Monday, September 26, 2016

Yes, it's true... We bought a Canoe

I don't know how it happened, but Peter and I bought a canoe. We were discussing it on WhatsApp on Thursday night/Friday morning. By late Saturday morning we had one in our possession.

It was a whirlwind affair. We had gone canoe-camping twice this summer and enjoyed it. Late Thursday night we mused about buying a used one. Peter looked on-line and found we had missed our chance with many of the outfitters who sold their rental stock at the end of the season.

1:03 a.m. Peter sends me a link on how to buy a canoe (the different kinds for running rivers or paddling lakes or whatever; and the different materials like fibreglass or Kevlar etc.).

1:21 a.m. Now he sends a link about how to care for/store your canoe. It's best to store it indoors out of the sun (to prevent UV damage) and preferably off the ground. Though, both of us live in condominiums, so that might be a problem.

1:43 a.m. he sends a link about the Souris River Canoes - Quetico 17 canoe. It's a lightweight Kevlar canoe that Killarney Outfitters sell refurbished for $2,585, plus tax (new is $3,680). Again, they are sold out. Boooo.

1:54 a.m. he finds the same model for sale by owner in St. Catharines for $2,400. What a deal!

1:54 a.m. to 2:18 a.m. We discuss the pros and cons of buying a canoe. Peter sends the owner a e-mail asking him if we could go by on Saturday to see it.

Friday evening. The Foodie Group meets at Peter's place for dinner. They make fun of us for wanting to buy a canoe without even knowing where we're going to store it. It know... it does sound kind of silly.

My sister and parents both have houses, but no garages, only carports. I have some friends in Richmond Hill that have houses with garages. I'm assuming one of them will have space. That's my big plan.

Wally, the owner of the canoe agrees to meet us at his house in St. Catharines at 10:00 a.m.

I meet Peter at his condo at around 8:30 a.m. He stops at two bank machines on our way to the highway to get cash. We arrive at Wally's house at around 10:30.

The canoe is in reasonable shape. He's had it for a number of years and there are superficial scratches on the bottom. Wally is an experienced canoeist. The Quetico 17 is his third canoe. Unfortunately he's feeling his age and has decided to give up the sport. That's why he's selling.

After a brief discussion Peter and I look at each other and ask, should we do it? Of course we should.

Peter offers Wally $2,200 and he accepts. Now that he realizes this part of his life is over he's teary-eyed. He's been canoeing for many years.

We exchange the money and shake hands. After we mount the canoe on Peter's car Wally asks if he can take one last photo. Then we're off. Proud new owners of a fantastic used canoe.

Now we have to find a place to store it.

Thankfully, Emily's mom has agreed to let us store it in her garage temporarily. In the summer she parks her car on the driveway. But, when winter comes, she's going to park it inside.

We meet Emily at her mum's place and bring the canoe into the garage. It's huge (17-feet long and 3-feet wide). It pretty much takes up the whole space of the little one-car garage. I'm concerned the garage door doesn't lock. Anyone can flip the door up and walkout with our super-light (44-lb) canoe.

I make alternate arrangements later that day.

Even though Jan and Amy have a 3-car garage, they don't have space at their place. Their two vehicles take up two spaces and they have other stuff stored in the third space. Thankfully, Daphne, comes to the rescue.

After having dinner with Jan and Amy and Vince and Linda for their (Vince and Linda's) birthdays. I meet up with Daphne at her house. I thought she had a one-car garage, but was happy to discover it was a 2-car one.

As well, it has a large, raised shelf at the back. So, even with two vehicles parked inside, there's room enough for a long canoe. And the garage doors lock. Even better.

We haven't brought it over yet. Probably later in the week. Now to buy paddles. And, for myself, a PFD.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Sound of Death

I was nearing the end of my route on last Wednesday when I encountered a detour on my way to Dr. Shaughnessy's dental office. I had come across Rebecca Street and up Fourth Line when traffic began to slow. There were a number of police officers along the way directing traffic at the intersections south of Speers Road.

When I arrive at Speers I normally turn left and drive about 300 metres west to Dr. Shaughnessy's office. But an officer with his patrol car was blocking the way. Vehicles could only go southbound or eastbound.

So I had a choice... either skip the delivery because my access was blocked or park at the mall on the southeast corner and walk the 300 metres to his office. Now, if my delivery was heavy, I probably would have skipped it. But I only had to bring them 25 large hand towels. Not too bad. So I parked and began walking.

Actually, I had some idea of what was going on beforehand. I had been listening to the radio in the van while driving and there was some news, but it was kind of sketchy. CBC reported that a vehicle had hit someone and they had died. I heard other reports that it was a dump truck that hit an elderly lady who died.

Other than nearly a dozen police vehicles parked in front of Dr. Shaughnessy's office building, there was hardly any traffic around. At 4:00 in the afternoon Speers Road is normally buzzing. Other than idle chatter from a few onlookers and squawking from the police radios, it was eerily quiet.

