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Gluten-free Pancakes on Canisbay
August 3 2010

My daughter is seven and I feel we can start embarking on little adventures. While my wife is a staunch proponent of civilization comforts such as kitchen and bathroom, I don’t mind roughing it once in a while, provided there is a company of like minded companions. Luckily Rebecca’s best friend’s father is an experienced camper and we book two nights in Algonquin Park’s Canisbay lake. We decide to go to a canoe-in camp site to get a real sense of being out in a wild.

Before we know it (well, after daily and then hourly count down by Rebecca) we are there. The first surprise is with whomever I made the booking mistakenly gave us a site on the main shore. Then we find out that the canoe booking was taken by someone who is not even associated with Canisbay lake, with no cell phone reception available, we have to use a public phone to call the right portage store to rent a canoe. In the process we get educated on the fact that each site in Algonquin is a privately operated franchise, courtesy of the Mike Harris government. The problem is without the central coordinating authority it’s up to the consumer to ensure all pieces of puzzle fit together, such as the Canisbay clerk tells us we have to park the van about a kilometre away by water from the canoe loading site, however when we ask the canoe delivery guys to drop off the canoe right there, they are happy to oblige.

Finally, the canoe is loaded and the four of us are paddling looking for a camping site. Apparently, the interior sites are not in the computer system and therefore occupied on the ‘first come-first serve’ basis. Once we settled, the tent is put up and we are out for a swim in the warm waters on our sandy beach. The backpack with our bug spray is forgotten at home, despite the last minute check, so we get bitten, but not too bad, considering we are deep in the woods. The forest air is warm, with intermittent showers, which makes the steak cooking on our campfire a bit of a challenge. Finally we are ready to eat. I have never seen my seven year old devour her food so fast, and without a single complaint. After dinner the food is packed and hung high on a tree away from our tent. Last thing we want is a visit from a hungry bear deep in the woods with two seven year old girls around. We stay late talking around campfire, playing Kangaroo court, having a great time.
Luckily we brought an air mattress for the girls, so Maya and Rebecca are comfortable and fast asleep, Ken and I struggle for a while, but fatigue and fresh air take their toll.

Next morning, since he is allergic to wheat, Ken is cooking gluten-free pancakes on his portable natural gas stove, they taste great, any hot food does out here, for that matter. After a swim we are off to exploring our lake on the canoe, we walk a bit on a portage path we find, than canoe back to the main shore for a brief visit to the store - girls want ice cream. Later in the afternoon we are on the lake on our way back to the camp, the weather is changing fast, straight ahead the sky is dark and we paddle madly racing the storm to the shore watching the spectacular lighting show moving closer. We just make it and hide in the tent, listen to the drum of the rain, girls are happy. Suddenly the storm is gone, the sky is blue, we cook the rest of the steak, then tired and happy, with the food safely up on a tree, we are off to the land of Nod.

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, the air is very cool, I wake up feeling that my bladder needs emptying, but outside looks very dark and cold even though its mid-July. I see Ken coming back, he noticed I am awake and tells me to get out and look at the stars. At first I feel reluctant, then again I’ve got to get up anyways. Rebecca is fast asleep. Once outside I am completely flabbergasted by the indescribable beauty of the incredibly starry skies. Never clearly seen in the cities, the stars and constellations, and the Milky Way are presented in some fantastical hyperclear 3D show, I can’t take my eyes off the sky. Back in the tent I lie awake for an hour totally under impression of the unforgettable night sky. I regret not waking up my daughter, but she would’ve been too cranky, sleepy and cold to enjoy it. Next time.

On the way home we stop for lunch in the Canoe lake restaurant, their Tom Thomson burger is great. The famous painter whose name it bears died on this lake under mysterious circumstances, but the mesmerizing beauty of the place lives on in his works.

Rebecca wants to go camping again next year, back will we be.

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Comments from Our Readers

  "Very nice story of our trip. Its nice for the girls to read and remember. I liked the part about the storm and stars. NIce work Stan " - Ken/Maya, August 4 2010 - reply

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