Monday, 19 August 2013

Four Generations at Grey Owl's

"Far enough away to gain seclusion,
yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip,
Beaver Lodge extends a welcome to you if your heart is right."
- Grey Owl - 

Some people might think it's crazy. A family canoe/kayak/boat trip into Grey Owl's cabin with the young (2 years old) and the young at heart (85 years old). I blame my Dad. He's been throwing out subtle hints for years now about wanting to do this trip. This year we finally got our act together.

On Friday, Andrew & I, along with my nephew and his wife and son (Andrew, Gretchen & Karsten) headed up to Waskesiu and took our kayaks and their canoe into Southend Campground. We were very lucky that all the rail carts were at the side of the portage we needed them to be at and we quickly made our way across. Karsten is fanatic about trains these days (Thomas, Percy, James, etc. Those of you with kids will know exactly what I'm talking about!) so he was pretty excited and, with the help of his Dad, named the rail cart "Bernie." (He even remembered this name two days later when we came back.)

Kingsmere Lake, which can be very nasty when the wind picks up, hardly had a ripple in the glass-like surface. And yes, I'd been stressing for days about the weather forecast and what we'd do if the rain, wind and waves made our plans more "exciting."

My Dad, my sister Bev and her soon-to-be-husband Al, picked up the motor boat we rented from Waskesiu Marina on Saturday morning. While Gretchen and I packed up camp and entertained Karsten (or, more accurately, while he entertained us), Andrew & Andrew hiked back to the start of the portage to help get the motor boat across. Thankfully a couple other guys came along and helped because the boat was much bigger (and heavier!) than we expected it to be, despite being the smallest the Marina had to offer.
Getting ready to load the boat on "Bernie" the rail car. 
A climber in the making!
There was only a slight breeze but it was enough to produce waves that splashed water into the kayaks so it was a good reminder that you do have to think (worry?) about it and be cautious.

Karsten lasted the first hour in the canoe and then wanted to get on the "big boat" with Grandma. From then on he didn't want to go back in the canoe. But he was able have naps in the arms of various family members, play with Alfie (one of Thomas the Tank's friends), and help Al drive the boat which he really enjoyed.
Karsten's spot in the canoe. 
Helping Al drive the boat.

Having a nap in Great Grandpa's arms.
Auntie Shelley makes a pretty good back rest.
Can't let go of Grandpa's hand!
The National Park website estimates three hours to canoe/kayak to Northend Campground and we thought that was a bit optimistic. It took us just over four hours with a short stop for lunch but that still left plenty of time to hike the remaining 3.2 km into Grey Owl's cabin.

Four Generations - My nephew Andrew, sister Bev, great nephew Karsten and my Dad. 
The paparazzi -- no wonder Karsten didn't want to smile for the photo! 

Beautiful Ajawaan Lake. I can see why Grey Owl loved it. 
Karsten & Uncle Andrew picking the chocolate M&M's out of the bag of trail mix.
Hiking with Mommy and Grandma. Does life get any better? 
On Sunday morning I was so proud of my family for taking only 1 1/2 hours to get up, eat breakfast, pack up camp and get everything loaded into the boats. Usually larger groups take forever to do this!!

The lake was again glass-like calm. We definitely could not have asked for better weather. Most of us  made it back to Southend Campground in 2 1/2 hours with my Andrew arriving a half hour later -- he followed the shoreline, took lots of photos and enjoyed some of the wildlife (e.g. otters) that likely wouldn't have come out with more people around.
Calm waters on Kingsmere Lake
My nephew Andrew and my Dad. 
After lunch we lucked out again as all of the rail carts were at the "right" side of the portage and we got all the boats loaded on for just one trip across.

Ice cream cones at Big Olaf's in Waskesiu rounded out a fabulous and memorable weekend. I have the most awesome family! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Flight of the Balloon

Last summer as I biked or walked to work early in the morning I would often look up and see the hot air balloon soaring across in the sky and over the river. We'd really enjoyed a previous balloon ride  and I expressed that I'd like to go again some day. Lo and behold, when I retired in September a gift from Dad & Elaine was a balloon flight!

It always seems to take a while for the stars to align. This was the fourth time we'd booked this year. The previous three times had been cancelled due to weather and this morning it looked questionable. We showed up at 5:30 a.m. as required but clouds in the air and a small breeze that kept shifting direction postponed things for a while. As we were setting up there were even a few drops of rain. But things settle down and away we went toward sunshine and breaks in the clouds.

It's so peaceful gliding along above the city!

Then our timing was very good. Once finished the flight and packing up the balloon we could see the rain clouds coming. As we were driving back into the city there was a short burst of hard rain before the sun gradually came out again.

Unloading the balloon
Up . . . 
Up . . . 
And away!
Looking back towards the weir and train bridge

University Bridge - such a calm morning
Looking toward downtown
New bridge in the sunshine
Race track and the brand new bridge

Balloon shadow

Our landing spot was bottom centre of the photo
Packing up