Monday, March 28, 2011

Island road.

The calls of geese on the cold 30km/hr wind propelled me downstream from Morrisburg along the seaway.  How a simple breviloquent warning conversation among a couple geese suddenly multiplied by tens of thousands. Nature's version of something going "viral"...only something slightly more important than cats playing piano in this case.

My big plans were not one that would look impressive on a map. A very important trip for me to document "a road to nowhere" which I had chanced upon merely by accident a few months back. It's the cool little things like this 1950's road flooded by the Seaway damming projects locals may all know about; but something you'll never read in a brochure. I hadn't realised it or even heard about the flooding of this area until I went home hauled out google earth and done some searching on the history of the town. Being covered in ice last time I visited I was excited to see this 100m of road.

In my mind I expected a pile of asphalt resembling a road, and not much more. I was happily surprised. The sight of asphalt on kayaking trips usually puts me in a sour mood. Not a fan of humans and their intrusion on nature. However it's a road on an island! How weird and wonderful is that!

Walking along "Seaway Ave" a mink suddenly sprung out of the grasses making the most half assed attempt to kill a goose I've ever seen. The goose took to flight and the mink just stood there as if to say "whatever". He turned towards me and strolled down the road. At this point I realised my camera settings were all messed up from taking HDR and leaving the settings on high exposure. The picture isn't too important really. It was the experience of having a mink walk right up to my leg and sit down. He just sat there looking at me!! Edging his nose close to my Gortex suit with pink nostrils flaring smelling my scent. I keep hearing how vicious Mink can be however out here in our shared element I've found them to be very curious and friendly (as friendly as wild animals can be). In the past few months this has been the second whom has actually altered course to come and hang out. He hung around by me for a moment then slowly slinked off to a dugout area aside the road. Another cool experience.

What's really different about this road is it has survived 60 or so spring thaws....... and is in better shape than the street I live on.

Main stream media, flags, and government set the importance of soverignty. Of coming together for a common goal, shared values and ethos.  However sitting here looking at the two minute paddle to Coles creek state park in Waddington, NY....I just wanna paddle on that piece of the planet. Not the state, not the country just that piece of the earth's ecosystem. Humans make things so difficult. 

Starting quite late in the day the sun was soon ascending to its timeshare on the other side of the globe. I paddled around to the windy western side of the island and found an awesome sandy beach to take in the last light of day.

The orange glow of sunset and the treble sounds of clambering ice in the waves; I ended my day. Moments like this quickly fall into a lifetime of thoughts for me. Thoughts of living a simpler life. Thoughts of how silly our work till were old enough to retire hoping we can accomplish lifelong dreams lifestyle is. Judgemental thoughts of not having the "balls" myself to break that mould and just go kayaking.

Alone with my thoughts is never being quite alone.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I had a day of island hopping today here on my home river. Entertaining my mindfulness life;with islands that have sat out of reach in the clutches of winter. I decided to label this post "Down" not to convey the emotion, but simple direction we tend to overlook.


"The final flight"




"Death from above"

"Island Gem"

"Modest transport"

"Winters slow retreat"

"Sun Down"

Night all.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My day smuggling drugs across the border

Saturday an after supper "recce" of the St. Lawrence seaway was in order to determine if I would paddle on the muddy (and slightly gross) South nation river, or play around on the seaway Sunday afternoon. I was trilled to find it not only accessible but completely open.

Driving home happy due to my findings, I rolled down my windows to listen to the honking of thousands if not tens of thousands of Canadian and snow geese both in flight and filling the fields. 

The smell of skunk pungent to the nose filled my car. I drove along the open country roads listening to music freebird  came up on the playlist. Music cranked up and windows wide open; and maybe a few km/hr over the limit. Down the roads of spring.
Bright and early at the crack of 13h00 the next day I launched. Paddling along upstream the first island I came to I decided to stop and take a few photo's. The current was really strong and it took a bit of time even to get a km or so up the seaway.

