. Not the cutest thing when pictured from straight on...

...but a nice fish! Despite the fish being well past the 30cm limit imposed in the fishing regs for the area, I opted to release it and give someone else the chance to fight him in some day in the future.

Turns out the day was quite nice, despite the severe thunderstorm warnings issued all day long. We drove through rain to get here, but it cleared up nicely shortly after our arrival. This is a small bay of the lake from which the river springs, nice blue skies!

Another highlight of fishing here is the wildlife. For example, the resident Blue Heron was hanging around for most of the day, preening and cleaning himself as we fished.

When fishing here, we've also had quite a few close encounters with this old feller. As you can see by the moss on his back, he's been around quite some time now.

From what I can tell, this is a Common Snapping Turtle, a species found throughout Southern and Easter Ontario and throughout North America. I have a funny story about this one from one of our last trips. Sean and I were camping in the area one time and fishing here. I'd caught a nice bass which I decided to keep and tied it off with a rope to our minnow bucket which was full of water at the time. Some time later, while we were fishing, we noticed that our minnow bucket was moving... in fact being slowly dragged into the water. Upon further investigation, we found that this snapping turtle has grasped the tail of my bass and was proceeding to drag it off into the river, dragging the bucket along with it! Quite amusing! We promptly rescued the bass from the jaws of the greedy turtle and kept our eye on it for the remainder of the afternoon.

I am sooooooo happy to be back and in close proximity to my little spots again. In camping news, I have decided to leave the extremely loyal people who use Hennessey Hammocks (pictured here during my trip to Canada last year) and join the Clark Jungle Hammock group of users. The Hennessey is a truly fantastic design and beats sleeping in a tent any day, however I really like the design of the Clark. Most hangers, as they call themselves, initially move to hammocks to save some weight in their pack, and with the Clark being heavier, a little more cumbersome and quite a bit more expensive than the Hennessey, many people prefer not to go there. After camping with Sean who has had his Clark for a few years now, I was sold on the design for a few reasons.

First, the detachable mosquito netting is nice and allows you to exit the hammock from both the left and right. It also allows you the option of getting into the wonderful pockets which run along the underside of the hammock to get stuff out, without getting out of the hammock. With the Hennesey, I always felt far away from my gear in that I couldn't just reach out and grab something I wanted, I had to exit the hammock completely.

Second, the side entry design and the way you lie in the Clark makes getting into and staying in a sleeping bag easier. One of my biggest pet peeves about the HH was the time and effort it took to get in and out, especially when it's cold.

Finally, and the real clincher here, the Clark's 6 pockets which run along the underside of the hammock can be stuffed with clothes, gear, leaves or whatever to give you some added protection in the cold. I'm sorry to say that I have felt cold sleeping in the HH, though in its defence I never tried sleeping with an under pad since the hammock's design would have taken some major acrobatics to get that to happen. The Clark also gives me that option with the shape of it holding a pad in place better than the HH.

So yes, it's more expensive and heavier... but it's warmer and more convenient in my opinion and the extra weight is mostly carried by canoe anyway, so there!

Anywho, I've ordered it and it should be in next week. At some point in the future, Sean and I will also make a run out and have a final look at a canoe, since the ones we've borrowed are either not reliable, too heavy or not always available. We shall see. So that's that! Off to Alfred tomorrow to spend some time with Klaus and his family and to initiate Yoshiko to camping... wish us luck!


Blogger godzilla_rabbit said...

Thanks a nice report of camping and fishing. I showed the pics and told the story to my kids in Japanese. They asked me a question and I mused. “Who tried to rescue the bass, you did from the turtle or the turtle did from you?” (^^)

10:06 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

I thought about that when I was writting.... saving the fish from the turtle only to have it fried up for dinner a few hours later... not really saving is it!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Anskov said...

Michel, great pics! I have decided to get a tent with my next paycheck (after I get a car - lol) and then do some weekend camping up north at some of the lakes. Good luck back at the new job.

マット クリステンセン

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more about the Clark Jungle Hammock. I left my Hennessy behind two years ago and I never looked back.

11:47 AM  

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