Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Camping in Algonquin Park

As promised, here is the wrap-up of our camping trip in Algonquin Park. This is the third camping trip for us over-all, but the first time that the four of us have gone by ourselves. Our friends, Rob & Tanya, have gone with us previously, and taught us the ropes.

We decided that we would follow the same route that we took two years ago. Familiar territory and all, ya know? So we loaded up the backpacks, grabbed the map and compass, and took off.

First stop is Algonquin Outfitters to pick up the rental canoes. Nice canoes, reasonable prices, and lots of help loading the canoes onto the trailer. Drive off to the entry point on Smoke Lake.

This is what the dock looked like as we readied ourselves for departure. The young man chatting up the girls claimed to be interested in the dog. Myself, I think it was a ruse to get to talk with the beautiful young ladies. But I'm prejudiced ... Two canoes, four backpacks, one dog and we're off! In previous years, we had scoped out what we thought was a perfect site. With bated breath, we headed off. Two short portages later, we were there. Luckily, the site was available, so we grabbed it.
Sunsets are a favorite view of my daughter's. Sunsets over a pristine lake with a loon calling softly in the distance, are one of the best things about canoe camping.

While breaking camp on Monday morning, a huge snapping turtle came to investigate. There is a picture of him in my photobucket album located here. (All the photos here are different than those at photobucket.)

I find myself continually marveling at the loons. Red eyes. And the ability to stay underwater for that length of time. And I am amused when the loon swims in front of our canoe, and then protested because we were too close.

The canoeing was wonderful. Turns out that the daughter and I work well as a team, but only if I'm in the back. Since I didn't really know how to steer, this was extremely interesting. On the route, there was a stretch where you are winding your way down a meandering waterway, complete with beaver dams. Doug, Em and Pepper the dog) managed to paddle across it without incident. Carrie and I, on the other hand, had a little trouble. We ended up with Carrie over-balanced to the right, me leaning to the left in an effort to compensate, and water pouring in over the right side. Carrie decided to sacrifice herself and flopped overboard. Which means that the canoe was suddenly leaning way to the left, with water rushing in the left side. Quick reflexes meant that the canoe stayed upright. Carrie didn't officially fall out since her hair didn't get wet. Even Doug agreed with us. Sorry--no photos of this part of the adventure.

I took a sock with me this trip. Do you have any idea how decadent it feels to sit and knit on a sock while sipping your morning tea? Or sipping your evening chocolate? There is absolutely no comparison. Don't I look happy?
Both young ladies brought reading with them again. This year, however, the books stayed in water-proof packaging. And much lighter than previous years as well.
All in all, the trip was a rousing success. We were initially dubious about taking Pepper with us. He's a city dog, with all that entails. Also, he has bad hips. Fortunately, he absolutely loved the trip. Riding in the canoe was no problem, although he did prefer that the two canoes stay close together. Em would throw a stick in the water for him to fetch just prior to putting him in a canoe. That way, he'd stay a wee bit cooler while we were paddling.. After all, there is no shade in the middle of a lake. We are definitely planning to do this trip again, although we are hoping to plot a trip that visits different lakes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I may have done something bad ... in a good way

The joy of having a wool shop named "Never Enough Wool" is that some people aren't quite sure what to make of it. I've had several folks call me up and ask if I accept donations. Well ... technically, no. But I do accept donations that are forwarded to a local church for use in their missions work.

And then there was the phone call from a gentleman whose wife had closed her wool shop. She had spent some time treating the inventory as stash. But now they were moving, and she really needed to down-size her stash. Hence, the cold call.

Being the nice person I am, and not really wanting to say "NO" outright ... I agreed to meet him and take a peek. I was fully prepared to say "NO" in person, which felt a mite nicer than over the phone.

Really, I was. I didn't even have any cash or cheques with me.

And then I saw the knitting machine. A Studio, which is my favorite brand. A Model 860, if you really want specifics. (This is a modular, electronic machine for those who have a passing familiarity with knitting machines.) Hardly used. With a ribber.

Along with bags and bags of wool. Nice wool. Really nice wool.

And he accepted my really low offer. Heck, I believe the machine might be worth as much as I paid for the whole kit and kaboodle.