I sat quietly ate my lunch and wandered around the island... Then I noticed two Chev suburbans pull up on the Ontario side. 5 minutes later a coast guard chopper buzzed me...5 minutes after that a small single engine plane flew over me pretty low. Having worked with RCMP SERT as well as New york state police on a training mission in Cape Breton before; I was pretty sure I was being watched. I quickly put on my tinfoil hat so their satellites couldn't read my thoughts. =0)

In all seriousness this area is know for smuggling and I'm sure a kayak approaching American waters seemed "off" this time of year.
 International waters = International trash

Having my passport turned in at work and really unsure if I was in American waters or not I figured I would jump in the strong current and head home. Note to self check which of these islands are Canadian as the border is kinda wonky along the seaway....Canada island is in the USA? WTF!

I guess having confirmed I was just some crazy guy and not a smuggler I didnt have any issues when I got back to the dock.

Another day in the life of Lee.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Christie Island

A large flock of ducks landed here in late December, and proved to be the cagiest waterfowl I've ever seen. Not once have I been able to come within 800 meters to get a distinct look at them before their awesome survival mode kicked in and they took to flight. Finally today approaching from downwind;  I identified them finally as a common goldeneye. Reading through the facts researching what type of duck this was I chuckled at it's wintering range. "The black-and-white Common Goldeneye is one of the last ducks to migrate south in fall. It often will winter as far north as open water permits."
•Medium sized
•Chunky body

So much in common!


Being 14 degrees Celsius I began sweating real bad. I done a few rolls on my way however I quickly overheated. This time of year is by far the hardest time I find to dress safely and comfortable. Pulling onto the ice in front of a little uninhabited island I fell through the ice up to my armpits.  Refreshing! For fun I pushed myself down to see if I could touch bottom; without success. Would be a awesome swimming place with such deep water right on the islands shoreline. The ice here was too thick to paddle through, but thin enough to allow me to torpedo into the tarin stained waters. Climbing back onto the ice I pulled the kayak to shore and stripped down. tying my dry suit sleeves around my waist I explored this little rocky island. The warm air felt so refreshing and the sun quickly heated my green thermal top. I believe my constant time outside really does climatise to the winters cold, finding what some would consider chilly as beautiful as a summer's day.

I perched myself on a boulder and took in the view along with a caffeine fix. Steam no longer decorated my cup and my hands didn't appreciate the warmth it did mere weeks ago. All around me I could hear the ice melting, cracking and popping. Large slivers of ice being pushed into the remaining solid ice only to present itself akin to a sharks fin, then break into a explosion of condemned ice. I suspect 2 more weeks of this weather will have the channels clear again.

After a 10m shuffle over VERY thin ice I was back into the flat calm river. Christie island in sight; I came down the swift and "eddied" into the downstream side of the island. The Ottawa river levels this year are right on par. Currently just minus spring level's. And this is prior to the full melt so we should have good water levels this year.

I usually avoid islands with cottages on them; however the only people I've seen coming to this one has been a couple kayakers who use/own this AWESOME island. I'm sure they wouldn't mind.

They had put in some creature comforts last year and cleared some brush around. Tastefully done it reminded me of Lac possion blanc.

Once used as a logging camp remains of those days still haunt the island. Anyone unfamiliar with the area will quickly be able to spot a communication pole to identify Christie island. Well worth taking some time to check out if you ever pass by. Relics galore.            

The wind switched around to the south blowing in even warmer air. Storm clouds Quickly began to approach.

My wife broke my timeless moment to call me and remind me of the time on my work cell. A leash I cannot wait to hand back in before my move to Newfoundland.

I have to fade back into the world of humans who are living but not aware there alive, 14.99$ pizza deals, and main stream media.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dunlop island and a HDR photo attempt

I'm a lucky man. Being alive and here in this moment is quite the mind trip to think about. Sitting here checking my email for a few joint projects I have ongoing, all I could hear from the living room was panicked newscasters. Tsunami, nuclear meltdown, Iodine pills flying off the shelf's around the world. Nuclear Plant A in Pickering Ontario leaking into our water system yesterday.... I live 10 Km downstream from Chalk river Nuclear facility which on December 12, 1952 had a meltdown releasing 30 kg of uranium  through the reactor stack. Not to mention it's release of radioactive waste into the Ottawa last year. Instead of sitting around listening to the scary facts that our demand for more and more electricity is destroying the world ... I kissed and hugged my perfect family, grabbing my wife's tripod on my way out. A "friendly reminder" of it's price escorted me out the door from my humble abode.