When I got to Dr. Shaughnessy's office there was one or two patients there. But the office was mostly empty save the staff members looking out the second storey window onto the scene. I told them I didn't think any of the remaining afternoon patients would be coming. I said that I had parked down the street and walked in. I mentioned people could probably leave the building in their vehicles, but not come in.

One of the hygienists commented that there was a bus stop in front of the office building and sometimes people would run across the street to catch the bus. We suspect that's what may have happened.

On my way back I saw the truck. It wasn't a dump truck per se, but on of those disposal trucks with a large bin on the back. I also believe I saw the driver. He didn't look too old. A slightly heavyset fellow, maybe in his 30's. He was sitting by a large for lease sign on the front lawn of the building. Another man was consoling him.

As I neared my truck at the intersection of Speers and Fourth Line the quietness was soon overtaken by the noisiness of the backed up traffic. Life was returning to normal, only it wasn't quite so.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Massasauga Provincial Park - Day 4

Peter, Cynara and I woke relatively early on Monday morning. At about 6:30 we took to the canoes and paddled out onto Captain Allan Strait and headed eastward into the mist.

As well as getting some good shots of the sun rising over the water, we got a number of decent shots of Cynara paddling around too. Peter said there was less mist compared to the day before. Still it was fine.

When everyone else woke up we made breakfast and finished up most of the rest of the food. Mostly eggs and bacon again. Yummy. Then we put our bathing suits on and jumped in the water by our campsite.

Being a Monday it was much quieter. A lot of the other campers had left so the motorboat traffic in front of our site was greatly reduced. Our site was actually situated on one of the busier points in the park. Captain Allan Strait leads out to the open waters of Georgian Bay.

The water seemed a little chillier in front of our site than other places we had swum at. I put my PFD on and floated around a bit. Then I took it off and sat on the rocks in the water by the shore. The water covered my shoulders. I only kept my head out.

After sitting for awhile I felt a gentle poking around my back. Peter was sitting in the water behind me, so I thought it was him. In fact a small fish was sampling me it seems. I had sat still enough that it didn't feel threatened in approaching me. Another one swam between my outstretched legs in the water too. They couldn't have been more than 2-4 inches in length.

On our way back to the city after dropping off the rental canoes we stopped in Barrie for ice cream at Kawartha Dairy. Instead of the usual cone, Peter and I decided to split a prepackaged 1.5 litre tub of Black Cherry ice cream. A regular cone is nearly $5, while the tub was $6.30 after tax. Less expensive and you get more. The tub was too large even for the both of us, so we shared it with the others.

After that we went to Chaopaya Thai Restaurant on Dunlop Street for dinner. Peter and I split some chicken fried rice with basil, and beef with red curry. A bit on the spicy side for me, but very tasty indeed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Massasauga Provincial Park - Day 3

Peter awoke early on the third morning. He went out to take sunrise shots with the mist on the water. Cynara suggested going out the night before, but slept in. Oh well.

Today we planned on hiking the nearby Moon Island Trail. It's right across the strait from our campsite (though the trailhead is on the opposite side of the island). A 20 minute paddle perhaps. We had to wait for Eric's group to arrive though because we thought they wanted to do the hike too.

After breakfast Peter and I went out for a short paddle. I don't remember exactly where we went. Maybe up and down Captain Allan Strait in front of our campsite. After awhile we came back and relaxed.

Jonathan decided to take a canoe out on his own to go fishing. Eric had left his rod there and Jonathan thought he might try it. A short time later he came back completely soaked. The canoe had flipped and he had lost Eric's rod and reel.

It wasn't far from where our campsite was, so Peter and I donned our PFDs and swam over. Cynara and Jonathan paddled there. Jonathan and I searched the riverbed while Peter and Cynara observed.

Jonathan hadn't flipped too far from shore, so we thought we were in the right area. He carried heavy rocks (which weighed him down) and searched the bottom with his feet, while I dove down headfirst and searched with my hands.

The bottom was murkier the deeper you got. In some parts there was seaweed growing from the bottom too. So the view was obscured. We searched a fairly large area for quite a long time but never found it. Too bad.

It was around the end of our search when we saw Eric's canoe coming in. There were four of them in it - Eric, Chris, Jess and Lily. As well we saw what we thought was a dog swimming in the water around them. We thought it might have belonged to them (who we didn't recognize at first) or to a motorized boat nearby. It was only when the "dog" got out of the water and scrambled up the rocks by our campsite that we realized it was a bear cub. No one got any photos unfortunately.

After Eric's group got resettled (and we broke the bad news to him), we split up to do different activities. Jonathan and Jess took a canoe to paddle to the LCBO at Moon River Marine to get some beverages while Eric, Lily, Cynara, Peter and I took the other two to Moon Island to do the 4 kilometre hike there. Chris stayed at the campsite to rest up.

