The Fun Paddlin’ Thunders On a Dime. Stay Tuned…

Herein lies the first part of the story of this year’s annual Algonquin Park interior trip. It is a long, sordid tale, full of darkness, evil and goblins. However, bear with it and it will serve you well. Or perhaps it will just be mildly entertaining.

The Fun Begins…

My wife and I arrived in Algonquin Park on Thursday in the late afternoon. People think I am nuts taking a day off just to make the drive easier. However, when it means we save 2 hours of driving and countless dollars in fuel, it makes a lot more sense. It’s also more relaxing.

We set up camp and proceeded to wait for the rest of the group that would be staying with us in Rock Lake. Our site was luckily located along the water (a little ways away from the swimming area), so it was like we had our own private beach.

I started the fire easily enough, and then sat down and to continue reading a book (The Unfettered Mind ) I had started a few weeks ago that I had put aside when the latest Harry Potter novel came out.

The sun was shining, descending slowly into what would be a great sunset in a few hours. It was so peaceful to be sitting there, with the waves gently lapping the sand, reading about how the mind should always be in motion like water. Some ducklings ran by my feet leaving tracks in the sand and waddling after their mother. It was a really nice moment.

Shortly after, Dave and our friend Isha arrived from Ottawa.

Of course, once Dave and I get together, things start getting silly. Here, for example, is a snippet of conversation that revolved around sleeping arrangements…

Jorge: I think our tent will fit the four of us. But if that doesn’t work, we can set up Dave’s tent, and I can sleep with him. My snoring doesn’t wake him up.
Dave: Yeah. I can muffle his face with my ass [Making the motions of muffling someone’s face with his ass several different ways with great enthusiasm, I might add.]. See?
[Everyone laughs.]
Dave: I’ll bet you’re wondering why ass was the first word that I chose…

Yes. This is how our camping weekend began. It began with Dave’s ass.

Isha brought her bag out of the car and put it near the picnic table. It was quite small for an interior bag. This brought out some more conversation fun…

Mrs. J: Oh my God! Look how small your backpack is!
Isha: Thanks.
Mrs. J: Jorge, check this out!
Jorge: Whoa. That’s small.
Isha: Well, Dave is carrying all the pots and stuff.
Jorge: Dave, you’re carrying everything?
Dave: [Shuffling through items in the trunk of his car.] Well, yeah. I guess. Everything except the tent.
Jorge: So, where is the tent?
Dave: [Looking about nervously.] Hopefully in my back seat.
Jorge: Err…

Luckily, Dave had his tent in the back seat and all was well. We ended up sleeping in the giant Coleman tent anyway. Dave and I stayed up by the fire as Mrs. J and Isha went to sleep. We figured we would wait for Dennis and Lorraine to show up. They eventually got there and set up their tent. We shared some beer, and then we all hit the sack, excited for the Interior portion of the trip the next morning…

A Paddlin’ We Will Go…

The next morning, we met up with our friend Brad at the launch point. We found out that our other two friends who had intended to leave at four in the morning were running late, and that we should leave without them. I wasn’t too worried.

Tien and Natalie had the meat from our dinners with them (they bought some steaks for us at St. Lawrence Market and had them shrink wrapped and froze them so they would keep). Worrying about the steaks staying cold was a moot point. They are amazing paddlers, so they would probably end up at whatever site we found a few hours after we got there, with the food most likely still quite frozen.

We headed out in several groups. Brad and Isha paddled a cedar strip canoe. Dennis and Lorraine paddled in a Kevlar canoe, and Dave, Mrs. J and I paddled a heavy aluminum canoe. We ended up at the portage point without incident, carried our gear across, and moved on. Along the way, Brad gave Isha the opportunity to destroy an Inukshuk*.

Interior camping works on the premise of first come, first served. We had an idea as to where we wanted to go, but unfortunately the sites were taken, and we had to keep paddling until we reached the other side of the lake (the lake is several kilometers long).

Last year we would paddle along until we found a site, and then one pair would stay at that site while the rest looked for potentially betters sites. This is a good strategy in theory. Unfortunately, due to the distance between sites, and the possibility of landforms being in the way, it is tough to communicate.

This year we brought walkie-talkies, which helped immensely. We fanned out and kept in touch, giving a good description of any sites we came across.

