Monday, September 12, 2011
Way to go ladies and hope you had a safe and enjoyable trip.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
There a million places I want to paddle, all in due time... there are two front runners at the moment although that could change between now and next summer.
Georgian Bay with the Kids
We both want to bring our kids, Braedon & Caleb (mine) and Tristan & Jade (hers), that will depend mostly on my kids schedules, they both attend their own canoe excursions into Algonquin Park and next year Braedon has a 60 day trip planned so they may not be able to join us. If it works out then we will use vehicles as a base camp, start off in southern Georgian Bay and paddle a few days in various spots, Honey Harbor, Parry Sound, Point Au Baril, French River, Killarney then ferry over to Tobbermory to finish off. As these trips will be in the inner islands there is less chance of being hit by weather and fury of Georgian Bay waves.
Hudson River Watershed Trail (Albany to New York City)
Not enough time and too many kilometers to do the entire route from Niagara Falls down to NYC across the Erie Canal system so thinking of starting in Albany and following the Hudson down to the Atlantic in New York City, sounds pretty cool and is about the same distance as the Trent trip, ~400km, will need an extra week though as the logistics of travel will need some careful planning and would like to spend some time in NYC, how cool to paddle down and around the Statue of Liberty. I'm in and plus, I want to paddle ocean a bit cause I have my ultimate Kayak trip in mind and will need some experience.
Will setup our new blog once we have made a decision.
* My own Kayak with padded seat, looking at the Seaward Tyee
* Carbon Fiber Paddle, like the Werner
* Kayak Cockpit Cover
* Kayak Sail
* Solar panel for charging electronics
* Personal Locator Beacon if doing Georgian Bay (FastFind or ACR)
Also going to spend some time and build an app for Blackberry to integrate Google Maps for real-time tracking for the blog, could just get the SPOT but this is a fun project over the winter.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Pretty much even par on this one, as with the Trent, there isn't a real need for detailed water maps, you can literally get away with following the waterway by sight and/or using the little pullout map at any lock station which also includes distances, there are some bonuses with the detailed maps though as they will show many alternative paddling routes, either as shortcuts or to get out of the wind, my GPS was literally used for tracking distances travelled and not for navigation. There are many instances on the lakes where the boat channel sweeps off to one direction across a lake and then turns back in at the bottom, clearly visible on the pull-out maps so pay attention if the wind is up, would hate to fight the wind across only to realize you have to paddle back across it to get into the channel.
Rideau Canal wins hands down on this one, they say there is a slight current but you would never know it, the Trent in certain spots has strong enough current to tip over the buoys and paddling against it can be extremely tiring, for instance, if you leave from Georgian Bay to Trenton they you fight the current for the first 150 odd km to Balsam Lake (almost the length of the Rideau) and lucky to hit 5km/hour, after that the current definitely pushes you along, with the Rideau we consistently paddled at 7-8km/hour in either direction, does make a difference.
Going to be pretty much consistent in either case at least for the last two weeks of July, we had incredible weather on both trips, the only factor would be the wind, all trip reports I read say go from Kingston to Ottawa to take advantage of the prevailing winds, we may have hit an odd time as there was no difference for us in either direction, on the way up we hit wind behind, on the bow, dead in the face and on the way back we hit the same thing, I would still suggest doing from Kingston to Ottawa as there has to be some truth to the statement otherwise people wouldn't be posting it. We just didn't notice it.
During my planning it was fairly consistent, 6-10 days to do the 202km route one way, I picked the middle for a little contingency, however, I would suggest planning for 10 days and enjoy it, 6 days requires an average of 33km/day, you would spend all day in the Kayak and be exhausted every-day, not the best experience in my opinion, also requires that you have pristine conditions the entire way. 8 days will bring the average down to about 25km/day which isn't bad and what I planned on but still, if looking for a nice leisure trip then go with the 10 day trip which gives an average of 20km/day and a much more relaxed time with some contingency for weather and relaxation. I wouldn't do the return trip again personally. With the Trent being double the distance well, a lot may factor in based on how much time you have available so Rideau wins if you are looking for a shorter paddle.
Rideau wins in this category if you are looking for an easier paddle, for a number of factors, first there are no seriously long gaps between locks, for instance 60k from Peterborough to Hastings, 60k from Washago to Gamebridge, and the various 25-30km stretches in between, definitely in for some longer paddles days and/or creative campsites if you are doing the Trent, on the Rideau there is a 30km section across the Rideau Lakes with 2 provincial parks right on the water and the 40k from Burritt's Rapids to Long Island, also parks/conservation areas along the way, finding a camping spot in those sections is not an issue. Second is there are no truly massive lakes to cross, The Rideau Lake section would be about the biggest you have to cross but even that, the lakes are narrow with many shelter spots and the canal basically follows the shore the entire way, you just have to cross out of Orillia Narrows and look across Simcoe and go, damn, I have to cross that? I can't even see the other side, which is also a plus for the Rideau, the entire trip can be broken up in 5k sections like a target point so you always feel like you are making progress, after 7 hours on Lake Simcoe or going down Rice Lake you are like, argghh, will this lake ever end, mentally it makes a difference, you are like, ok just have to get to that point, ok now that one, etc..
I would say as a general statement the two canals are equivalent but the Trent wins by a landslide, there is a lot of boat traffic and probably more on the Trent which seems to be busier, each has their share of idiots who think they own the waterway and will pay little/no attention to how big a wake they throw regardless of how close you may be but what you notice most is that on the Rideau you are in canals and narrow sections more of the time and because the lakes are fairly narrow the boats pay a much bigger role, can't count the number of times we were swamped or sprayed by boats including from the Police.
Now this may sound offensive to some but avoid the Canal the last week of July first week of August as this is when Montreal construction shutdown happens and they all seem to hit the Rideau, I have nothing against French culture (I am French) and have many friends from Montreal but the boating people from Quebec, with very few exceptions were the rudest most inconsiderate boaters I have ever encountered. EVER and I have lived on water my entire life. It seems to be a consistent joke with the lock staff and other boaters, "Welcome to Montreal Week". The first week was the most tranquil paddling ever, was almost eerie and so quiet, we hit that last week though, was like hell opened up and was one speeding boat after another just trying to race each other to the next lock and to hell with anything or anybody who got in their way. Find it funny that pretty much the only two boats the entire trip which made a conscious effort to slow down for us was a 12 foot aluminum boat with a fisherman and a Zodiac dingy with two teenagers, both who throw a 1 inch wake. We thanked them.
Once of the nicest things about the Rideau though is you will run into many other paddlers, I think we ran into 10 or so other groups doing the paddle, 3 on the last day. Always nice because you feel a sense of camaraderie as you have a common interest and can share stories and experiences. I think I saw 2 random kayakers during the 2 Trent River trips.
Trent wins on all accounts, there were definitely some beautiful sections along the Rideau, the Rideau Lakes are comparable to anything the Kawartha's has to offer and the landscapes are breathtaking, the downside is the rest is like a swamp, literally, admittedly we only made it up to Burritt's Rapids but from everything we've been told by other boaters/paddlers, it is pretty much the same swampy view until you get into Ottawa which I hear is incredible. There seemed to be a million little finger lakes off the beaten path and could probably spend a couple of weeks just exploring those and I am sure they are worth every second of the paddle to get there and might be worth a second trip just to paddle around the Rideau Lake area. The Trent also has some sketchy sections, Like the stretch from Peterborough to Rice Lake but as a whole there is so much more to see and the landscape varies dramatically along the way.
No denying that the historical element of the Rideau Canal is amazing, Engineering that went into these old locks, the history and surrounding buildings and architecture are incredible, you sometimes feel transported back in time and it's really cool. There are a couple of drawbacks though, every lock is exactly the same so there is no variation in the experience, get in, go up/down and get out and they are also brutally slow, Kinston Mills, Jones Falls and Ottawa as an example can take anywhere from 2-5 hours to lock through the multiple step locks. On the Trent you get a mixture of everything, Manual, Hydrolytic, Marine Railway, etc., does make it more enjoyable, after the 3rd or 4th lock on the Rideau you are like ok, I've seen it, next is just the same thing and oh wait, 47 more of these things? Wasn't a complaint, just an observation.
This one goes to the Rideau Canal all the way, this is the way a Lock station should be setup for paddlers, the grounds are by far more spacious than the Trent and there are many options for camping on both the lower and upper sides with plenty of picnic tables to go around. Not once did we feel like we had to struggle to find a landing spot to unload as there are low docks everywhere, such a pleasure over the Trent which is always a pain with 4 foot docks at 99% of every lock. They did start putting in new Kayak/Canoe docks at each lock station, was hit or miss whether they were installed when we got there as they were in the process of doing it, by the time we hit the return route, they were in most lock stations, in some cases they were just put in as we pulled up, shook the installer's hand. They make the trip so much more enjoyable when you stop after a long day's paddle, even without the new Kayak/Canoe docks it was a breeze. Trent could take a lesson from the Rideau on that front. Bathrooms were generally very clean except for some of the very old lock stations in which case the bush was a better alternative and all but 1 (Kinston Mills) had drinkable water. The only downside is that all the Locks seem to be in swampy sections so mosquitoes get extra bad at dusk and trying to find a clean swimming spot is crazy, get used to swimming in weedy, swampy, brownish water, Trent has the nicest swimming at the locks going.