Eric, Chris and Jess had actually gone over to Moon Island to hike when they were here earlier. But somehow they got lost and ended up wandering around off trail. They never actually completed it. So it would be mostly new for him too.

After hiking we made dinner. Eric's group brought some new food like wild salmon and cheap steak. They tried cooking it over the campfire first, but it didn't turn out so well. So Peter re-cooked everything in the skillet which turned out well. No one wanted to eat the salmon still, so I finished it off.

More star shots after eating. No more Northern Lights. With the extra bodies, there wasn't enough space in the tents. So Chris and Jess slept on the rocks under the stars.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Massasauga Provincial Park - Day 2

Saturday started off at a relaxing pace. I woke up around 10:00. I think Cynara was up first. Peter and Jonathan soon followed. We had eggs and bacon for breakfast. The night before we ate sausages and ramen noodles.

In the early afternoon we paddle out to do the Baker Trail by Calhoun Lodge. It's a little northwest of Pete's Place. But, even with Peter's GPS, we still got lost again. It didn't help that he entered the wrong coordinates. Still, we were in no rush. It gave us a chance to paddle around more.

There weren't many boats at the dock by Calhoun Lodge when we arrived. I was a bit surprised at that. I thought more people might want to get out for a hike. Perhaps, at this particular park, water sports are more highly favoured. We noticed a lot of people in motorboats with their fishing gear.

The hike around the island wasn't too long. Only 5.5 kilometres. It shouldn't have taken us too long. But, of course, with Peter and I taking pictures things tend to drag a bit. We completed it in a little under 3 hours. The scenery was fine. Nothing spectacular. All of us had our bathing suits. So we jumped into the water for a quick dip.

Dinner was more of the same from last night. We added one of Eric's Kraft Dinners for variety. Afterwards Peter and I tried taking more night shots. The Northern Lights weren't so bright this evening. We all chilled around the campfire again. This time we built one out on the rocks.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Massasauga Provincial Park - Day 1

Cynara's friend, Eric, organized a camping trip to Massasauga Provincial Park over the Labour Day long weekend. Along with three of his friends - Chris, Jess and Lily; Jonathan, Peter and I went.

Eric, Chris and Jess went first on Thursday. Cynara and Jonathan and Peter and I drove up Friday. Eric and his group had to come back early on Friday evening because he forgot he had to shoot a wedding the next day (Saturday). They would all return with Lily on Sunday.

Peter and I met Cynara and Jonathan at Swift Canoe and Kayak rentals at their Georgian Bay location off Highway 400, north of Barrie Friday afternoon. Eric had arranged canoes for us up there. After affixing them to the roofs of our cars we drove an hour further north to the park.

For our particular campsite (#406) you'd normally launch your boat out of Pete's Place after registering. But they only allow parking for one car per campsite there. So the girl there told us to go down the road to one of the marinas and find private parking there. We found a place near Moon River Marine that charged $8 a day and launched our canoes from there.

Eric's group tried to wait for us before returning to Toronto, but we arrived at the campsite a little late. Even with Peter's GPS we made a few wrong turns and ended up in dead end bays at one point. Ideally we would have come counter-clockwise around Marion Island and bump into them on their way paddling out, but we came in on Captain Allan Strait from the east side.

It was around 8:00 p.m. by the time we got to the campsite. My tent (which I had lent Eric) was still there along with all their other gear. But they were long gone. Peter and I and Cynara and Jonathan set our stuff up and prepared dinner. We had bought three bags of wood from the camp store (at Pete's Place). As well, Peter brought his portable stove.

After eating we went out onto the rocks by our site (which overlooks Captain Allan Strait looking northward to Moon Island and Woods Bay) and started taking night pics. The skies were pretty dark when we began shooting. That's great for seeing the stars. I did notice what I thought was light pollution on the horizon at one point. Then Peter figured out it was the Northern Lights as it got brighter.

I was surprised to see them at this time of the year and so far south. Nevertheless we got some pretty decent shots of it as well as the Milky Way. They started to dim by 1:00 a.m. which is when we turned in for the night.

Friday, September 2, 2016

I saw Kubo and the Two Strings this past Tuesday with Peter. I'm normally only free on Tuesdays through the spring and summer because I volunteer at an Out of the Cold program the rest of the time. So I thought I'd take advantage of the lower prices while I could.

This Laika produced movie is a stop-motion, animated tale of a Japanese boy and his mother and a couple of other fantastical creatures battling other-world forces in ancient Japan. While the story itself isn't very complicated, the movie is visually stunning... just an amazing work of art. That, alone, is worth the price of admission.

After watching it I looked up some videos online on the making of the film. It's unbelievable how much work the studio put into making it. From building models, both large and small, of all the characters to constructing huge, highly detailed sets of the different scenes, it's truly mind-blowing.

Not to mention the stop-motion action of bringing the characters to life. They had to move each one millimetre by millimetre all the while keeping the clothing and hair and other things flowing and looking natural. It's a near impossible feat they pulled off with flying colours.