Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trip Log: Mew Lake, Aug 20-22, 2012

This trip was supposed to happen at the end of July, when my brother was home from California, but we had to reschedule, and unfortunately, he didn't get to go.  He missed out.  We had a really great time, and we ate so much food, I think I probably gained ten pounds, if not more.

Because we weren't very organized, we didn't get to the park until after four.  We had two sites, both on the water and while we weren't expecting them to be great, we were pleasantly surprised.  There wasn't much shade, but they were large enough and we had fun stargazing while we sat around the fire.  We set up our tents, then started on dinner.  Now, I should tell you, this trip was all about the dutch ovens.  Mum and I each took a dinner and a breakfast and had to come up with a meal.

Dinner for night one was spiced pork tenderloins, cheesy au gratin potatoes and orange chocolate dump cake.  The dessert was a complete experiment.  See, I've read tons of variations on the "dump cake" for a dutch oven...and made an apple spice one for my oven's maiden voyage, but I wanted to try one with chocolate cake.  I think all I ever saw were ones made with cherry pie fill, then chocolate cake mix and sprite or butter pads on top.  I don't like cherry pie...hate the stuff.  But I do like orange flavoured chocolate so I started to think....hmmmm....I'll post the recipe and results in a separate entry.

While mum and I cooked, Chris and the kids played baseball and Chris worked on untangling the fishing rods. He also made an attempt at fly fishing from the beach at our site, mostly just to work on his casting technique.

8", 10" and deep 12" ovens, making dinner

Now, I should confess, I was giggling a lot while we made dinner.  We had three dutch ovens going, and had them stacked...it made us look like we really knew what we were doing.  I refused to believe the food would suck. How could it, when the pots looked so cool stacked up like that?  Lucky for us, everything was yummy, even the kids went back for several helpings and pretty much scraped the pot of potatoes clean.  As for the cake?  It sort of became like a pudding cake, you  know, the kind that makes it's own gooey sauce?  It tasted good, and the kids scraped the pot clean of dessert as well.

Chris and I saw a rabbit when we biked the garbage down to the bins.

Dad had gotten a fire going, while we were cooking dinner, so the kids toasted a few marshmallows and went to bed.  It should also be mentioned that we had three dogs with us on this trip.  My parent's dog, Lucky, hates people on bicycles...not sure why, but he goes nuts when he sees them.  Also, he barks every time someone walks by our site.  In this we were lucky because there was hardly anyone in the section of Mew Lake where our sites were, so there wasn't many people out at night.

Our dogs are old, and don't bark at anything.  Dixie has been pretty frail lately, but she loves to camp because she can spend all day with Chris, and sleep beside him at night too.  Kenobi just likes to be in the back of the SUV or in the tent.  We were sort of worried that a camping trip might do Dixie in, but she was fine.  She mostly slept in the tent, but a few times she ventured down to the water to splash around.

At about 2 in the morning, we heard a commotion from the people to the left of our site.  Dad got out of the tent and scanned the area with the flashlight, and saw several raccoons trying to get into the other camper's truck.  He had one of those soft covers on it.  We didn't give it much thought because two of the raccoons had come to sniff around the tent Chris and I were sharing with the dogs (the kids were with mum and dad in the big tent next door) The dogs had spilled a handful of kibble on the ground and the raccoons were cleaning it up.  Lucky was barking like crazy at the sound of animals outside the tent...Dixie and Kenobi didn't stop snoring.

Half an hour later, the park warden pulled up to our neighbours and asked if they'd called in a bear.  The guy said he had, and I lay there listening to them talk for about ten minutes while the second ranger did a walk around to see if the bear was still there.  Now...dad had seen raccoons on the truck...I can't imagine them being there if a bear was there too, but the next morning, I talked to our neighbour and he said the rangers had said it was definitely a bear.

Who was right?  Well, the other camper hadn't seen a bear, and for an animal that had been ripping and tearing at the soft cover of a pick up for half an hour, it didn't do much damage (bears will rip one to shreds pretty quickly) Also, it didn't eat much, just some bread and a few nibbles of dog kibble.  Did the ranger tell the guy it was a bear to scare him into storing his food in the cab of the truck? (please note, a soft cover on your truck isn't considered bear proof, so don't count on it to deter a scavenging animal, even smaller ones...)  Or is my dad's eyesight really bad and he mistook 3 raccoons for one small bear? I know it was racoons outside our site.  Chris and I saw watched them eating for a while. I guess we'll never know. Either way, the guy and his two daughters will have a story to tell their friends about their trip to Algonquin.
Early morning at Mew Lake

The next morning, it was chilly and there was a bit of fog on the lake when I got up at around 6:30.  Since nobody else was up, I took Kenobi for a little walk, then sat on the picnic table and watched a few early risers paddle their canoes around the lake through the fog.  This is something I've always wanted to do, but whenever I get out there, the fog seems to disappear.