Cost is same as the Trent, 4.90 per person per night if you arrive by water or bicycle, great deal on all accounts and worth every penny, I did notice that they are more strict on the camping fee payment on the Rideau, with the Trent, on both trips combined I paid for camping 3 times, the rest of the nights the lockmaster just said, ah don't worry about it, I don't have an issue paying the cost it was more the approach from the lock staff, was weird, it was like that pesky salesman when you go into a store, can I show you something, 5 seconds later, can you show you something now. Just get out of kayak, ok will be 4.90 per person for camping, come up and pay, sure just let us unpack, half unpacked, ok are you going to pay now, yes absolutely, we aren't going anywhere just trying to get setup before the rain, 10 minutes later, walk over with change purse and form, ok time to pay, that was consistent in almost every lock we stayed at, both Julie and I were like WTF. The Trent and Rideau should offer Camping Season's pass, they offer Transit and Mooring, why not camping, would make things easier.
Hard to pin-point but there is a difference in the lock staff on the Rideau and the Trent, on the Trent almost every lock master/lock attendant seems to be there to help or offer assistance, just generally enjoy their job and realize that they only have the job due to the tourism industry. On the Rideau the staff just seem more businesslike, it's almost like you feel in the way or that you are putting them out for every question you ask, it's very noticeable. Here are some examples, Jones Falls Lock is a joke, we arrive and politely ask how long the lock will be and he gives some smartass comment about just take a seat and will be there in 3 hours, on the way back the same lock staff person didn't mention that there is no camping at the bottom and let us lock all the way down which requires a portage back up, then gave us flack for wanting to come back up, hello, we have a season's pass which allows us to use as often or as many times as we need to, also didn't mention that they have kayak/canoe wheels to assist in portaging, found that out after, he was generally rude to everybody, not just us.
Then there is the lockmaster at Kilmarnock, we show up on the hottest day on record (138 degrees) baked by the sun and dying for a cold drink, ask if we can put in his fridge he says, sorry no fridge here, uhm hello we know that every lock station because the others let us use them, why would this be any different? Didn't say anything, after he left for the day, one of the other lock people came over and let us use the fridge that "wasn't there" and apologized. This is the same lockmaster that on the way back after we were almost tipped by a speeder, barely said squat to the boater and replied "Welcome to Montreal Week"
There are some very nice staff though so don't want to paint them all with the same brush. Narrows Lock has the best ever on the Trent or the Rideau, this guy made lock staff look good, the rest can definitely take a lesson or two from this gentleman, this was our favorite lock to stay at and it was 100% due to him. Let's not forget the lock attendant in Smith's Falls who risked his life to save another person. Hat's off.
Another one that is hard to pin down and maybe it was just this year's crowd but people on the Trent just seem to be nicer, very few people on the Rideau ever took the time to say hello or even a thank you, many cases of me getting up from my dinner to assist a boater coming into the dock and not even a thank you, even had one take the rope back and re-tie his boat, really? Whether it was swamping us, having generators going all night, you name it seemed to happen on this trip, best way I can describe it is that the Trent almost felt like you were family everywhere you went, didn't get that feeling on the Rideau from start to finish. We did meet some really nice people along the way and not everyone was the way I describe, again, just too many instances of the negative side to be isolated or coincidental, I hope others have a different experience. It was a good thing I had Julie around.
Not really an issue in either case, on the Rideau there are a few spots where you can top up the supplies but for the most part the Locks are isolated from towns. Smith's Falls is probably the best option as the little town has everything you would need Walmart, Canadian Tire , laundry, grocery store etc... There are a few other spots to be aware of along the way which may help as some aren't overly obvious.
There is an Esso Station with lots of goodies at Kinston Mills but it's quite the hike so only if you really need to fill that sugar high or up for a walk would I say go for it, Seeley's Bay, is probably the first stop after Kingston Mills, little fish shop/gas docs, limited food stuff but if you paddle into the actual town which is less than a km up then you have LCBO, Foodland, convenience store etc. parking at the Government Doc is not an issue and it's a 3 minute walk up Main Street to the stores. At Newboro lock there is the little town of Newboro a short walk away, and Westport a little further, at Jones Falls there is a tiny little store, chips, Ice-Cream etc. and does have hamburgers/sausages, At Chaffey's Lock there is a combo convenience store/LCBO and another convenience store at the Opinicon Lodge. As you pass under the bridge at Rideau Ferry (if coming from Kingston) there is a restaurant on the water, just behind that is a comb convenience store/LCBO/Food counter. Next stop is Smiths Falls, there is also a laundry-mart on Main Street just past the Rideau Museum at the Combined Lock (2nd lock in Smith's Falls). Merrickville is a good re-supply stop as well as they have everything you would need and many great restaurants, LCBO is one street west of the main drag kind of hidden away. Park across from lock has showers for 4 bucks and not a bad camping spot at the point but more expensive. At Burritt's Rapids there is Lock 17 which is a restaurant, showers, laundry and small convenience store all built into one, right across from the lock and Fri/Sat has live bands. There are very few Marina's along the way that aren't completely out of the way and not sure what's on the Ottawa side of Burritt's Rapids.
Hope the info helps and don't let anything I have said stop you from getting out there on the Rideau and enjoying the trip, it really is worth it.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Mine was a slightly larger boat, Seaward Quantum, overall boat was amazing, at first I though skeg vs rudder would be noticeable but really wasn't, had no issues paddling and with skeg down tracked straight, wind off the bow caused it to windcock a bit but nothing too bad, just had to adjust paddle stroke. For some reason I found this boat to be the least stable when sitting, always seemed to keel over with slightest move, had top really pay attention getting in and out. Was very fast though, even fully loaded, no wind, no current could comfortably paddle at around 8km/h.
I do know I don't want a skeg when I buy mine, only because the skeg and cable take too much room from the rear hatch and can't pack the tent, which is my preferred spot, ended up packing pillows as was the only things that fit, we had four so worked out well.
Still found the cockpit a little cramped with limited storage space, would like a little more room, and a padded seat.
Did find my kayak to buy though, Seaward Tylee, 17' Extra Volume and spacious cockpit, in front of feet (for beer cooler), sides and back of seat, nice boat, the extra volume means I can pack more, smart rudder system, big hatches front and rear, no 3rd day hatch, real hatch covers, not those snap in rubber tupperware things, sexy boat, checked it out when I returned the rentals, looked like I could pack everything I had in both boats into this one, oh and padded seat :)
Might have to go back and finally buy one, renting for the last 3 years has really showed me what I want in a kayak, the Tylee meets everything I want.
Primus stove is incredibly well built, solid and sturdy, not once did it feel tippy, unlike the MSR which always sits on a slant until you put a pot on it which is my biggest pet peeve with that stove.
Used a large gas canister on this trip and it lasted about 10 days for breakfast and dinner, not bad, for a week 1 canister should do for two people, bring spare if you are going longer. Certainly prefer gas over liquid fuel now just because it lights instant and burns clean very clean, no black soot like on the MSR which is liquid fuel only.
Simmer on this stove is incredible, it really does simmer, unlike the MSR which has one setting, instant on full blast, sure you can play with the MSR to get close to simmer but once you use the Optimus it's hard to go back.
Do have some complaints though but nothing I would say would stop me from recommending, some may just be me.
Stove is very loud, sounds like a blast furnace, wasn't that much of an issue but when I lit up the MSR I thought maybe it wasn't working it's so much quieter.
Base heat shield and wind screen are total crap, they were destroyed after 3 days??? Wtf! I ended up using the MSR ones as they are still in great condition after 3 years. Would have expected same quality as the stove itself, which is perfect, expected more seeing as the stove is more than double the price.
Once I switched to liquid fuel, which is a plus with this stove as it supports both liquid and gas, the preheat stage was freaky, seemed to be a lot of flare-ups going on, sure it was just me not used to this stove but seemed tricky, unlike the MSR which is dead simple.
Think it burns way more liquid fuel then the MSR, will have to play with the jets and see what happens, for instance used the MSR for entire trip last year and used 3/4 of a large bottle (28oz) this year I switched to liquid on day 12 and for 4.5 days it used half the bottle, hmmmm, think I may have cooked and boiled more this time though so maybe it's just my perception.
Suppose to be able to turn bottle over and it will automatically burn remaining fuel in the line, could never get that to work, will have to go through the manual again and see If I'm doing it right.
Lastly, they have this clever screw in adapter for connecting liquid fuel bottle, every time I detached fuel sprayed everywhere, unlike the MSR where you just pull out connector, sure it's just me so will play with it some more.
