Friday, August 19, 2016

Trip Log: Algonquin Park - Canisbay Campground, October 10-13, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner in the Dutch Oven
Thanksgiving in Algonquin!  This was our second time so in my mind that means a precedent has been set, and from now on that's how we celebrate Thanksgiving.

We had been undecided on if we'd be going or not, but after our trip two weeks ago, Mum and I and the kids had pretty much decided yes, we'd be going.  Dad wasn't so sure, but the promise of turkey lured him in.  So since we didn't decide until late, there were no sites available.  I kept my eye out a few times a day for cancellations and we lucked out and got a decent one at Canisbay.  On the map, it looked like it backed onto the area with the comfort station.  In reality, we had to follow a trail through the back of the site then go down the road a bit, but it was still pretty close incase of a late night trip.

We arrived fairly early, at least Dad and I did.  Mum and the kids arrived a little later in her car since they had to pick up a few last minute groceries.  We got our permit and were mostly done setting the trailer up before the others arrived (Chris wouldn't be arriving until Saturday.)

It was a bit chilly and we were a little worried we wouldn't be warm at night but we had lots of blankets.  Supper was spaghetti with ceaser salad.  We'd made the sauce at home and just had to heat it up.  The dogs, especially my parent's dog, Lucky, love spaghetti and they mooched like crazy while we ate.  There was only enough left over for Lucky which was fine.  He always gets a bit when mum and dad make it at home, and Biscuit doesn't really so he wasn't going to be too upset.

After dinner, I was on the way back from the comfort station when I saw a guy walk into the site beside us.  I didn't recognize him as one of the people there, but he said hi as if he knew them so I didn't think much of it.  He walked to the back of the trailer went behind it and then cut through to our site and walked right through it too.  It was really weird.  At first  I thought maybe he was lost or drunk or something, trying to find his own site in the dark, but I also wondered if maybe he was just one of those people that don't get that you don't walk through someone else's site as a short cut.  This has happened a lot, but never had we seen someone cut through multiple sites like that.

A few minutes later I went to the comfort station laundry room to fill up the wash basin (not doing dishes there, just getting hot water.) and there was someone standing halfway down the little trail into our site.  I asked if I could help him and he politely asked to borrow a lighter.  I gave him mine, not at all convinced I'd get it back but we had lots and it was just a dollar store one anyway.

Evening on Canisbay Lake
Dad and I did up the dishes then decided to go down to the beach and see if we could get any decent night shots.  The moon behind the clouds gave us some interesting shots, but it was pretty cold, and when a bit of a breeze kicked up, it got too chilly to be messing around with metal tripods, so we headed back to camp.

Sleep was surprisingly comfortable.  We had the trailer's furnace set fairly low, and left a small electric space heater going all night.  The furnace only cut in occasionally, and the electric heater kept the temperature from dropping too rapidly. The kids and I each had our regular summer sleeping bags with polar fleece liners, then they had a comforter and I had Chris's sleeping bag open like a blanket. Before we went to the beach, I had sent a text to Chris to bring more blankets when he came up, but we didn't really need them.  At one point I was too hot and had to kick off the extra sleeping bag.  Biscuit helped keep us warm too.

The young man who had borrowed my lighter gave it back that morning.  Then I heard him asking people if they had jumper cables because his battery had died.  We are pretty sure they slept in their car that night because it was cold.  They got their boost and headed out pretty quickly, and not long after, another group of young people showed up.  Two guys got out and set up the tents while the girls (their girl friends?) sat in the car.

And here's where I have to have a mini-rant.  What's up with people carrying make up bags to camp that are bigger and heavier than a day pack?  Every time we went to the bathroom there'd be five or six young women touching up their make up, washing their faces (and doing some weird cheek slapping thing for a minute at a time)  One girl loaded on a bunch of creams and berry scented perfume at about 10pm and we kept thinking a bear would smell them and come running.  Trying to brush our teeth at night was a lengthy and sort of embarrassing procedure.  Lengthy because we had to wait forever for a sink to become available (cause God forbid your mascara not be perfect for hanging out with your boyfriend in the pitch dark) and embarrassing because there we were with Ziploc freezer bags holding nothing but a toothbrush and toothpaste.  Anyway, I don't get it, but I'm not in my twenties trying to impress a guy, so what do I know.  I sort of figured it would be more impressive to a guy to be unafraid of getting dirty and back to nature, but then I didn't grow up in a city either.

Rant over!

Dad had forgotten to bring his pills, so he and Mum did a quick run home.  The kids and I had a quick breakfast and then spent the morning walking around with the dog.  Biscuit is pretty high energy (make that super high energy) and a lot of walking means he's not a spaz in the trailer.

When mum and dad got back, we had some wraps and tortellini soup (forgot to add the beans) for lunch, then mum stayed with the dogs while the rest of us went out to see if we could find some good photo ops.  In all honesty, there wasn't much.  The sky was a dull grey, the trails were really busy, and it was colder than the day before with a bit of a breeze as well.  We drove to Opeongo, then went out to Whitney to buy some dry(ish) wood.  On the way back we stopped at Two River's Store for ice cream.  It was packed!  Considering the store closes as of Thanksgiving Monday, we were worried there wouldn't be much ice cream flavours to choose from, but there was lots.

