Monday, July 26, 2021

Crossing the border

Yesterday I crossed the border to take the dogs for a walk, well it was just the inter-provincial border but I think it's the first time I've been out of Ontario since Sep 2019. 

A story came up on my FaceBook feed about a cultural trail of art installations in downtown Gatineau. Gatineau is just across the river from Ottawa so I decided to take the dogs over for a walk. We parked at the far end of Jacques Cartier Park, good thing we did as the nearer parking lot would have cost $8, although, it turns out that street parking in that area of Gatineau is free on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

The first sculpture we saw, while not part of the cultural trail, was of the Rocket, Maurice Richard. You know, I had Rockett with me and never thought to get a picture of him with the hockey legend.

Next we came to the Canadian Museum of History which still isn't part of the cultural trail.  There is a pathway around the museum that I had never done so I decided to do that before finding the Gatineau Cultural Trail.  

View of Parliament Hill from Gatineau

The Canadian Museum of History has a façade that's designed to look like a a turtle head, the turtle is the symbol of Mother Earth. The architect who designed the building has designed other museums including one in Washington DC.

I managed to get down the stairs without falling as both dogs were pulling on their leashes. Teddy trying to get to the bottom and with Liam trying to get to the sides to meet the people who were sitting there.  

Liam thought the dog in the canoe was pretty realistic as he barked at it the whole time we were near this little water feature. Rockett came out for a photo op with statue of the Indian Chief Tessouat. The little birch bark lodge is in an outdoor children's area. I would expect in normal times they would have activities going on there but there aren't any group activities going on right now although the museum is open.

Now we were off to find the cultural trail.  There are thirty some art works on a three kilometer trail. I only did about half of the three kilometer route. I also thought all of the art installations were sculptures but many were the graffiti like paintings on the walls of buildings.

I found it a bit difficult to find the plaques for some of the installations and when you did find it, some of them were not translated.  The only official language in Quebec is French. My favourite installation was "One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure, probably because it's of a dog. I also liked the two buildings that were totally painted, you could see something else on them each time you looked.

On our way back to our starting point, we passed by the building where I last worked. It hadn't changed much.

Before heading back to the car, we stopped outside the tourist information office to take a picture of the dogs in the chair outside.  

I'll probably go back one day and park at the other end of the trail so I can see some of the other installations. A fun day out close to home.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

RPod Adventures 2021 - Parks of the St Lawrence

This past week, two of my sisters, their husbands and I went to McLaren Campground on one of the islands of the St Lawrence Parks Commission.  Our next three camping trips will also be to the St Lawrence Parks staying at a different campground each time. We all arrived at about the same time which was a good thing. I tried to back in but because of a ditch on the other side of the road I had no room to maneuver.  I thought about trying to back in on the off side as that actually was the angle of the camp site pad and I also thought about driving through the camp site behind mine as it was empty but since the others had arrived I let my brother in law back it in. I did manage to get backed into my driveway at home on the first go so maybe I'm getting a little better. 

One of the St Lawrence Parks we've camped in before, Riverside Cedar is right on the St Lawrence so you can watch the freighters go by on the river.  McLaren is on a channel and the island just off shore is Croil Island which belongs to the state of New York. We could only see the freighters through a small gap but the channel was full of kayakers, people on paddle boards and boaters, there were even a few people swimming. 

My campsite with Croil Island, New York visible over the water

We pretty much relaxed the rest of the first day. The next day I took the dogs on a walk around the island and wading by the dock. That evening we were under a severe thunderstorm warning; the park staff even came around to warn us about the weather. We spent the evening in the fifth wheel camper. For awhile it looked like it was really going to storm but the worst of it blew over pretty quickly. I had made a foil packet dinner of shrimp and Mexican corn, that worked out well as I had made the packets in the afternoon and they just had to be cooked on the BBQ. We ate inside while it rained and enjoyed the evening chatting and drinking.

Liam and Teddy glamping

We survived
The next day while one sister and her husband went off cycling, my youngest sister and I went and did a small trail called the Chipmunk Trail. We actually drove the length of the Long Sault Parkway and stopped and walked through a picnic area before doing the trail. We were only going to give the Chipmunk trail a one star because we hadn't even heard a chipmunk, then we saw one eating right by the trail so we gave it a five star rating. He was startled by the dogs a little and moved off of the trail.  Also on the shore line, we found another place where people had built Inuksuks. Liam added another animal to the zoo that he is, when he knocked over one that I was trying to photograph. So now Liam is a gorilla, a goat, a horse and a bull.

See the stone on the rock at front, well that was a really nice Inukshuk like a person with two legs and even arms, but just as I was lining up to get a photo of it and the tall one in the water, Liam came across the front of me and knocked it over.  Oh well, we didn't do it on purpose. 

