2011 Trip 9: Watch the rock...

Bon Echo - Sept 2011

September long weekend, one of the first signs that the summer is coming to a close. This weekend we are heading to Bon Echo, one of our favorite provincial campgrounds and we are bringing up our kayaks since it is a great paddling lake.
Our friend Sandra is pitching her tent with us this weekend, so it will certainly be a gourmet weekend. Traffic out of Ottawa was brutal and totally expected. Must have taken us an hour just to get to the outskirts of the city. Once on Hwy 7, the traffic was moving just fine. Sandra headed up in the afternoon, so she will be well set up by the time we get there. Arrived about 7:30, got backed in and set up real good. Really nice site, big and very level.
 Reasonable privacy on both sides, but there was a small path on one side of us to the comfort station that definitely got some use.

After a beer and G & T that Sandra made for us upon arrival, Sandra put together dinner, a classic cold plate with chicken salad sandwiches, salami slices, cheeses, pickles and Fritos. There was also a nice plate of veggies and chipolte dip, but really, when there are fritos on the menu, a veggie will come in second every time. Ate at the picnic table and it was excellent. Sandra's homemade brownies for dessert is also a classic and delicious. Sandra got a fire going and we sat around it and listened to tunes and watched the flames. Packed it in around midnight.

The morning was sunny with overcast periods. Lounged around a bit, got the coffee going outside, and Sandra made breakfast on her cookstove and our griddle on the Q. There were crepes with peaches, blueberries and maple syrup, along with bacon. Lots of coffee all around. A big family started to set up across the road from us, tents, overhead tarps, a big production. They appeared new to camping, based on the amount of time it took them to get even the simple stuff squared away. 

The afternoon turned real nice, so Dale and I went for a kayak while Sandra relaxed reading a book on the beach. We enjoy the massive rock face 'Mazinaw Rock' that rises out of Mazinaw Lake across from the park. Paddling up close to it can be a little intimidating, it is just such a presense. The water is so black and almost foreboding. The rockface climbs about 400' out of the water, and it is a little spooky when you realize there is probably an equal 300 or more feet of it below the waterline. A number of rock climbers are making their way towards the heavens... now that is a sport that requires some serious nerve. Lots of traffic on the water, both people powered and otherwise. There is a steady stream of rental canoes and kayaks heading to the rock face, to look at the native pictographs.  Some of the motor boaters going by, I got the sense they may be going out of their way to assert their own right to boat as they wish. Thing is though, a powerboat is always going to win, making it very unnerving for the paddlers dealing with their wakes.

Paddled back to the beach for a swim. Found where Sandra was located, and grabbed the noodles and headed in for a swim. Water was a tad cool, but certainly quite nice. Stayed in as long a we could, because at this time of the year, every swim could be the last of the season. Wandered back to the site and had a traditional pre-dinner G & T. Sandra prepared dinner, which was salmon, covered in grainy mustard  and maple syrup, fresh corn, and greek salad. Brownies made another appearance for dessert.
Sandra got the fire going once again and we settled in to watch it. So as we were relaxing around the fire, I could see activity with our neighbours across the road. They were trying to get their fire started, but seemed to be moving back and forth to a small second fire further up their site. I thought it could be the fire at a campsitesite behind them, but it was clearly on their site. The really odd thing was that when I saw some people standing around it, the height of the flames was wrong. Finally I could see enough to realize what was going on. Unable to get the fire going in the pit, they had a huge pile of wood on top of the charcoal BBQ they used to cook dinner. They were moving logs from the Q to the pit. All this was still not really helping the main campfire and we realized that this situation was dangerous to them and for the campground. We decided that we need to help them get their fire going with some of our kindling, and get a closer look at what was going on with the Q, especially since this precariously high stack of burning wood on their Q was near a tent. An accident just waiting to happen.

So loaded up with an armfull of kindling, a chunk of fire starter and a lighter, I ventured over. So in pitch blackness I am making my way up to their site, when I stumbled over a massive rock in the middle of the path. Ass over teakettle I go, kindling flying everywhere. Quite the entrance, and now I have a group of them all around me, wondering who in the hell is this person and why are they here? Well, I was far from alright. My shin is seriously sore, along with my entire left foot. They shine a flashlight on my leg, and sure enough, I am bleeding like a stuck pig! Trying to recover my credibilty, I ignore my assorted pains, introduce myself, and start talking to them about why I am there. They are all super nice, and eager to listen. I tell them the BBQ idea is a bit dangerous and would not go over very well with the park rangers. We move all the wood from the Q over to the firepit, and I show them how to teepee the kindling and get the fire started with smaller bits of wood and fire starter. Soon we have a good fire going and they are all really excited. Throughout all this, they have paid constant attention to the condition of my bleeding shin. Just a little embarassing...I head back to our site.  Dale and Sandra said that they had a good idea that something was amiss when they heard the distinctive sound of the kindling flying all over the place and could not stop laughing. I showed them my shin, and also my now black and blue foot. Luckily, I think I have avoided breaking anything. Moral of the story, always use the flashlight you had in your pocket! Pretty simple idea.

Another nice day, although a bit more overcast and windy. Got the coffee going again outside. Our site is well set with a picnic table and a couple of little side tables, one now holding the coffee maker. Breakfast today made by Dale & I, french toast with peaches and blueberries, and of course more maple syrup. All cooked on the Q outside...classic.

Later in the morning we walked down to the water to check out the water conditions for paddling, then to the visitor centre. Bought another provincial park pin, and Sandra bought us a cool little fridge magnet. I have started to collect these little pins, and they reside on the face of the mesh storage rack by the microwave. A little reminder of where we have been.

We have decided to go for a paddle. Sandra rents a nice canoe, and we head out. The water is a bit choppy, so Dale decides to paddle along the opposite shore. Sandra and I head out along the rock face.
 Again, it is quite busy, lots out enjoying the day. No swim today as it is a little cooler. Loaded up the kayaks after the paddle, and headed back to camp. Had some nice visits with our fellow campers, one turned out to be a furniture designer for Knoll, which Dale found pretty cool. Did a couple of Alto tours, one woman was very interested and brought her husband over later in the day to see it as well. We are making dinner this evening, which will be Teddy's version of the Philly steak sandwich. We have made this  few times, and it is very tasty.
 The side is a handful of Kettle chips. Dessert is more of Sandra's brownies. We thought we would watch a DVD in the evening, but found there may be something wrong with the player. We will get this looked at when we take the Alto back to the factory for the updates.

Rained most of last night, but no real pounding. By morning it had stopped, which certainly helps the packing up activities. Casual breakfast this morning, granola with yogurt and blueblerries,and of course coffee. Taking advantage of it not raining we slowly started to put gear away and pack up. On the road by 10am, with a bit of a wait at the dump station. Given the size of Bon Echo, it is a bit surprising that it is not a 2 holer dump station, which other provincial parks have. Stopped in Perth on the way home at a roadside vegetable stand, and talked to a couple from Ottawa about the Alto. They seemed most interested. We are going to need to get more brochures from the factory. So, another excellent camping weekend, even though it does mark the beginning of the season end.


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