Since Chris was supposed to be arriving today, but we had no idea what time, we held off on making dinner.  I figured he'd get there around 9pm, but it ended up being closer to ten.  We ended up eating at around 7.  Dinner that night was tex mex tortilla lasagna.  I forgot to add the baby chard and kale to the beans and peppers when I was making the sauce, but it was yummy.  We had Chipotle BBQ Chop Chop salad with it then pumpkin pie for dessert.

Despite the cold, we sat around the fire a bit that night.  We hadn't bothered with a fire the night before, since Dad and I had gone to take pictures and when we got back squatch was asleep.  He hadn't brushed his teeth and it was all we could do to get him to move out of my mum's bed to his own sleeping bag.  This night, he couldn't find his toothbrush.  (I later found it at the bottom of my sleeping bag.)

Sunday morning was a bit warmer (my nostrils didn't freeze together) when I got up and took Biscuit for a walk.  When I got back, we started breakfast.  The plan for the day was to have a big breakfast so we could skip lunch because it was Turkey Dinner Day!  We had potato and pepper hash, pea meal bacon and french toast.  Mum and dad got to try out the griddle we got them for their Coleman BBQ and it worked really well, especially for the french toast.  It doesn't have much of a lip around the edge so it was a little touch and go when trying to stir up the hash, but all in all, it worked great.

Waterfall on the Madawaska River
After dishes were done, we thought we'd go do the Whiskey Rapids trail.  It was apparently open, and we'd been dying to find out how much the trail had changed after last spring's high water.  Unfortunately, the trail was really packed and with Biscuit being a bit unpredictable around people lately, we decided not to risk it.  Instead, we drove to Mew Lake and walked to the water fall.  No people on the trail and only a few at the falls themselves made for a much less stressful hike.  We took some pictures, saw lots and lots of wolf scat, and then headed to the Two River's Store for ice cream.

Mum and dad had gone for a drive to the Visitor's Centre so mum could email work.  We ended up getting back to the campground at the exact same time.  Now it was time to start cooking dinner.  It was about 1pm and we had a turkey to roast.

The turkey was still a little frozen inside, and unfortunately wouldn't fit perfectly even in our biggest (14") dutch oven so we covered it in foil then squished the lid on as best as we could.  Once the bird was cooking, we got started on the sides.  Foil wrapped carrots, foil wrapped parsnip, foil wrapped brussels sprouts (yum!) as well as potatoes and turnip.

After an hour we started to think maybe the briquets would take too long.  Dad had a fire going and for once it was a decent fire (yay for good wood) so we piled all the briquets on top of the lid then put the dutch oven onto the fire.

Now there was nothing left to do but wait.  The kids buried Chris in leaves, Biscuit caught his tail on fire (well, it singed the tip of the wasn't on fire I guess) and we got to sit and enjoy the decent weather.

Eventually, the turkey was done.  The top got burned where it had been smooshed against the lid, but then again, we'd put about 30 briquets on the top so it's not surprising.  But the insides were nice and juicy.  We got ready to take everything inside and then realized Chris hadn't brought the two boxes of Stove Top Stuffing from the counter.  To save space in the car, we left all the thanksgiving dinner stuff at home for him to bring up, and I'd left him a only had like 5 things on it but I guess in his rush to get going, he forgot.  We made fun of him all night for ruining thanksgiving.  We also had coleslaw and cranberry sauce and gravy.  Awesome dinner and there was even spice dump cake.

While we ate, we talked about how we sort of felt guilty for skipping out on the big dinners we'd been invited to, but all agreed that it was worth it to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in a place we all loved so much.

After dinner, we cleaned up.  There wasn't much in the way of dishes since a lot had been cooked in foil and we'd used paper plates.  We sat around the fire for a while then went to bed.

For our last morning, we had one eyed buffalos as well as fried potatoes made from the left over potatoes from dinner.  We didn't hang around long mostly because the camp ground closed  at 2 and we'd been told it would be appreciated by the staff if all the campers left by then.  Mum took the kids home with her, while dad, Chris and I took the trailer down.  Dad drove home with his dog, while Chris and I had Biscuit with us.

Such a great weekend.  A lot of people left on Sunday probably so as to be home for family dinners, so it was really quiet for our last night.  We ended up with a lot of left over turkey.  Last year, we simply took a breast and 2 drumsticks and it was enough for all of us, but I had 3 frozen turkeys in my freezer that I wanted out of there.

It was also interesting to note the number of people who simply weren't prepared for the weather.  The young man who borrowed the lighter, the group of four who set up on the same site next, and at least 2 other groups of people in their early twenties all seemed to have trouble.  Most of them seemed to have their cars running all night, possibly they all slept in their cars.  I felt really bad for them all.  On one hand it was a learning experience, and maybe next time they'll have more of an idea of what to expect when fall camping, on the other hand, the experience might have soured them toward camping all together.

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