Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Break 2008

Playing with Amber

Another year come and gone and once again we find ourselves making the Christmas day drive back to Peterborough to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. This year was pretty much the same as any other except with a few more photographers clicking away to help document the daily events. Yep you guessed it, Santa dropped off a new digital camera for both the kids and even Mommy. Having just received a new camera for my birthday, I opted for the new 1.5 TB external hard drive that will soon be used to store all of these photos. Needless to say the new toys were a big hit on Christmas morning.

Dinner this year was hosted by my aunt Sharon and uncle Wayne while the food was prepared (for the most part) by cousin Amy and her husband Will. Paula and I had some very yummy memories of a delicious turkey dating back to Christmas 2001 when dinner was last held at this address and we're happy to say that this year's turkey did not disappoint. It was cooked to perfection. Well done guys!!

Barn with snow Barn with no snow
snow ...... no snow

Shortly after Christmas day the rain started. We had just received a few centimetres of snow the day before but then the temperature swung up to 10 degrees and the rain started falling. By the next morning nearly all the snow was gone and we were looking at green grass and lots and lots of mud. Yuck. No holiday skiing or tobogganing this trip.

We did manage to get this group shot on the hay bale before all the rain washed away the snow. The kids had a lot of fun with Amber as she raced up and down the bales jumping over them as they lay sprawled out like cars at a Monster Truck rally.

Group shot on the hay bale
Picture 228 Picture 232

This was Amber's first Christmas and as such Paula and the kids decided to get her a present. A nice red nylon squeaky bone. Well she loved it for about 12 seconds before she chewed a hole in it and started to rip out the stuffing and Opa took it away from her. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.

Merry Christmas Amber Chewed a hole in the new toy

After Peterborough it was off to Bowmanville to visit friends. It was an incredibly short and busy visit (sistas Lindaloo and Jilly were also hanging out) but as per usual, it was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast shooting videos with their new camera.

Rocking out with Wii Emily Osment and Carol the magician/football player

Happy New Year everyone!!

Sunset on 7
This sunset photo was taken on Christmas day along hwy 7 on our drive to Peterborough.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas lights tour

After picking up my free birthday Blizzard from DQ we headed off through the streets of Barrhaven on our annual Christmas lights tour. I must say it was a bit of a disappointment. I'm not sure if it's the penny pinching during this economic downturn or the blizzards of snow-maggedon that caused the locals to go easy on this year's xmas light show. Oh well... here are a few snaps of the better ones.

From the Jones'
Snowman Christmas decoration Christmas lights
Christmas lights

Here's a shot of the kids' 2008 Gingerbread House. This one came complete with a gummy worm rain spout. Oh how they grow up so fast...

Gingerbread house

Merry Christmas from Lusk Cabin

What an awesome fire

Gatineau Park: P19 Lac Philippe to Lac Lusk (13 km)
P19 Lac Philippe: N45 37.394 W76 00.546
Lac Lusk: N45 35.100 W76 00.772

The last time I was out at Lusk Cabin was April 14th (see blog). It was my last x-c ski of the season and skies were blue and it was 8°C. While the skies were blue today, the temperature was a crisp -28°C. Wind chill or not, it was a great day to be out on the trails.

Surprisingly the drive into Lac Philippe from west side Ottawa was essentially traffic free. I'm beginning to think that it's the striking OC Transpo buses that cause all the congestion in the first place.

Signage at the Lusk Cabin trail junction
Lusk signage
Trail down to Lusk Cabin
Tripper at Lusk Cabin
Lusk Cabin

There were only three others at the cabin when we arrived. One guy was skiing/training for the next upcoming ski marathon. Marathon number 31 with all 30 badges of honor sewn on his backpack to prove it. Although he didn't say anything to me, I don't think he approved of my Gatineau energy drink. One bottle of Rock Art Brewery Ale from Vermont. To each his own I suppose.

The other two in the cabin were hoarding all the space on the woodstove with their mitts and toques in various pots and pans. What's up with that? Needless to say Mike and I had no problem shuffling everything to the side so our aluminum foil wrapped sandwiches could warm up. After all, what's more important, their toasty fingers or my toasty chicken and cheese sandwich? (that's what they call a no brainer folks)

Mike chopping wood

About 15 minutes after arriving all the other guests left and Mike and I had to the cabin to ourselves. I quickly stoked up the dying fire with some fresh kindling chopped by Mike himself. With a proper fire, the cheese in our sandwiches quickly melted and ready to eat. Yum.