I paddled off in search for some peace and a attempt at HDR ( high-dynamic-range ) photo's.
Let's keep this intense wording real simple. It's taking multiple photo's of the same thing at different exposures . All of these photo's were shot with a point and shoot camera, nothing fancy.  My exposure goes from plus 2 to minus 2. I took three pics -2, 0 ,+2 put them together and here's what happened:

Dunlop Island

"Without me."
A view of town.


I tried this one freehand and it turned out OK. You can notice the movement between the three photo's around the branches. I still kinda like it. One thing I learned tonight I was so focused on the process of 3 photo's I didn't focus on other things I usually add to my photo's. I think keeping that in mind next time; I may come up with some powerful photo's.

I hadn't paddled far; sometimes it's just the action of getting out there.
Lucky man indeed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rebirth, renewal and regrowth. Spring is declared

Lazy. My body ached. I spent the past two days lying (or sitting ) staring at walls as hyper children used me as a jungle gym. I was so lazy I actually watched television. Those whom know me well, know of my hatred for the "dolt box". So lazy I found CSI: Miami riveting. Near comatose I wondered what boot's Franny would put on today; discussing in depth with my oldest what we thought the "boots of the day" would be. Even if my boys was absent I remained in a vegetative state watching Handy Manny etc until my wife would enter the living room and flick on CNN or CBC tossing me the remote. Unlike my youngest Owyn's display of joy for my storm paddle above; or my son practicing his bracing... paddling seemed like work these past two weeks. Finally I went downstairs to get my other paddles accidentally leaving my storm paddle in the living room. Distracted by something shiny or a fleeting thought, I grabbing a coffee and forgot all about my paddle in the living room.......with two boys under 5. Luckily the cat's still alive and no major damage to drywall.
Alive. Sliding off the now rotten ice into a perfect day. Flat calm not a breeze; a balmy 14 degrees. The fresh smell of spring filled my nose. So quiet, not a sound. Being March break most of Petawawa has left on holidays elsewhere. It was absolutely still.
A lament call broke the loud silence. The sound of spring; the call of a Canada goose. A few weeks earlier this year than 2010. Last year I had spotted the first on March 29th.

The plan was honestly to just go for a short paddle in hopes of breaking this faineance I've slipped into. Lawyers, Realtors, work, looking for houses, WORK, had really worn me out these past few weeks. However after paddling a few kilometers I began to feel much better. The spring heat and lack of wind I became a little overheated as I am always dressing for the water temp. (Which is currently around minus retarded.)  To cool off I spent a good hour rolling then pulling back up on the ice to nurse an ice cream headache. No better way to cool down and think twice about removing layers!

I explored around the ice and islands checking out open leads from high ground. Then using my paddle float as a pillow I lid back on the ice and enjoyed the sun. I've been changing my diet around maybe thats why I'm so lazy. Maybe a poutine was in order for supper? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger right? Lying beside a pile of otter tracks listening to the deafening loudness of my own breath; hoping to get a glimpse of him. Aside from this tracks I wasn't lucky enough to spot him.

Getting ready to launch to head back home I snapped a picture of my lightweight storm paddle. It's perfect grain covered in beaded water on it's varnish finish. Absolutely beautiful that something so simple, yet world changing has carried on through hundreds of years.

Ice covered rocks slowly presenting themselves to springs warm air and sun.


The short couple of hours on the water presented a km long leed at my landing. Using the kayak much like a bobsled I took a run at it, jumped into the kayak and skidded across.


Winter's been a great paddling season. However after feeling the warm sun, hours of after supper paddling due to daylight savings time and the ever expanding daytime....and sand. Beautiful sand....................

 Bring on ice out and let's make our paddling plans reality!