Monday, July 31, 2006

Photo Contest

On last years trip Gerry and I shared a digital camera and that worked out well and provided us with some great pictures. This year it will be much different, as now we each have our own cameras and will be going head-to-head in our privite competition to get "the shot".

Despite the fact the Gerry and I are far from professional photographers, we managed to get some very good pictures last year and plan to build on those with some technical shots as we play with shutter speed, f-stop ect.

We will have our own competition, but for anyone else that might be interested, Gerry shot me this link to the Ontario Parks Photo Competition. Check it our...but if you win, can we get the prize?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Download Updated Gear List

I have made our gear list available for download. It is posted on our site , and here is a link to download the Gear List in Microsoft Word Format :

...and don't forget to let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Everything is coming together

Gerry and I got together at my place last night for the final gear check and pack-up. We assembled everything we are bringing (from equipment to food) in an attempt to divide the weight evenly. We started by laying everything out on the floor, so it would be easier to see it all and as we packed each item, scratched it off the gear list we had created a few months ago. We then did the same thing for the food list.

I think this system worked well, 'cause after we had everything packed I went through the gear list and circled the things that were left, as a reminder to either get it or forget it.

After all the packs were....well....packed, we brought them upstairs to be weighed. In my kids bathroom I have an old school Doctors office scale and this was perfect for finding out how many lbs. of crap we were going to be hauling around Algonquin.

Gerry' Pack 53 lbs (with full water bladder)
Jim's Pack 47 lbs (with empty water bladder)

It is worth noting that our food weight was just under 30 lbs, so as the trip goes on our packs will be getting much lighter. With 30 lbs of food to eat, I think it is same to say the same can not be said of Gerry or I.

Lastly, Gerry and I have changed our travel plans a bit. The original plan was to leave at 4 pm on the Thursday, drive to the entrance road at Brent and sleep in the car, so we could get an early start Friday morning. Well that sounded like a great idea a few months ago, but the thought of waking up with a soar back has changed our minds. So instead, we will be leaving a little earlier (2 pm) and have made reservations at a motel about 30 minutes from the Brent service road. The $60 for the night is nothing, and well worth it when you consider asoar back wrecking a trip we have been planning for over a year.

Today I am going up to my parents place with the kids. They have a pool and the kids love it there. On the way I am going to pick up my fishing licence and a few other things.

You know as I sit here trying to figure out what to say next, I am just blown away that we leave in 5 days...we have been planning this trip for so long and now it just a few days away. It is hard to beieve. We are both very excited and know that this will be the trip we have both always wanted to do. JUST FIVE DAYS PEOPLE!!!!!!

5 days 3 hours and 35 minutes....tick, tick, tick....:)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

UPDATE: Tent?, Drying out, Shopping, Packing

Before I hear anything sarcastic, yes I am posting twice in the same day . Lots of good stuff going on and I will update below sticking with the bullet update format for now.

But before I do that, I just want to give a big thank you to my Dad, who gave me a crash course on fishing basics this past Monday. He was awesome, showed me how to tie on leaders , use lures, spinners and some other fishing related info that will be put to good use on the trip. When I was a kid, I remember going fishing with my Dad to catch rainbow trout while we lived in Labrador, NFLD. It was one of those moments that even now makes me smile. As we stood in my driveway this week, reviewing fishing tactics, I had that feeling again and for a few moments, I felt like a kid again. Thanks Dad!

  • Tent?- True to his word, Andrew met me and we have our MSR Hubba Hubba tent!(I take back everything I said Andrew). The tent is brand new, unused and tags still attached. I was so excited that I could hardly wait to set it up. Gerry came over and we put it up together (of course). Keeping in mind this was the first time either of us had put an MSR tent up, it was assembled in 3 minutes and is truly a thing of beauty! It is a self supporting, simple design yet, deceivingly sturdy. One the coolest features; the one piece pole system is wild and had Gerry and I standing in awe of those MSR engineers once again! The tent has a removable fly, that would allow for stargazing...something we hope to have the right weather to use!
  • Dehydration Round 2- The lessons learned the first time we tried to make jerky will be put to good use as we try again tonight, Gerry picked up the meat from a butcher friend of his today and from what he has said...this should make some very good jerky! I will update with the results. I have also dehydrated some spicy tomato sauce and successfully reconstituted a test sample. It was great and will add some great flavors for the trip.
  • Final Grocery Shopping- If anything, this makes the fact that the trip is almost here the most real and tomorrow we will pick up the food that will make the journey with us...part of the way.
  • The Pack Up- Now that we have everything we need, this weekend Gerry and I will assemble all the food/equipment and decide who will pack in what, in the hopes of keeping it even. At this time I would like to lay down a personal challenge to Gerry...lets see how much you could carry buddy, I am sure you could carry like twice as much as me? Let me know...

