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Our weekend didn’t turn out quite as expected.  Original plans had been booked oh so long ago – we were supposed to go camping at Sandbanks Provincial Park.  As the weeks passed it was evident that neither the weather nor my work schedule was going to accommodate that plan.  In fact, it was my work that was the straw that broke the camel’s back (so to speak)…and we cancelled our camping trip.  Johnny still had his Friday off (he’s doing a compressed work week this summer for every 2nd Friday off.

So…next plan – Friday was looking clear – we would take the day and go for a week hike and picnic in the Gatineau Hills.  Well, that would have worked except for the fact that I ended having a sale extended and having to boogie to get some signatures Friday morning, then a last minute call from a couple only in town for the day wanting to see one of my listings within the next hour, topped off by clients I had been working with for 4 months wanting to put an offer in on something that day!  So….no hike in the woods for us!

We did have a lovely dinner in the market (Byward Market, Ottawa) after I was done work though.  Alas, Saturday dawned, the weather looked less than ideal, no messages, phone calls or pages calling me away, so we loaded up the packs and headed to the Gatineaus.  One of our favourite places is Lac Philippe in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec.  It’s less than 30 minutes away so easy to get to.  We decided to do the hike to Lusk Caves, starting off the inland up hill side, getting to the caves and then walking back along the narrow roadway/path along the Lake.  Photos below are in a very random order but you get the gist.

However, as a Canadian….I may have been somewhat more prepared had I actually packed bug spray….black flies being the worst…mosquitos following behind…….was a bit crazy.  Interesting factoid….bugs come to me, sit on me..but don’t bite me….guess they don’t care for my chemistry.  Johnny however is not immune to these things, poor guy got quite a few black fly bites.  It’s quite interesting though, they seem to amass in one section. You can walk along..and nothing, then all of a sudden you enter a cloud of flies..shades of my youth in the near north of Ontario.  Johnny has a theory that I was probably bitten so often as a child that I’m simply immune to them now – let’s go with that.

OK….before you start looking at my beautiful photos taken on the Samsun Galaxy S6 phone…..we forgot to bring the lunch..so OH DARN….had to stop by Wakefield on the way home and eat at the old train station…the food their was absolutely scrumptious, highly recommend!  It’s name is Cafe Pot-au-Feu clickem HERE  A well deserved break after our 10+ k damp buggy hike!  In fact, I’m not complaining at all, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE walking at this time of year and I think that the world can be more beautiful on a gray day than it is on a sunny day.  I believe my photos below may confirm that 🙂 !!

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Forgot to bring the sandwich for the picnic..oops 🙂

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Hoods and Hats!   To protect from blackflies, mosquitos and rain (mostly blackflies)

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Love this ethereal pond

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Red trilliums not nearly as common as white ones

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White and red trilliums happily co-existing.

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Back at the camp ground on Lac Philippe

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Raindrops on sunroof

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In lieu of packed sandwich

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Fish tacos and salad por moi

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Beet soup and fish tacos por Johnny

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This was a lovely flowering tree

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Nature utilizes everything at hand to survive

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No cave walking today – full of water and no hip waders 🙂

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oops…looks perhaps like partridge feathers…..there were tons of them…no carcass though..a fight perhaps?

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Flowering tree looking over Lac Philippe

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Long Weekend Mini-Get Away!

What a weekend!  As posted previously, Friday was surprise birthday, Saturday Escape Manor – then the girls headed off!  Johnny & I decided the weather was perfect for a trip to the Toronto Zoo!  Toronto was a 5 hour car trip on a beautiful sunny day!  We arrived at 1:30 and spent the next 3.5 hours wandering about in the drop dead gorgeous weather snapping photos of all of our favourite animals!  The draw back to this time of day is that a lot of the animals have been fed and then head off for a siesta after lunch…we didn’t get as up close and personal as I’ve been in the past!  Overall, it was a really great afternoon and we had fun!  From there we headed off to the small town of Cobourg, Ontario!  I haven’t been in Cobourg for years and forgot just how pretty it is.  Nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario with a great harbour front featuring a beautiful marina and a big sandy swimming beach makes it a perfect retirement type of town!  We stayed at The Woodlawn Inn on Division Street, head a great impromptu Turkey Dinner and a bottle of bubbly then retired to our well appointed room with a little balcony!

Next day we did the scenic route home, a little along Lake Ontario then crossed over around Napanee to head toward our next destination Hell Holes near Roblin/Centreville.  The hike is only 3.5 km long but the scenery is beautiful!  Incredible rock formations, a 22′ deep cave to climb into, an ethereal valley to walk through, loved it!  After that we wandered back through Westport, stopped for ice-cream and then reluctantly headed back home with the knowledge that this was probably going to be the last warm weather weekend we would experience in Ontario until Spring (although, we will get a couple of hot weekends in Mexico & Belize in February/Marh)!!