Overall, amazing stove and highly recommend, if you don't want to fork out the extra cash though, MSR is amazing as well
Small enough to fit in cook set and costs under 10 bucks. Spices not included
Found was best to leave in sun to warm vs hang and warm, shaded under branches so takes longer, for ultimate hot water shower, fill 3/4 with cold water then boil water for the rest.
You aren't getting a powerful stream (no pressure) but its definitely enough for 2 people to each have a shower, wash up and rinse off, lasts between 8-10 minutes, never counted exact timing.
Well worth it for something that costs 20 bucks and folds up the size of a couple of decks of cards
Was so relaxing to rest and read a book or take an afternoon nap.
Definitely get the Portec hammock straps which are sold separate for 20 bucks, just wrap around three and connect, done, no knots etc. Also length adjustable.
With tree straps it can span a huge distance, like 20-30 feet between trees, was surprised and happy when really needed it.
Picked up the 3 person version for this year and what a difference, having the second door and the extra room was such a nicer experience for two people, never felt cramped or that there wasn't enough room for gear as well.
Tent goes up just as easy as the 2 person and the thing is storm proof, wild winds, lightning storms and rain, never an issue with anything.
Tent is also very cool, lots of ventilation and didn't have any issues with condensation.
If in the market for a new tent, I highly recommend Marmot, if going solo, 2 person is enough, if two then get the 3 person, both are reasonably priced between 200-300 CDN.
They also have a great 4 and 6 person versions.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
It appears as though military training includes waking up at 6am and making lots of noise, reminiscent of my childhood where once my father got up, everybody got up, just as well, an early start for a short 8k day and home early.
Make breakfast, appears as though I am cooking for 5 now, Julie, Glen, me and the odd couple who decided not to bring food, breakfast out of way, time to get into kayak for the last time at 8:30.
Ok, here is where day goes downhill, I am a crazy planner when it comes to these kayak trips, I have everything and more than most should and when it comes to route planning, well, I have it marked down to the Km and can tell you every twist and turn, so why when I turn GPS on it said 17.9km is beyond me, swore it was 8. Obviously Julie not as enthusiastic as I am seeing as I was yelling 8k left since last night, oppps, she takes it it like a trooper.
Until.... We get 30km wind head on, no protection, 1-2 foot whitecaps and 3 - 4km gaps to cross, to say today was a day of slogging would be an understatement, on the positive side it was gorgeous out and we have an end goal!
We cross the last 3k stretch into Kingston at 1pm and with a sigh and raised hands we smile, it's always an amazing sense of accomplishment to finish without issue.
Get my truck which thankfully is still there, we pack up then drive Glen back to pick up his truck at Chaffey's Lock, on the road at 4pm and home at 7:08.
So nice to have a hot shower and eat with real cutlery, it's the little things....
Thanks Glen, was great to have you along for the last 3 days, will be memorable.
Julie, what can I say, you are the best paddle partner anyone could ask for, wouldn't want to do it without you and wouldn't be half as fun.
I will be posting some reviews of the new gear from this year when I get a chance and my thoughts on the Rideau as a paddling destination, including comparison of the Trent Waterway.
Hope you have enjoyed following along and we will see you next year, we have some great trip ideas and might even bring the 4 kids.
Woke this morning to the chatter of military dudes at 6am. Look guys...this isn't the army...we aren't all up at 6...keep it down!!!
I'm up now...let's get things going and start our final day.
Jeff ("Mr Mayor) makes oatmeal and coffee for the other Kayakers who came equipped with trail mix, granola bars, cigarettes and rye. We think they might need a little more then that.
Have I mentioned how grateful I am that Jeff is my "Captain". We didn't need or want anything...he took such good care of me!!!
On the water by 830 am to start our 8k day. Or so we think! Oops! "Bad news guys...my GPS was off, its really 18k today" Arrgghhhh! Let's get it done then!
Hardest day so far. Into the wind the whole time! Felt like we were hardly moving. Only thing that got me through was the fact that I get to see Tristan and Jade today...that and 12 werthers...yup, I'm an addict!
Made it to Kingston Mills in 4.5 hrs. Never been happier to get out of that kayak. My feet hit ground and I was done! Jeff went to get truck and Glen and I walked up the dock to check things out. Turn around to go back to kayaks and see Glen's is on its way back out to sea! Noooooooooo! Damn I have to get back in kayak and tow it back in! Tie up your boat BOY!
One final bath in the lake...pack car...drop off Glen back in Chaffey's...and homeward bound.
I am now sitting in car. Finally a padded seat...ahhhhh!
16 days of great paddling and adventure. 16 days with my Man!
A great holiday with lots of memories.
Get hit by lightning
Run out of pepper
Break anything (except our umbrellas)
Run out of food
Have a shower
Get killed by car launching off swing bridge into canal
Get Attacked by crazy Raccoons
Have car stolen from Kingston Mills
Got great tan
Got lots of exercise
Met some interesting people
Witness a heroic act
Laughed at Jeff
Laughed with Jeff
Become addicted to Werthers
Miss my kids terribly
Until next year.........
Thanks for following! Xoxo.
Got up at four, woke him up and asked politely to turn off, he then said oh sorry were you camping here? Ok, really? You sat in your boat drinking and waved to us, can't miss us, we are the tent 50ft behind you up on the ledge, hmmm. He said would turn off but simply turned down, didn't have the energy to fight. A few others complained to lock master in the morning and lock master woke him up and told him not to do it again or couldn't stay any more.
Had breakfast, packed up and portaged down to the water and off we go, have something like 18k to do today.
Was a beautiful day and couldn't ask for any better, km's flew by and was very comfortable, was good to give Glen a day of no rain and sunshine, sure he appreciated.
Stopped for beer run a Seeley's Bay and stocked up for our last night,15 beer, 4 coolers and a bottle of Rye and some coke, about all we could manage to stuff in any available spot, almost went back to get more and strap to the deck.
First beer down by 11:20 on the water.
Reached our final camp spot early and quickly set up, afternoon in the sun and cold drinks wooohooo, they might have gone down a little too good, stock was getting low by dinner time.
Just before dinner, couple shows up in kayaks, they decided to go kingston to ottawa and stay in Bed and Breakfasts along the way, added a tent and sleeping bags just in case they needed. Just in case? Are you serious? Barely see a store along the way. Food was literally, trailmix, granola bars and two plastic cups for water, not even a spoon. Offer up cold beer because we know what it's like, down two more, opps son shows up on bike to wish them well, down 3. Glen gives me a hard stare.
Few minutes later, two ex-marines show up doing same trip to raise awareness/money for disabled vets who need special prostetics, great cause. They are stocked to the nines, ration packs and all, no beer, I so want to give them cold beer but know if I do, well, let's just say I might not be able to do this blog, mutiny!
Julie keeps calling out "Jeff for Mayor" because I keep helping random people and giving away our stuff. Our anthem, btw is "qui" more a battle cry because there was this french lady saying it but sounded like a duck "qqqqquuuuiIi" all nasally, we randomly throw it in whenever we hear someone speaking french.
Make dinner and send leftover pasta to couple with no food, also fill em up with hot coffee seeing as they are about to crawl into a single person tent, no mattress or pillows, did I mention my 3 person large tent may not fit them either? It was like you see in walmart where some larger person buys clothes four sizes too small and squeezes into them.
We run out of alcohol and so time for bed, tomorrow is an easy 8k to the finish line.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Up by 6am...eat the last of our eggs...lodge complaint to lock master...we weren't the only ones...and packed and on water by 915am
Water is calm...slight breeze at our backs...relaxing 19k today.
Boys have to stop at Seeley's Bay...last LCBO before we get home. And well...heck we have to celebrate last night tonight! Crack our first beer on water by 11 am...that's a first...beer in the kayak!
Got to Upper Brewers by 2 pm and set up....early day but we have lots of beer to drink ya know...last day and all!
Sat on dock and sun tanned all afternoon while listening to music and enjoying some "adult" beverages.
A couple from Burlington arrived in kayak and first words out of Jeff's mouth..."Want a beer". Bam...3 beers gone! He just lost Glen's vote for mayor! Give away anything but not the beer boy!!!
They are doing the same trip we just did and all they have is a tent, sleeping bag, a box of granola bars and a bag of trail mix. Nothing else! Only the clothes they wore as well! WTF! Needless to say, Jeff (mayor) gave them left over pasta, coffee, drink packs, and almost gave them my breakfast! Had to tackle him before he gave away everything! Told him if he gave away any Werthers we are through!!!
Not long after they showed up a couple of ex-military guys show up. They are kayaking to Ottawa to raise funds for soldiers who have been wounded in combat and are in need of special prosthetics for sports related activities. The site is www.po4so.blogspot.com. Really nice guys doing a great thing for soldiers in need!
Ate last of pasta and cans of veggies. Down to 1 bag of food. We have lots of oatmeal and yogurt granola bars left. Kids will eat :). Other then that we did a great job of food planning.