Storm Caused Much Damage...Jim Clueless!

As a guy that prides himself on trying to know all there is to know on a subject before actually doing it, I am embarrassed to say, this one got by me. I was 100% clueless as to the severity of the damage done to parts of Northern Ontario in the storm a week ago. In fact, I was worse that clueless...I was even unaware the storm all!

JUL.18 - LARGE STORMS LAST NIGHT, POSSIBLE TORNADOES, 2 DEATHSA woman was killed outside of Peterborough after being crushed by a tree, and another death in Algonquin Park. Possible tornado near North Bay, damage to houses, large amount of trees down, planes flipped over, etc. Over 300 trees knocked down in Peterborough and large areas of power down in that city. UPDATE: 2 CONFIRMED TORNADOS IN NEWMARKET (F0, F1)

Click here to view a TV news summary (Global) of the event, courtesy of

Now that I have removed my head from my ass I find out that this storm devastated large parts of Algonquin Park and has left the portage routes in shambles. Downed trees are the biggest problem and although the progress of removing them is well under way, at this point there is no way of knowing how much will be completed by the time we wil be leaving. Below is a quoted from a tripper who just returned from the area will be visiting...

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:11 pm

We came out at Brent on Saturday afternoon. We saw the crew working the 2.4k port on the Pet about noon on Saturday.. They were about 1/2 of the way to the Narrowbag lake end. Hard to say what your situation would be, I would think the main "hiway" portages would be cleared first, then the secondary routes, and finally the dead-enders. Some had no blow-down at all, others we were wishing for a skidder or chainsaw at minimum
This is a Link to the Official Ontario Parks Storm Damage Blog. Here you can get the most up to date info on what progress they have made in the park.

I also wanted to say a big thank you to Jen who was the person that let me know about the Algonquin situation in the comments section. Also, if you Jen or any of you are reading this and have been to the Cedar / Burtroot Lake area since the storm , please contact me at , as I would love to here descriptions of the trail conditions and see any pictures you would be willing to share.

Thanks for you time!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WAY to long since I last updated...

As usual, I post like a nut for a few weeks and then take what some have coined a "Jim-baticle" for the weeks to follow. I look at like this...I post here 'cause I enjoy it or get something out of it and if that drive is not there, I won't post. Would you really want to read about how I had a bad day at work and my back hurts? Back to the blog...

There are many things to update and so I will summarize it all:

  • The F***ing Tent- After much bullshit, I am picking up the MSR Hubba Hubba tent from "Absent Andrew" this weekend (with fingers crossed).
  • Jerky Issues -The dehydration thing was good... as an experiment, but bad to eat for the most part ...too dry. I have since corrected the errors and man, is dehydrated watermelon GOOD! (ask Gerry..LOL) Gerry and I are going to have Jerky, ( round 2 ) next week.
  • Maps- Sent away for the 2006 version of the Algonquin Canoe Routes Map, Fishing Guide and the Backpacking Trails Map. They arrived and there was quite a few changes from previous versions.
  • My Training - I am up to 16 km's running, in a time of 1 hour, 18 I am on pace for a my goal of 1 hour 45 minutes for the half marathon. Weight training continues and it has now been almost 4 years since I starting lifting.
  • Counting Down in Days- It is hard to believe that we leave 2 weeks from tomorrow! I am so pumped ....and worried I have not got everything organized. My plan is for Gerry and I to have our bags packed AT LEAST 24 hours before we leave and avoid any last minute running around.

Lastly, I want to say something about Gerry. I couple of weekends ago we took our kids camping and they had a great time at the beach and around the campfire. After my kids fell asleep I had a bit of a breakdown while talking to Gerry about some questions I have about myself as a parent. It was one of the rare moments in my life where I stopped pretending I had these doubts and just let everything out. It was a conversation that has greatly influenced many things about the way I parent and for that it was great, but in retrospect, days later I realized something else...Gerry is beyond friend to me....he is my brother and I consider myself lucky to have him as my buddy and unofficial member of my family. Thanks dude!!

14 Days 22 Hours 10 minutes

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

UPDATE: Dehydrating, Kids Camping, Cool Links

With the trip being counted down in days (29 days 8 hours and 18 minutes), Gerry and I have started to put together some of the things that can not be done in advance (TRANSLATION: "Holly crap we are running out of f***ing time"). With that in mind, last night we started the process of dehydrating some of our trip food and trying our hand at making beef jerky.

