Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gordon Island!!!

There is a word that gets thrown around a lot for events that were pretty awesome. It is often misused, over used and abused. It can be defined as “impressive in quality”, “celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero” or simply “majestic”. This word should only be used to describe stories of such grandeur that they should be orally passed from generation to generations. Stories like “The Odyssey”, “Metamorphoses”, “Beowulf” and “Paradise Lost” are all lumped into the category that this word describes.

This word, my friends, is – EPIC.

This past weekend I took a trip that borders on being classed as an “epic”. Some may disagree with me, but I would class it as a “mini-epic”. Not that anything heroic occurred or anything. It was just a great weekend that was full of the spirit of adventure.

Getting down to it.

My friends and I have been trying to plan a camping trip all summer. Our schedules have made this impossible - until this past weekend.

On Friday, this past week, I tried desperately to get my friends together to plan a camping trip. We had talked about it so much, but no one wanted to plan it. So, I tried. I failed. No one wanted to do it. Some of them wanted to go to Stratford instead. So, I went out Friday night and talked it up a bit, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.

Saturday afternoon, the texts started flying - Stratford was out, camping was in. Sam, Nicola and I had Saturday and Sunday off, Danielle had to work until 3 on Saturday and at noon on Sunday. We had a small window of opportunity, and we were going take full advantage of it. I got the text from Nicola saying that the trip was happening, at around 1:30. I replied and said that I would grab my gear and meet at her place. So, I rushed home, packed and headed off. As I walked up, Danielle was at the door. Surprising, since it was 2:30 and she had work until 3. Apparently, she had managed to leave early. We met up with Nicola, grabbed her gear and hopped in Danielle’s car to pick up Sam and the boats. We got Sam and headed to Trailhead to get our canoe and kayak. It took some rigging, but we managed to strap them both to the roof of the Ford Focus. We drove to Gananoque to pick up supplies. So, we hit No Frills and The Beerstore (we went with Lakeport Honey for the true “Camping in Canada” feel). Once supplied, we headed further East to Danielle’s parent’s house, where we would put the boats in. After a tour of the house, which Danielle’s dad is currently building and a quick pack job, we headed off with the boats.

Figure 1: Saddling up at Trailhead.

Figure 2: Group shot while buying supplies at No Frills.

We were finally in the water and it felt great. I hadn’t canoed in years and wonder, now, why I don’t do it more often. About one minute in, we cracked a beer each. Nicola missed out because she was in the kayak, but Danielle, Sam and I enjoyed our luxurious paddle towards Gordon Island. We put in at the Eastern end of the island and explored, looking for a good camp site. We noticed a sign by the outhouse that read “Caution: Aggressive Racoons on the Island”, intrigued, we kept exploring. Once we settled on a site, we went back for the boats and paddled around to the other end of the island. Upon setting up camp, we realised that we only had 24 beers. Clearly, this would not be enough. So, we paddled back, hit the beer store, purchased more beer, and a “Penthouse” magazine, for good measure, and returned to the island. Now properly equipped, we began cooking dinner.

Figure 3: Drinking and paddling - a deadly combination!

Figure 4: An omen we should have paid heed to - "Agressive Racoons on Island".

Figure 5: Setting up camp/building a fire.

Figure 6: Cooking dinner - STEAKS!

Dinner was excellent, if I do say so myself. We cooked steaks on the coals of the fire, while keeping it burning on the outside, for later, and boiled some corn, on the stove. No one believed me that cooking the steaks on the coals would work, but they seemed to like it. We followed dinner with some Jiffy Pop, which I hadn’t had in a long time. I think we will need to bring it along with us from now on.

Figure 7: Jiffy Pop!

After dinner, we went exploring. The island was actually pretty big, so we hiked around and came upon a guy and his dog. We chatted for awhile and carried on. A few moments later, we came across the rest of his contingent and talked for awhile, again. They were Americans visiting from Washington state. They were here with people they had met on a cruise the year before. They were interesting people and could actually appreciate Sam’s antics … we think.

Figure 8: Exploration group shot.

Continuing our exploration of the island was pretty uneventful, so we headed back for the campsite. Upon arrival, we kept drinking our beer, gathered wood for the fire, read aloud from our “Penthouse”, all the usual things you do when camping. We soon decided to hang out on the rocky shore. We quickly decided that it would be a good idea to go swimming. So, I dove in, soon followed by Nicola and Danielle. Sam was more tentative about swimming, but we eventually convinced him. Unfortunately, the rest of the swimming story will go unblogged, if you care to ask me to tell it in person, I might, but we will see.

Figure 9: Swimming adventure.

Once we returned to land, we basically just hung around the campfire, which somehow didn’t burn out while we were swimming, luckily. At one point, the “Aggressive” racoons circled our campsite, so Sam threw beer bottles at them until they left. It was really fun, to just hang out in the forest, around a fire, with great people. Soon, we got tired and decided to go to bed. This was an adventure in itself. We were sleeping in a three person tent, and if you remember correctly, there were four of us. We tried several arrangements and finally settled on the most comfortable one. It would have been ok, if no one had moved through the night. Unfortunately, Sam is a very active sleeper, somehow managing to wake up inside my sleeping bag the next morning – weird.

Figure 10: Happy to see the fire still blazing.

I woke up early the next morning, to try and see the sunrise. It was too cloudy, so I ended up just exploring the island some more, making tea, fishing and just hanging out. Later, the others woke up. After a slow start, we finally got Sam in shape enough to move (he is not a morning person, in the slightest) and took off in the boats. We put in near Danielle’s parent’s house, loaded up the car and headed to Gananoque. We stopped at “Bravo” for breakfast, where I had the “Hungry Man”, which was delicious. Then we made the move back to Kingston, dropped off Sam, unloaded and returned the boats. I left Trailhead, went home and was able to hang out with my parents for the couple of days they were visiting Kingston.

Figure 11: Breakfast at Bravo

All in all, a truly wonderful weekend trip. Soon to be repeated, we hope.

1 comment:

  1. If Hemingway was young again, Canadian, still alive, and had a blog, I think it would look a hell of a lot like this. Grow a beard, Alf.