Canada’s birthday has come and gone once again, and I hope that you all had a great day off to celebrate the birth of this great nation that we live in. Deanna and I started the day off fairly lazily, with a nice breakfast and some chores around the house. A week later, we’d be leaving on our Atlantic Canada tour, where we’d actually be visiting the birthplace of Confederation. However, first up was a nice long weekend of relaxing fun in the Ottawa area. Rather than battling the big crowds downtown as we’d done last year, we had hatched a plan to take our kayaks out on the water and do some paddling, including some geocaching along the Ottawa river and a picnic out there, capped with fireworks. We managed to snap a few picures during the day, which you can check out here. After you had a look a those, pop on back for a bit more about our day. I promise that I won’t be too verbose with this post!
With the recent flooding in our basement, Deanna and I had to put any plans of hosting a party at our place that weekend on ice. We had been half expecting some company over the weekend, but a change of plans found us on our own instead, and we decided to just mkae it a relatively quiet weekend. Friday would be the big paddling day, and we’d decided Saturday would be a day spent putting the basement back into a liveabble form since it would be a while before the reconstruction work is done. To wrap things up, we also had a race lined up for Sunday, the Spartan Race. But of course, you’ll be able to read all about that in another post which should follow shortly.
We were particularly excited about heading out paddling because I have a shiny new kayak to play with, and Deanna is now the owner of my old kayak, and was anxious to give it a good try. Before setting off, we plotted a few possible routes to take, depending on water and weather conditions. We packed up some lunches inclding a couple single serving tetra paks of red wine. Yum! Slather on the sunscreen, pack up the car, and we were off! We had decided to put in at Lac Leamy and head to the Ottawa river from there. Our route was basically to head downstream to Kettle and the Duck Islands, then swing back upriver to be back around Parliament to enjoy the fireworks that evening.
The weather was absolutely stunning to be out on the water. Brilliant sun, and warm temperatures. The sky was also very clear, which would make for some excellent fireworks display later. Of course, the downside was that with the great weather, it meant there were a lot of other boaters out on the water. And I’m not talking about canoes and kayaks, I’m talking about lots of powerboats being piloted by people who were likely doing a bit of celebrating (if you know what I mean). Lucky for Deanna, my old boat is quite stable. However, since my new boat is more of a racing boat, it is a bit tippier, so all the cross-waves forced me to a bit more focussed on my paddling than I might have liked 🙂
The geocaching itself was also a bit of a challenge where we went. Once we arrived at Kettle Island, there were quite a few revellers at the place where we had planned to pull off to grab some caches. We were forced to go a little further away, and basically bushwhack to get to the cache we were targetting. In the end, it was mainly me doing the hacking as Deanna stood guard by the boats to make sure that they weren’t washed off by waves back into the river. This theme continued for several more caches, as it was much easier for me to hop off my sit-on-top boat and head into the jungles to find the caches. After a few of these stops, I decided that Kettle Island is really like the Lost World. The ferns there are huge, and it is quite wild inland. Not to mention the massive mosquitoes that were feasting on my blood. Oh well, such is the life of an adventurer, right?
We carried on in this manner for several hours, grabbing caches and paddling through cool spots. Our last downsrteam cache was particularly fun, and was a pretty tough find, but I perservered while Deanna paddled below the perch where I finally found it. Looking at our watch, we decided it was time to head back upstream, given that we’d have both wind and current against us for the return paddle. Plus, we were getting hungry and decided that supper would be closer to the fireworks. Two final caches were grabbed before we found a nice little island that we decided to call home for the rest of the evening. It was around 8:30, and fireworks would be around 10pm so we had a little time to kill.
I tried to dry off a little bit, as the waves and jumping in and out had resulted in me getting quite a bit wet, and the termperatures were now dropping a bit with the setting sun. We busted out the supper we’d packed, and casually chowed down while watching the growing armada of boats assemble in the water for the fireworks. The big show started right on time at 10pm, and as usual, this was a show not to be missed. This would have been perfect had it not been for all the mosquitoes that were attacking us! 15 minutes later, it was time to head back to the car. I put lights on the kayak, and we turned on headlights and flashing rear lights on our PFDs.
This is when the final fun started. It was now pitch black, and there were a ton of boats all speeding away from the area, causing all kinds of turbulent waters. When we reached the intersection of the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers, things got pretty hairy. There were massive cross-waves, and I couldn’t see any of them due to the dark. I was SURE I was going in. Especially when my entire boat was swamped by the waves twice in a row. I was basically sitting in a bathtub of water. However, I popped by little self-bailer and kept paddling as best I could. Remarkably, all the water drained out, and I stayed in the boat! I was actually quite surprised (and happy!).
The end of the paddle went fairly smoothly, and once out, we loaded the boats and all the gear back on the car and headed home wet but happy. It had been a great day on the water, and we’ll definitely be back there again next year for the July 1st celebrations. Time to rest up again, and get ready for the Spartan Race on Sunday. As another distraction on Saturday, we even went to the movies and saw X-Men First Class. Great movie! Here endeth my short story about paddling on Canada Day, and hope you all were able to enjoy the great weather with family and friends as well. Up next: Spartan Race Report.