We are using a dehydrator Gerry got from his Mom. It is one of those ones that has the stackable rings and a base that blows warm air through the stack.

Our Dehydrated Fruit Experiment:

  1. Watermellon: Yes, I said watermelon...stop laughing already! We did a quarter of a mellon and I was surprised how little fruit I got once the Rhine is removed.From what I have read, this should be one of the best fruits to dry. It is a fruit that is very sweet despite being diluted with all that water, so removing the water should result in a natural candy.
  2. Grapefruit: Gerry and I both like this one fresh, so dry should not be too much of a stretch. The contrast of the sweet and bitter, combined with the coarse texture should be a real treat...thats the theory anyway.
  3. banana: A backpacking can never go wrong with banana chips.

Beef Jerky Experiments:

1)Quick and Easy Recipe (Jim's):

  1. INGREDIENTS:1 pound eye of round, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  2. DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, ground black pepper and brown sugar to taste. Mix well and add the steak slices. Place entire mixture with meat into a sealed plastic container and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Place in dehydrator for 24 hours (more time may be needed)

2)Dry Cure Southwest Jerky (Gerry's):

  1. INGREDIENTS:1 ts Salt,1 ts Pepper1/2 ,ts Cayenne pepper,3 tb Chili powder,2 ts Cumin,2 Cloves garlic minced,2 lb Steak sliced thinly
  2. DIRECTIONS:Combine ingredients and thoroughly mix together. This is a dry marinade so there is no liquid. Sprinkle the spice mixture on the meat slices and work into the grain with your fingers. Cover and marinate overnight. Place in dehydrator for 24 hours (more time may be needed)

We statred the fruit last night and it should be done tonight...just in time for our marinating beef to be thrown in for 24 hours, before it is made into mouth watering (we hope) beef jerky!

We will update with the results...

On a different note, this coming weekend Gerry and are are taking our kids (Gerry's 3 boys and my 2 boys, 1 girl...sorry Lauren) camping. Gerry and his crew will be spending Friday and Saturday night, we will be joining them for the last night. We are going to Sibbald Point Provincial Park and it is a close call as to who is more excited, the kids or the adults...but I am going to have to go with the kids. My guys have been wanting to go camping with me for a while, so this will give them a taste for what it is all about and for them, this will be quite an adventure.

Lastly, I have found some very cool links for stargazing. For this you need to input a city, so I used Mattawa, as it is the closest to Algonquin. This is part of the Weather Network site and allows you to input a date / location and print the moon cycles and how to view start and other celestial point of interest. Check it out HERE

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

UPDATE: Weekend, Wet Run, Trip Stuff

What a great weekend! For the most part the weather was great and we had a lot of family fun. Friday was the start of the Newcastle 150th celebrations and we attended the suprisingly large parade. The kids loved it and after the parade, we had just enough time to walk home, get the kids into pajamas and drive up to see the fireworks. A great night!
Saturday we spent in town at Laurens soccer tournament and Sunday we went to my parents for a day in the pool. The weekend was just about perfect, the only thing missing was Tanyia who had to usual.

My running continues to go well. I pushed it too hard at the start by refusing to take "off days" and this resulted in some minor injuries. I have now been regularly taking the days off and have seen a big gain in my time and much for my second guessing the experienced folks that designed my program. I ran 14 km yesterday and for the last 20 minutes was running in heavy rain and wind and of course both stop the second I turned on to my street. It turns out that there was an Immanent Tornado Warning for our that's why the rain was sideways! Tanyia was talking to Gerry's wife Marie on the phone when she found out and when Marie asked if Tanyia had me insured, Tanyia dismissed it saying I would be fine 'cause "he has his ruby slippers on". Good to hear they weren't worried...I guess?

Trip Notes:

  • I have emailed our tent guy to arrange a pick-up date and he has not returned any of my messages. I am not exactly worried about it, but I would feel better if he at least let me know what is going on? Andrew if you are reading this...RESPOND!!!
  • As I posted a while ago, we changed the arrival and departure dates a bit and I still have not received the confirmation from Parks Ontario ( Maybe Andrew works for them)
  • After spending a day searching my entire house for my digital camera it was found with the unintentional help time I will remember to call you first!

I have included some more pics I found that just suck me in to the Algonquin feelings. Gerry and I will be making some new Algonquin memories in just:

30 days 3 hours and 29 minutes but who is counting?