This is one of many moments that Krystle (and if not her, then one of us) cracked the absolute shits at our paper based reservation system. Yes, you read correctly, an entirely paper based reservation system that was responsible for booking, organising and delivering anything to do with kayak or canoe rentals or packing and setting up outfitting’s. If one piece of paper was misplaced or lost then that reservation may not be ticked off – which means 21 people sitting at a lake an hour away, waiting for 8 canoes to be delivered for a 4-day camping trip could be very very pissed off. This was every day dreaded occurrence for all of us – no wander we all took weekly turns having emotional break downs at work. Despite staff cracking shits all over the place, our boss truly believes that there Is no possible way these issues could be solved by having an electronic booking system. Fact.
Rachel and I decided to canoe and camp at Kakakise Lake in the Killarney Provincial park.
Straight after work we loaded up the car and headed to the George Lake Rangers office to pick up our camping permits for the next couple of days. At the front desk, while the park ranger was going on about park safety mumbo jumbo, I noticed there was a FREE outdoor education activity book on the counter. OBVIOUSLY I took one because there’s nothing more exciting then an ages 3 and up activity book about the wilderness… and what sort of adventure were Rachel and I already on you ask? One that is filled with ‘activities’ in the ‘outdoors’ – it seemed only appropriate.
So we embarked on our evening paddle to find the ultimate campsite, isolated with a campsite, bonfire pit and wood all there waiting for us!
In celebration of a day off at our own campsite, on this beautiful temperate evening, I took all of my clothes off and jumped into the lake. So it was just bare me and mother nature. I can’t even describe to you how amazing this moment was for me. I felt Intune with my body and soul, the water that was moving with me, the sounds of the wind and leaves, the smell of the pines. One of those moments you’ll feel and will remember for the rest of your life… then Rachel through a cider at me and that was that!
By the time night came we had a complete open tent (without the waterproof cover) which meant we fell asleep to our last view being of the stars and night sky and sounds being of the wind and owls mating calls. It was amazing. It was a night of bonfires, delicious freeze-dried space food and played with an outdoor adventure activity book which kept us in laughing tears for hours! The next morning, we paddled straight to work after a hot fresh strong coffee.
While I was enjoying a glass of wine at sportsmans Inn marina with my darling and ridiculous friend Rachel, Jeremy confidently strolling past invites us out onto Petes boat. A motor boat, what!? Yas yas yaaaas! After a bit of awkwardness, confusing and 2% flirting we decided to go for it.
Its been almost 2 months of not being on the sea or by a boat. I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed it. Sitting on the bow of this 14 ft speed boat, the wind blowing my hair around, my smile taking over my face as the intense wind dries out my mouth as its gaping open like a happy dog sticking his head out the window. Sitting on the shoreline of a private island owned by some Canadian millionare, we sit by the water, having a smoke enjoying a hand crafted 3.2 million dollar view. I want to say ‘ahh the little things in life’ but it took a lot of effort, time and money for this extravagant view hah! Definitely a day I won’t forgot. Made me fall in love with boats, the sea and water all over again.
Now after bitching on for weeks about how hard it is for a British Citizen to get a working/travel visa for Canada, it finally arrived!! So as I would, I went straight onto Facebook and invited the whole town [like 7 people] to a Canadian lumberjack themed ‘congratulations-on-getting-your-visa’ party for myself. It involved all things Canadian; beers, bonfires, S’mores, flannelette jackets and other very…very…typically Canadian activities.
As well as our staff we had some ‘cool kids’ from town wanting to come over so we had to make sure that this house party was off chops. Over excited comments like “SOMEONE TRASH THE LIVING ROOM SO IT LOOKS LIKE WE ALREADY HAD A CRAZY TIME IN THAT ROOM” and “SOMEONE PUT THAT EMPTY WINE BOTTLE AROUND DYLAN SO IT LOOKS LIKE HE WAS SO F***ED UP HE PASSED OUT IN A POOL OF HIS OWN SICK!” so by the time the cool kids rocked up, it looked like they had come to the right place. True story unfortunately…
Mikey and I decided one our day off together to hike to and camp at Topaz Lake; appropriately named so, for in direct sunlight this fresh water lake is SO BLUE…like Japanese anime aqua. This was also the first time camping on Canadian soil where I quickly learnt that in this country you actually have to keep your food AWAY from where your sleeping….in a bag to contain the smell…. And then hang it in a tree… so the bears don’t come and graphically slaughter you in your sleep for your granola bars. Yep. True story.
