Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunsets and snakepits at Achray

Paddling into the sunset
Northern Water Snakes

After a couple of weeks back at the office it was time for our annual camping trip to Achray in Algonquin Park.

The kids were especially excited as they remember this getaway to be a snake catcher's dream. Together they caught nearly 50 snakes (some were caught more than once). Surprisingly this year there were more water snakes caught than garters. The largest one by far was a monster northern water snake measuring about 4 1/2 feet long.

Monster water snake
Canoe sailing Northern Water Snake

Most of our week was spent paddling, fishing, catching snakes, and dodging rain storms. For the most part our weather was great - sunny and low 20's. We did have one downpour on the first night that flooded out some of our fellow campers but we were high and dry in our tent trailer. Suckas!

Sandpit jumper Feeding the fish
Combing the shores of Achray Watching the snakes
Snake's lunch R & R View from our campsite Canoe at sunset

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Soccer and showers

M.I.S.T. soccer tournament
Note: The game is playing in this shot. They need to work on maintaining position, wouldn't you agree?

This weekend was Mississippi Invitational Soccer Tournament (MIST) held near Carleton Place. It was a nice sized tournament with only 6 teams in our grouping. The location was close to home Carleton Place now has most everything one might need on short notice.

M.I.S.T. soccer tournament

Surprisingly we made out not too bad on the weather. We left the house at about 6:45 am in a torrential downpour but it stopped by the time we arrived. All day Saturday and Sunday morning it would flicker back and forth between hot and sunny to cold rains and strong winds. That pretty much sums up the summer of '09 so far.

M.I.S.T. soccer tournament

Oh yeah, the girls didn't fare so well in the tourney - lost three (2 of the losses were in shootouts) and won one. In the end it was still good practise and excellent team bonding. ;-)

Opa and Amber joined us for the Sunday game followed by hamburgers and ice cream from The Cheddar Stop. Yum.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The South will rise again

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers

The South will rise again!! Tonight was a double bill of southern rock with Drive-By Truckers and Lynyrd Skynyrd both hitting different Bluesfest stages at the same time. Just our luck, but we had a plan - watch most of the Drive-By Truckers, followed by some Black Mountain and then whip over to the main stage for Skynyrd's Freebird encore. [insert beer and pee breaks randomly as required]

I swung by Rick's house and picked him up around 4:30 so we could relax a bit and check out some of the afternoon acts. We caught a few tracks from Louisiana Red and then over to the Rogers Stage for Otis Taylor. Otis was playing with his daughter Cassie on bass and a real high energy girl (Anne Harris) doing a mix of yoga and tai chi while wailing on fiddle. Meanwhile Otis flipped between banjo, electric guitar, and harmonica. Great show despite the short downpour.

Otis Taylor
Otis Taylor Otis Taylor - Anne Harris

Then it was back to the Subway Stage for David Lindley who mastered the stage with some lap guitar and witty banter. His last song, Meth Lab Boyfriend, was a hilarious hit with the fans. There's still some uncertainty as to whether or not David was the main character of that track or simply the narrator.

David Lindley David Lindley

After Lindley left the stage we slowly muscled out some of the wankers in chairs (don't even get me started on this) to place ourselves in the second row. Great location to check out DBTs three axe attack and snap off a few pics.

Drive-By Truckers
Drive-By Truckers Drive-By Truckers

They kicked ass and I only wish I could have stayed for the whole show but dang-it-all there were other stages calling us over.

Black Mountain was on the Black Sheep Stage and was the first to draw us in. Psychedelic guitar and wailing vocals. Sweet but before we knew it they were into their last song of the night.

Black Mountain - Amber Webber Black Mountain - Stephen McBean

We stepped knee deep into Skynyrd rocking out Sweet Home Alabama southern sytle. Perfect timing. They wandered off stage and the fans went nuts chanting Freebird, lighters (and cells) in air. The irony was not lost on us - seriously how often do you get to chant Freebird to Lynyrd Skynyrd as they step back out on stage to actually play Freebird as their grand finale 20 minute encore? Awesome.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Lynyrd Skynyrd

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

KISS Army Ottawa

KISS at Bluesfest

Tonight was the night that Bluesfest brought the ultimate glam rock band to town and more than 30,000 fans swore allegiance to the KISS Army. Yes, those infamous painted (and patented) faces and monster armored outfits rocked the stage from on high. The backdrop was a non-stop barrage of classic rock and a cacophony of explosions from fireworks and 40 ft flames shooting from both the stage and Gene Simmons' mouth. Oh, and don't forget the blood, the confetti cannons, the raised platforms, and even a zip-line to carry Paul Stanley over a topless crowd of screaming girls. How awesome is that?!

