Saturday, July 31, 2010

Algonquin Park 2010 - Part 1

As I already mentioned, the Cook Family Vacation, 2010 Edition took place in Algonquin Park. This was the first time we'd been there in 3 years. I used to be a huge proponent of visiting a different location for every vacation, subscribing to the theory that there is a big world out there with lots to see and do. As time goes by though, I find myself appreciating the idea of return trips more and more. They lend themselves well to benchmarks and reminiscing. Stories from the earlier excursions surface at seemingly every turn ("Remember when Liam threw up blueberries all over the backseat right when we reached the park gate? Remember when the snapping turtle almost ate Chad?"), so that each trip is like a Matryoshka doll, containing pieces of all of the previous trips.The legacy of this trip is bound to be The Bear. We arrived at Mew Lake amidst warnings of bear sightings, with instructions to clean up campsites and store food properly. No matter. Within less than 24 hours, Bruce and Dana were visited on their site by a bear who tore through the soft top of the truck to make off with bread and chocolate covered peanuts. The food was moved inside the cab of the truck on the second and subsequent nights, but the bear returned to the flat bed each night, looking for more.On the bright side, the second day of the trip resulted in Chad spotting 3 bears and me spotting 2 (or perhaps it was the same bear over and over) - a rare and lucky sighting at Algonquin. We'll overlook the fact that when we had our spotting, I was carrying my wide angle lens and not my telephoto. We could have counted the whiskers on his chin if only I'd been prepared. I don't think Chad will ever let me live it down. I'm hoping to make it up to him with this moose photo.That second and third day, it mostly rained. We were soggy and dirty. The bear had damaged the truck and made off with our food. We ran out of propane in the midst of cooking chicken for dinner, something you don't just serve up lukewarm with good cheer because you're roughing it. We were all starting to get on each other's nerves (did I mention there were 9 of us on this trip?) and wondering why on earth we were spending our precious vacation time doing what we were doing. And then, on the morning of the third full day, the sun broke through the clouds, and all was forgotten. When the sun is streaming down in dappled patches, the scent of warm pine is in the air, and you can hear the wind whistling through the treetops but not feel it in the thick forest below - those are magical days to spend in Algonquin. We hiked and splashed and feasted on the bumper crop of wild blueberries in the old airfield. We swam in cold, clean lakes. We built campfires for s'mores and pie irons and JiffyPop. We crawled into our sleeping bags still filthy at the end of each day, but in much better spirits. It will likely be a few years before we go back to Algonquin again. I'm very glad we chose to do it this year. The sleeping bags are finally washed and put away and the mosquito bites have faded, and it's nothing but happy memories now.


Dawn said...

'meeting a moose' is on my bucket list! Can I cheat and check it off by viewing your glorious photo? Glad you had a great time!