Archive for July, 2012

Last Minute Late Nights

It happens every trip.  We think that we’re prepared but we find ourselves up into the wee hours putting together the last-minute details.  Yes we’re still adding to our packs and we are supposed to hit the road in seven hours.  Just par for the course.  Sleepy starts…

As long as I’m up, I thought I’d share what our packs weighed in at for our Algonquin Park 20 day canoe trip launch:

Food barrel #1 – 59lbs

Food barrel #2 – 32lbs

Dry bag #1 – 35lbs

Dry bag #2 (Zach’s pack) – 21lbs

Luke’s pack – 31lbs

Day pack – 15lbs

Canoe #1 – 51lbs

Canoe #2 – 61lbs

We will be carrying (at least to start) 305lbs of gear, food and boats…plus pfd’s, 5 paddles and the fresh food that hasn’t found its way from the fridge into a barrel yet.  No small feat.  It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be wonderful.  If you’d like to follow our progress, check out our SPOT page to watch our progress real-time and follow my tweets on our Facebook page too.  See you in a few weeks!


Purls of Wisdom

I know that I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but I’m going to go into a bit more detail now. Something that I love to do to pass the time on trip is knitting. If you can knit, than this is the perfect project to take with you. Books are great, but they’re heavy and you can burn through one in a couple of days. Knitting is better and you get something cool at the end! I name each of my pieces after the parks that they were created in.

My suggestion to save space and weight is to choose a project that uses either lace weight or fingering weight yarn. A full 400yd ball of yarn easily fits in the palm of my freakishly small hand and even if you are knitting a flat piece, circular needles take up far less room than straights and I’ve never bent a set in my pack. So, fine yarn and small needles…check!

I tend to choose accessories rather than sweaters to knit because after the initial set-up, you rarely have to count stitches or keep close track of rows. While knitting a sweater or a large scarf can take an equal amount of time, keeping track of shaping is a pain when you’ve got no pen, project book, or even a chair! Yes you can easily bring these things on a car camping trip, but our backcountry adventures require us to leave anything superfluous at home.

This time around, I’m going to be knitting a shawl. I love shawls. I rarely wear them, but I appreciate the fine work, the drape of the finished fabric and the complexity of the patterns. Of course I’ve chosen a very simple pattern for this shawl because I really don’t want to be trying to do a complicated lace pattern balanced on a log and counting on my fingers and toes!

I’ve been trolling my favourite knitting site, Ravelry and came up with a great one. It’s called the Crocus Shawlette. Even though it’s a small shawl, I will be using lace weight yarn and will need about 800yds of it to finish…that ought to keep me plenty busy. It has a garter stitch edge, stocking stitch body and simple lace border.

So the next time you are planning and packing for a trip, make a stop at your local yarn shop and stock up on 100g of backcountry entertainment! And maybe you can name that next project after me 😉


The Unabashed Tourist

In less than two weeks our family is headed out on another BIG trip.  Almost as much as the trip itself, I love the looong drive to our destination.  Some people hate it and I suppose that if you simply jump in your vehicle and go from point A to point B, it would be pretty awful.

I however love to play the tourist.  I eat fast food and drink gallons of roadside coffee.  There is always a camera in hand and a pocketful of coin just waiting to be spent on the tackiest souvenirs that I can find.  My family teases me about my t-shirt collection, but I love every loud and obnoxious one of them.

I also have a fondness for diners.  They always seem to know how to make the best all-day breakfasts.  This was never more true than our stop at the Continental Motel and Dining Lounge in White River.  We were on our way back from Pukaskwa National Park and couldn’t wait to dive into some bacon and eggs.  Sure enough they served up the BEST diner breakfast we had ever eaten.  We ate every scrap including the orange garnishes and the little packets of peanut butter and jam.  Only as we were pulling away from the restaurant did Fraser mention that he had seen trucker hats for sale with the diners logo on them!  Nooooo!  That’s one souvenir that got away.

The key to enjoying a road trip is knowing that you will likely never see anyone that you meet again.  Not only do you get to see new things and visit new places, you get to check your ego at the car door and find your fun-loving side.  No need to play tough or cool like you do at home if you live in a gritty city.

Here is my road-tripping advice; be silly, have fun and take pictures… lots and lots of pictures.  May I also suggest buying souvenirs and participating in all of the local goofy traditions whether they were designed for the tourist trade or are actually authentic to the region?  I mean, who cares if eating a giant pickle from the barrel at Young’s General Store in Wawa, Ontario is something that a local would never do?  It’s fun and kinda gross, it made the kids and I laugh and of course I bought a t-shirt to commemorate the occasion!

I’ve goosed the Big Goose in Wawa and admired the Big Nickel in Sudbury.  I’ve  visited all kinds of “biggest” and “first” attractions.  I’ve sampled jams and pies and pickles and world-famous summer sausage.  It’s all added to the charm of tripping.  And we get our chance again in just over a week. I’m packing an extra camera battery and saving my pennies…it’s road tripping time!