Canada is an awesome country and if you dig a little you can find the some amazing things to do (especially if you are a nature lover)!  We have committed ourselves to enjoying our weekends and this is evidenced in our silly little blog posts of our summer filled with camping, hiking, road trips and the like!  Honestly, this was my best summer ever!  Of course, the fact that I had committed myself up front to losing weight (58 pounds altogether this year), and exercising (hiking counts) as often as I could helped me to thoroughly enjoy everything!  The big challenge now will be winter….I’m not a fan of winter……need to find fun indoor things in Ottawa to do to make my winter go by as quickly as our idyllic summer went!  Any suggestions people?? 🙂 !!

Civic Holiday in the Gatineaus!

An overcast sky with the odd sprinkle of rain didn’t stop Johnny and me from hitting the Gatineau Hills late this morning!  We did the Lauriault and Waterfalls Loop — 3 km – stopped and had our lunch at Mackenzie King Estate, drove up to Champlain Belvedere to soak up the view then back down the hill to Pink Lake Trail — 2.5 km.  The summer sunshine smiled upon us for most of the Pink Lake walk!

A camping we did go…..July 17 to 19th, 2015

If I had my choice I would spend every weekend camping….unfortunately, the nature of my work doesn’t allow for it…..love love love the fresh air…..sleeping on the ground……..sitting by the camp fire…….cooking over a propane stove…….no clue why…..perhaps because it reminds me of ‘once upon a time, long long ago’ 🙂  This weekend was the 3rd weekend we snuck off to camp.  We left around 3:30 on Friday, it was raining, we set up camp in the rain (tarping first).  It rained all evening and crazy heavy in the night, but we remained dry!  I had brought some brain teasing games along and we had a great time in the evening under the tarp trying to figure out word puzzles and brain teasers by the light of our headlamps!  Next day was gorgeous, we went for a number of walks, wandered through the wee village of Fitzroy Harbour, walked one of the scenic trails in the Park and just generally wandered about!  Saturday night was camp fire night and we played a few more brain teasing games!  That night it rained like crazy again, but once again we survived!  Unfortunately, I had to work at 10:45 in the morning, so we got up early, ate our breakfast and broke down our soggy camp, rushed home & I was showing homes by 11:15 a.m., Johnny put my Open House signs up while I was showing houses & then I did my Open House.  An exciting weekend where I managed to relax, get fresh air & work!  The usual photos below 🙂 !

Fitzroy Provincial Park – July 10th!

We had a one night stand (sleep 🙂 in Fitzroy Provincial Park!  My daughter had friends from out of town visiting so we gave up our place for the night and headed out to the park for a campfire night!   Guess what?  You need to bring as much stuff for one night as you do for one week!  Still, it was worth it and we enjoyed the campfire, the hike in the morning and the relaxation!   We took the long route home, Quyon Ferry through the Gatineaus, took a drive around Meech Lake (would have stopped but NO parking)…..then back  home!  We may just do another ‘one nighter’ in a few weeks (I’m booked to work every Sunday until our vacay in August)!  The usual photos of our wandering!   This time taken with my new phone – Samsun Galaxy S6 (forgot the Nikon D5500 in our haste to pack)!

National Capital Green Belt – Trails # 25, 26, 28

Life is busy/topsy turvy these days, and we are grabbing our hikes where we can!   After putting up my Open House signs this morning, we headed out to the edge of Bridlewood once again and did a hike that came out to around 6 km.  It was sunny and warm, but the trails were partially covered and there was a nice breeze – always GREAT when there is no humidity!  We started out at P10 and our first stop was the old Lime Kiln ruins.   We discovered along the way there had been a fire in that area back in 2012 (and we really can’t figure out why we didn’t know that :).  As a result there was a lot of dead wood but now 3 years later there is a lot of new growth – bushes/trees starting.

We came across most of our usual suspects, birds, chipmunks, squirrels & a snake.  One of the trails is on a Beaver pond and there was a nice big Beaver hut, always a pleasure to see one, but alas no beaver in sight!

My new phone has a fitness app and it recorded my steps as 12,307 – which translates into 9.37 km…I’m pretty sure we didn’t walk that far…our estimates based on the lengths of the various trails were in the 6 km range…who knows 🙂  Still using the new Nikon D5500 as a ‘point & shoot’ – but hopefully soon I will have the time to start doing the online courses to teach myself the finer points!