KISS Army Ottawa
KISS (Eric Singer) KISS at Bluesfest (Gene Simmons)
KISS at Bluesfest KISS fireworks

Earlier in the evening I had a chance to check out The Duhks from Winnipeg and LeE HARVey OsMOND with frontman Tom Wilson. Both excellent shows. We even caught a bit of Good2Go which felt a little like a reincarnation of Blondie only with bigger boots.

The Duhks The Duhks
Good2Go Good2Go

After the last chord of KISS' Detroit Rock City and the last bang of fireworks it was a mad dash to escape the Bluesfest grounds. Gates and half fences had been seemingly set up while the fans had been focused on the show and were now being used to herd everybody out of the area in an orderly fashion. Wrong. People just started climbing everything in a half panicked attempt to get themselves clear of the massive crowd that was only a gunshot from turning into a stampede. Luckily my years of fence hopping and avoiding crowds paid off in spades.

KISS Army pauses to let an OCTranspo bus go by Bluesfest crowd after KISS
By this time I was ahead of the crowd and felt safe enough to turn and snap a pic as the police tried desperately to control the situation. They weren't proving overly successful but in the end I don't believe anybody lost an eye.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cape Cod... here we come beaches!!

Skaket Beach sunset

After a great trip to Cape Cod in '08, we decided to head straight back for another round - this time with our friends the McMullans. Last year we stayed at Massassoit State Park but this year they are closed for some massive repairs to their electrical system after a major storm. That meant that we had to pick a new destination. Easy enough. Nickerson State Park is located about midway up Cape Cod itself thus making it the ideal choice for beach proximity and Cape exploration.

We arrived at our campsite around supper time on Independence Day and after a quick set up we were off to the local JT's Seafood for some lobster roll platters and fish and chips. Bellies full we drove off to Hyannis to check out the Independence Day fireworks. Traffic was insane (apparently this was the official fireworks location on the Cape for '09) and we missed about half the show as we scrambled around to find parking but all in all it was worth the effort.

Day 2 was one of our more relaxing days. We picked up some lunch and snacks at the local Shaw's and whipped straight out to Marconi Beach for some boogie boarding. Sweet rides. Too bad I wasn't able to take photos of myself cause I was smokin'. Next year I'm stepping up and hangin' ten if it kills me (and it very likely will).

LIft off

Day 3 we drove up to Provincetown (aka P-Town, aka expensive-cramped-verygay) and then out to Race Point Beach on the National Seashore. Here we opted to turn in our previous day's parking pass ($15) and upgrade to the full 2009 pass ($45). Here we come beaches!!

Hello Marconi Beach Cape Cod chips in Cape Cod

While quite beautiful, the waves at Race Point were not big enough for our newly acquired boogie boarding skills. So back down to Marconi we drove to catch some curlers.

Surfer girl

After a full day in the sun and surf we zoomed across the Cape to First Encounter Beach to catch the sunset. Spectacular!

First Encounter Beach sunset

Day 4 brought us back to the beach. This time we opted to ignore the signs saying that Nauset Beach was full and take our chances in the noon hour queue. We were only about 5 cars back and soon enough we were in the lot and heading down to Nauset for some more sun and surf.

Day 5. Martha's Vineyard. After a little mix up on where to hop on the ferry we finally reunited with the McMullans on the shuttle from Falmouth to the Martha's Vineyard ferry to Oak Bluffs. The ride over was about 45 minutes - just long enough to hand feed the sea gulls as they swooped down alongside the ship.

Hand feeding the gulls Ferry to Martha's Vineyard
Greeting piggy Over the Rainbow cottage Smoke'N Bones Porch framed
Kayak at Martha's Vineyard harbor

Day 6, more beach. Day 7 on the other hand was spent entirely in Nickerson State Park relaxing on our very own private beach and hiking one of the many trails. A great way to wind down the week.

Changing of the guard Nickerson State Park beach White robes Herman the hermit crab
Surf's up Nickerson hiking trails
Orleans windmill, Cape Cod Splash wars Boogie board fort R&R