Monday, August 20, 2007

Algonquin Park... The Return

Ah Algonquin... the Gonq... a wonderful place. Over 7,700 square kilometers (bigger than the prefecture I lived in back in Japan) filled with more 2000 lakes and hundreds of kilometers of canoe routes.

This past weekend, I initiated two lucky campers to the wonders of Algonquin. This was to be my wife's second camping trip, after an initial test trip which included us sleeping in a tent when we went to visit Klaus. This time around, no facilities, no running water, no electricity... "real" camping as far as I'm concerned.... and I'm proud to say my little lady came out of it unscathed and says she truly enjoyed herself.

In order to limit my wife's exposure to the roughness of interior camping in Algonquin Park, we opted for a Saturday morning departure, meaning only one night's stay on the site. This trip marked my fourth time taking up temporary residence on the shores of Basin lake, which is just inside the south-eastern part of Algonquin, and is accessible by car. Here are Yoshiko and my brother being silly as we arrived at the lake.

My explorer did quite well getting us in there, and was satisfactorily muddied in the process... this was also to be the first real test of the newly acquired Scout 16'6 canoe which had so far only seen action at the cottage on our tiny little lake.

Shortly after unpacking and setting up our tent\hammock, I put Yoshiko to work splitting wood... and a fine job she did!

After enjoying our lunch of Dirienzo's fantastic sandwiches, we took a hike around the lake and inspected the far shore. With a rather cool and windy afternoon ahead of us, we opted for a nap in the cozy warmth of our sleeping bags upon our return, hoping for the wind to die down in the evening. Sure enough, as we were preparing dinner, the wind practically stopped and we knew we were in for a comfortable evening. After dinner, we even made a bit of a tour around the lake with the canoe, chasing a pair of loons around for a while before making our way back. We were lucky enough to time our return perfectly to catch the last of the setting sun, captured here with the wake from our canoe.

It really was calm, and once we got the canoe on shore, the lake quickly returned to it's mirror-like state.

We spent the rest of the evening around the campfire, relaxing. The night turned out not to be so cold and the critters were relatively polite, only waking us up a few times. We had the confirmed (either visual or auditory) visits of rabbits, chipmunks\squirrels, raccoons no doubt, deer and possible a moose\bear which was crashing in the bush around 8AM just before I decided to finally get up and check it out. Whatever it was, I'll use Yoshiko's words to describe its sound: "Big". It was really funny because all hell broke loose right around 6AM with a chipmunk fight in the trees above us, followed by hoof sounds and some bleats from nearby deer. This whole sleeping on the ground thing is TOTALLY not cool though... I missed my hammock!

When we finally did roll out of bed, I set to putting together a fantastic breakfast of eggs and skillet strips on English muffins.... all prepared on the handy Coleman stove of course... yum!

Throughout our weekend, we'd had repeated visits by "Steve" the chipmunk, so christened by Christian. He'd come right up to him and take food out of his hand. Well after breakfast on Sunday, as we were packing up, Steve came back and brought friends!

This marked only the third time in all my trips to Algonquin that Canada Jays were friendly enough to come and eat out of our hands. Here is Yoshiko giving it a shot before succumbing to a litany of "Itai! Itai! Itai" (it hurts!) as the bird's talons dug into her fingers.

And here be Christian with his new found friend.

At one point, we must have had 6 or seven of these guys swooping around, grabbing bread before heading off into the forest to store it. They'd then swoop right back in for more.

This little guy missed his landing spot on my hand and opted for my head instead.

I managed to get one good shot out of the bunch, with both the feeder and feedee immobile. This my friends, is Algonquin.

And so is this!

We went for one last canoe ride before leaving, exploring a little creek out behind our camp site. We then only had time for a farewell snack for Steve before we said our goodbyes and headed on down the road.

A fantabulous return to Algonquin, and I'm sure not the last for neither Christian or Yoshiko, despite the "rudimentary" toilet accommodations. lol

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's a ............ (warning, spoiler ahead)

For those of you, my parents especially, who do not wish to know what Yoshiko and I are having, look away now! (you can look at the ultrasound photo though, nothing showing there...)

For the rest of us, I am pleased to report that we will be the parents of a bouncing baby boy! In a little over 4 months actually, which is right around the corner. Yoshiko is still doing very well, belly is starting to pop out a bit, but still not too much. The baby is quite active now and I've felt the little guy moving around quite a few times.

In other news, we've finally begun to plan our Canadian wedding reception, going to check out two places this weekend, should be all booked up by next week. We're looking at an October 14th date, with Yoshiko's family making the trip down...

And that's about that. Have a lovely weekend.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shooosh, I'm just one week behind...

Yeah the whole blog thing has not been at the forefront of my mind recently, as can be seen by the sparse blogs and mega-drop in incoming hits. Nonetheless, I will continue to post, probably only when I've got pictures to show off. Speaking of which, here are some pics from our second run out to Eagle's Nest since our arrival in Canada.

Last Sunday, one day later than originally planned due to some rain on Saturday, we packed up a lunch and headed on up the line to Calabogie and the fabulous Eagle's Nest hiking trail\observation point. With this being the weekend and the weather being so great, we met quite a few people once we got up there, including a couple of trail bikes who were zooming their way around.

Here are Christian and Yoshiko as we arrived on the back trail which follows the ridge and affords you some different views of the rock outcroppings and the river below.

What Christian is doing now, I've done many times. In the Fall, when I would come here bird hunting, I would often just sit here and while away an easy hour or so, depending on the weather of course.

My little Yoshiko, almost 5 months pregnant now. On that note, we will be going in for an ultrasound on Wednesday, expect an updated pic to be posted!

This lovely little thing is called a Kelly Kettle. It's main purpose is to boil water, which it does VERY well, but with some attachments, it can also serve as a stove. It is essentially a double-walled chimney with room for a fire at the bottom. You fill the outer walls with water, feed the fire in the middle through the hole in the top and voila, boiling water in a matter of minutes! The kettle allowed us to enjoy noodles on the side of the cliff, chopsticks included of course.

The nice, mature trees here are always a treat, especially when contrasted with a blue sky like this.

And of course the swamp is always a nice spot to stop and get a look at some wildlife or another. Sometimes it's ducks and geese, on this day, only frogs and minnows.

On the way back, we picked up the embarkation which will be whisking Sean and myself into excursions for years to come. A Scott Bluewater Scout Canoe in Royalite, a composite which is like Royalex but not quite as strong (or heavy). Coming in at 16'6", this bad boy should be a pleasure to cruise along with, even laden down with all our gear.

Of course, one doesn't have to go very far to experience a bit of the natural world. When we got home, I rescued this monarch butterfly which was repeatedly banging itself against the side of a tarp trying to escape. It decided to take a bit of a breather on my hand before flying off to do whatever it is butterflies do on warm summer days.

So that's that. Week 2 in the new job went well. I started to meet some of my suppliers, and things have slowed down at the office, allowing me some breathing room to continue to figure things out. With this being a long weekend, we're heading out to spend Sunday\Monday at the cottage and will be taking the canoe along for the ride. Pictures of its maiden voyage to be posted later, which will hopefully edge Sean into coming out for a quick run out somewhere sometime soon!