By a stroke of luck the site we ended up on was actually really good. There was lots of room for our tents. Someone had actually stacked some dry wood to burn in the fire pit, and the thunder box was located in an area that was out of the way, and hard to see.

Thunder Box?

In the interior there are no bathrooms. There are wooden boxes placed on top of pits that have been dug for the express purpose of…well…taking care of business. There is a hole cut out of the top of the box, and a lid that closes over top of the hole to prevent animals from making a mess…

In previous years, we’ve experienced thunder boxes that were placed improperly, either not quite over a pit (so some of the pit was exposed at your feet), or located right at the top of a hill in open view of the entire campsite.

This one was one of the best we had actually seen.

Pure luxury.

Dave – Camping On a Dime

Dave is not what you would call an experienced camper.

Scratch that.

Compared to most, Dave is an experienced interior camper. He has done it for three years, and he gets more comfortable every time. He has a try anything once attitude, and he takes the good as it arrives, and the bad in stride.

Being the easy-going type, he pretty much goes with the flow, and it’s tough to faze him. He started a few years ago without any prior experience, and just dove right in. So yeah, I guess that makes him more experienced than a lot of people.

This year, he made some purchases to solidify his commitment to the annual trip.

He bought a tent, for a price so low we were all questioning our own tent purchases. He also bought a cookware set for a small sum as well.

I subsidized Dave’s backpack as an early 30th birthday gift (Sept 12th, for you Dave fans), so he was raring to go….until he had to set up the tent.

I have to admit that even with the instructions his tent was tough to set up. He and Isha were having fun trying to figure out how to set it up when I stepped in. Not that I really helped at all, but the humour of the situation increased somehow…

Dave: So now, we have fed the poles through the guides and anchored them.
Isha: It says we have to stake the guy wires to the ground
Dave: Stake them?
Isha: Yeah. Here. Stake it!
Jorge: [A la Outkast.] Stake it! Stake! Stake it! Stake it!
Dave: OHH OH!
[Isha laughs hysterically]

This became a theme for the rest of the weekend…

Stay Tuned

There will be more to come later on in the week. Things like the knife in the ground game, and barbershop bathroom follies.

Dave has a point-form synopsis of events here.

Also, you can see some of the photos of the trip here. You’ll just have to search for pictures taken in July/August of 2005.

* – Inukshuks are not part of the natural landscape of Algonquin. The local native population has never used them. They are used elsewhere, though (up North). In Algonquin Park they are the equivalent of gaudy billboards. They are also quite hazardous when precariously perched on rock formations adjacent to Highway 60. For these two reasons they should be destroyed, and the rocks that they were built with should be spread about to make it inconvenient to attempt another Inukshuk…

16 Responses

  1. I need to go on one of your camping trips… Anything that starts off with the word “ass” and ends with a comment on “stakes” has got to be worthwhile. Though I would also like to claim in advance that if your pal Dave is thought of as not much of a camper than I’m in the dog house or maybe the thunder trap…err… That’s right, I’ve camped up to the ying yang but never far enough away from town that I couldn’t hike back within an hour or two. (Much to the chagrin of alot of the people that I met while living in the Rockies) I can’t help it, I love the outdoors but there’s just something about not showering for over a day that gives me the willies… Alright fine, I’m a wuss and I feel better after admitting it! HA HA
    Anyhow, this story is just going to keep getting better isn’t it? Great, you’ve turned into one of those television programs that keep you waiting for a week to watch the ending… Hurry Hurry! Get those fingers taping!

  2. I love Interior Camping….And canoeing. I still have yet to experience Algonquin park….

    Most of my interior camping experiences have been in Cape Breton, Newfoundland (near Gros Morne) or in Waterton, which is a gorgeous place to do it. Camping that is.

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the hijinks! There better be more hijinks…Your outdoor experiences of the past indicates that there are more indeed.

    Cheers buddy. Welcome back to the Big Smoke.

  3. there is a little boy who lives next door and plays the knife in the ground game….hes about…5 and has a love for a butcher knife which he plays with all the time throwing it into the ground..laughing like a mad man…. . so im wondering what your knife game entails.
    I wish i was camping, Im just trying to get my family to go to the beach with me, and hike on the trails. But alas. dad is in a mood, and mum is married to dad, so she couldnt possibly leave him here:P and my brothers not very pursuasive.