After getting back I took the dogs swimming by the dock. Teddy likes to wade and doesn't mind swimming. Liam was not a fan, when I got him in the water deep enough so he had to swim, even with the life jacket on he swims like he's trying to get out of the water. I'll have to take them again with someone to help out so I can keep him swimming longer. Beckett swam like that but once he realized he wasn't going to sink he calmed down and kept his feet under the water. 

The next day, I drove over to the Lost Villages Museum. All along this area were a number of small communities that no longer exist, many were lost to flooding caused by seaway expansion. Last year when we camped at Woodlands campground, you couldn't go into the buildings. This year the buildings are open again so you can go inside as long as you wear a mask and socially distance. 

Of course, we also had some campfires at night and enjoyed good food.  But most of all we relaxed and made memories.

Grilled peach with ricotta cheese, lemon honey sauce and mint

Home now but already thinking about the next adventure.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

RPod Adventures - 2021 - Part II

Or maybe I should say this is Part III as my first RPod adventure blog covered two trips. Last week my youngest sister and her husband and I met up at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. The park is near Brighton, Ontario and is right on one of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. The park is rather small but has some nice trails, a one way ring road that has a bicycle lane, a large sandy beach and lots of shoreline that you can walk with the dogs. Dogs are not allowed on the sand beaches so I've actually never been  to them.  

We arrived at just about the same time. It was further than I thought, it was nearly a four hour drive for me but just two for my sister and her husband.  It had rained there so the end of the entry way to my site was a large pool of water. I was going to try to back in myself but when I saw that I decided to let my brother in law do it and in any case there was already a line up behind me. 

From the pictures of the sites online, we had thought that our two sites opened on to one another but in the years since the pictures were taken the vegetation behind the dogs had grown up.  We used my site as it was more private and again easier to tarp.  My sister's site was very open to the next site; great for two families but not if you want a bit of privacy. We were just downhill from the washroom but it was obscured by trees and vegetation and it turned out to be a good thing being so close. There also was a dishwashing station right at the end of the building so we had a short little walk up a path from my site to do dishes.

It was sunny the second day but the forecast for the rest of the week was for rain. After breakfast we headed off to do the Marsh Boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk, you go through a cedar wood with all of these "horse" trees.  They say what happened is that a storm came through and damaged the main growth of the tree so that trunk grew out the side causing the curve in the trunk.

Later, I took advantage of the sun and took the dogs to the lake to see if they liked swimming.  I didn't expect Liam, who usually won't even walk through a puddle to like it but he and Teddy both enjoyed chasing waves. After that we couldn't even go near the shoreline and they were trying to haul me down to the water. I'm still not sure if they like swimming. People build all kinds of stone sculptures from the rocks on the shoreline.  The bottom of the lake here is a stone shelf, which drops off like stairs as you walk out. 

The next day we went to the Presqu'ile Light house and stopped on our way back at a picnic area. You drive around the park on a one way ring road, there are a few trail heads that you could stop off and do as well.

I have a picture of Beckett and Keltic sitting on this breakwater but Teddy and Liam just wanted to jump right in. There's no swimming in the lake here as they say the current is very strong.  There's a ship called the Speedy that is shipwrecked off the shore here.

I did get a picture of them standing on the foundation of the light house. I didn't even have to ask them to get up, Liam just hopped right up. 

Both of these were very short walks so while my sister and her husband went to town, I took the boys on a longer walk down the shoreline from our campground.

Common Milkweed

I don't know if you can see it but there's a rock out to the left past this dead tree (maybe you can see it if you make the picture larger). I had Beckett and puppy Keltic out to that rock. I had hoped to take Teddy and Liam out to it to recreate that picture but they were such nuts about the water I didn't dare for fear they would haul me under. 

I'm not sure what this plant is in these last two pictures but this is what we used to call milkweed when I was a kid. We used to even eat the heads of the plant before it went to seed. 

When I got back to camp, since the forecast the next morning was for rain, I decided to make the cinnamon buns in my Coleman oven so we would be able to have them for breakfast the next morning. It was the first time I used the oven, it worked beautifully.

 My sister and I did a short hike right from the campground before dinner. There wasn't really much to see on this trail as the grass is so tall, the trail does have a number of lookouts that let you go see the bird nesting areas. There weren't any birds nesting. 

It actually didn't rain the next morning but rather started around noon so I could have done them in the morning.  I  warmed the cinnamon buns up in the electric fry pan. If we hadn't been so laid back that morning we probably could have gotten in another short hike but just as we were finishing up the rain started.

So the day was spent, napping watching a movie and listening to music. There were a few breaks in the rain to walk the dogs and the rain did stop in time for a camp fire that evening. I had pre-made a foil packet dinner of meat balls, tater tots and mixed vegetables all covered in cheese. It turned out to be just what we needed on a chilly day. The last morning we were lucky that we didn't have to take down in the rain although everything was still rather damp. I put all the wet stuff on the floor of the trailer and took it out to dry at home.

So we're home safe and sound and planning the next RPod adventure.