Last night in tent...can't wait for bed tomorrow and shower!!! Even better...can't wait to see Tristan and Jade...one more sleep!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Needless to say, had a sleepless night...the 2 guys slept well though!
Set off with our guest (Glen) at 930 am. Started to rain lightly as soon as we got into lock and continued to rain until we got into last lock 5 hours later! Not the best weat
her conditions but was warm and no wind which means no waves! I am happy about that!
We decide to do some sight seeing as we have a short distance to travel today. Heard of this 100ft rock we had to check out because of its splendor! So, Jeff maps it out on GPS and off course we go. Turns out not to be so spectacular...but, hey what else are we going to do in the pouring rain?!
We were very thankful for rain jackets and kayak skirts today...poured the whole time we were on the water. Our hands and feet were actually white and shriveled from being wet for so long!
Lucky thing for us though, the rain stopped when we got to Jones Falls so we didn't have to set up the tents in the rain. Whew...nothing worse then wet gear!
Jones Falls is a 4 step lock system. Takes about 2 hrs to get through to bottom. So, we are entering our last lock before bottom..."Do you want to get out here or take out at bottom" lock master asks. "We will just get out at bottom" says Jeff.
We get to bottom and find out we have to drag our kayaks and gear back up big hill to first lock pass. The lock master didn't explain this to us. So, I say we are going back up lock one step to make it easier. Lock Staff member (who was an ass the first time we went through here last week) says we can't because we just came through! We have a seasons pass which means we can go up and down as many times as we want "Fat Boy"!!!! Jeff says its fine we will carry all our stuff back up (he just wants Mayor votes)...I on the other hand get vocal and finally the big boss tells us we can come back up. For some reason us "little kayakers" get no respect or consideration from others. Very frustrating!!!
We grabbed a bite at store...burgers and fries and sausage and salad for me. Boys had ice cream...and I just watched and drooled!
We checked out the Whispering Dam...you can actually stand at either end (300 plus feet) and whisper to each other and hear loud and clear! Very cool!
The sun is now shining and very nice out...hopefully tomorrow we get some sun...last 2 days are upon us!
Ended the night watching Sheet Lightning in the distance...but a clear sky above us with millions of stars shining...what will tomorrow bring?
Well, Glen sure got an introduction to Kayaking today, I almost feel bad for him, we got up, had a hearty breakfast, eggs bacon, coffee, cookies and start packing up, looking a little overcast.
We set off and the instant we get into the lock it starts to rain, Julie and I put up umbrellas and start putting on rain gear, uhhhm, didn't we remind to bring a rain jacket and umbrella? Opps.
No matter how much rain gear you have on there was no escaping getting wet today, the good news is we cared less about being swamped, partly because we were already wet, partly because nobody else was dumb enough to be out there. We were soaked and it was a torrential downpour for the entire 5 hours of paddling. Was nice actually refreshing and calm waters so as long as not cold better than fighting wind or sitting at camp in the rain.
Decided to go off the beaten path, some local (scary looking dude) told us about some cool rock formations/cliffs in the lake we had to go through, "road trip". Detour around lake, added some extra km's but was a short day to initiate Glen anyway. Rocks were neat but definitely not worth the trip if we had anything better to do, got some pictures which I thought were neat.
We saw a few muskrats today, one popped up in front of Julie, couldn't resist, told her to watch her hands because the eat meat, was funny to see her try and paddle with her hands 2 feet off the water.
Paddle back to Jones Falls a little iffy, looked like lightning sky all the way so planned out a few ditch points just in case, never had to use them, got to Jones Falls around 2ish and given our experience on the way up, didn't know what to expect.
Locked pretty quick though, when we got to last lock of 3, lock guy asked if we wanted to take out from the lock instead of the bottom, we said no thanks will camp at the bottom to save a lock, hmmmm who knew there was no camp spot below, this time Juile a little annoyed, even more so when lock guy pushed back about us locking back up, her words "excuse me we have a seasons lock pass, we can go up and down all day long if we like". She did think I was being overly nice so I got smacked too after. Needless to say we locked back up.
Had dinner at local greasy spoon and then a walk up to the whispering dam, very cool, when was built it was largest dam in north america and 3rd in the world, if you stand at one side and a person at the other, you can whisper and have a conversation, we tested it out, works.
We have the coolest camp spot of the trip, will post a picture but its at the edge of the lock, 40ft up at the edge over the water, I get water side, hope I don't stumble. Glen's tent is 50ft away.
While waiting for Julie to come back from washroom and have breakfast I notice Julie's day-time nemesis, water snake (night-time is bats) I get "bullwinlkle" and load up my ammunition, time to go hunting, first shot thwaak, splash, miss high two inches, ok zeroed in, I pull back my mighty rubber band equipped death from above slingshot like a 1970's ninja B movie star and release with high expectations, thwaak, zing, right on the head, woohooo, oh wait, wtf? Didn't even flinch, arrggghhh, upgrading next year, personal protection "Bullwinkle" is not, should have gotten out my bear bangers or even a good whack with a paddle....
As you can see from above the day was pretty uneventful, looked like rain and even put hear back in tent at one point, once packed the rest of the day was beautiful, clear skies and a little wind in the face but nothing crazy, it was a really short day of paddling as we are scheduled to meet Glen at Chaffey's Lock tonight.
Spent the day literally lying in the grass under the sun with a book and a drink, Julie got in a couple of naps and we just had a nice relaxing time off the water.
Glen showed up around 6 with Beer and homemade cookies, though the hint "make sure you stop and get us a tims on the way" was pretty clear but obviously not! Oh well cold beer it is.
We unpack Glen's truck, help his setup and organize, have dinner and shoot the breeze so to speak until about 10:30, time for bed, been an exhausting day.
Looks nice out and there are a million stars, promises to be a nice day tomorrow
On water by 844 am and straight into wind. Doesn't matter which way we turn today...wind is in our face!
A short day of paddling...9km and we land at Chaffey's for the day. Done by 11 am. Set up, put on bikini and hit the LCBO. Day of relaxation and sun tanning is in order.
For some reason Jeff believes that once he opens a drink he can't put a lid back on it! It has happened several times where he has drink in hand and starts to look at something and tips drink in hand and spills everywhere. First time...ok...2nd time...not so bad...but 17th time and strawberry cooler goes all over me and my towel, not so cute anymore! Put a lid on it boy!!!!!!
We stopped earlier today because my friend Glen will be joining us tonight for our last 3 days of paddling. Excited to see him and show him what this experience is like. He and I rode our bikes down the BAHA in Mexico from Santa Rosa Lita to Cabo San Lucas. 800 km. So, he loves a great adventure just like we do! Sure he will love this!
Glen arrived around 6pm. Gave him a tour and cooked him a gourmet dinner. Pasta, mushrooms, and veggies.
He brought cold beer...we like Glen :)
Just hung out and chatted most of the night. Got eaten alive by mosquitoes!
Nice relaxing day. Not to much to report....until tomorrow......:)
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Started off a little shaky though and if you would have told me we would be at Newborough lock tonight I would have laughed. Woke up around 4:30 am and wandered outside to do a weather check, blistering wind and could see the waves, uh oh, not looking good, sat on the dock for about an hour and watched the sun peak over the horizon before heading back to sleep, gonna be a hopeless day of continued wind.
Back up at 7 and wind had decreased, a few waves but nothing crazy, woke up Julie, time to go girl, on the water by 7:30, not enthusiastically as we skipped breakfast, we were only 4k from Rideau Ferry so just wanted to get there, wind had changed so was coming across from the side, no head wind, wooohooo, still, doesn't look great and settling in for a long day, stopped at Rideau Ferry and grabbed a coffee and protein bar.
This time going down north shore home, adds distance but better to be protected along shore before waves pick up by the time they hit south side, all I can say is the wind gods loved us today, it totally shifted so was behind us and water was calm, literally stayed that way for the remainder of the day, one of the best paddle days yet, simply amazing and the Rideau lakes are phenomenal.
Raced a sailboat to Murphy's Point and won, stopped for a rest and walked around the point, would be a good place to stay and was one of our ditch points today, too nice not to paddle. We find this little island barely the size of a picnic table, I know this because there was a picnic table there, got some cool pictures.
Police boat drove by not 20 feet beside Julie on full plane, WTF? Shouldn't they know better? The stopped just ahead of us to check if a small boat had safety equipment, really? Safety? Now you give a shit about safety? My fuse for idiots on the water is pretty low and as we paddle up Julie advises me to keep my mouth shut (but nicer) and I heed her advice for once.
As we pass a cottage Julie "Eagle Eye" sees a deer alongside a lawn and we stop to check it out, very cool.
A little further up this loon being protective keeps popping up beside kayaks, right beside, got some cool pictures.
We hit Narrows at 1pm after 23+Km and breakout Brunch, eggs, bacon, salad and take opportunity to freeze beer in fridge.
We then decide that the 7km to here is worth it to get the big lakes out of the way, never know with the wind so take it when you get it.
