2010 Trip 6 - Sardines anyone?

Algonquin Provincial Park, Lake of Two Rivers Campsite - Aug 2010

On the road a little before 4:30pm. Was able to hitch everything up last night, which probably saved about an hour today...perhaps not a whole hour, but all the little last moment stuff that needs to be done to get underway, sure seems to add up. Traffic was heavy, and it started right on Bronson. We usually head down Carling to hop on the Queensway at Pinecrest, as the Queensway really seems to jam up between Bronson and Woodroffe. Well, not a great plan today. Did not know that Carling beyond Woodroffe was under construction, and got stuck in it with no escape. Took an hour to get onto the Queensway... crazy. The traffic on Hwy 17 was heavy until Renfrew, no suprise though, it is a long weekend.
Really nice drive, particularly once you get up around Barrys Bay. Classic Ontario back country. Tons of trees, huge rolling hills, rocky outcrops. Some of the hills on the road seemed to go on forever...but no problem for the SF. A smart move that was!  Stopped at the classic Algonquin Diner for gas... memories of past canoe trips returned, as this place was traditionally our first civilized meal after coming out. Along the Hwy 60 corridor through the park, we came upon a bear jam...actually moose jam in this case. The jam is when lots of cars and people just all pull over and get out and watch the wildlife. People everywhere. Couple of moose in a bog started all this. I think the danger of the jam is probably greater than any danger from the wildlife.

Pulled into the campgroup around 8:30. The last time I was at this campground was almost 30 years ago, and I only have vague memories of what it was like. I remembered the campsite was in a huge stand of pine trees, somewhat open, and with a great beach. Well, it certainly is in a huge stand of pine trees...and boy is it ever open. On top of that, it is jammed packed with campers. The sign at the office pulling in said Campsite Full, but it really should say Campsite FULL!!!

Driving through the campground to our site, I soon noticed an abundance of Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus... expensive cars everywhere... and all of them surrounded with numerous nylon tents of all styles...I sense Toronto's favourite campsite is this one!

Finally found our site, after a bit of a tour. Nice level site...right on top of the one beside us. Backed in and got set up just as it started to get dark.
 You will not believe the number of tents and people here. As it got darker, we quickly noticed another common element, the construction light. Seems most everyone here has one attached to a tree. You may not know the ones I am referring to... yellow, sturdy, halogen lights intended to flood a construction site. Like runway lights. Big Kliegs. Like staring at the sun. Just like this...
Standing on our site, I can count 8 of them close around us. So now, we have an odd sort of daylight again. Lovely. The light they throw is enormous. Makes one long for the hiss of the Coleman lantern, warmly illuminating your little Coleman stove while you cook up food you rustled up out of your Coleman cooler... what's so wrong with that picture now? All this overpowering light, combined with the smoke from the campfires, makes for a very eerie setting.

On top of this is the din of the masses... not rowdiness or bad behaviour, just the byproduct of so many people.  Forget hearing the call of the loon in this place. One blessing though... no music layed on top of all this, a bonus probably courtesy of the iPod. We got sorted out inside then just chilled. Started to cool down quite a bit. Should be good for sleeping.

Well, it got real cool...down to about 50F in the Alto. Not uncomfortable though, compared to our first outing in May. Pretty slow moving this morning, as from the dress of those venturing outside, it is still cool. Put on the coffee, made up some egg and cheese english muffins and OJ...and waited for it to warm up a bit before venturing into the wild. The morning has turned really nice. We are going to head for the lake and go for a long overdue paddle. Got talking to a nice couple from Cambridge, who, like a lot of others, just had to see the Alto and talk to us about it. Had a really nice talk. Shortly afterwards, we watched a couple drive by in a very nice looking RV, based on a Volkswagon chassis, it was very sharp looking. As they pulled by, they stopped and the wife leaned out past her husband and commented that she loved the look of our trailer. They stopped and we invited them in for a look. Really nice couple from Kitchener, Paul & Liz W. Showed them the Alto, which they thought was wonderful. Talked to them a long time, and then we had a look through their RV.  It was really well laid out and constructed. Certainly not the normal cookie cutter design that is out there. It was very enjoyable talking to them...we soon discovered that we shared a passion for travelling with a small efficiently designed travel vehicle.

Drove to the beach and got the boats in the water. An absolutely fabulous day...sunny, some clouds and great temperature. We are going to paddle around the lake. Although a reasonable size, it is definitely possible in an afternoon.  Classic Algonquin scenery, tons of pine trees, scraggy rocks and marshland. The water was like glass and we just paddled along.
 Quite a few other paddlers out, as they rent canoes at the beach. At the other end of the lake was a nice beach, so we stopped and had a swim to refresh. Took about an hour so far.
 Paddled back along the Hwy 60 side and looked at a few cottages that have probably been there forever. They must have some sort of grandfathering arrangement going on, as this is all provincial park. All the cottages are old, but well maintained. Perhaps it is regulated that they cannot build any bigger.  This red chair looks like a great spot to watch the lake...
 Got back to the main beach, loaded up the boats and went for a swim. A great afternoon, and it felt amazing to be back on the water again.

