Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Time to "out" myself...

I consider myself a real "Guys guy", so believe me when I say, what I am about to admit flies in the face of many of my beliefs about what a man is all about. For the past 3 weeks I have been doing YOGA and worse yet, I like it! But before you revoke my Guys club Membership let me explain...

For the past couple of months I have been getting "runners stitch" when doing my 20 km+ runs. While at the gym lifting big heavy weights (...very manly) I ran into a fellow runner who suggested the problem was most likely due to my breathing and suggested that yoga would benefit all aspects of my running. I have always said I would do anything if it helped, so I started researching.

I stumbled across a great yoga website where you can download an hour long instructional video. It is an easy to follow, high quality production and best of all it's free!

I have been doing the program for a few weeks and have noted the following improvements:

  • Smoother breathing while running

  • Increased flexibility

  • Improved stress control

  • Absence of the dreaded "runners stitch"

  • Increased felling of well being
I encourage everyone to try it me you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it, despite what my buddy's might say.

In the spirit of admitting the embarrassing/Non-guy things, here are a few more:

  • I sometimes I intentionally watch movies that will make me cry

  • I sing in the car and imagine myself performing the song on stage

  • I have had a was only once, but I did like it

  • I have waxed body parts

  • I watch and enjoy, "Dancing with the Stars" and "So you think you can Dance"..ouch!

  • I have no less then 4 books from Oprah's book club

.....and I don't care who knows it!

Monday, January 29, 2007

A new member of our family

After considering it for the last few years, last fall we decided to get a dog. Tanyia and I have always liked yellow labs and after meeting with several weird breeders decided on one from Peterborough. We want a male and have decided on the name "Jack", after Jack Bauer from 24 and yes, I know I am a geek. The next liter will be ready to be brought home in March and with we are all very excited. I have attached a picture of Jack that the breeder was kind enough to send us.

Meeting breeders was an eye opener and I learned something about "dog people". For the most part, dog breeders don't have kids, but love to compare having a dog as being the same as having children. Yeah, you heard me correctly. These folks need a reality check. I found it a bit offensive that someone would compare having a dog to raising children and no matter how many times I heard it, it still ate at me. My solution was to just nod and smile, then change the subject ASAP! I think these people should have a child, that way their dogs can become pets again and restore the natural order of things. I love dogs, but in our house pets (although deeply loved) are still pets!

In the years to come I hope to bring Jack on our Canoe Trips, but for now we will be happy just to have him come home.

Running Update

I received an email over the weekend asking if I had given up running, as I had not mentioned anything about it in quite a while. After scanning my previous posts, you are right, it has been a long time since I updated my status, so with that in mind...

After I completed my first half marathon, I stopped running for a week to give my body a break and then started a lite speed program.

All the running leading up to the marathon took a real toll on my lower back and this time off would give me some time to heal...or so I thought. Once I started running again, my back started to get bad after any runs over 15 km. Over the next month, this pain continued to escalate until it was so bad I could not even stand in one spot for more then a few minutes without overwhelming pain. Nearing my breaking point, I reluctantly made an appointment with my wife's Chiropractor and knew that if this didn't work, I would have to give up running for good.

Despite being sceptical of Chiropractic, I continued to go and within 2 weeks almost all of my pain was gone, despite running every day! It has now been 3 months since my first treatment and I am happy to report that I am 100% pain free and running faster then ever before. The problem was caused by a few factors: not enough stretching, I have a flat lower back and I pushed myself way too hard without enough rest days.

As a result, I have changed my training program a great deal since I started running almost a year ago. I now run 5 and 10 km for speed once a week and run for a distance of 20 - 25 km once a week at a more relaxed pace. On my off days I cross train for intense, low impact cardio using a stair climbler or stationary bike for a 30 minutes. In addition to this, I am continuing my weight program and proud to say this is my fifth year doing the program!