This is my haul:

Another view:

These photos don't do justice to it. Really. All you can see is a mound of wool, in bags. And a little corner of the knitting machine. There are magazines and patterns as well. And a huge bag of needlepoint wool and fabric, some pre-printed. AND a bag of Anchor embroidery floss, as well as patterns. Nicely organized.

Unfortunately, there is some smoke smell residing in the yarn. I spent part of yesterday arranging (some) of the cotton yarn out on the deck and cycling it through laundry baskets. Sort of a giant tumbler, as it were. Doug and I brought it all in at dark, and as we prepared for bed, I spread it out in the kitchen for more airing out. See how much fun I had?!

Luckily for me, after a couple of hours in the fresh northwesterly breeze and an evening on the kitchen floor, the smell is gone. I've even rewound some of the yarn from balls into hanks again, and the smell is gone. I'm hoping that the wool and acrylic blends will be as forgiving as the cotton has been.

The yarn is destined for the shop, for a Surprise Super Summer Sale. Of course, if some of it ended up in my stash, or the daughter's, or the other daughter's ... who would know, right?!

I promise that I WILL have photos of the canoe trip through Algonquin Park, as well as of my recent knitting projects and completed items. All in good time. After all, I do have some stash diving to accomplish.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Adventures with Wild life

Still having difficulties with the communication between the home computer and the internet. I'm hoping to resolve the issues this weekend. Until then, however ...

The husband, both daughters, the step-daughter's dog and I have just returned from a four-day canoe camping trip into Algonquin Park. This is rustic camping at its finest. Clear, cool lake water, very few people, plenty of sunshine and exercise. Of course, this also means that you must secure your food products in a tree so that the local wildlife (bears and raccoons) don't plunder your campsite. More on the camping trip later.

We returned home safe and sound, albeit slightly sunburned, on Wednesday evening. Nice dinner. Thursday was spent doing laundry and unpacking. The heat wave is still in full force, so all the windows are opened to catch the evening breezes. Thursday evening I crawled into bed with my good book, and promptly went to sleep two minutes later. Doug came to bed about 11:30 and read for a while.

Just as he is drifting off to sleep, he hears noises from the kitchen. "Probably the daughter," he thinks. "Hope she remembers to close the freezer door." Then he hears a CRASH. Now he has to go investigate since the daughter might be injured and I am sound asleep.

In the kitchen he discovers not one, but TWO juvenile delinquents.


He chases them out, but then wonders if perhaps there are more hiding in the pantry. After all, it was a family of four 'coons we saw in the backyard. Fortunately, it was just the two 'coons that got in. They had pushed the screens in from the outside and crawled through. The screens were totally undamaged. Go figure.

The 'coons were still out on the deck, patiently waiting for him to turn off the lights so they could resume their midnight snack. He goes outside and chases them off the deck. I snore on, blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding under my windows.

Doug can now hear the little delinquents moving around on the roof--mere feet away from my wide-open bedroom window. He figures that he should make sure they understand that they are not welcome in our neighborhood. A handful of gravel from the driveway and he begins throwing stones at them. They go up and over the peak to the other side of the roof--again, mere feet away from the open bedroom windows. They can't see him, he can't see them, they're safe.

So Doug follows them around to the other side and begins throwing more gravel. Now the gravel is pinging off the steel chimney, which is just feet away from the open bedroom window. PING! PING! GROWL (from the raccoons)! PING! Do I wake up? Nope.

Now Lizzie-kitty wants to go outside and join the fun. After all, she is a fierce, wild beast. And since Doug is already awake, there shouldn't be any problem.


Finally, Doug hauls a ladder around to the side of the house and fetches the garden hose. Right outside the bedroom window. CRASH. SPLASH! MEOW! GROWL!


The 'coons didn't like the water and retreated far up a tree. Out of reach of both the water and gravel. Doug comes inside and stands guard. Lizzie paces and meows incessantly.

Finally, poor Doug comes to bed at 5:30 am. "Poor dear," I say. "Had a bad night?"

Who knew that we could go 4 days without seeing major wildlife in the wilds of Algonquin Park ... only to be raided by said wildlife in the comfort of our own home?!