Back to our site now...and it is, you guessed it! G & T time... no better way to chill before getting dinner ready.  This little guy visited us, so I offered him some dry roasted...turned up his nose and scooted away.
 Dinner this evening is leftover Teddy ribs and potatos. We had a bunch of racks left over from our last rib extravaganza and figured they would be a great camp dinner. Quick and easy. Boiling up some extra potato for hash browns and eggs tomorrow morning. Think it is time now to crack a Creemore...

Relaxed in the evening, visited with the neighbours a bit, then sat around and read. Took a walk around the campsite after dark, well not really after dark, as once all the lights get fired up. Sorta makes one wonder if these things should be allowed. What constitutes an intrusion. You really have to see it to understand. Saw a couple of Parks rangers discussing food and good camp practices to some of the "new to camping" campers. Overheard there have been bear problems...and little wonder, there is food everywhere. Listened in the shadows a bit to the lecture, but got the sense it was not really sinking in. Oh well, I guess the rangers can only do so much. Perhaps Mr Bear can drive the point home. But those damn lights...

Not as cold last night, but the morning is starting off overcast. Put on the coffee and fired up our hash browns. Wandered over to the Park Store later in the morning, a pretty well stocked place with most essential camping needs. They had a little quick lunch spot, where a number of the younger campers were having breakfast. No Coleman stoves for them, perhaps if you could text with one... Dale could not resist the lure of a butterscotch ripple cone...and why not...even if it is only 10:00am. Picked up a Globe and Mail, and on the cover, a timely coincidence, was an article on how the Ministry of Natural Resources are working to introduce camping to "New Canadians"...both for the rewarding outdoors experience the activity provides, but most likely, to try to offset the declining use of the parks. Well, it must be working, this place is jammed. Now if they could only educate about those damn lights...

Wandered around camp back to our site, spotted another of those nice looking VW campers, but really, at this campsite, the tent hugely dominates. Lots of creative use of the blue tarp as well. Why is it that the weatherman always mentions rain. Is it just to instill camper panic? Well, bring it on...we don't care anymore.

Headed over to Pog Lake, with the thought of checking out that campsite, a paddle and a swim. We want to see if sites over there are a little more private... and they are. Interesting campsite, more rugged and wilderness like, with more scrub for privacy between each one. Not nearly as flat as where we are now though, which makes a lot of the sites not very Alto friendly. Wrote down a few numbers for reference, as we may not return to our current campsite in the future. Couple of smaller but nice beaches here, the lake itself would be nice for paddling as it has lots of islands and nooks and crannys. Sat on one of the beaches for a while, went for a cooling swim, this lake must be fed differently, as it is noticebly colder than the much larger Lake of Two Rivers.

Lots of massive pine trees here, quite impressive.
As we got back to the Alto, we saw a couple of ladies having a good look. They were pretty excitied we had pulled in as they were really keen to have a look inside. A couple of sisters, who take road trips together without their husbands. Very talkative and pretty funny. Great chat with them. Big part of camping is the people you get to talk to as they wander by. Lots of interesting folks...and our little trailer is a magnet for them all. After dinner, spoke to another couple who are tenters now, but are really growing tired of being on the ground. They were super interested. They live in Trenton, his father was in the Air Force, and they ended up settling in the area. They come to Algonquin a lot, even at times after Thanksgiving. They are looking for a trailer and will probably check out the Alto when the time comes. They told us that the site across from them had bear problems the other night...the tenters were yelling at the bear to go away. That could be a little unnerving. Can you blame the bear though? The food aromas are pretty good this weekend, and if is all left there for the pickins. This is when you are glad to be inside a hard sided trailer. Threatening to rain now, so we packed up the outside a bit, which we have been doing anyways because of the bear issues... gotta keep the place clean. Discovered that our TV/DVD combo player will accept audio CD's...bonus, as we were contemplating some sort of iPod/docking station setup. Sounds not bad at all...plenty good enough to get some background tunes going.

Now Monday, and we are starting to get organized to head out. Wandered over to our neighbours for a morning coffee visit. Nice family, husband and wife, couple of boys, very outdoorsy bunch, tons of cammo clothing. Talked about all sorts of stuff, but Dale did get a little squirmy when they started to tell us all about last falls deer hunt...I think it may have been the gutting explanation that got to her...a little gruesome, but really, all he is doing is trying to feed his family, he is clearly not hunting for the sport of it. Took at little run into the Information Centre just back towards the East Gate. Quite the spot. All sorts of exhibits and photographs to look at, and the diaramas are really well done. Wandered through a nice little bookstore they have set up. Dale bought a book about a woman who spent her life in a Cabin on Cache Lake, I just bought the t-shirt.  Took a cruise through the dumping station to see how it was set up, it's a two holer as they say, so expect little delays in that part of the journey home.  Had some lunch, then started to pack up. Pulled out around 1:00. Traffic was not too bad, and it was nice to be going mostly downhill.  Dale decided to read her new book to me as I drove, and it was a nice story. We really have no idea how easy some basic aspects of life is these days. I mean, when was the last time you had to trek down to a frozen lake in the winter to fetch a pail of water? Traffic started to get heavy around Renfrew, and was backed up at the dam in Arnprior again.  Two people talked across the traffic to us about the Alto...pretty funny.

So overall, a reasonable weekend. Would we drive that distance again to Algonquin, probably not. Just too busy, too open with too many people. And those damn lights...

0 comments:

Post a Comment