My next half marathon is February 25th in Petebourough Ontario and this will be my first cold weather race. I have found training in the winter can be allot of fun, provided you have the right clothing. I wear two layers at all times to keep warm and block the wind. For head gear I wear a winter skull cap and face mask. But I found out the hard way what the most important piece of gearis... wind briefs.
I went running one day in minus 18 weather and forgot the to put them on. While running into the wind on a busy highway, it got so cold down there it started to hurt. After a few minutes it continued to get worse and I had no choice but to shove my hand down my pants just to warm things up. So try to picture this... I am still running down the street, but now I have my hand in my pants, wearing all black and a ski mask. I am lucky I wasn't arrested.

I have not forgotten my "wind protection" since and will be sure to report my results from the Peteborough Half Marathon next month.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A pub right out of the twilight zone

Last Friday Gerry and I decided we needed a guys night out. After we batted around a few ideas, we thought we would try out the new pub that opened just a few blocks from us. Although the pub is named The Black Knight, if it were called "The Strange Confused Babbling Night" it would have summed up our evening.

We met at Gerry's around nine and were quickly on our way. We decided to walk since it was fairly close and despite the extreme cold, it felt great to be outside. As always, the conversation flowed as we exchanged updates on the good and bad of each others days, the way only good friends can. As we shuffled along our voices grew more boisterous, the only competition was the crisp sound of the snow being crushed underfoot as we weaved through the side streets that lead to the pub.

Until recently, the pub had been a condemned building. I have no memories of the derelict building, other then often wondering if someone would ever cut the badly overgrown lawn. As we approached the pub it looked clean and inviting, with any lawn care problems of the past hidden beneath a blanket of ice and snow. As we entered the restored two story pub, my first impressions were mostly of the "..this is way to small" variety. The entire first floor of the pub might have been 300 sq/ft and was filled with a few tables, a makeshift stage and of course, the bar.

There were only a handful of people in the pub and they all stared at us without saying a word. It was as though the conversation stopped the moment we entered. I was feeling a little uncomfortable, as I made my way to the bar where John the owner, introduced himself and took our order. Like the other people in the bar, John's faded black leather jacket, bushy mustache and long hair screamed of a man desperately holding on to the 1970's. He looked like the kind of guy that would have a collection of REO Speedwagon concert shirts and drive a van with a half naked lady riding a tiger airbrushed on the side. As he continued to pour us a beer, I leaned over to Gerry and made reference to him looking like Cheech Marin. We were barely able to contain ourselves and stood there smirking at each other like a couple of idiots until "Cheech" handed us our draft. I commented how it was about time Newcastle had a pub and Cheech responded "...guys our age need a place to go to". Was he serious? This guy was easily 10 -15 years older then either of us, but I shook my head in agreement trying to hide my shock. He then told us there was a pool table upstairs, hoping for a little privacy we headed to the second story half wondering what decade awaited us and mouthing to each other "...Guys our age"?

The upstairs seemed even smaller with the pool table in the larger room and the remainder of the space for washrooms and what we would find out later was a kitchen. Neither Gerry or I are any good at pool, but it was fun to see who was worse (Gerry) as we played a few games.

This is where the evening turns odd. Every so often, Cheech would come in and try to strike up a conversation , then offer to get us more drinks. A very friendly guy, but it was obvious that I had barely touched my beer and Gerry's draft was only a few sips ahead of mine. We politely told him we were fine and he would leave us only to return 1o minutes later and go through the same routine with food. Over the next hour we went through this dance about 5 times, but the best was yet to come. He approaches us this time with menus and starts to recite the entire thing to kidding the whole thing! After 10 minutes of this it is all I can do to stop the grim on my face from exploding to laughter. I felt like when I was in grade 3 and the teacher would tell me not to laugh and it makes stopping almost impossible! When I heard "....the roasted rack of lamb for two is two $38..." I couldn't hold it in any longer and had to pretend to play pool to avoid him seeing my laugh so hard I could have wet myself. All the while, Gerry continued to listen patiently, not a smirk to be found...he was much better at this then me. After 15 minutes Cheech's performance was finished and we felt obligated to order something, so we settled on wings and nachos.