Hiking with a new friend is always interesting. I personally find walking with another person very conversationally stimulating, where questions like “so have you always liked the outdoors” and “what do you want to do after this summer job” were easy go to topics. We described each others camping and hiking experiences from different times, countries and environments. It made me realize that working at a seasonal outfitting store brought very likeminded staff together, due to having the same love for the outdoors, but all for very different reasons and different backgrounds. Some were born and raised in England, others to parents that weren’t around in Toronto – so diverse but all here for the same reason. Our love for nature – now that’s something…
Today Krystle and I got the day off together and we went on the most amazing, nature filled adventure around the whole of the provincial park. It was a day filled with paddling, sunshine, picnics, (one brutal portage hiking from George to OSA lake which involved numerous trip overs, climbing over fallen bloody trees, and getting absolutely demolished by mosquitoes), then more laughs and swimming and sunshine. This for me was the first moment I felt like I was finally being pulled away from the distractions of todays artificial fun – mobiles, movies, advertising, hashtags, you name it! I was immersed in mother nature again, where we should really spend more time these days.
On my travels over the last 5 years or so, when I had a discussion with a travelling Canadian about food (which was obviously quite often since food is the best thing in the entire universe), they always mentioned this mysterious dish called ‘Poutine’. Originating in Montreal, Quebec ‘poutine’ was first created by Sir Alfred Poutine who made fries in his B&B in 1812 and accidentally spilled his roast dinners gravy and cheese curds over his midnight snack – and it tasted… fabulous.
Ok that’s not the actual story but to elaborate on the dish its French fries, covered in gravy and cheese curds. You’ll find it at almost any diner, pub, restaurant and even McDonalds has a “for $2 more upgrade your fries to a poutine!”
What the actual fuck. Really? REALLY?
So one of the first things I had to eat on my arrival was this miraculous poutine. So my new co-workers took me to Red Rooster in Sudbury, Ontario and ordered me a tray size dish of poutine with extra curds. It looked like someone had eaten a roast dinner and thrown up more recently eaten fries onto a tray. I was intrigued but not overly excited.
So there it was. Looking at me with its sloppy, salty deep fried cheesey face. And I dug in. and lord have mercy IT’S THE BEST DISH AND I UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING LIFE IS NOW COMPLETE!
So today was the first day I was involved in what they call an ‘Outfitting’. Basically you help wealthy families pack basic equipment they already have at home, for a camping trip they could easily plan and pack themselves, but are charged an unnecessary amount and sent off with food that will most likely leave them with diabetes. A big learning curve for me it was.
The outfitting’s range from 2 to 12 people, for 3 to 10 days, keeping in mind varying portions for different groups as well – wah! We packed the camping essentials like sleeping bags, tents, bug spray and cooking kits all the way to daily meals, snacks, medical and navigational equipment. One of the perks of working here means that we have access to all this equipment, camping permits AND canoes/kayaks FO FREE! I guess its going to be a great summer!
Today I woke up and decided on hiking up the famous “Crack” in Ontario North’s Lake district town of Killarney. It was one of those mornings you wake up and think “I going to have a me day today – i don’t want to touch my phone, talk to anyone or even eat. Just one big spiritual awakening, reflective power hike for one to become more in tune with themselves.” Next minute, I’m checking Facebook while i make my breakfast smoothie already thinking about what filters I’m going to use on my photos I’m going to take [haha] oh the days we live in.
The crack is a 6km round trip (around 4 hours) which includes bright green curtains and layers of trees on flat bush terrain which somehow turns into a solid uphill bloody rock climb. As i started walking i remember being mesmerized at how blue to sky was to how green the leaves were, almost as if i was seeing true colours for the first time. And the earthy smell of the woods, cracks of twigs as the unknown run around their homes (note to readers: Canadians worry about snakes and spiders in the woods while hiking in Oz; mate, you guys have moose and bears and cougars sleeping next to you while camping and somehow Australia’s wilderness is scary?! the fuck? – moving on…)
Getting to the top of the crack was indescribable; you can see a 180 degree view of the lake district and really take in how high you’ve come up. I sat down for a good hour staring out of the horizon thinking to myself this is one of the most satisfying, rewarding and breathtaking moments i’ve ever had.