Algonquin in Winter

This past long weekend, I finally made it out skiing.  Not just any old skiing, but a trip to Algonquin.  I love Algonquin – not even just the park… the whole area.  Anywhere from Algonquin to Northern Ontario (anyone who’s been to Sioux Lookout knows Algonquin Park isn’t in ‘Northern Ontario’… not really), give me wilderness.  The woods, the trails, the lakes the rivers, the rustling of the leaves.  If I could live in the woods and commute a reasonable distance to my work (or just not work at all), I wouldn’t even hesitate.  If I could live up there, but couldn’t take technology with me, you all might just be lucky enough to get a brief final note from me.  “Gone forever to woods, bye”, maybe.  

My hermit-type habits are a discussion for another day, though, because I wasn’t solo on this trip.  I didn’t even sleep in a tent!

My friend S (my friend who does cross-country skiing too), Gwynn, and I stayed at the Motel 6 in Huntsville.  If you’re looking for a dog-friendly place to stay in that area, I cannot recommend them enough.  They don’t charge extra for (or make a fuss about) dogs, they actually welcome them!  They might have really weird motel-6 sheets, but just look at what they gave Gwynn when we got there!

poop bags (gentle reminder, I’ll take it), a ball, and an assortment of cookies. The last place I’d stayed at with Gwynn before this tried to claim that they had no ‘pet friendly’ rooms available, and that their records didn’t show that we’d called and booked and said we were bringing the dog. it’s a nice change

We drove up Saturday morning at some unholy hour, stopping on our way up at Henrietta’s – this amazing bakery between Huntsville and Algonquin.  Try their Muskoka Clouds, or their bread… or anything, really.

We spent our morning attempting to ski one of the ungroomed trails.  It was a learning experience, and what I learned was simple:  A trail I remember as being flat-ish in summer is not necessarily a good trail for skiing!  It was lovely, though.

When we stopped by the front gate to get a day-permit to the park, we were told of three spots where the trails were groomed.  And no-dogs-allowed.  Well that’s just no fun, though I could understand it.  It put a bit of a cramp in our plan until I remembered the Rail Trail.  For those of you not often in Algonquin, it’s a bicycle trail (in summer) that runs along where there used to be a lumber train through the park.  Even ungroomed, that trail would be guaranteed to be flat!

My suspicion about why this trail isn’t advertised as groomed is that, having an access right in Mew Lake Campground (one of the few that remains open in the winter), they expected the trail to get at least partly ruined by all the people walking on it.  I feel no guilt about bringing the dog out on that trail, especially not after witnessing the number of walking groups that came out and almost on purpose walked directly on the ski lines.  For those of you who don’t cross-country ski – if you see those perfectly spaced ski-trail lines?  Don’t walk on them!

I also had a chance to take out a coworker’s snowshoes.  Gwynn was unimpressed at my ability to completely block the trail when he was trying to get through, but I definitely appreciated them on the steep parts of the trail – they had a lot more grip than my boots would have, and I didn’t need to slide down on my bum or clamber up hoisting myself from tree to tree.

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We also had pie and deep fried foods and were asleep before 10pm, so you just know it was a good time.

Gone Campin’

There is nothing I love so much as being in the woods.  The prospect of a trip north leaves me giddy and making lists, even if it’s just for a weekend.  Since Gwynn is back up north with my family, it’s doubly exciting to go up.  After all – what’s better than the woods?  Seeing one’s pooch for the first time in a week.

It might just be one of the most wonderful things… to be greeted with such absolute love and happiness.

This trip, I drove up with some friends of Doodle’s (and mine).  One advantage of this is that we actually got some photographs of the drive up!

Another is that K has a fancy camera, an artistic eye, and an enjoyment of taking pictures.  Any pictures with unusual colouring are definitely hers.  Other pictures, it’s probably equal chances being from my camera or hers.

Fiddling with colours…
… and artistic 🙂

It was considerably chillier up there than it has been most of the summer.  And rainy, though we lucked out with clear skies friday night, saturday morning, and sunday morning.

I’m kind of in love with her camera’s selective colour options
K & S … Doodle had to work on Sunday, unfortunately, so she missed out on hiking shenanigans
Gwynn found some puddles after all that rain
He’s very good at recall lately, and we practice a lot… still, on trails in this kind of woodland, I let him drag the long-line for short stretches, and call him back often.