The kitchen is next to the room we were in and before too long, a different guy delivered our nachos and wings. Not to sound like a complainer, but the Nachos were ice cold and the wings had less meat then Rosie O'Donnell's honeymoon. I don't recall that being mentioned in Cheech's 15 minute infomercial?

Undeterred, we made quick work of the Nachos and Ethiopian chicken wings. As we started to play our third bad game of pool new visitors arrived, a couple in their early 40's. She did all the talking while her husband stood and waiting. She was very friendly...too friendly in fact. It was as though she was trying to hit on us subtly enough that her husband wouldn't notice. Nothing really overt, but enough to make my skin crawl. Gerry would later correctly describe the experience as "...she was rapping me with her eyes".

With the wings, nachos and most of the beer gone, we collected our things and settled our bill with Cheech. The flirty cougar spied us and gave it one last try as we shoved a few twenties to the owner and bolted for the door. The walk home was cold, but at least it was quite.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things that drive me crazy

I am going to do something here I have never done before...I am simply going to complain about a bunch of things that have been eating at me for a while. This rant is not directed at anyone and I am not even in a bad mood, I just have to get this stuff off my chest.

Now for those of you that came here looking for information about Algonquin Canoe trips rest assured you are in the right place, but this post will be of no help to you. Feel free to read below or click here to get out of here and go to a random blog.

Here we go....

1)Smokers- If you people want to kill yourselves that's fine, but the problem is you don't just die, you linger in our health care system for years costing everyone money for sure, but also the lives of people that are ill by no fault of there own. If you smoke then you should be forced to the bottom of any surgical waiting list...end of story. People, you can not treat your health with total disregard and then expect all that abuse to be undone by the taxpayers. These are the same people I see driving, with a smoke hanging out of their mouth and 2 kids strapped in the back seat...all but guaranteeing the next generation to have the same health problems as the first. Oh...and stop smoking outside the entrance to every building I want to enter. It is all I can do to hold my breath while I walk through the putrid fog.

2)Heavy Drinkers- Same rant as above....just substitute "drinking" for "smoking".

3)Littering out of your car window- When driving you will have to stop eventually and that garbage is not going to explode before you get there. So unless you have just found a bomb wrapped in a McDonald's bag under your seat, keep your crap in the car until you get to a garbage can.

4)Teenagers Walking out in front of cars- It blows me away how young people will walk in front of a moving car, expecting the world to stop 'cause they want to cross the road. It is just a matter of time before one of these ipod toting idiots gets killed....but no worries, the next day there will be 10 others to their place.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What length of a bent shaft paddle is best for YOU ?

Ever since I became interested in owning a bent shaft canoe paddle I have been unable to find some form of a guideline on how to size for the correct length..until now. I found the text pasted below at another paddle makers site. To my knowledge, it is the only bent shaft sizing guide one on the net. Enjoy!

"As with all things in life, there are no absolutes. Some paddlers kneel (shorter paddle works best)--some paddlers sit most of the time (longer paddle) and some canoes are deeper requiring more paddle to get into the water.

Here however, is a good system. Sit on a flat,hard chair and look straight forward without lifting or lowering your head. Have someone measure the vertical distance from the BRIDGE of your nose to the seat surface. Add that to the 20" of predetermined blade and that will be a pretty good length for you."

Capsized Canoe 2008?

As I have mentioned many times before, Gerry and I really enjoy trip planning. We have a few weather beaten maps that have served us well over our 2 years. Every wrinkle and water stain on our canoe routes maps stand testament to the countless hours happily spent planning. In fact just the thought of pouring over maps makes me smile.

Now, our trip for CC 2007 has been planed for some time (see ORIGINAL PLAN and UPDATED PLAN )and although this is good, it also leaves be with very little trip related things to do. With this in mind, I stumbled across some pictures while doing an Google image search and before I knew it...I was planning CC 2008.

Capsized Canoe 2008 Plan

Goals- To complete a large loop, large portages and lakes we have not visited before.

Route- The map shows our proposed route.


