Monday, July 30, 2012

Whoooo are you?

Leaving only charcoal to defend

Scientists warn it's the "new norm" after worst drought in 800 years.
Good thing Dear Leader is getting rid of all that pesky science crap.  Otherwise, this would worry me.

Marten River Provincial Park - July 2012

We spent last week at Marten River Provincial Park, about 50km north of North Bay.  Marten River is a small park, just off Highway 11.  The park is on the Marten River, as you probably guessed from the name.  There are several campsites right on the river, which the kids loved.  They were swimming about ten minutes after we parked the trailer, off the rocks on the campsite.  We had a handy canoe/kayak launch right on the campsite as well.  The park has three sandy beaches with roped off swimming areas, but we hardly hit the beaches with the swimming being so nice right at the site.  The park was a little noisy with highway traffic, especially on Friday night, but after a while we didn't notice it.

The river widens into a fairly large lake as it passes through the park. There were quite a few motor boats on the lake, and lots of fishing going on. The lake has a few small bays that were a lot better for canoeing, especially when the wind was up. There's a small winding creek on the north side of the river, where we paddled a few times in the evening. The creek had lots of ducks, and it must be plentiful with beavers, since there were a few attempted dams we had to paddle over.

The north side of the river also provided some excellent sunset views.

We took a day trip outside the park to Wicksteed Lake (or Wickstead Lake, depending on whose map you read).  The park has a three day canoe route map, which we used as the source for this trip.  The actual three day loop would be crazy - the map says something to the effect of "this 2.5km portage is not marked or maintained, and likely has lots of fallen trees across it."  We settled for a day trip, and parked in the large lot at the dam off Marten Lake Road.  Driving the path from the road to the dam is like riding a roller coaster - very rough little stretch of road, but it opens to a large parking lot and boat launch.  The parking lot was reasonably full when we got there, but in six hours on the lake we only saw three boats.

We explored most of the south end of Wicksteed Lake, following a short river into Bottom Lake, and many bays and creeks.  We saw lots of loons and a few beavers, and stopped for lunch at an empty campsite. This campsite featured the most elaborate toilet, complete with a beautiful lake view.

The highlight of our trip was a daytime paddle on Holdridge Creek, about ten minutes from the park down Highway 64.  We pulled off the road on the west side, and plopped the canoe into the creek.  Not too far up the creek (with a paddle) we saw something large and brown jump out of a tree and fly up around a bend.  I thought "hawk" at first, then "eagle".  We followed the creek around the bend, and saw two owls in a pine tree.  One took off, but the second was kind enough to stick around for a minute or so to pose for some photos.

Farther along the creek, after lifting the canoe over a couple of beaver dams where we spotted many moose prints in the mud, we startled a big moose.  It jumped up and over the grass, and ran into the woods before we could get the camera up.

Two nights later, we came back to the same creek to look for moose again, this time in the evening.  We didn't spot any, but on the way out in the same place we had seen the owls earlier, we heard a screeching in the trees.  There was an owl, perched on a dead pine tree.  It turned to look at us, and flew off screeching.

The web images don't scale too well, but the original zooms in really well on the owl.

We also tried to get into the creek from Holdridge Lake, but the water levels were way too low.  The "road" down to Holdridge Lake is extremely rough, and was covered with downed trees.  Someone had run a chainsaw through the trees to make a path, but had left the trees where they fell.  Almost needed to throw on the four wheel drive, but made it through ok without.  Holdridge Lake is beautiful, long and narrow.  Unfortunately we couldn't get any further.

Bottom line on Marten River - awesome place to bring a canoe.  We'll be back.

Lots of photos here:

Word of the day

Today's word is "attemption".  As in:

Me: Did you hear that?  It was a loon.

F: I don't think so.

Me: Sure it was.

F: No, it sounded like someone's attemption of a loon.

Quote of the day

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conversation of the day

V: What's for dinner?

J: Grilled chicken with pesto.

F: Eww... Isn't pesto medicine?!?!?

V: That's P.E.P T.O...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear members of the media...

When a Calgary Stampede chuck wagon crashes and kills horses EVERY YEAR, you can stop calling it a tragedy, and start calling it business as usual.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things I have learned the hard way

Button-fly shorts and a very full bladder are not a pleasant combination.

Stepping into the light

I feel a little bad.  I know many people who have RIM jobs.  I worked in a RIM-owned building for a dozen years.  From my desk today I can see several RIM buildings.  Interesting note: you can tell they're RIM buildings because of the lineup to jump off the roof.  But I digress...

It was time to step into the light.

So long, this:

Hello, this:

Silent Lake Provincial Park

We spent the first week of July at Silent Lake Provincial Park, near Bancroft. Silent Lake is a small park, with only ten electrical sites. The park was busy over the weekend, but fairly empty during the week. It is aptly named, as I think it's the quietest park we've been to.

The canoeing is pretty good at Silent Lake. The main lake is a decent size, with a short paddle connecting to a smaller lake, where we stopped for a picnic lunch one day.

From there, it's another short gap through some brush to a smaller lake. At the end of the last lake we found the mountain bike trail boardwalk crossing, and a connection to the hiking trail that rings the park. We portaged about 150 meters to a swampy lake that was filled with lilly pads, and plenty of bugs. We took a quick tour but the bugs chased us away, and back to the main lakes.

Silent Lake has two sandy beaches, with floating platforms for jumping off. The water was a little cool at the start of the week but after a couple of warm nights it was quite pleasant. There are plenty of neat stones to pick up off the sandy bottom, with quartz and flecks of mica easy to find. At the smaller camper's beach we were chasing several small fish around in waist deep water.

We took a short drive to Bancroft one day, to pick up some water - the park has a permanent boil water advisory - and while there we stopped off to do some rock hounding. The CN rock pile in town is a very-picked-over pile of rock, but there were a few neat finds in the pile for those with patience to dig a couple of feet down.

The better local option for picking up some neat rocks was the Princess Sodalite Mine Rock Shop, just outside town. The girls had a great time hunting, and came home with a bag of rocks. Just what we needed for the drive home, more weight!

More photos here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

Happy (belated) Canada Day

Ok, so I'm a little late, but I was off the grid last week...

We enjoyed the Canada Day celebrations in Elmira's Gore Park.  The Kitchener-Conestoga MP and MPP were sliming their way through the crowd, shaking babies and kissing hands.  Our MP handed me a Canada flag pin, and I told him I would have been to the celebrations sooner, but I received a phone call telling me that the party had been moved to Bolender Park.  I don't think he got the joke...