As we pull into canal leading to lock, I'm 5 feet from shore, look up and big deer looking back, whoa, I try and tell julie to get cam as quiet as she can but too late, he stays long enough for me to back up and snap a couple, was sooo cool. Interesting that people in boat never even noticed, amazing what you see when going by slow.
Coming up to lock, 4 or 5 boats go by and swamp us, Julie pissed, 30km in waves and gets soaked in sight of the dock, people don't care.
We pull up and start unpacking, cold beer first, our last and we share. People in big boat bring their dog for walk and wet little mut shook all inside our tent just as we were about to put up fly. Arggghg. After a few hints re lack of cold beer and no return offer, we give up, even after moving a picnic table for them, I give up, being nice doesn't pay.
We have dinner and 3 boats show up and 20+ people pile out and start setting up camp, more seem to come out of the woods literally (by car) and having a party across from us, at least the music is good and tooi tired not to sleep. They are from kingston and have family over from england so decided to go for a boatride/sleep over. Seem like a nice crowd, except for "leroy" the dog who seems to like biting.
Should be a short day tomorrow, meeting a friend of Julie's at Caffeys Lock and he will be paddling the last three days with us, welcome aboard Glenn, bring beer, rye and Tims.
At 630am the winds were just as bad as the night before. However, the waves were not so bad so we decided to go for it...well, Jeff did and I just followed.
We packed up fast and were on the water by 735am. Protein bars on the lake was breakfast today.
What...where's my bacon and eggs?! The "honeymoon" is over that's for sure...geish!!!
The 4km from where we were to Rideau Ferry were not good. Waves and side winds were bad. Not looking good for the day. We have 3 big lakes to cross!
Jeff in his expertise with lakes, tells me if we stay close to the shore we should be fine. I trust! Sure enough he was right. We actually had wind at our back most of the time and at some points no wind at all. Turned out to be one of our nicest and longest days of paddling so far!
I know we complain a lot about boats swamping us and not slowing down when they pass...this is the last complaint I promise!
So, I am paddling along and about 30 ft away from me a police boat passes on full plank and swamps me! WTF...a cop!!!! He swings around and checks a man in a boat to make sure he has all his safety kit. By now we have caught up. Well, doesn't the bastard gun it out of there and gets us again and a canoe up ahead of us!!! Arghhhhh...if anyone should know better its them! There, I'm done complaining now!
We were on the water for about 9 hrs today. Made up ground for yesterdays slow down. We even did an extra 6k just in case tomorrow is stormy. Suppose to rain.
Spending the night in Newboro Lock. Nicest spot so far. Great view of water from our tent...nice people...clean bath tub (lake)...and big grounds.
A family of about 30 people just showed up. 4 boats, a few cars, 7 tents, 4 dogs, music and a lot of screaming kids. Jeff...get out Bullwinkle...its gonna be a long night!!!
Miss you and love you Jade xoxoxo.
To set record straight on umbrellas, Julie was getting something out of tent and hit a tree branch getting up which bent one of the arms, truthfully it was bent long before, I didn't have to admit it, then by accident I did the same to hers then trying to bend back I broke it (opps) of to get new improved ones, spent entire walk back showing Julie how it automatically opens, over and over, whooop, yes, I did sound effects too.
Left Smith's falls around 10:30 and wind right in the face, strong but seems manageable, I'm just glad we get out of canals and back into some open lakes for a change of senery, we lock through Poonamalie and up the final stretch before the start of Lower Rideau Lake, my storm alert goes off and I press silence button as I look around, black skies behind, all good, wind will blow it away. Paddle a little further about 1km and alert goes off again, look right, black clouds appear and you can see the rain dropping, behind us the lightning forms.
As we reach Lower Rideau we pass through this swamp section as a shortcut and as we get closer I see whitecaps on the lake, uh oh, now I love waves and bigger the better, I just feel comfortable and have fun but I know Julie hates them with a passion and she has gone silent which means she is nervous and not having fun, the wind then picks up and its more work to bring the paddle forward in the air vs a stroke in the water and if you stop paddling you go backwards, time for Plan B.
Shore is on the right about 1km, nowhere to stop in swamp and shore in front before lake starts is about 2km, hmmm lightning coming so as 'captain' I decide to head for what looks like an abandon cottage straight across. Pep talk for Julie and off we go, it isn't as much the waves as the wind, it's a lot of work and I know Julie is tired.
Make across without incident and have to cross 500m of what I can only describe as a bog, smell and all, have to attempt 3 different routes through it but finally land safe and sound, and nobody home.
Place we stopped matches exactly what you would expect when you have to cross a bog to get to it, a ton of crap everywhere from who knows what type of animals, and an abode that would do any Alabama Redneck proud, oh well it's dry ground! We haven't decided what to do yet but I know there will be no Lake Couchiching repeats, I notice a brick house in the distance two cottages over, decide to check there, nobody home, place empty and for sale sign, and look at that, nice clean lawn with perfect spot to pitch a tent, time to move.
As we head back, owner of cottage between houses comes home, doesn't look comfortable we are there but understanding, seemed nice enough though and even offered us a ride to Rideau Ferry, and then what? Sit on the road? Nah we will wait out storm and see what happens. Time to move the boats, we carry Julie's over but I paddle mine around the point as it's way heavier and just easier to paddle.
Back to bog, literally up past ankles in swamp and stink to get in, get grounded in bog 3 times and had to re-route, also covered, literally, in deer and horse flies, never bitten so many times (that continued all afternoon) and they left Julie alone.
Set our go/no go call for 5pm, by 3 we are setup on the lawn and staying the night.
Make dinner which was yummy, chicken and salad with tomatoes and cucumber, mmm. Have a very hot shower using portable shower and boiled hot water filled from cottage hose, charges phones using outside outlet, walk down the road, life is good and Julie is happy hence me too.
Nervous about tomorrow as the wind has not let up and gotten worse, calling for same thing Wednesday.
Early night, in bed before 9.
We made a whopping 10km today, not our shortest but is our toughest.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Woke up at 6am to sunshine...fell back to sleep and woke up at 8 to rain...arghhhh! Went for coffees while Jeff made me breakfast:). I like that deal. I took Jeff's cheap mangled umbrella with me and upon return he accused me of breaking his umbrella! I think not...but blame me if you must!
So, what does he do...turns around and fakes walking into tree branch and breaking mine right off the handle!? Wtf?!!!!! Game on Baby...game on!
Off to Walmart we go to buy 2 more umbrellas!
We are on water by 1030am and have wind in our face. Not to bad though because we are still in channels and swamp. After we pass through Poonamali Lock we are out onto Rideau Lake...not fun!!!
About half way across with white caps forming on waves and I am getting scared and tired...thunder rumbles and we see lightning behind us! Ok...not good! We make it across lake to a swampy smelly cottage area and park on a random dock. No-one is home...whew!
2 doors over we see cottage is for sale and vacant. HOME for the night!
The wind still hasn't died down and its 930pm. I'm dreading tomorrow if I have to paddle into wind. Nothing fun about that! But, don't want to let Jeff down.
This is probably our best campsite this trip. On a point tucked into some trees and very private. And its free! Jeff filled his portable shower with water from hose at house then boiled 2 pots on his stove. We actually had our first hot shower since we left home almost 2 weeks ago!!! Why didn't we think of this sooner?!
The plan for tomorrow is up early pack and hit the water before wind gets to bad.
"Dear god...please stop blowing"
Monday, July 25, 2011
Today is a very gray day....about to get grayer!
Woke up to pouring rain at 730am. Nothing worse then packing up in rain so we head to coffee shop and kill 2 hrs while we wait out the rain. Watched the locals come for their morning java and catch up on world news and facebook.
After 2 coffees (and 4 packs of peanut butter)...what?...I was hungry and they were there...my fav food in the world btw:), the rain stops and we head back and start packing.
We manage to keep all our gear dry and pack up kayaks without a drop of water. Ok...ready to go nice and dry...I hop in kayak...I turn around just as Jeff slips into his and...tip! He soaks himself and fills half his boat with water! Hehehe...oops that was out loud!
The sun is actually shining now so we have a great calm clear day ahead....oh but do we?!
After 13k we stop for lunch at Kilmarnock Lock. We actually packed a salad and sandwiches so had a healthy lunch for a change! As we are setting up the sky is getting black and it starts to spit out. Jeff ...being the "Mayor" that he is...sees man in big boat closing his flaps. "Do ya need a hand" he says?! I glare....."You're going to help him so he can be dry in his big boat while we eat in the rain". Not happening!
We finish lunch and pack back up. Still just spitting out but we decide to put rain gear on and skirts on kayaks. Within minutes of being back on water it starts to pour.
"Good timing" on getting gear on!
Its actually not bad paddling in rain...only unnerving thing is the rolling thunder that is getting closer and closer and all we have is swamp around us and not a dock in sight to pull up to just in case!
Rain lasts for a good hour and a half and thunder rolls over us without any lightning....whew!
But...still gray out!
We get to our last set of locks before we stop for the day in Smith Falls. We hit all the locks today perfectly. We don't have to wait for them to bring any up to us.....