Camping – Murphy’s Point

Johnny, my daughter Sandra & her husband Morgan & I went on a spur of the moment camping trip!  We downsized our camping gear last year to nothing but a tent & sleeping bags, so I had to do some last minute scrambling to get everything we would need for a weekend away.  Once there, we realized it was going to rain for the whole 2nd night into the next day, so once again had to scramble to buy some tarps to cover up!  I love tarping campsites….not sure why, but I do – in my past life I was known as the Tarpaulin Queen (ok, perhaps self-apponted) 🙂  First group of photos here are close-ups of the wildlife we encountered along the way (excluding mosquitos and ticks)….poor Topanga being a low slung dog ended up with a belly full of ticks 😦

Murphy’s Point (website here) is only 94 km from our home, the perfect distance and a pleasant drive!  It’s just outside the quaint little town of Perth, Ontario (website here) and it’s on Big Rideau Lake which is part of the Rideau System that runs from the St. Lawrence Seaway right through to Ottawa.  It has a number of nice hiking trails, a variety of historic buildings and an abandoned Mine.  We had the very worst campsite (as we booked las tmoment) – right next to the privy and garbage – but heck, when I got up in the middle of the night I was ‘close’!!!  We ate traditional camping food, hot dogs, weiners & beans with eggs & cold cuts for breakfast!  The 4 of us went on one hike about 5 km and then Johnny & I went on a 2nd hike to the mine which was 2.5 km.

Saturday night we played Euchre (Morgan & Johnny are Euchre newbies), Sandra has some experience and I’m a Euchre shark that taught them all the aggressive Euchre playing techniques I know 🙂

I took hundreds of photos with the new camera, unfortunately, I haven’t done any of the on-line courses for it yet, so essentially, it was point & shoot on auto setting.  I hope to learn how to take better more interesting photos down the road! Morgan & Sandra left fairly early on Sunday morning, but Johnny & I hung in drinking coffee under the tarp watching the amazing fire that we had built (in spite of the rain)……of course, we discovered ‘liquid’ fire starter, which goes a long way to make the fire roar!!

Did I mention that we are the little tent campers with no mattress?  Hardy souls we are 🙂

In the past few weeks we have become obsessed with the locks along the Rideau system.  The locks are great places to stop and go to the washroom in a clean setting 🙂  They are also lovely areas for picnics, small walks/hikes & simply to watch the locks and boaters in action.  I didn’t take any photos yesterday but on the way home we stopped by Narrow Locks (click here), Newboro Locks (click here) and Poonmalie Locks (click here).  The Narrows are my favourite because they have bigger open water on both sides, lots of picnic places, a really nice blockhouse AND they have a swing bridge.  It was pouring rain, but at each lock we wandered around taking in the sights.  We ‘picniced’ in the car at Newboro and then went into the best store in the world and one you shouldn’t miss if  you are in Newboro/Westport area – click HERE to see Kilborn’s website!  Their web presence doesn’t do them justice, they have the most amazing array of clothing, shoes, furniture, jewelry and the list goes on…all latest fashion and high end.  If you’ve never been your jaw will drop as you walk through (don’t miss the upstairs)!

Beveridge Locks – Rideau/Tay River

Beautiful summer day!  We headed out to Beveridge Locks where they have a one way 2 km trail, so that was 4 k altogether then we did a bit of walking around for a total of about 5 km.  Locks are terrific places to go and hang around, there was lots of traffic along the canal.  They have washrooms!  We also had our chairs and sat for a little while in the shade.  While we were there we came across a group of canoers.  I spoke with one of them and discovered they were a group of artists from all over Canada on a canoe journey from Kingston to Ottawa.  Once in Ottawa they will be showing their work which I believe may have been produced along the 200 km canoe journey.  The canoe event is called Channel Surf and described as a collaborative anarchive performance 🙂  Click Here for More Info  Their exhibition will be on June 27th at Gallery 101 in Ottawa.  I love the stuff we are running into on our wee jaunts about the country side.  Today’s wildlife consisted of a bird that I have no idea what type it is (the kind that they make tall roosting platforms for) (it’s an Osprey)!!!  It was a Mom & Dad and possibly there were chicks in the nest.  Quite spectacular, I did attempt to film.  Others stars of today;s walk included many frogs, a chubby snake and a host of wild flowers!

Mill of Kintail

This is a lovely area run by Mississippi Conservation Authority outside of Almonte Ontario.  A lovely old mill with a river running through it and a variety of all season trails for walking, hiking, cross country skiing.  Our walk today was about 5 km. Click here for Mill of Kintail Website

National Capital Greenbelt – Trail # 31

3.9 Km trail starting at the south/east corner behind Nepean Sportsplex.  Very flat, lots of shade, talls stands of pines, a wee incline up a ridge.  Great for biking and family walks.  They have a series of Fitness apparatus on one of the shorter loops that are kind of fun to test your strength and balance skills.

I managed to find what I believe was a red trillium at the early stages of

ry little rain and everything is starting to dry.

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