Sitting by a lake, sipping tea and reading a good book, to me, is nirvana, a perfect way to relax in the outdoors. What isn’t so perfect is the addition of a very cute, very bold, pesky chipmunk.
Remember my comment about getting away from civilization? And remember that caution sign at the portage indicating that we are entering black bear territory???
It was a cool night, actually it was barely above 0 degrees Celsius, and despite wearing fleece from head to toe, my summer sleeping bag was just not going to cut it at these temperatures. I pulled my hoodie over my toque and burrowed further into my bag. This is good, I thought, very cozy and then the quiet, black night was interrupted by a very loud, seemingly close, sharp BANG. From within the sleeping bag mound beside me a loud and somewhat muffled ” What the ***** was that?” My mind went straight to… BEARS! I realize sound travels great distances at night, over water, but that was close! It was definitely some sort of bear noisemaker deterrent and most likely the terrified bear was running through the woods toward our campsite at that very moment! What to do. I strained to hear if something was crashing though the forest but couldn’t hear over the thumping sound in my ears. I started planning our escape in my mind: get to the canoe, where are the paddles?, forget putting on my boots, no time; grab a flashlight. Wait, what was that? I stop and listen to a new noise. It is close, not very loud, but sounds like…snoring! As I was busy planning our great escape, my husband fell back to sleep, apparently confident the bear was long gone.
I woke in the morning still in my tent, the canoe safely on the shore.
To really experience the ‘interior’ of Algonquin by canoe means portaging is inevitable. So our criteria when trip planning are pretty simple, the fewest number, and the shortest portages possible to get us away from the ‘crowds’ and the sounds of civilization. The days of five day trips with 24 portages that vary in length but included two over 2,000m long are over. We are more ‘the one 295m portage’ kind of trippers now. Our destination was Tom Thomson Lake, a 12 km paddle and one short portage from our starting point. Perfect!
The wind was in our favour as we paddled up Canoe Lake, and a good thing it was, as our arms, butts and knees started to protest as we approached the portage. The portage was busy with several canoes on the shore when we arrived and four more came in shortly after we did. And that didn’t include those heading out, back to Canoe Lake. As we waited for our turn to land on the shore and unpack the canoe, I noticed a sign with a large black bear head. Apparently none of my fellow canoe trippers seemed bothered that we were entering black bear territory. The caution sign also warned not to approach or feed the bears (seriously?).
The portage is a relatively flat 295 m long gravel/dirt wide pathway that passes the Joe Lake damn. Easy peasy! We made three trips back and forth: one with packs, one with the canoe, and the last with paddles and the food pack. Ok so most groups did one trip, maybe two, so what, we aren’t in a race. It was during our third and final crossing that we realized that maybe all these folks were also headed to Tom Thomson Lake and would reach it first and select the best campsites. Suddenly I felt a little like I was on the “Amazing Race” heading to the last check point where your team may be eliminated. I picked up my pace.
We paddled into Tom Thomson Lake a couple of hours later and had no problem finding a great campsite. Each campsite offers the basic amenities (campfire pit, tent site(s) and a thunder box) but can also include benches or tables made by a previous occupant.
Our site included a pully and rope attached to a wire affixed to two trees that is used to hang the food pack so it is out of reach of bears. I guess they weren’t kidding, we are in bear territory.
As I set out on a fall canoe camping trip in Algonquin Park, I received a facebook memory from Patio Girlz Tracey showing the Girlz in Quebec City, one of our many stops on our 2018 road trip. I may not be travelling with my Girlz on this trip to Algonquin Park, but they are certainly in my thoughts. I wonder how they would make out on a three day canoe trip…we will probably never know!
My canoe trip started in Algonquin Park at Access 5 on iconic Canoe Lake. A starting point for a number of interior canoe trips in the park. It is also famous as the site of the mysterious death of Tom Thomson, Canadian painter in 1917. There are several theories as to why an accomplished outdoors man and canoeist would be found drowned in the lake and this mystery is certainly a part of park lore. There is a memorial cairn on the lake that we paddled to on our way back..more on that later.
Who can resist a soft large pretzel? Apparently the Patio Girlz can’t. One of our bake together virtual patios included making pretzels together and then, of course sitting down and enjoying them ‘together’ with our beverage of choice.
Kathy and Tracey’s efforts definitely looked like they knew what they were doing as I am sure you can tell from the photos. I tried a few of the large pretzels and some pretzel minis coated in sugar-cinnamon topping that disappeared quickly. Clearly I need more practice!
The beer dip was a quick recipe to make and wasn’t a bad companion to the pretzels.
In our new social distancing world, birthday celebrations have taken on a new dimension. We Celebrated Patio Girlz Kathy’s birthday recently with a banner waving, horn honking drive by….
Our convoy of cars did pull in playing a blues version of Happy Birthday on the car stereo so we could dance on the lawn with our Birthday Patio Girlz.
To ensure we maintained the correct distancing, Kathy used her “COVID” Stick, kinda like a selfie-stick but 6 feet long!
This is a salute to all those who care for our beloved elderly day after day regardless of what is happening in the world around them. COVID-19 has definitely shone a new light on the vulnerability of this segment of society but it has also demonstrated the resiliency, compassion and commitment of the many workers that reported to work in this new environment, donned critical PPE, implemented increasing restrictions on residents and tried to explain again and again why a resident had to stay in their rooms; to keep everyone safe.
One such person that I want to salute is Patio Girlz @Tracey Pope. Tracey brings empathy, compassion and humour to all in her care. Her positive disposition shines through even in these unprecedented COVID-19 times. Despite working long shifts day after day, she still found time to connect with her Patio Girlz, through one of our digital Friday patios over the last 3 months.
You are one of kind Tracey Pope, thank you for all you do!
The Easter weekend is over and the Patio Girlz managed to celebrate in grand style during our virtual Friday patio.
What’s an Easter celebration without an Easter bonnet? Homemade flowers a few other decorations adored our hats creating a very festive patio.
On the menu this week was hot cross buns with our beverage of choice. Patio Girl Pat and I used my Aunt’s recipe as I fondly remember my family receiving these delicious buns each Easter from her. My Aunt turned 94 on Saturday and although I wasn’t able to share any with her, I think she was pleased I gave it a try. Kathy used a different recipe with great results.
With last weeks online pizza making a success, the Patio Girlz moved on to dessert this week. On the menu? Lemon Pudding! Kathy sent out the recipe earlier in the week so we could confirm what ingredients we might need. In our new COVID reality, no one is running out to a grocery store without a long list of items to pick up. Thanks to Kathy, we all received fresh lemons delivered to our door in preparation for our Friday Patio.
Here is what we needed, gin and tonic optional.
Fridays and Patio Girlz just seem to go together and cooking together online brings its own fun! The results of this weeks Lemon Pudding baking lesson? Delicious!
So next Friday we are thinking about making appys . Not sure what yet..any suggestions? Until then, stay safe and find the fun in all you do.
Our first virtual experience making pizza together was great fun and brought us together for a few laughs on our traditional Friday Patio night. Check out our results! Yummy all around.