As we settle on to wall in lock and grab the cables, Jeff decides to sit on back of kayak because his legs are sore. Good idea...oh wait...don't sit on spare paddle you might.....TIP....oops too late! swamps his boat and actually has to use his bilge pump to get water out!
Lock staff have a good laugh as does Jeff...he's such a good sport...and of course I do too...hehehehe!
So ironic...tries so hard all day to keep gear dry...dry bags...rain gear...umbrellas...and hats...and he ends up tipping himself twice.
Funny thing is he says to lock staff..."I packed all the heavy stuff in my boat so Julie could be lighter". So, somehow this is my fault!?
We make it to the last lock just before 5 and sky is looking threatening....set up tent fast before the rain...done....
About 5 mins after we pulled out of water and just as we get tent up we hear a crash...splash...and see things in the air!
We ran towards noise as does everyone around and find a car has gone full speed off swing bridge and has bounced off the other side (which we just paddled through 5 mins earlier)
...and crashed in the water! As we reach the scene 2 men have jumped in and are trying to open door. Man in car does not want out...he wants to die. Suicide attempt!
I am ready to jump in and Jeff is looking for something to smash open passenger window...young lock boy jumps in and smashes a 2x4 through window and pulls man out just as it fully submerges! He is a hero!!!
We truly thought we were going to see a man die today!
By this time police, and fire arrive and pull man out of water. He has cuts to his face and arms. He is coherent. He will survive!
The sad thing is he looked like a homeless old man...the town drunk? Does he have anyone that cares? :)
By the time all this is over we get a Tim's and head to laundry mat which we desperately need. Get there at 745...closes at 8...last load in by 715! We take a chance and start our loads!
All good...as long as we are out by 9pm we are safe...that is when alarm motion sensors go off. We are out of there by 845....
By now we are hungry and tired...Pizza Hut is nearby so we hit that at 930...they close at 10....
By now we are exhausted...a long day physically and emotionally!
I want this day to end...we can only be lucky so many times...to bed I go before our luck runs out!
Woke up at 7 to the sound of hard rain hitting the tent, I have no issues paddling in the rain (that's what waterproof equipment is made for) but trying to pack 200+ pounds of gear in the rain just sucks, even though everything in dry bags things will get wet, we decide to wait it out.
Walked to local coffee shop for warm coffee, guess this place is the local morning hangout, everyone was there, couple of people playing crib and thought maybe I would get a chance to get in on the action (love cribbage) especially when the lady said the old man in the corner can't be beat, but he didn't have my grandfather teach him, I play a mean game. Alas it wasn't meant to be, game broke up by our second cup and rain started to let up.
Cook at the coffeeshop/restaurant is an artist, sweet older lady, only started drawing 4 years ago and man does she have talent, will post a picture when I get home and the detail is incredible. If you are ever in Merrickville check the place out, very cozy small town feeling, reminds me of home.
Rain finally stopped so we scrambled to pack up camp before it set back in, we both dressed long sleeve and I decided to wear pants in preparation for a long cold paddle, Julie said I was going to be too hot but I shrugged her advice aside.
Now comes the first of my two dunks in the water, take all this time and care to make sure rain stops before packing, waterproof jacket and kayak skirt on, bring on the water, well... While getting into kayak, leaned the wrong way and over she went, it was only by sheer luck that I didn't go right over, over enough to fill the kayak with water and completely soak me before I even started
Was an absolutely gorgeous first half paddle, sunny and calm water, fairly strong head wind but did little to slow us down, was just a nice pleasant paddle with lots of pictures and good conversation. Really cool thing was this little dragonfly which stole a ride ontop of Julie's deckbag for an hour, let us take pictures about an inch away and another landed on her finger, more pictures, was really cool, will upload when we get home, got some good detail shots.
As we were pulling into Kilmarnock lock, site of the thieving racoons and our lunch spot for the day, 3 cruisers blast by, now 1 ok, 2 annoyed, 3 downright pissed, canal is literally 100 feet wide and he was 20 feet starboard on full plane, 39 foot cruiser on full plane throws a big wave, now we can handle the waves and more but based on principle well, you know me, I paddle off quickly to catch at lock and say my piece. As always ask lockmaster (idiot who also wouldn't let us put our warm beer in his precious fridge on hottest day of year) if I can say something, he says yes, after lock and to him not boaters, WTF buddy, satisfaction comes from direct confrontation. I bite my tongue.
Julie catches up, lock closes and lockmaster asks the boaters if they are staying or continuing, then asks us and before I can open my mouth, Julie makes me so proud, she yells out "continuing, if we don't get swamped along the way", it's a win.
Lockmaster did warn them about wake and after he told me I could fill out a formal complaint, me? Nah, just want then to be more appreciative of the little guy. Lockmaster joked, welcome to Montreal week.
We stop for canal side picnic lunch and I tell Julie I need to get out of my wet clothes, in reality, sweating like a pig but not about to give her the satisfaction after telling me I'd be too hot in pants, two wins for Julie in less than 3 hours. And now it starts to rain....
We wrap up quick and set off, not raining hard yet, turn the corner and decide to button down hatches and get waterproof, lucky thing because the sky opened up, one of those raindrops bounce off the water an inch type ones, have to cross 5km lake diagonal which brings away from shore, go/no go decisions, did I mention 40 second rling thunder and black sky where we are headed? Go.
Kept eyes on the lookout, was nervous but lightning never showed, whew, hate lightning, the only weather I won't paddle in, for good reason. Rain lasts for about an hour and a half then clear sky again.
Remember I said I got dunked twice today? Locking through I decide to stretch legs and sit on back of kayak, well I guess Kayak had second thoughts, I literally flipped 90 degrees, only by the grace of God did I not go under, I caught the lock cable with the tips of my fingers and managed to pull up right, now sitting in a bathtub, kayak cockpit filled over my legs and I had to get the pump out. We shared a good laugh, Julie obviously laughing longer because she started the second I flipped.
We get to Smith's Falls at 5pm after 23km, our longest day in 5 days and actually made up two days for the return home. We quickly scramble to set up tent because looks like rain again, we do it in record time and then it happens.
Hope I capture the next sequence of events accurately, it all happened so fast, will be interesting to read Julie's post as we don't read each others until after we have both sent for the day.
Right in front of the lock gates, the ones we just came through 5-10 minutes prior there is a cross over street with a swing bridge which is under construction so left open, leaving a gap over the canal of maybe 50-75 feet or so, we are camped about a hundred yards away and are just organizing our stuff from the boat when we hear a loud bang and Julie sees stuff flying in the air, we figure some sort of accident so we go to see what it was. As we come around the lock house we notice a car in the channel, it went through the barricade and hit the bridge on the other side and then bounced back into the water and was starting to sink, front of car and roof all pushed in and big smash where driver hit windshield.
We run down to the water to help and there were two men already in the water and a third lockstaff member about 17 just swimming over, guy at drivers door said the person inside wouldn't open the doors and kept saying he wanted to die, Julie starts to take off shirt to jump in and help and I tell her to hold on, three people there already.
Car starts sinking fast and all doors locked, Julie and I go under bridge to find something to break window with and nothing at hand, lockstaff kid grabs 2x4 in water and hits window about 7 times and finally gives in, there is only about 6" of roof left visible at this point, guy won't come out, lockstaff kid literally reaches in and pulls him out (wasn't wearing seatbelt) took what seemed like 2 minute struggle to get him out of car because he braced himself inside and about a minute of that the car was fully submerged.
About this time the police showed and then undressed, and seemed like more worried about getting equipment wet than saving a life, response time was quick though, kudos on that. They did go back in after pulling the driver to shore to check if there was anybody else in the car, even though the guys that saved the driver checked when they got there and seems like checking 10 minutes after car sank instead of when you were in first time is a little after the fact, no?
Hats off to the little hero dude at Smith's Falls detached lock, you saved a man's life today even though he wanted to throw it away, hope the cuts on your hands from reaching in broken window heal fast.
It's a very unsettling feeling standing there feeling helpless and knowing that you may be watching a man die, at the same time guilty for not going in, at that point there was three people already there, glad I don't have to know the guilt had he not made it.
Whoever you are, I hope your life turns around and you find happiness in whatever form it may come, beyond that, you selfish dick, forget what you did to yourself you could have seriously hurt other people.
Most disturbing part was the locals who seemed to be more concerned about how much longer the bridge will be closed for now.
Went for coffee, did laundry which almost didn't get done because we were so late but fortunately we are on first name basis with the owner James so we texted him and he let us know we could stay later. Whew clean clothes.