Mum and Dad usually don't sleep in, and we had breakfast on the go by 7:30.  The original recipe for my breakfast was called "Girl Scout's Breakfast" and was basically a frittata made in the dutch oven.  It was yummy and very filling.  The kids didn't have any, they don't like eggs, and had Cheerios instead.

Chris took the kids fishing while breakfast was cooking, then after we ate, he cleaned up while I took Mum, Dad and the kids to the water fall where Chris and I had hiked to during our yurt stay in April. The water is much lower now, as expected, and rather than one large water fall, there are two smaller ones with a nice sitting spot in the middle.  Squatchie immediately took off his shoes and started jumping from rock to rock, exploring the other side of the river.  He's like his father that way, nimble and adventurous.  Bubbie is like me...a little more cautious.  Her explorations were less rock hopping, and more like an imitation of Smeagol from the Lord of The Rings movies...so we have now dubbed Smeagolling a new word, defined as the act of crawling your way over rocks in the middle of a river.

When we got back to camp, Chris was standing waist deep in the lake, fishing and not having much luck. Chris and I made lunch, pizzas in the dutch ovens, while Mum, Dad and the kids went to the Two River's Store for treats.  The kids had pepperoni pizza while the adults had chicken fajita pizza.  The kids both picked off the pepperoni because they said the kind I'd gotten was too spicy.  If they'd told me that after I made them pizza with it a few nights ago, I wouldn't' have bothered packing it along.  Along with our pizza, Mum had made a chickpea salad which was very good. I'll have to get the recipe for it before she forgets which book she found it in.

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Mum and I biked the garbage out and went around to the far end of the radio free/pet free section of Mew Lake to take a picture of our sites from across the lake.  We told the kids to watch for us and wave.  The canoeist nearby thought the kids were waving at them, so kept waving back.  Then Squatchie started dancing and wiggling his butt.  I'm not entirely sure the canoeists knew what to make of that.

The plan was for Chris and I to hike the main loop of the Track and Tower interpretive trail but after eating so much food, my stomach was a little upset and it was raining off and on, so Chris ended up having a nap.  The rest of us went to check out the Opeongo Outfitters and get ice cream (I know...but my stomach felt better by the time we decided to leave...) I got the kids Algonquin Park buffs, and they had fun figuring out all the ways people wear them on Survivor. When we got back to the site, Chris was awake and was attempting to carve a gnome from a piece of wood.  The current result looks slightly demonic, not at all the result he was going for.

For Mum's turn at dinner, she made Chicken and Rice casserole. It was a really simple meal to put together, and though it doesn't look stunning in the pot, it's very yummy.  The kids took one look at it and asked if there was anything else, but we made them try at least a little, and if they didn't like it they could have a hotdog. They ended up fighting over the last half of chicken breast, and again, scraped the bottom of the pot to get the last of the rice. Chris and I did bike to the water falls while mum's dinner cooked.

Mum also made a pie for dessert.  It was a simple- canned pie fill and frozen pie crust but she fancied it up with a little decorative cutting to the top crust.

Mum's apple pie. Yum!
The stars were really amazing the second night.  The skies had cleared and we saw several shooting stars.  We also saw a really bright light move really quickly across the sky, about 10 times faster than a plane, then it would get dim and disappear before reappearing and heading back the opposite way.

There were no bears or raccoons the second night, of course we were all pretty tired from being awake listening to them the night before, so maybe there were and we just didn't hear them. We did hear coyotes across the lake though. I woke up to the sound of a fire going in Mum and Dad's site at around 7:30, so I went to investigate and get some coffee going.

Very foggy on the lake the second morning
The fog was a lot thicker than the previous morning, even though I'd gotten up an hour later. It was also pretty chilly.  The kids fished from the shore (right behind where the little blue and white tent is, there's a small beach) but didn't get any nibbles.  In fact, they didn't have much luck at all the entire trip.

By this time, we'd all pretty much glutted ourselves on food for two days and weren't all that excited about breakfast.  The kids had Cheerios and rather than the recipe Mum had planned to make, we inverted the lid for her dutch oven on the grate of the fire and cooked up the sausages, then some canned, sliced potatoes.  We used the pot part of the dutch oven to cook scrambled eggs with some onion and green pepper, then made breakfast burritos with a little salsa.  Despite us all being so stuffed, there was only a little bit of leftovers to share with the dogs.

The kids were really excited to rock hop with their dad since he hadn't been with us the last time, so we biked back after breakfast.  Squatchie fell in...then had fun sitting on the ledges in the waterfall.  He ended up wearing his buff like a tube top, like the women on survivor do, and Bubbie was doing the same thing...Chris kept joking about how pretty our two daughters were.

It didn't take us long to pack up.  We stopped at the Portage Store on Canoe Lake to get ice cream and check out their store.  The restaurant there is very cool, and we will definitely head there for a lunch on our next trip.  Also, it was really neat seeing just how many canoes were on the lake.  I'd read that it was the busiest canoe launch spot in the park, but I hadn't really imagined it being like that, and that was on a Wednesday!  I'd love to be there around noon on a Friday to see all the canoes heading out for the start of a back country trip.

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