Sunday, November 29, 2009

Real men don't IKEA

IKEA... if I have to

There is nothing manly about building an IKEA product. There's nothing fulfilling about following "how-to" instructions that come complete with an escape clause in the form of a lifeline to the IKEA mother ship. Yet this is exactly what I did over the weekend.


A small desk and a large dresser. Now if I'd built them out of the old cherry or oak tree that my great grandfather had planted that would have been a much different tale. Alas this was a "just add water" project where they even supplied the tools.


The closest I came to adding a man scent to this degrading task was a beer and the odd squeeze on my cordless drill. I shall speak no more of this other than to say that I did not need to call the mother ship or a friend for backup.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rideau River stroll

Walk along the Rideau

Sunday morning we went out for a walk along the Rideau in the Chapman Mills Conservation Area. As it turned out the walk was more of a short stroll as they had already drained the water and packed up the bridges in anticipation of winter. Oh well, the air was fresh.

Dried up creek Bridge closed
Look up Scouring the shoreline

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hike to Herridge


Gatineau Park: P16 to Herridge (10 km)
P16 Pine Rd: N45 34.345 W75 53.134
Herridge: N45 34.255 W75 56.353

Late in the evening I fired off a txt message to Ken to see if he was interested in a hike in the GAT on his Monday off. Of course he said yes and in no time we had a plan. A hike to Herridge hut with a few stops here and there along the way.

After dropping my wife off at work, I met Ken at the P16 gateway to Gatineau Park. Surprisingly there was no frost on the trail which would have made for a great shot of the small valley with it's wooden bridge and fast flowing creek. Hard to complain though when the sky is cloudless and the temperature hovering around the 6 degree mark.

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By the time we arrived at Herridge we were ready for some lunch. The menu consisted of Red Pepper Black Bean soup, toasted turkey and hot salami sandwiches, and a couple of pints of the Long Trail ale. It was a little chilly outside so we opted to dine indoors by the warmth of the woodstove. Again I broke out some tunes - Patterson Hood (from Drive-By Truckers), and Kenny Wayne Shepherd (10 Days Out CD). It doesn't get much more relaxing than this aside from blowing up an air mattress and having a catnap (note to self: pack air mattress).

Gates to Herridge

The timing of our departure was perfect. As we left the Herridge gates we crossed paths with about 20 grade 7-8 students. They were all geared up for a sleepover - some looked happy, and some not so much. Few realize (or care) that they will one day look back on these camp-outs with fond memories of a carefree age. Another example of how "youth is wasted on the young".

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After the hike on the way home, Ken and I made two stops. The first stop was not far from the parking lot where we strolled up an overgrown driveway to the top of a hill where Ken pointed to an old family plot that he'd come across while geocaching some time ago. The old farm house was long gone along with the original owners but this tiny graveyard lives on. One of the tombstones dated back to 1879 (born 1806) while the most recent was 2000. The location also came with a great view - though likely not fully appreciated by the current residents.

The last stop was at the nearby bungee jumping / rock quarry facility. The season was over for jumping but we were still able to stroll through the area and see the attractions. There was a zip line, a beach, a huge hanging pot over an open fire (likely for dispersing the bodies of the poor clients that die on the bungee jump), a playground, and a walking trail. The quarry pit below the jump is now filled will crystal clear water that allows you to see straight to the bottom. It's here that you can spot the eerie skeletal remains of a small prop plane. A nice touch. I'll have to make a note to come back here in the summer and test out the zip line and the snorkeling but I'll pass on the jumping.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Walk the wire

Lunch time

Remembrance Day has become somewhat of an annual outdoor adventure for us. This year we again had some great weather, albeit snow-less but still a perfect fall day to be outdoors. We all agreed that soon enough we'd be slapping on the boards and surfing on the powdery white stuff but until then we were happy just to get out and soak up some rays.

Mike drove while Kenmore navigated us to an unofficial hydro trail in the GAT. I must say, the thought of spending the day under the buzz of the wires of Gatineau Hydro sounded like it was going to be a poor choice but at the same time I was secretly hoping to at least spot some interesting wildlife. My past experiences hiking hydro lines have been occasionally highlighted with bear sightings and I was hoping that this would be one more to add to the my list. That said, I was also hoping that it would be at a distance that would allow me to showcase my camera's awesome zoom rather than a test of my ability to outrun Mike across uneven terrain (I had already accepted that Kenmore would be the man to follow in this death race).

Kenmore steps out for a view IMG_8576
Frosty DANGER Haut High Voltage Remembrance Day hike
Ken takes a tentative step Hail from on high

The hike led us up the hill and in and out of the woods as it struggled to circumnavigate some of the ponds and bogs. As we neared our destination we discovered a lake-sized pond and a small creek. Luckily there was also a well constructed beaver dam at the base of our last climb that allowed us to cross with dry feet.

The last leg to the top was a scramble but the resulting view was breathtaking. After a few photos we settled in for some lunch - potato leek soup, toasted turkey sandwiches, and a Saranac Brew or two. Once again I broke out my mp3 player and we listened to some Pat Metheny and John Scofield.

Cheers to all those that fought and gave their lives so that we could enjoy something as simple as a hike in the great outdoors with some friends.

Here's a couple of Remembrance Day hikes from years past: 2008 and 2005.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Shop shop till you drop

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Syracuse, NY

Tis the season to shop in Syracuse. Last year around the same time, before the Black-ness overtakes this town (aka Black Friday), we arrived in Syracuse during a snowstorm. Snow aside, we had a great time and more importantly we were able to take a big chuck out of our Christmas shopping without the big dent in the wallet. So once again this year we decided to book a couple of nights via and head down south to spend our mighty dollar.

IMG_2025 Carousel Mall, Syracuse, NY

Our main destinations were the Carousel Mall and the Waterloo Outlets and of course there was no driving past the big outdoor shops, Gander Mountain and Dick's Sporting Goods. These mega-outdoor stores are not safe places for a guy like me - "holy ground" maybe, but not "safe". And hell, I don't even hunt!

Poser Couple of six packs

Friday evening we decided to check out a semi-famous restaurant in downtown Syracuse. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. We arrived early to find a tiny jam-packed joint with a half hour wait time. Yikes. But wait we did and in the end it was only about 15 minutes which is never too long when you have a beverage in hand.

The food was tasty, prices were fair, and the brew selection was impressive. As per usual we didn't opt for the full-sized platters which we spotted in front of all the other oinks and only the wee one screamed for ice cream after the meal (which we all sampled). All in all it was worth the visit, but you better arrive early.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Syracuse, NY Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Saturday we shopped at the Waterloo outlets. It was a long day but there were some definite deals to be had and as luck would have it, we also managed to meet up with our friends the Neills (minus one who was off hunting possum or squirrel, I can't remember which).

Sunday, after rejuvenating in the hotel pool and hot-tub, more shopping. This time we strolled stores in Watertown at the Salmon Run Mall.

By the end we were all tired and ready to drop. Sara managed to best describe our state of mind in the following photo. Thanks Sara. ;)


PS: The reason for the choice of blog title, Def Leppard of course.