    Oh my friend just called me and told me hes not going camping with my friends when were going camping. im about to kick his spleen.


  4. My older sister and I use to play the knife in the ground game until it suddently turned into the knife in my sister’s foot game. . . Oh and reading this reminds me of how my other friends always carried a toilet seat with them when camping. They’d dig a hole in the ground (no thunder boxes) and use the toilet seat as the cover.

    And… thanks for the french toast recipe. I didn’t know that it could be baked in the oven, so I’ll try that once the weather cools down and I can turn the oven on. When I get the chance to try it out on the stove, I’ll let you know how it all goes.

  5. I too am a wuss. I admit it freely. I’ve never been interior camping. I’m the drive-up-to-your-campsite-and-bring-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type. Either that or cottages. You know, with one fridge for food and another fridge for beer. 😉

    Your stories always sound like a lot of fun, so I might re-think that philosophy.

    Keep going! Looking forward to reading the rest.


  6. I love camping! Some of my best memories involve tents and water. I wish that I had been there with you, I haven’t been able to camp once this year.

  7. You don’t disappoint – can’t wait for the part where it pissed down rain and Dave almost shat.

  8. Nice work so far, man. My recap won’t be quite so detailed (actually thanks to you, it doesn’t have to be). I’ll have it up tonight, if I muster the energy to finish cleaning all the mud and crap off my gear first.

  9. Sounds like fun, boys! Montreal (sans Dave mais avec mes parents) was also a blast. I tracked much less dirt into the house upon my return, too :).

    Mmm…camp smell…so…hot…

  10. Hey Sarah! Welcome.

    Camp smell includes fear-induced-feces, or “fearces” as I call it.

    Typing this article would be far easier had I not cut both of my index fingers.

    I will wait to see what Dave posts before I do anything else. We can’t have too much overlap, you know.
    Wouldn’t be prudent.


  11. YAY!!!

    Sounds like fun….glad it took you soooo long to write that. 🙂

    amusing…snoring…ass!! woo hoo!!


    Have a good one intimidating, flexible handsome man!

  12. Hey Jorge!
    A + for the description of the toilets…i cant wait to go.
    Sounds like you had fun!

  13. Hmmm, I’ve never been interior camping- though Talia and I did think we might have to spend the night for a while when we were lost in the woods around Mt. Baldy. Tal’s camped all sorts of crazy-ass places- and I felt fairly safe with her. So yet again another opportunity for interior camping was lost. I think it would be a blast! I love camping! (Though not much in campgrounds- I am not a campground kind of girl- growing up in Revelstoke you can just sort of drive into the bush a put up a tent anywhere- plus we’ve got a cabin in the wilds too.) I love canoeing too! But I’m horrible at it- I think I just haven’t had enough practice- someone can’t be naturally bad at canoeing can they? I mean if I went on a canoe trip, I’d eventually be able to paddle straight I think. I hope.

    Thanks for the link- I checked it out- but after my talks. I wasn’t too nervous once I did the background research- I’ve been giving technical talks to random groups of people for ages (I think my first was when I was 15- quite the scientific prodigy- lol). Thanks for the sweet words on my other post- you completely made me blush- haha- could I be a bigger geek?

    Anyway, can’t wait to read more Dave-Jorge dialog! I’ll be back!


  14. Hey thanks for stopping on by….you’ve got a pretty neat thing happening here too 🙂 Cheers!

  15. I’m trying really hard not to imagine the thunder box…

    My dad owns a canoe livery on the AuSable river in Michigan…he offers trips 5-10 days long and you end up Lake Huron if you keep going. Let me know if you ever need information (not for the faint of heart).

    In reference to the alphabetical links list (I can read emails in Gmail account, but not reply?): I had to do it manually, but I’m just anal enough to do it 😉 It was easy enough to do, really: go to your link list, edit, then click the pencil of the links in order you want them saved (you don’t have to add any information, just click edit then keep moving down the list). I hope that helps 🙂

  16. […] Now we will continue (and conclude) the story of the camping weekend that I started previously. There is a point form (and in my opinion much funnier version) at Dave’s blog. Go check it out. […]

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