I ask you this; Is there anything better than a nice relaxing weekend camping along a river in the summer? Well, although we only managed to get out for a single night of camping over the past weekend (and entire summer so far!), it was really nice. Jody and I headed out to Calabogie to camp on Jim’s property along the Madawaska river last weekend, with Jonah in tow. The idea was just to get away from the city for a quiet night on the river, with a nice campfire, some camp chow, and watery fun in the river. Mission accomplished. Although I had grander plans, which included night biking trips, maybe trail running, and hiking, we really didn’t move too far from our campsite. The only trips we made were up the hill to the cabin to visit our ‘neighbours’, Jim, Allie and Xavier. They were up for the weekend getting some additional work done on the homestead and just generally enjoying their property. Who can blame them? After his recent trip to Utah for Primal Quest, I would imagine Jim thoroughly enjoyed his beer, cigar and scotch under a starry sky by the campfire. I know I did 😉
Because of the way the property is set up, there is actually a separate driveway to what I call the ‘lower platform’, which is a perfect plot of flat land right on the water where we could set up our camp. We had our own fire pit, use of a great double hammock, and the river right by the door. Perfect. Although the weather was supposed to be nice according to forecasts throughout the week, but Saturday morning, the forecast was updated to grey, clouds, and threat of thunder storms. Oh well, I wasn’t going to let that ruin my weekend. After getting set up, we got right to the important stuff. I sent Jody off in my little red boat while Jonah and I swam close to the camp. Well, I swam, and coaxed Jonah to venture out a little bit, thanks to his borrowed PFD from Ellie (thanks Kev!), He actually got the nerve up (the next day) to paddle out into the river of his own accord. I had a ‘proud father’ moment seeing him swimming in the water. A few more times, and hopefully he’ll be all about the aqua-fun!
After getting out of the water, I got busy with the man’s work of getting a fire going. There is nothing more enjoyable to me than having a nice campfire. Luckily there is enough scrub brush and dead-fall to keep a fire burning all the time out there. Jim and Allie are still burning all the slag heaps. I had brought a book to read, but I just couldn’t do it. Personally, I can spend hours sitting by a fire doing nothing but watching the flames dance, and poke at it, and feed it more wood. I’m in heaven. Jody, on the other hand, always had her book at hand, and in fact finished one off in the 30 hours we were actually out there! Oh well, to each their own, right? We cooked our supper over the fire as well. Jim and I also found some time to go in to the river and do some ‘mowing’ of the weeds. Basically, we put on masks and snorkels and pulled up as much river grass as we could to clear out a nice swimming spot. Fun stuff. That culminated in us swimming downriver a bit, and me jumping a couple times off their diving dock, which is about 8 feet high.
After supper, and with the sun setting and the water dead calm from all the boaters heading back to their own cottages, I hit the water in my kayak. What a perfect paddle! Mirror water, no boats, and very little road traffic to hear. I even watched 3 martens, or river otters playing in the water. Squeaking and clambering each other till they got scared by my presence. It was nice. Back to the camp, and a bit more chilling by the fire. After a bit, Jody hit the sleep sack, and I hit the beer and hammock for a while. Eventually, I made my way back up, and joined Jim and Allie, where we proceeded to enjoy the drinks, tell jokes, and cook up more dogs while enjoying the fire. I think they both had a pleasant little buzz, and were quite happy with that. They were relaxed. I think it had been a while since they just unwound like that. I was glad to see it. At some point, we decided to turn in, and let the fire(s) burn out. Off to the tent.
Next morning, I got busy making some delicious chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. From there, just some general camp clean up and packing, since it looked like it might rain at any moment. It also wasn’t all that sunny or warm, so Jody was a little less than enthused with the possibility of sticking around all day. She hit the hammock for a bit, and luckily, the sun found its’ way out, which changed everything. I went up to try to lend a hand with the cabin for a bit. There were also a few other people up for the day, including Frank and Wanda (helpers of the cabin-raising), and Darcy. We cooked up lunch on the barbecue, then all headed to the water for a little splash and float while the sun was out. Darcy took the kayak for a spin too. Unfortunately, the really dark clouds were clearly rolling in, and rain was more than imminent. Once Darcy got back, I scrambled to pack up the car. Too late! The rain started pouring. Luckily, all I had left was to get the boat and bike on the car. I let Jody sit in the car while I got that done. I sort of cut the day a little short, but not too bad. We still didn’t leave till after 4pm on Sunday, so a full day nonetheless.
I said goodbye to the crew, who were now inside the cabin playing some poker, and we drove home. By the time we were home, the rain had thankfully stopped, so unpacking was pretty easy, except for all the wet stuff from our last swim earlier. We opted to eat out for supper, and then did our chores at home for the week. Although I wish we’d gotten out for two nights, we still managed to squeeze in a great little camping trip, and Jonah loved it. He was pretty tuckered out by Sunday night. Now it’s time to gear up for the 6th sort-of annual International Beerfest, which will be at our place this year, instead of Al and Matt’s. More good times await. Man I love Ottawa summers!