The Escape Route – Algonquin Park July 30-Aug 18 2012

Ahhh. It’s almost time to make our escape. The dogs of work and responsibility are nipping at our heels but I can almost taste the sweetness of freedom.  Here is our escape route:

Put-in at Kioshkokwi L.  P775

Maple Creek  P190, P90, P630, P805, P130

Maple L.  P170

Erables L.  P660, P90, P695

Skuce L.  P450

Little Nadine L.  P955

Little Osler L.  P700

Osler L.  P1830

Nadine L.  P1410

Nipissing River  P850, P1930

Remona L.  P480

Whiskeyjack L.  P25

Robinson L. P1310

Burntroot L.  P75, P40

Longer L.  P300

Big Trout L.  P105, P730

Otterslide Creek  P265, P390, P250

Otterslide L.

Little Otterslide L.  P790

Burnt Island L.

Birdie L.  P160

Alder L.  P2105

Iris L.  P875

Linda L.  P930

Polly L.  P2600

Canisbay L.  P585

Cache L.  P1640

Head L.  P1035

Harness L.  P145

Pardee L.  P10

Lawrence L.  P415

Rod and Gun L.  P510

Lake Louisa  P1725

Florence L.

Frank L.  P320

Rence L.

Harry L.

Welcome L.  P2170, P295

Pen L.  P275

Clydegate L.  P275

Pen L.  P375

Rock L.  P100

Galeairy L.

Take-out at Whitney

If that seems like a long route, it’s because it is. We will be traveling approximately 105km, be doing 49 portages, passing through 39 lakes with the four of us and two canoes over the course of 20 days. There are some small changes that we might make on the fly in order to travel through a couple of extra lakes, but either way it’s going to be an amazing trip! And we’re going to see some parts of Algonquin that we never have before. The only problem with a fabulous extended trip in the park is the part where we have to come home again.

The Great Moose Rescue – Courtesy of Wild and Misguided Adventures

Bonnie Couchie and Gord Martin co-operators of  Wild and Mis-guided Adventures have a joint philosophy that while it is important to enjoy hiking, paddling, and camping with skill, competence and awareness, you need to leave yourself the space to get a little bit lost, a little bit wild and very open.

They could never have imagined that this philosophy would be affirmed so magically in the inaugural season of their guided outdoor adventure business.  Who would have believed that they’d end up rescuing 2 tiny shivering moose caught in the fast current of the Black River and that Gord along with friend Ian Erskine would end up carrying one of the grateful moose to safety in their canoe?  Or  that the calf would then try to follow Gord home!  But that is exactly what happened.

“We knew that things could have gone really wrong and we didn’t make the decision lightly, but in that moment we knew we had to try to help’” says Martin.  After helping the first calf to shore, they carried the smaller one in their canoe, dried him off, fed him and calmed him.

“Gord and the moose connected in a way that we never imagined possible in such a short period of time. Even after he had regained his strength, he wanted to stay with Gord and appeared determined to get back in the canoe, after being put ashore twice.  It was almost heartbreaking to watch Gord and the moose part.”

To see more pictures of the rescue, check out their website.  To hear Bonnie tell the story, listen to the interview she gave about it to CBC’s Lisa Laco.

“I am grateful for the gifts of understanding and a renewed sense of wonder that I receive each time I complete one of our traditional Anishnabe fasts,” continues Couchie. “I am always struck by the fact that when you allow yourself the opportunity to slow down and get away from your comforts, the universe will often take you on an incredible journey that you never thought possible. Gord and I find these same gifts when we go into the backcountry on canoe, hiking, or camping adventures. We would like to share those journeys with you.”

 Our family had the pleasure of staying in the gorgeous teepee that Gord and Bonnie built after we finished our hike in Pukaskwa National Park.   I only wish that we had been able to spend more time with them and we would have loved to have gone on trip together.  It’s not too late for you to join them though!  Wild and Mis-guided Adventures is running a 10-day canoe and hiking trip in Northwestern Ontario’s Splendor running from August 1-10th.  This really is the nicest backcountry we have ever tripped in and you couldn’t find two better hosts, so check out their website for more details on this amazing opportunity.  Also don’t miss staying at the Pic River Guest Suite while you’re in the area.

For more information you can contact them directly:

Bonnie Couchie and Gord Martin 807 229 8790

Pesto Penne with Black Olives

Coming up with tasty food to eat on day one of a trip is easy.  We traditionally make steak, couscous and corn on the cob to use up the perishable meat and heavy corn.  What tasty meal can be prepared as easily on the 20th day as on the first?  This is our go-to gourmet meal for any day of your trip.

The ingredients list does not have exact measurements because you just plain don’t need them.  The kids love this meal but do pick out the olives 😉

Pesto Penne with Black Olives

one box of penne (or enough to feed your crew)

pre-made pesto (or tomato pesto)

black olives

ready-made bacon (does not require refrigeration)

parmesan cheese

It’s pretty self-explanatory… boil water and cook pasta until done to your liking. Stir in pesto and whole or sliced olives. If in strips, fry bacon until heated through and crispy… if in bits, simply throw in at the same time as the olives.  Drown in cheese. Serve 🙂

To try out some other recipes, check out the Campfire Recipe Link-Up at!

I Am Canadian!

And proud of it!


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