Monday, September 30, 2013

Day Trip: Algonquin Park - September 28, 2013

With the fall colours at full peak, we headed to Algonquin yesterday to get some photos, and enjoy the weather.  It was a beautiful sunny day...and though a lot of the colours seemed dull (cool spring or early frosts? I don't know) we certainly weren't the only ones up there enjoying mother natures show.

I have never in my life seen so many people at Algonquin.  Not only was there a team of people directing traffic at the West Gate, but each and every trail parking lot was full.  There were people parked on both sides of the roads leading to each parking area, and at least 20-50 cars parked along the sides of the road at each one as well.  The most popular trails seemed to be the Lookout Trail, Hardwood Lookout, and Track and Tower.  Even Spruce Bog, which was closed, had cars lined up on the sides of the road.

The visitor's centre was a zoo.  It was nearly impossible to walk through the doors, and the line ups for the women's bathroom were a nightmare (out the bathroom doors, across the front of the entrance door to the gallery entrance, around the statue and across in front of the big map on the wall)  Oddly enough there were no line ups for the men's room.

Still, we had a good day.  We'd really hoped Whiskey Rapids trail would be opened back up, but it wasn't.  We ate lunch at the Two River's store, getting there just before a big rush of people arrived, and headed to Mew Lake to check out the waterfalls.  Not much colour there, just one small maple tree clinging to a rock.  Our next stop was the Beaver Pond Trail.  We lucked out and got a parking spot in the actual lot, and hiked backwards to the lookout.  Mum and the kids went back to the truck with the puppy while dad and I continued on a bit more to take pictures.

We stopped in at the Opeongo Outfitters (Biscuit got a doggy backpack for Christmas...) but they didn't have much ice cream so we headed to the Portage Store.  This area was a zoo as well.  We got ice cream then went to watch people from the city try their hand at canoeing.  There were so many canoes on the water it was amazing.  Sadly for us, nobody tipped.  That makes us sound a little sadistic, I know.  I just am always amazed how many people ignore the quick lesson the rental shop employees give, and end up facing each other in the canoe, paddling with both hands at mid paddle, or tipping over with several thousand dollars worth of camera equipment sitting at their feet.

It did make me wish we'd taken our canoe.  I think we might have to keep the kids out of school one day this week and go up for a paddle.

So, I have a few recent trip logs to write up.  Biscuit has taken to jumping on my lap whenever I have the laptop out, and he eats the cables if he gets into my office.  I apologize for not being around as much lately.

I'll try and post some fall hiking pics...if I can find a hiking trail where there's some good colour!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Canoe Dog? We'll see...

As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently got a new puppy.  Biscuit is a 3 month old Australian Cattle Dog, and he's bundle of energy and fun.  We hadn't planned to get a new dog until the fall, enjoying a dog free summer, but when our friends got a puppy...well, I just couldn't resist.  So we went looking, starting at the local shelters.  Unfortunately, all the dogs up for adoption were really big (except one but he had an aggression problem that would have been a really bad idea with two kids in the house.)  We wanted a dog that we could take in the canoe, and as cute as they were, they would have taken up way too much room, leaving none for the kids.

We also didn't want a really small dog.  We wanted a dog that is high energy enough that he or she would be willing to carry a doggie pack over portages, not one I'd have to carry along the trail.  We also didn't want to spend a ridiculous amount of money.  A search on Kijiji led us to a nearby farmer with ACD pups for sale and Chris immediately picked the one that was all over him like a hyper ball of spaziness.

So...here is Biscuit.  He bites and gnaws on us constantly, he's destroyed my running shoes, I've pulled an unimaginable array of things from his mouth (broken piece of an exacto-knife today) and he's obsessed with coffee even though he's never actually drank any.  He drinks my tea when I'm not looking, he hogs the bed and we love him to bits.

I've never trained a camping/canoe dog before, but I've read a few forum posts with suggestions, so what I'm going to be doing is posting our attempts and hopefully, we'll be able to offer some good advice about what to do and what not to do.

Step one is working on sit/stay.  He learned sit by the second day we had him, and he sits and waits for me to say "okay" at meal times, so that's a good start.  Why this is important is obvious.  You don't want your dog to leap out of the canoe after frogs, or a deer or moose on the shore.

Skills we are working on now...
coming consistently when called
not freaking out when he goes in the water!
wearing a doggie shirt so he's used to wearing things and won't balk at life jacket or doggie backpack
not.

Anyone who has experience taking dogs camping...if you have idea for other things we should work on with him, I'd love to hear your advice!