Saturday, February 21, 2009

Burnstown xc ski

Snowshoers will be violated

Today was the annual Burnstown Family Fun day sponsored by our friends the Neills. The scheduled events included some tubing down the Calabogie hills follow by a smorgasbord of chili, dogs, nachos, beer, and homemade desserts.

Tripper & fam. out for a ski

Unfortunately our morning was booked with indoor soccer which set us a little behind for the 1 pm meet at Calabogie. So rather than tubing we opted for a family ski down some of the secret Burnstown ski trails. A great choice.

Falling down
A downhill ride

Two hours later, and three hours late, we arrived at the Neills for some delicious chili and beer. The place was hopping. There were about 30 people milling about and about half of them were under the age of 12 (and one only a mere 7 weeks!). Apparently the warm weather and offer of free entertainment and food was just too much to turn down. Or at least that was our reasoning...

Rusty Neill on the slide
Charlie the dog Katie and Maddie
Charlie, Maddie, Katie - Look how these guys are growing.

Thanks again guys for your wonderful hospitality. You should do it again some time. ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feeding the birdies


Today I took the family out for a late afternoon hike in the Greenbelt. The trails were so icy and compacted that we didn't need snowshoes or skis - in fact they only would have caused problems.

Almost immediately after leaving the parking lot we spotted a pile of bird seed. Perfect. Having forgotten our seed at home I told the kids to stuff some in a pocket and we'll feed the birds later on down the trail. Well you would think the little winged creatures were starving the way they were dive bombing everybody at the slightest sign of food.

Sara opts for the seed on the hat trick

Feeding the birdies is always a hit no matter how old you are. And now bird feeding will always remind us of last spring when Mikey was feeding the grey jays using his own personal technique. (no photos on that one folks)


Here's hoping that the spring-like weather is behind us so that we can have more snow and some more quality x-c skiing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rizo and Milo

Last weekend we picked up a little addition to the family. Rats. Two of them. Rizo (grey) and Milo (butterscotch and white). The kids had been bugging us for months now to get a rat. They had done their research, saved their money, and they were committed to the goal.

Milo and Rizo

While we'd rather have a medium to large sized dog we're also selfish and like our freedom to camp/canoe/hike/travel whenever and wherever we want. For a while the kids were content with fish but in the end a fish is... well, wet and not very cuddly. After some searching we settled on the rat. The description at PetSmart read, "intelligent, able to do tricks, very social, and great with kids". Compared to the hamster's sales pitch that read, "able to store food in its cheek pouches". Hmmm, easy choice. Besides if we ever breakdown and go for the snake we'll already have its first meal beefed up and ready to serve.

It's been a week now and we're impressed. They are very lively creatures, love to be handled, they haven't yet bitten anybody (unlike hamsters), and are definitely more cuddly than fish.

UPDATE (thanks to a comment from Mark):
Did you know that it is illegal to have a pet rat in the province of Alberta? Yep, I'm serious. I bet they would scream "eeek!" and jump up on a chair just like in the cartoons if they ever did see one. Probably worried the rats would crawl up their oil pipes and stop the black gold from pumping. Ha.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

Let's just say that what happens while out in the woods in the middle of the night, stays out there in the woods... dead, stinking, and rotting. Hacked into little pieces.

Ahhh, good times.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Full moon ski in the GAT

Cradling the sun

Gatineau Park: P10 to Huron (17 km)
P10: N45 31.141 W75 51.234
Huron: N45 30.336 W75 53.999

After a couple of years of talking about a moonlight ski in the GAT the day had final come to slap on the boards and git-r-done. Conditions were perfect - especially given the forecast for rain and highs reaching 9°C for the rest of the week. Didn't that damn gopher see his shadow last week?

Mike left work early and managed to hit the near empty P10 parking lot around 3:30 pm where we made a quick call to Kenmore who was already out enjoying the trails. The plan was to meet him somewhere along our way to Keogan.

While Mike and I were gearing up and I couldn't help but notice that my pack was a little light having forgot my tinfoil wrapped sandwiches back in the office fridge (arg!). Luckily I'd brought some Red Pepper and Black Bean soup, snacks, and of course beer... and even more lucky to have a couple of mates that didn't mind sharing a bit of their grub with a starving bear.