We had a great trip, even with the rain.  Less fun… the trip home.

two lane undivided highway + Sunday afternoon cottage traffic + an accident closing the southbound lane = usually 4 hour drive extended to nearly 7… shoot me now.
a better picture to leave you with… sometimes Gwynn chickens out after he gets up on the rocks. Or his ‘getting up’ point is too close to a very long drop for my sanity.

Creature of Habit

They say that dogs are creatures of habit.  They want – need – that solid schedule that they chart on their internal clock.  This is the time to eat.  This is the time we got for walks.  Now.  Seriously, don’t mess with my routine.

There are some that suggest that people start to take after their dogs.

Appearance-wise, I would like to think I’m missing that particular sharing of attributes.  Habits are hard to break, though, which is why this weekend, the question I asked with most regularity was, “Anyone want to go for a walk?”

This weekend we headed out to Ottawa.  Without the dog.

The first time (apart from when he got fixed) that Gwynn was entirely separated from all persons in our family.  He stayed at the house, along with my good friend who has spent enough time at our house that you’d think Gwynn would stop barking at the door when she comes by.

walks without the dog mean... more pictures of random pretty houses... that happen to be in the exact opposite direction from where you were planning on walking. Clearly Gwynn has the sense of direction

It was… weird.  I woke up at the crack of dawn, jackknifed upright with a twinge in my back from the discomfort of having slept on a pull-out-couch mattress, hazily gathering my thoughts before gathering the clothes to meet public decency requirements, and remember.  Right.  Go back to sleep.  Or at least lie down on that godforsaken monstrosity until a more appropriate hour.

Would it be inappropriate to text home a gentle reminder about poop bags?

I held off texting until noon that first full day, barely.  Is everything ok?  Is the dog alive?  Are you alive?  Was he ok being left when you went to that Passover dinner?  Does he miss me?

Apparently paranoia is contagious, because my pet-sitter extraordinaire spent the second half of her dinner festivities anxiously checking the clock, and fretting.  Had Gwynn gone pee in his last trip outside?  What if he had to do his business?  What if he was dead?  What IF?!

a sign I saw in the ByWard market

We went for an early lunch at the Elgin Street Diner.  It was featured on You Gotta Eat Here, a Canadian food tv equivalent to Diners Drive-ins and Dives, so we were very excited to try their poutine.  It was glorious – so were the home-made baked beans (I split the Blue Plate Breakfast with my mum… and we had food leftover).  One thing I strongly recommend you do differently than us if you do go – don’t order a whole poutine for yourself.  My dad barely made it through half of his, and we didn’t eat again until after 8pm, and then it was just appetizers.  So – share your poutine, or accept the fact that when you’re done, it will likely look like you hadn’t started yet.

the ceiling. Seriously, when you're at this museum, remember to take the time to look up, throughout the exhibits.

After that, we went to the Museum of Civilization in Hull.  I can’t even express how much I highly recommend this museum.  We felt a bit like interlopers in the Childrens’ museum (a whole entertaining section of the museum), a surreal and hands-on series of rooms full of excitedly shrieking kids and their parents.  The rest of the exhibits are amazing, informative without being dull, and presented fantastically.  People with Children – your kids would enjoy the entirety of the museum, from the History of Canada exhibit (complete with giant boat, faux-outhouse, and a ‘guess that fur’ exhibit), to the Native American exhibits, complete with full warrior armour, shaman outfit, and replica of a dig site.  People without Children – you will enjoy this museum!

mop? dog? doesn't matter - it's happy to see you!

We arrived on Friday afternoon.  I dragged Doodle on a long pre-dinner walk.  Saturday, I got my fill of walking through a museum, and Sunday, we walked the By Ward market.  I got my fill of puppy there when I met the most delightfully adorable Puli dog and his owner who was kind enough to not be too alarmed when I just about ran her down on the street.  Pulis on google-images are hilarious and adorable.  On the street, they’re adorable, though given time, I’m sure he’d have been more hilarious than simply “I’m a mop”.  I dragged Doodle out for an early morning walk on Monday before we left, and hardly got home after the long drive before my most enthusiastic walking partner and I were headed out.

It was nice to have a bit more freedom to do indoor type things in Ottawa this time around.  Gwynn survived his four days without family, and so did my pet-sitter.  Overall, though, I think I prefer a vacation with the dog.

How do you deal with the change of schedule in vacations without dogs?  Do you embrace it?  Or is it time for a walk?