Quick bite at Pizza Hut (only thing open) and back to ten for some sleep.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Watched local Rotary club setup for annual pancake breakfast at the lock, local minister brings his congregation down to the water for mass and breakfast, in typical fashion all the women were busy making food and the men were sitting watching, when I point out my observation an older man says "we are supervising". Recall a Seinfeld episode "No Soup for you, next"
Julie up around 7 and we have a nice conversation with a local lady who swore she saw us the day before as she was sitting on the dock and we waved, didn't have the heart to tell her we haven't been that way yet as she seemed to enjoy meeting us after seeing us. She did tell us of her trip, her and her husband started in France, walked over the mountains and across Spain, almost 1000km in 36 days, cool, no Julie we aren't walking anywhere! Did find out there is a bike/walking trail that follows the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa, that might be neat.
On the water by 9:30, on the homeward leg now, thanks for the offer to ferry us along Mom but we are happy with going back to Kingston at this point. Julie convinced me to wear long sleeve due to overcast and cool morning, within minutes, hot and muggy, julie whips off her top (cool sports top under) and now I'm stuck in winter clothing for the rest of the day, going to stop listening to Julie now.
For some reason the scenery looks better going back, same swamps but somehow doesn't look as "nasty". Was a beautiful day for paddling and we both thought we might just head on through Merrickville and keep paddling, glad we didn't if you look outside right now (save that for tomorrow's post)
Locked through the 3 locks at Merrickville by 1 and setup tent alongside bunch of people having a picnic, who seemed to offer anybody walking by fresh garden wares, except for us of course, I guess at this point we both look unkempt and probably a little ripe, don't blame them.
Grocery shop for fresh lunch/dinner food, hit the patio for cold rye/beer and then for cool swim, one of the most noticeable differences between Trent/Rideau is that most of the locks on the Rideau are in swampy areas and therefore a challenge to find suitable swimming area (never an issue on the Trent)
Relaxed for the afternoon then hit the local pub for grub and live entertainment, two older gentlemen singing really old songs, they were a hoot and was very enjoyable, kept having to google the songs to know who they were.
Did have a funny/pathetic incident in the locks, family who just purchased a smallish older boat and out for first trip (and first lock) was having difficulty getting in, expected given experience. Pathetic part is there was a 49 foot Meridian behind him who was totally pissed off, kept making comments to the other boat and lock staff. It's like buddy relax, we don't all have Million dollar yachts with forward/rear thrusters with hand held remote and twin 380hp engines, this continued through the 3 locks. Funny part, he was complaining that every time the older boat started black smoke came out and was touching his precious boat, then he started and black smoke came out side exhaust vents (did I mention we were moored beside?). What a tool, if I had my keys I would have keyed the side, at least 45 footer, a record, flashback to first trip and whacking boater with paddle who swamped little kyle over the rocks
In tent by 10 and ready for another day of paddling.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
So today we start our paddle back home. We debated going on to Ottawa and having Jeff's mom pick us up on our way back to wherever we could make it. She offered...we would never ask that of someone! Thank you so much Betty that was sooooo sweet and kind of you! However, we decided to stick to our plan and head back west. Besides, a friend of mine might be meeting us Thurs night at Chaffey's Lock.
Ran out of eggs and bacon so today is first morning of trip that we haven't had! We have been eating relatively healthy...better then last year for sure!
Fruit cups, coconut butter, and protein bar it is.
On water by 930am. Calm and hot today makes for an easy 10k. I think we spent more time sitting in locks then we actually did paddling!
Back in Merrickville. Staying at top of lock this time so feels like we are in a new place. Man its a busy little town on Sunday. Park is full of people having picnics and ice cream and watching the locks.
Once we set up we head to grocery store and buy fixings for salad and sandwiches. We have our own little picnic then head to a patio for a beer.
Walked the streets and browsed some shops...got ice cream and the best licorice toffee ever!
We then tried to find a spot to read our books and relax...couldn't get comfy around camp so we decided to get a coffee and find a patio to read on. We found a patio alright. Only problem was that there were 2 old guys playing a "gig". So, no reading got done and no coffee got drunk...ordered drinks and enjoyed some "blasts from the past". Hung out with the locals and we were there so long we ended up having dinner there as well! Fun times!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Woke up around 7am and went on a coffee run then finished off the last of our eggs and bacon for breakfast, packed up and on the water by 9am.
Was a short paddle day again, 10km to Burrits Falls lock, our turn around spot. Since we started planning this trip our intent was to make it to Ottawa and back to Kingston, the only rule we made was after day 8 regardless where we were, we turn around to go back, we are about 60km short of Ottawa, so close can almost reach out and touch it, unfortunately, to make it to Ottawa would mean 4-5 30km days to make up the difference from our life of leisure the last while, just isn't going to happen, having too much fun, back we go.
That didn't however, stop me from discussing various options for hitting Ottawa, cab back from where we end up on day 16, rail from Ottawa etc., in the end nothing made sense, my Mother even offered to do the 7 hour drive to ferry us around but hey, I am not that mean, I know she would in an instant and has offered but nah, we are good with what we have accomplished and have had a great trip, no prize for making it to Ottawa. Julie humored me most of the day as I talked over options, mostly to myself.
The perfectionist in me knows I will come back to Burritt's Falls and finish the last leg at some point ;). Part of me just wants to get out of these blah canals for something more visually appealing.
Was a nice trip today, hot and humid but a cool breeze, I think it dawned in Julie tonight that we have 8 days into the wind against the current on the way home, hehehe.
Spent the afternoon lounging, hit a public beach after filling cooler with ice for beer and then had my typical sit in hammock to read, fall asleep afternoon nap, Julie slept under the sun on her air mattress as the hammock hurts her back.
We are at a lock with many boats all French people, literally feet away from my head (can hear their AC, bastards). Finally had one boater actually offer to charge our phones, first offer of anything since we left, both Julie and I have commented that Boaters on the Trent are much friendlier, I think it's just the french people (I can say that, I'm French)
Went for cocktails at the bar across the street "date night" we showered (Julie under cold hose, me in lake) and put on our best, wrinkled clothes and off we went, band was good Jazz band and the base player used to be in the "drifters". Jazz though, put me to sleep, zzzz, zzzz. I think I might have embarrassed Julie when I held up my Blackberry between sets and blasted Metallica, Fight Fire with Fire.
Rained while we were at bar and they are calling for a storm, back in tent and good night sleep in order
We are paddling through canals and swamp now so we have been told we aren't missing much as far as scenery goes.
We only did 10k today. Arrived and set up camp by noon. We found a small local beach along Rideau trail. Actually had sand! We didn't have to dodge weeds! Its the small things! We packed us up some beers and hung out with locals and good tunes for the afternoon. Watched a bunch of kids play and had a "Mommy" moment...missing my kids big time!!!
Back to camp for a siesta...seems to be the routine...wonder if I can nap in my storage room at work when I get back? Kind of getting use to this!
People aren't as friendly on the Rideau. Lock staff and boaters are not as welcoming or sociable.
So...645pm two big boats pull in and only 1 spot left to tie up for night. Jeff doesn't even hesitate to interrupt his dinner and help these $200,000 boats. Not a thank you or a smile was given. Very ungrateful and unappreciative! He then offers advice on how to tie up because they were struggling. I could see the glare in the one guys eyes and read his mind..."You're in a kayak buddy wtf do you know about boats". Little does he know that Jeff grew up on the water!!!
Went on a date tonight to see a band at bar\convenience store\laundry mat\coin shower. Only building in town so cram it all into one I suppose.
Wore my good shorts...oh wait these are the same shorts I've worn the last 3 nights...and my clean T-shirt. All good...we fit in perfect! Band was a little mellow for my liking but hey...better then hanging out with all the "stuffy" people on the big boats!
We are literally steps away from the lock wall where all the big boats park for the night and hook up to power so they can run their A\C all night. Its a full house tonight! Going to be a loud long night!
Friday, July 22, 2011
Let's go back, settling in for a nice night with the tent shell off for a cool breezy night under the stars, walking back to tent and in the horizon we see sheet lightning, great! We are starting to doze off, well Julie anyway and all I can think of is the sky opening up and getting soaked and having to put up shell at 4am, Julie is adamant it won't rain so I do what any self respecting man would do, I wait till she falls asleep and I put the top on the tent, of course we wake up and no rain, I am pretty sure I got my first "I told you so".
At around 4am I got a terrible leg cramp and woke me right up in severe pain, finally got to sleep and when I got up and told Julie she said oh, thought you were having some "wild" dream cause you were moaning and moving around, upon finding out it was a cramp she said it was from dehydration and/or low potassium (eat a banana) and told me how to make it go away if it happens again, pssst, and where were you last night when I was in excruciating pain?
Now the payback, and it was all so worth it, Julie heads up to bathroom and I being a man pick the nearest tree, hmmm why would julie leave a bag of trail-mix out, hmmm there is another one, oh wait front hatch of kayak open, uh oh, racoons! Then I see they have crawled under her deck and got into her deck bag she left snacks in, tsk tsk, the little critters are smart, they actually opened the zipper and unlatched two tie downs to get at food, lost all bags of trail mix a few bars, some fruit packages and my NIBS. I had a pretty good laugh at the whole thing, anytime we couldn't find something it was "damn racoons took it"
On the water by 10, was a beautiful day, warm with a nice breeze, quiet day, almost no sound other than the sound of a paddle hitting the water, I so like that sound, and was just so peaceful, was also another short paddle day clocking in at 13km. I do however feel as though the scenery is behind us, lots of the same thing, swamps and lily pads with narrow channels, missing the open lakes and beautiful vistas.