  • Radient lake- a shallow lake that (from pictures) looks stunning. There is also a grave site containing casualties of the log drive in the south ease shore that will be worth taking a look.
  • Big Crow lake- has many features that make this lake the primary goal for this trip. The lake itself is one of the crown jewels of the park and I would love to spend 2 or 3 days here enjoying and exploring. There is an old ranger station that is now rented out, but exists now as it did when it was built in the 1920's. Just behind the ranger station is a path that leads you on a 15 minute uphill hike. At the end is one of the most breathtaking views imaginable. There is also a decommissioned 100 foot fire tower on this site. Although the bottom 20 feet of the ladder have been removed, I have read that it is still possible to climb the frame up to the point where you can reach the ladder. This is something I will have to check out, but reserve the right to bail on any plans of climbing the tower.

Know Your Bear Poop

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is advising hikers and campers to take extra precautions and keep alert for bears while in the field. They advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren't expecting them. They also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.

Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear poop. Black bear poop is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Litter sucks

As Gerry pointed out in his most recent post, somethimes people just don't get it. Here is a classic reminder....

New Links

I am always looking for new sites to check out and thought I would post some links to some of the best Trip Logs on the web.

Mark in the Park - Mark Rubino's incredible Algonquin Park canoe trip logs
Chris Lawson - Chris' personal website, great read
Darren's Outdoor Pages - some excellent canoe trip logs here
Algonquin Park Weblog - a good example of a blog
Canoe Trips - Dave Harmen's Algonquin canoe trip logs
Nadine Lake Trip Report - a good trip log with large photos
Algonquin Adventures - A great site with an abundance of info and photos on trips to all sections of the park, highly recommended

Oh....and if you know of a good website please post a link in the comments and I will add it to the list.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hockey Night in Newcastle

Here is a little video I put together of Jacob's first hockey game.


New Calander and I love my wife

I meant to mention this before now, but better late then....well, you know the rest.

Ironically, my copy of the 2007 Ontario Outdoor Adventure Calendar arrived the very day I wrote about taking down last years version. It always has some incredible photos and 2007 is no exception. The two that stand out for me are a stunning shot of a dog sled on the South River in Algonquin and a little girl ice skating on lake Wawa. If you would like to get a copy call 1-800-ONTARIO.

Another item on my mental to do list is a word of thanks to my wonderful wife. Tanyia and I have been together for about 12 years and she has never failed to amaze me with her ability to get almost anyone that "Wow" gift. This year was no exception, as Tanyia absolutely blew me away putting together a collection of mementos from my marathon in a boxed frame. This is one of many areas where Tanyia is just so damn good. Not only did she get me a gift I would never have thought of, but it is also the single most thoughtful gift I have ever received! I have posted a pic and just wanted to let her know how much it means to me.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What is your favorite Alonquin route?

One of the things I enjoy almost as much as the trips themselves is choosing the route. Over the last few years Gerry and I have spent many cold winter evenings pouring over the Algonquin route map dreaming up new challenges for the warmer days to come.

Gerry and I have decided on the route changes perviously discussed here. and on our return route will be doing the low maintenance portage routes. These routes will take us out of Robinson Lake to the east too Junco -> Hayes -> Macoun -> North Cuckoo before we rejoin the Pettawawa. This will add about 5500 meters of portaging to our return route, but will also quench out thirst to see something new on every trip.

With all of the planning we have done it has me wondering about the favorites routes of others?

So I am asking what Algonquin route is your favorite and why?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Canoe trips can put life into proper perspective

As most of us in Southern Ontario are starting to wonder if we will ever get any snow, I find myself reminiscing of the sunny days spent on CC 2006. We were lucky to have excellent weather for the trip last year, but one of the other pleasant, yet unexpected things that occurred on the trip had nothing to do with trip at all. Let me explain...

It is easy for me to get lost in the daily grind of work, chores and routines. Although this makes day-to-day life easier, it also makes loosing site of what is really important almost inevitable. But while on our canoe trips, I am forced to stop and take a hard look at my life without any of the distractions of everyday life. It is this difficult look in the mirror that reminds me that the little things are just that and what really matters are the people that make my house a home. The the end of our 5 day trip I miss my wife and kids so much I could almost cry. Maybe not one of the most "guy" things I have ever said, but it is true and even stranger, I would not trade that for anything. It's that rekindled feeling of excitement as I catch my first glimpse of my wife and kids that makes our canoe trips so special.