By 1:15 we were back on our skis and heading for home in order to beat (the non-existent) traffic. Another great day in the GAT - even if it was a little on the chilly side.

We make fire
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Birthday ski in the GAT

Birthday ski

Gatineau Park: P16 to Healey Cabin (10 km)
P16 Pine Rd: N45 34.345 W75 53.134
Healey: N45 34.318 W75 56.019

Today was my birthday and what better way to celebrate one's birthday than with friends, family, and the great outdoors. My father (aka Opa), Sara, Emma, and I hit arrived at P16 around 9:45 and we didn't make it far down the trail before being joined by Ken and Mike. Together we all skied into Healey Cabin under what proved to be perfect temperatures and ski conditions.

Opa on skis
Special guest, Opa.

Today was even more exciting due to the fact that we were all testing out our new waxless skis. Sara, Emma, Opa, and me all purchased new waxless x-c skis within the last week. Other than the odd hum when zooming down the hills, these new boards are simply awesome. No fuss, no mess.

Smiley face says hi
Trailside break
Break time.

This will make it my second GAT birthday ski in a row. Cheers to me and everybody that joined me on my first ski of the 2008-09 season.


Now get out the pen and mark this day down on your calendar for next year folks.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Trip to P-dot

All is clear from up here.

Last weekend we made one last pre-Christmas trip to Peterborough for a small birthday party for Sara and Opa. Here are some photos from the whirlwind weekend.

The kids had a blast wrestling and running with the puppy.
Come her Amber!
A game of tackle Wrestling match
Emma and Amber

Spotted this while out on our hike. I'm not sure how the poor fella got that stick in the eye but it appears to have cost him his life. I guess now he knows his mom wasn't kidding when she said, "It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye."

Fun until he got a stick in the eye

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snowstorms and shopping sprees

Last Friday we drove down to Syracuse for a little weekend getaway and some cross border shopping.

On the way down we stopped at Gander Mountain in the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown for some outdoor deals. After a quick bite to eat and a pit stop we hopped back in the van and continued on down to the famous Carousel Mall in Syracuse. This was more of a recon mission than a shopping spree.

Friday's supper was a return visit to Smokey Bones for pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches. It was just as good as we remembered it from our summer trip to Cape Cod. This time however our drive to the restaurant was through a winter snowstorm rather than a hot summer night after a day at the beach.

Saturday we woke up early and headed straight down to the hotel's breakfast buffet. The real hit here was the make-your-own Belgian waffle machine. Sweet.

Snowstorm in Syracuse
Taken from our hotel room window.

Bellies full we trudged through the snow to the buried van, brushed it off, and headed west to the Waterloo Premium Outlets for more deals and steals. As luck would have it, one of my co-workers was out here the week earlier and knew all about how to score the Dutch money (aka coupons). In the end this turned out to be priceless information as it gave us another 10-30% off the sale prices that were already 50% off or more. We walked out of one store with an 80% discount and I swear Paula shouted "Start the car!!" and ran for the parking lot. Even with the drop in our dollar this trip was well worth it.

Snow down south

When we finally arrived back at the hotel for a pre-supper swim we found one freshly made bed and one messy bed with a little note. "We can't make the bed because has stuff." Too funny.

Note from the maid

As is always the case, the kids loved the hotel part of the trip and especially the pool and hot tub that we had all to ourselves.

Swim time

Oh and I nearly forgot... somebody had a birthday not too long ago. Happy birthday Sara!

Happy Birthday

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last GAT hike of 2008


Gatineau Park: Lac Hatchet (5 km)
Parking: N45 34.764 W76 05.502
Lac Hatchet: N45 34.896 W76 06.743

Mike, Ken, and I decided to take this day to hike what may very well end up being our last hike in Gatineau park before it's time to slap on the skis and slide on the white stuff. This time we decided to explore one of the more remote trails in the north west end of the park along the Eardley Escarpment. The first and last time I was hiking on this trail was last May. As you can see from my blog, it was much greener and alive looking back in the spring in comparison to today's rusty browns and dull greys.

May 2008
Green forest
Look forest, no leaves
November 2008

Today was a day to relax and reminisce about all the great hikes we collectively managed to squeeze into what seems to be an ever shrinking hiking season. We even took a moment to present Kenmore with his 46er prize that Mike, Dave, and I created for him to celebrate his accomplishment. Now every time he dons his new t-shirt he will think of the Adirondacks, his friends and hiking partners, and ... umm, Bigfoot (did you spot him in the right corner of the shirt?).

