Algonquin Provincial Park -- August 2010
This year both Matt and Mike joined us on the canoe trip so I rented a car to get the three of us to Ottawa. My mom brought Mike and Matt to my apartment from London and Burlington respectively, along with a pile of snacks to keep us fed on the long drive to Ottawa. It was a great day for driving, dry and clear and we made great time. The only issue was that Hertz didn't have the car I reserved and so I had to take a different one. I went through the whole "but I have a reservation" spiel but to no avail. They just kept telling me they didn't have the type of car I wanted. One day I'd like to learn how car rental reservations work such that they can not have your car.
We arrived at the Williams's to an extremely full house, almost everyone was already there and helping prepare for trip. Mike, Laura, Matt and I drove into the city to pick up Mike's sister Norma to join us for supper and we enjoyed beers and hamburgers and salads out on the deck. It was a pretty overwhelmingly large group of people but everyone helped and there were no problems getting everything sorted out.
We got up early this morning to do last minute packing and head to the park. Despite having 20 people and 2 dogs to coordinate, we managed to actually leave Ottawa ahead of schedule! It was pretty amazing. We stopped halfway at a Tim Horton's as usual and proceeded to Achray Lake without any difficulties. Driving with a canoe on your car is less than fun, but I enjoyed getting the car really dirty and abusing it a little given that Hertz was such a pain this time.
Given that we arrived so early, and that we had such a large number of people we did not have lunch at Achray before starting to canoe into the park. We wanted to get the campsites as soon as possible to try to make sure we could get ones that were close together. We made pretty good time over the lakes, stopping briefly along the way to eat. Once on St. Andrew's lake we managed to get two gigantic sites right beside each other. Technically we had reserved three sites but we didn't need them due to the size of the ones we found. We split up into two groups, the older people and the younger people, with all of the cooking and other communal stuff run from the older people camp site.
After a swim to cool down, we convened at the primary site to gather firewood and start preparing supper. Laura and I took care of the fire and cooking the steaks and veggies. Supper was amazing as ever and in addition to wine we also brought beer this time. Delicious delicious beer. We brought a small keg of Creemore and a small keg of Keith's. It wasn't very cold, but it was still nice to have with supper. Also, new this year was a pair of guitars. Mike and Daniel played for us after supper and we all sang along. I'm sure we must have been the noisiest site on the lake, but we got no complaints.
As it got dark we relaxed around the fire and also out on the beach watching the stars and listening to Anthony play more guitar, including choice selections from Flight of the Conchords.
This morning we got up and got the fire going to cook breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs. The fire was super hot though and the sausages definitely had that charred on the outside, cold on the inside vibe going on. It was all good though and everyone was happy. We relaxed for a while in the sun, played with the dogs and then all the young people headed across the lake in canoes to go cliff jumping! Kurtis, recently back from Japan, had found a great place to jump from on a previous visit long ago. It was a cliff above deep water, between 10m and 12m tall. Not too high, but much higher than anything I had jumped from before. Eventually everyone who wanted to had jumped off and we even got some video on Mike's camera. I only went once as my entry to the water made me feel like my nose was being torn off. I guess I landed nose first? No permanent damage though and it was lots of fun.
Once we got back to the site we had some lunch and then headed back out again with more people to go swimming at High Falls. It was busier there than ever before but we still had a great time swimming and playing around.
Once we were done, we went back to the site and started the fire going again to cook the meatballs for the pasta for supper. We also chopped a ton of wood. It's much easier to handle some of those chores when there are a dozen people interested in chopping and gathering wood. We would go on to burn a lot of the wood over the evening in a great big roaring fire that was great for marshmallows and sitting around. We were still able to leave a healthy pile for the next group of people to use the site though. Before it got dark a bunch of people played Apples to Apples. I spent the time chatting with Matt, Matt and Anthony on the beach with the beer which was fun too.
The evening was just as lovely as the one before and we stayed up late singing and playing guitar.
We were up early this morning to pack up and head out. Breakfast was just a simple bowl of oatmeal and leftover fruit and granola but it was still delicious as all food is when you're camping.
The paddle out was easy and we made great time. The trip was wonderful and over too soon, but the sandwiches and cold beer we had at the cars were delicious and most welcome. After we loaded up, about half of us drove back to Ottawa with a few brief stops to deal with the straps holding the canoe to my car.
Back in Ottawa we unpacked, cleaned up and had most enjoyable showers. Supper was lasagna, caesar salad, bread, beer and of course, ice cream cake! Most people left or went to bed pretty early, but Matt, Matt and Anthony and I stayed up late chatting about lots of stuff.
This morning we helped Uncle Lloyd return the canoes to the rental place and then Matt and I headed out for the long drive back to Toronto. Both my mom and Mike were staying in Ottawa. Matt and I made good time and had no difficulties with the drive. I dropped Matt back in Burlington then went back downtown and started my laundry and clean up. It was an amazing trip and I wish it could have lasted longer.