Our trips are for fun and adventure, but to quote Gerry "'s a time to recharge the batteries", both emotional and spiritual.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hard to throw out my 2006 calendar

I am sitting in my office and look up to notice the that my 2006 Ontario outdoor adventure calendar is still faithfully hanging above my desk. With the month of December still staring me in the face, I take down the calendar and begin to flip through it one last time before placing it in the recycle bin. As I do, I notice all the important dates circled or written in and start to reminisce about what a great year it has been.

-My kids first day of school- (Lauren grade 1, Jacob J/K, Ethan Montessori School)
-Family trip to Nova Scotia
-Weekends at my parents house
-Jacob starting hockey
-Me and Gerry camping with our kids
-My first Marathon
-All the kids first soccer games of the year
-My Go-train trip fiasco getting to the Outdoor show
-Birthday Parties
-My 8th anniversary with the lovely Tanyia
-and our Algonquin Trip

Maybe this is why I am having such a sentimental attachment to this calendar. It is less about the lovely pictures and more to do with the events that occurred this year that defined who I am as a person, parent, husband and friend.

Of all the things that happened this year, there is one that will stand out as having the most direct impact on my life. It occurred while Gerry and I were on our trip last August, while on Burntroot lake and it permanently changed the way I look at myself as a father and husband.
It was a time where I completely let my guard down and unburdened myself of years of emotional baggage. Gerry was there for me, as only a best friend can be. His advice and unwavering support, further cemented our incredible friendship while helping me cope with things I had kept secret for years. The details are unimportant, but he made me realize that it is what I do now that defines who I am and that despite appearances, everyone has secrets.

Although I had Gerry promise never to speak of what was said that day, I could not let 2006 pass without letting him know how truly lucky I was to have him there that day and as my best friend every day.

Calendar recycled...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Questions Answered...

When I sent out my request for comments, I had no idea that you would respond in the numbers you have. Another surprise was the numerous questions people asked in the This is where I beg for your help post and the now infamous "Yoke Pad" Video. I will now do my best to address all of your questions and comments.

All References to Andy Kaufman- When I first read these I was not sure how to take it. I remember thinking, "Are they making fun of me?". I simply did not get why anyone would find my video remotely funny. Astonished, I turned to Gerry, Marie and Tanyia and asked there opinion. As tears welled up in there eyes and they struggled for the breath to mock me I finally got how nuts I look...just standing there for 30 minutes. Also, Gerry made a good point that it is more about the way I edited the video that made it humorous. example " has now been 30 minutes" . Thanks to all of you for the reference to the great Andy Kaufman, but he is a comedic genius... I am just a goofy, awkward guy who likes yoke pads.

What do you do for a living?- I am guessing this stems from people wondering what job would allow me to have that kind of free time. Well it is a great job I assure you. As for what I do, I am a Registered Nurse and co-owner of a small chain of medically supervised weight loss clinics called Diet Wise. You can check us out at

Too my Older Readers May and Orville-
Your posts touched me the most and I would love to swap Algonquin stories with you both. Please email me!

Mrs. Stromnecker-
She was the one that chose to criticize my spelling and grammar. Spelling has always been a weakness for me and something that I have always been ashamed of. Even as I write here, I will ofter avoid words if I am unsure how to spell them....sad, but true.When I first read your comments it made me a bit angry, but that was more because I knew that you were right. I wish I could spell better and welcome any suggestions anyone may have.

The Gimmick Guy-
To the guy the suggested that Yoke Pads are "the worst gimmick ever"....have you seen my video?

All the positive feedback and good wishes- To all of you that posted posted praise for my blogging efforts....thank you! As many of you can attest, my interest in posting has been up and down over the past year, but knowing that there are so many of you reading will be great motivation if I am ever hesitant to post.

Thanks again to to all and please feel free to post a comment or question.