Shilly Shally from the throne
Shilly Shally pitstop

After meeting up with Kenmore we arrived at the Keogan/Huron junction and decided it was a little early to hit a cabin and start cooking. So off to Huron we skied but not before stopping for a pint at an empty, fire-warmed Shilly Shally.

Our first cabin behind us, we quickened our pace to catch the sunset from the Huron Lookout. It was nice but the smattering of clouds kept it from being spectacular. From here it was back down to Huron for supper.


Again we were surprised to have the cabin all to ourselves. We quickly set up a makeshift kitchen and starting some semi-serious gourmet cooking (more like food warming but that doesn't sound nearly as appetizing). Chili, soup, sandwiches, baguettes, fresh cheese, and even some chocolate for dessert... or was that the Blackberry Wheat Ale?

Supper at Huron Hut
Supper at Huron Hut

At some point between the end of supper and nap time another group of amateur outdoor chefs rolled into the cabin. They had bottles of wine, a pot of apricot curried lamb and containers full of various desserts. Apparently they are a regular night crew here today to help celebrate a friend's birthday. Impressive. Seems to me I should find me some female friends like this to ski with, and to carry my pots and pans, and my beer, and... yeah, snap out of it and be careful what I wish for. Besides, I certainly couldn't complain on this night after forgetting my sandwiches at work and eating half my buddies' food.

The ski back to P10 was a sweet ride thanks to the icy tracks. A pole here and a pole there and before I knew it we were barreling down the Khyber Pass (that's from the days when trails had real names and not just numbers reminding you of Bob Seger songs) and onto the parkway. And with the glow of a full moon lighting the way, all headlamps remained off.

And finally a few night shots...

Full moon
Huron Hut at night Inside Huron Hut

A great night and definitely a plan worth repeating. Now all I have to hope for is more winter.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Another Sunday ski

We headed out for another Sunday family ski in the Pinhey Forest. Compared to last Sunday, the weather was warmer, snow was a little icy and hence faster, and there was no snow on the trees as the winds were blowing like mad leaving a scattering of debris on the trails. That said, it was a good outing. Cheers to that.

Pinhey Forest ski IMG_0275

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pink Floyd, flying pigs, and Battersea Power Station

I was looking at photos of London buried under the recent snow fall - the heaviest in 18 years - when I noticed a familiar back drop. Battersea Power Station, London, England. A flood of memories washed over me as I recalled the classic 1977 Pink Floyd album, Animals. I couldn't believe that there really was such a place.

For some reason (maybe it was my inability to believe pigs can fly) I never once thought that the place depicted on the album cover actually existed (at least not without the enhancement of drugs). Ahhh, but it did and still does - although the power station is no longer operating and the pig has long since drifted off to a higher place. Yep, that's right, the pig was the real deal too (albeit inflated). No Photoshop here folks, this was a real Kodak moment and not the madman's watercolor sketch I once assumed it was.

Here's the hilarious tale and the video as proof...
"The giant, helium-filled pig (referred to as the Pink Floyd Pig) seen on the cover was actually flown over Battersea Power Station for the photo shoot under the direction of Storm Thorgerson. On the first day of shooting, a marksman was on hand in case the pig broke free. However, according to Thorgerson, this was considered an "insurance problem", and he was not hired for the second day of shooting. On 3 December 1976, during the second day, a gust of wind broke the pig free of its moorings. Because there was no one to shoot the pig down, it sailed away into the morning sky."

I guess you learn something everyday... although I am in no way assuming that you blog readers out there didn't already know this Floyd tidbit.

Strangely enough the whole scene was recently reenacted with Spider Pig for the DVD release of The Simpson's Movie. Here's the video... note that they too brought in a sniper as back-up should the pig decide to really fly away.

Spider Pig, aka Plopper, story here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pinhey Forest ski

Pinhey Forrest ski

A Sunday ski through Pinhey Forrest with the family.

Pinhey Forest ski Pinhey Forrest ski

After the recent 30 cm dump of snow the forest was looking very much like a winter wonderland. Mother Nature had thrown a blanket of white cotton over everything giving it had a dream like feel.

Trail 32, Pinhey Forest

Surprisingly we only crossed paths with one other skier while we were out crisscrossing about on Trail 32.

Break time