Kenmore accepts his 46er prize

Some time around noon we found a rocky spot with a great view of the Ottawa River and sat down to enjoy some lunch and a pint. There was a light dusting of snow in the air but it didn't amount to anything that would actually stick. Soon enough though this whole area will be blanketed in snow. (exciting, isn't it?)

Group shot
Lunch time Gnarly root

After lunch we hiked in to Lac Hatchet where we stopped at at a rocky point overlooking the lake and a beaver house. Ken and I enjoyed another pint while Mike wandered around snapping photos for one of the many calendars he plans to print up for his friends and family this Christmas. This year he seems to be working a few different themes. Personally, I'm holding out for the "Views from the 2 foot tall hiker" calendar.

Mike tries for an new angle

Slowly we started to make our way back to the car. After a few more stops and pauses to enjoy the view I started to realize that what we were really doing was postponing the inevitable. The end of the hike, the day, and another season.

View of the Ottawa River

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Acid Tower, Gataneau Park

The acid tower (Gatineau Park, QC)
Originally taken April 2003

P11 parking (O'Brien): N45 31.619 W75 51.855
Approximate length of hike: 7 km

Ok ok, before I get into it, yes, I forgot my camera at home today. No photos for the blog - other than those of the area taken on previous hikes.

I woke up this morning thinking it was going to be another rain day but alas the sun started shining thus prompting me to double check the day's forecast. Surprise. It had changed (again) and now called for something resembling dry. So I told the kids to pack up and we were soon heading off for lunch and a hike in Gatineau Park. Sweet.

Our plan was very similar to last weekend's: hike, eat lunch, hike some more. And that we did. And as luck would have it, we even managed to score some sunshine during our lunch break.

On the way out we stopped at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre for the first time ever. Small but very nice. Worth a visit - especially if you have kids.

From there we started our quest for a poutine in Chelsea. The first place we stopped (my usual post x-c ski stop) was closed, second didn't serve french fries of any kind, which left us with the last place in town. The Chelsea Pub. Bingo! We split a large and I washed my share down with a side of Boreale Rousse.

Exercise + food + good times = Mission complete. Cheers to that!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Annual fall hike on the Wolf Trail

Wolf Trail, Gatineau

P13 parking (Blanchett): N45 32.604 W75 54.582
Wolf Trail, Gatineau Park: 10 km

It's that time of the year again. In between fall and winter when the weather is known to take some crazy shifts from snow and toques to sunshine and shorts. Lately we've been experiencing the latter with the temperature reaching the high teens. Prime time for a hike - especially given that the next 5 days are calling for rain and cold.

Needless to say, it was all the excuse I needed to switch my Friday off for today and head out to the Gatineau hills for a hike. Alas I was alone as neither Mike nor Ken nor even Dave were willing to leave the excitement of their office cubicles. They must have really great jobs. ;)

The morning fog along the Ottawa Parkway was as thick as I've ever seen it but the moment I hit Gatineau Park I saw nothing but blue skies and sunshine.

Small pond along the Wolf Trail

I had hiked about 2 km along the trail when I had to stop and change into a t-shirt (the shorts were already on). 10am and it was already a warm 17°C. I certainly wasn't complaining but I was already looking forward to the cool refreshments I had packed to help wash down my lunch.


I arrived at one of my favourite Gatineau benches and sat down for a whole 3 seconds before a gaggle of elderly gentlemen swarmed me with chatter, padded seats, and granola bars. I quickly finished my snack, said my hellos and goodbyes, and left the bench and the view to them. It wasn't exactly a huge sacrifice though as I knew there were other views just a little further along the trail.

Crossing signs

At Ridge Road I met up with a fellow hiker who had decided to take a mental health day and prescribe himself a dose of sunshine in the GAT. As fate would have it his name was Mike. He mentioned that he was heading to a nice lookout along the Tawadina Trail which sounded to me like the perfect lunch spot so I tagged along.


After lunch we started back down the trail towards P13. At some point Mike and I parted ways as he mentioned that he was pressed for time as part of his day's duties were to cook supper for the gang back home. Of course the other possibility is that maybe he just wasn't interested in my suggested side trip of bushwhacking up a steep hill to look for a box full of trinkets. Either way, I thanked him for the company and he thanked me for the lunch time beer. Cheers Mike, I hope the Gatineau hills cured you in time to get back to work tomorrow.

After a couple more short side trips for some newly planted geocaches, I arrived back at the parking lot just in time to whip back home, pick up the kids, and cook supper myself. Another great day under the sun.

Tawadina lookout
Tawadina lookout