Reached Merrickville lock at around 12:30, beautiful set of three locks in the middle of a historical old town, cutest little village I've ever seen, epitome of small throwback town from early canal days, old buildings and they don't have one commercial store, all small shops, antique stores, mom pop stores, etc, my mother would love this place, they even have a year round christmas shop.
Setup camp and a quick skinny dip and off for patio lunch and cold drinks, local people watching is just funny, bought a book because I didn't bring my sony reader (next time) setup hammock and read 4 pages, feel asleep and woke up couple hours later, ah, love it, soooo relaxed.
Headed out for dinner at this Charles Dickens theme restaurant, was soooooo good and really cool old architecture building as are most in this little town. Met some cool older couple, their son is lead mechanic for one of the teams poised to win Tour de France and he did it years ago in his earlier days, he still does cycling and a quick ride is 100-150km, not bad for 81 years old.
Met demon cat called "Bob" cross between a cat and a lynx, who would look at those animals and say, oh ya, let em mate, weird cause no tale and looks like the thing wants to pounce on ya, did take a swipe at my leg through the fence though, kick, opps, sorry "Bob"
Just crawled into tent, nice and cool, should be a good night sleep.
Fyi, hooked up alarm system to kayak hatch which contains food, Racoons in for a treat if they try that again, we aren't talking noisy pots and pan on string here, this is an actual alarm system with highest ear piercing sound ever, Julie doesn't call me gadget guy for nothing.
Lots of fireflies out tonight, and Bats, Julie doesn't like bats.
Bad news....Raccoons love trail mix. They had a little buffet last night and opened my deck bag and proceeded to eat everything in it. They then opened front of my kayak and found our bag of snacks! They ate all of our trail mix, some protein bars, some fruit squishy, sesame snaps, and our licorice!!!
Good news...our kayaks are 1 bag lighter!
Bad news....Jeff has no treats and is grumpy!
Well, it didn't rain last night so we wouldn't have got wet if we slept with tarp off tent like we planned. However, Jeff couldn't relax as he feared being awaken to a rain storm and getting wet. So, on went tarp and in stayed heat!
Another hot day on the water but humidity is not as bad as yesterday. We paddled our 14k for the day which only takes us a couple of hours. We are staying in a place called Merrickville. "The Jewel Of The Rideau". The main street is lined with artists' studios, specialty boutiques and heritage architecture. And oh yeah...restaurants with licensed patios and cold drinks! We like it here :)
After checking out the shops and grabbing some lunch we stumbled upon a store with used books for $1.99. Jeff and I both agreed that our readers are the only thing we didn't pack that we should have. So, we grabbed ourselves a book each and spent the afternoon at the top of the lock reading and relaxing. Jeff actually slept in the hammock...I did the R&R.
Went to a Dicken's theme restaurant for dinner. On our way all the local hoodlums start making their way down to lock which makes us both a little nervous. Oh well, we have our valuables and the squirrels got the Werthers and Raccoons got all the snacks...how much worse can it get?
Sitting on patio of main drag with all the locals. A little old couple passes and strike up conversation. Turns out he is 81 and an ex-pro cyclist. He still rides. An easy ride for him is 100k! He has rode Tour De France in his racing days. His son is head mechanic for Garmin race team and he is there right now. Very cool!!!!
Our other dining entertainment is couple behind us arguing over who danced with who at a wedding they attended....omg I'm so glad we don't fight! Not once in 7 yrs we've known each other! :). Jeff wants to tell guy he's not good looking enough to be telling his girlfriend "you're not going to win this one so don't even bother arguing". He decides not to...small town and the "pickins" are slim here!
Walk back to our tent is fun...the bats are out and in full flight! I'm terrified of bats for those of you who don't know me. One comes so close to us it almost touched me! Not sure why Jeff finds this funny? Just you wait boyfriend!!!
Get back to tent just after 9 and find another family has set up tents and took our picnic table. Arghhh...I said we should leave some stuff on it so we wouldn't lose it. When is that boy going to listen to me;)
Another great day on the Rideau!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
McD's for coffee. Packed up camp and got some frozen veggies and chicken for dinner tonight. And oh yeah more mushrooms...we both love those.
Today was 45 with humidex and very windy...thank god for that! While we were on the water we were fine. Just kept dipping our hats in and splashing ourselves off. Its when we stopped in locks that we really felt the heat!
Only did 12k today. Wind was at our back most of the day. Surfed across most of the way which was great!
Kilmarnock Lock is home for the night. One of our nicest camps. We have the whole one side of lock to ourselves. Lots of trees which means lots of shade! Lots of privacy :).
Jeff's new nickname is "Kermit". Not only can he dodge traffic like "Frogger", but he can catch and kill flies with the swoop of his hand...2 at a time!!!
Uneventful night...not much to do in this heat. Played cribbage (I lost again) and now taking cover in tent to escape mosquitoes.
So hot that we are not putting rain cover on tent tonight so we get a breeze. Don't think Jeff's too happy about this. Think I'm on my own if it rains in middle of night!
Wish me luck!
I woke up early again this morning, sometime just before 6am, got up so didn't wake Julie and went and got a morning coffee from McD's, after I chased the 50 geese away from our tent of course. One of the best coffees around, sat on a picnic table overlooking water and just enjoyed the morning, was really cool out, to the point I had to put a sweatshirt on, brrrrr.
Julie got up around 7 and we went to grab her some morning java as well, did get a chance to try out "Bullwinkle" (should have used on geese) Pesky seaguls, thwack, twack, take that you noisy little fu#*ers! Julie was laughing cause I kept trying to sneak up on them for the money shot.
Packed up the Kayaks, which by the way have been named "Rocky" to match my "Bullwinkle" mascot which rides on top of Kayak and "Roxy" to match the name across one of the bikinis Julie has been sporting and I am subjected to look at every time she got out, poor Jeff, life is rough. Had breakfast at the "Roosteraunt" and set off just before 11.
Hold on, ah, quick swim... K, where was I, oh ya, paddling...
Today was a short day as I seem to think the remaining 10 days will be as well, so nice out and totally enjoying afternoons of relaxing and swimming.
Wind was about 30km and for the most part directly behind us, today was the first day where I noticed a difference not having a rudder and was windcocking all day, arggghh, few paddle adjustments and all good, took special care this morning to overload my boat and leave Julie nice and light, made a huge difference for her I think.
Last 6km was across the last lake (if you want to call it that) we see towards Ottawa, even got to ride some whitecaps on the way in, wish there was something special I could say but only so much you can do to spice up a 30 ft wide canal, scenery not bad but nothing to write home about, or in this case blog, seems as though the picturesque scenery is the way we came from, and while talking with other boaters it's much the same other than the cottages get more expensive.
In all we did around 14km and arrived at our destination around 2pm, then noticed the heat, wow, it's hot out, my weather station says 38+
Setup camp under a clump of trees, more like a forest with a ton of shade, can't imagine this heat in the city, spent the afternoon jumping in and out of the cool water and just relaxing, almost time to make dinner but first nice shower under the shaded trees, best 14.99 I ever spent.
Leaving the tent cover off tonight and sleeping under the stars. Kilmarnock Lock is beutiful.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Had a home-made breakfast at a place called "The Roosteraunt". Roosters everywhere. Great food!
Hit Canadian Tire (just so Jeff could walk up and down the aisles)... Walmart so I could get some muscle pain meds...and of course Tim Horton's.
Found a laundromat about 2k from lock and now have clean clothes again!
Stifling hot day so we decide to hit the beer store (which we can see from our tent)...grab some coolers and hang out by water in the hammock.
We only got 4 drinks at a time (no cooler) so we went back twice so we had cold drinks. The 3rd time (getting beer for tomorrow) girl says "I can't serve you I've already served you today". This after we asked what time they closed at on our last visit so we could buy beer for our kayak trip! Oh oh....I've seen what happens to Jeff with out his cigarettes...give the man his beer lady!!! "You didn't serve me lady...I'm buying". Success! Whew!
After a liquid lunch we needed some real food. Swiss Chalet for me...Harvey's, Dairy Queen and Tim's for Jeff. He's not feeling so good now. Hmmm...might be all the grease and sugar. I'm just saying is all?!
I tried out the pocket shower tonight. Basically its a black bag which you fill with water and hang from a tree. The sun warms it up and voila...you have a warm shower at night! Open the spout and out the water flows. Worked not bad actually. Except for the fact that a little girl (10yrs old) from The Netherlands literally stood about 10 ft from me and watched me wash. Had a bathing suit on but still...a little privacy here please!
Why is it that no matter where we are the local fishermen plant themselves right next to us and decide that this is where the fish are biting tonight?! Arghhhhh!!!