So, a couple of weekends ago it was something like the Great Escape over here at thunderpeep headquarters. It was a mad rush to get the hell out of the city (those pics above are my idea of what I needed - peace and quite and nature) You could feel summers' sweet breath in the air, trees were green again. All the signs were there. It was time to camp.
I'd kind of dragged my feet committing to this camping trip. There ALWAYS seems to be something that needs to get done. But more important than any of that stuff, I needed to get away from everything and clear the noggin and just think about some stuff that needed to be thought about. And my good friend Amy had been pestering me (in the best possible way of coarse) to take a road trip with her up to Algonquin. We both needed a Chill The Fuck Out weekend. Very tempting, considering neither one of us had been there (what??? I know!) and it was Moose season. You see, Amy and I have very good Moose karma. It's like they know we're coming through and all come out to the road way to say Hei! No seriously, I'll have to dig up that video from Newfoundland - you guys will love it, and it embarrasses the heck out of Amy!
Now, if you're one of the random folk who've been following the blog since way back in the very beginnings, or longtime friend of thunderpeep, you'll remember the good old days when this whole blogging thing was all fresh and new. When it was just a name and a reputation. This blog started as a way of having a bit of fun while chronicling the Adventures of Thunderpeep and her group of strange folk (with some serious exaggerations!) There was the Fan Bus adventure to Kelowna (this was back in the BC days remember) the trip to Apex (but most of that story had to be edited out ;) and all the Giants games shenanigans! And most of those adventures included Amy, so this post is kind of suiting the whole re-birthing that is taking place with thunderpeep at the moment. We're going back to where we started, in a way.
And lucky you, it's not even Thursday and you're getting throwback gems here. Those are some banners from the original blog, I dunno around 2003 or 2004. Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, that trip to Algonquin and the Moose.
Since Amy doesn't live in Toronto I was a happy camper to be starting my end of the trip by taking the GO train up to Barrie to meet up with her (you know I love train rides, but can't say the same for time spent in Barrie. We just don't get along. No story here, keep moving)
I'm not going to talk about Barrie. It is what it is, and for some reason whenever I am there I always encounter the shadiest of Barrie-folk (I have also learned that Barrie is the Sasquatch hotbed of Southern Ontario - this does not surprise me in the least!)
So once Amy picked me up and we were en route it was FUN TIMES. There's a very good reason we've stayed friends all these years, despite living in different cities or provinces for 90% of the relationship - we know how to have fun. Nothing is off the table, nothing is too dorky, we have one of those friendships where you just whole heartedly accept the other person for whatever weirdness comes out of their mouth. The music was up, the roads were clear, the sun was out and the forest was waiting.
Entering Algonquin was amazing. I have missed that feeling of being surrounded by nothing but dense trees. It makes you feel so tiny but so alive. It's so tranquil yet so full of life. Everything just works in the wilderness. It all fits together so perfectly. And you just find your place and fit right into it. I know the great wild isn't everyone's cup of tea, but even if you don't like to hang out with it, you have to give it the respect it deserves for persevering despite the chaos us humans throw upon it. That's as far as I'm going on that topic because this is a happy happy fun fun post ;)
And just as I stated, the Moose were there, waiting for us to drive through….
If you look really closely you'll see Bruce right there in the middle. He was a big guy and didn't seem to be bothered at all by the crowd on the side of the road taking photos. (this picture does him no justice - he was HUGE) That is until I opened my big mouth. That's just the way I roll, like Dory in Finding Nemo, I think I can talk Moose (ok she thought she could talk whale but whatever - I can totally talk whale as well as Moose) So as I blurted out my greetings to Bruce the earth just stopped moving. All except for Bruce, who slowly lifted his gaze to mine and gave me that look. I'm sure all you parents have that look too. The "you've gone too far this time little lady" look that let me, and all the others know that photo taking time was officially over. He definitely won the stare down, as Amy and I turned tail and ran back to the car. Luckily for everyone Bruce just went back to eating. I told you I had Moose Karma. I'm always able to make eye contact, and as intimidating as it is, it's an incredible experience.
So off we went through Algonquin. We did see some more Moose a bit further down the road, we figured they were Bruce's lady friends waiting for him, and the sun to set so they could get their party on! Because what else do Moose have to do all night? I can tell you what Amy and I had in store for the night. Some cold drinks and a campfire with roasted marshmellows. Because what else do friends have to do in the Forest at night? So let's get to this campsite already...
It all started out ok. Other than the fact that the wood shed was closed and Amy had decided NOT to take the firewood her husband had offered before she drove off. No campfire for us. So, ok, we'll just hang out in the tent with our flashlights and eat cold marshmellows. There's always tomorrow night for roasting and campfire stories. Now, as we unloaded and setup the tent we didn't really notice the temperature. All that moving around tends to keep you warm. But once you settle in to your sleeping bag, even with a couple of extra layers of blankets, it gets cold. And you've heard me mention before that I quite like the cold. I much prefer it to the sweaty heat. But this wasn't just cold. It was -7ºC (I have no idea what this is in Farenheit so just say it's fucking cold) COLD. Shivering in your sleeping bag kind of cold. As funny as it was, we still made the decision to pack up the sleeping bags and climb into the car. We're still camping, just not in a tent. I felt slightly ashamed, we're both hearty campers, we came prepared. No one wants to end up sleeping in the car. But we did. It didn't get much better for us though. Don't forget there's that bear in the campground ***SPOILER ALERT - I am just dropping that bear reference in for dramatic effect, we never actually did see said bear*** But there is one thing you may not know about me. I'm a bit claustrophobic. And the back of Amy's journey is roomy, but not roomy enough for my tight space anxiety. Despite the giggles while making fun of ourselves, it was 3am and we still weren't asleep. It was still cold in the car and we both had to pee. But who the hell wants to get out of the car now, with a wild bear roaming around. I'm not going to get mauled while peeing! (it's amazing where your brain goes when you've been awake almost 24 hours) But I just had to get out and stretch my legs and shake off that feeling that everything was closing in on me. There was no way around it.
And it all worked out (which you know because of the spoiler a couple lines above. That bear wanted no part of our ordeal, he would have just rolled his big bear eyes at us, all curled up in the car and kept on walking. Probably towards that wild pack of coyotes we heard howling away earlier) If you ever find yourself in minus whatever degrees weather while camping, and are forced to sleep in the car (or for any reasons other than the weather) it may not seem like it would be the best option, but the front seat is where it's at. I just couldn't handle the feeling that I was lying in a coffin, in the back end of that journey so Amy booted me to the front seat so she wouldn't have to get kicked a million times by my fidgeting and wimpering (no not really, I'm not a wimperer, but I most certainly am a night time fidgeter) And let me tell you, it was better for my anxiety, but way worse on my fear of that bear. I had to pull the covers over my face, I was so freaked out that I was going to open my eyes and see that bear peeping back in at me (and of coarse when you have sleepy brain you can't stop opening your eyes and peeping out the window to see if he's actually there!) Holy Hell. We were a wreck! Seriously.
Finally the sun came up and we just gave up. We probably had a combined 4 hours of sleep but we just couldn't be in this car anymore. Plus we had to pee again, and it was light enough to make it to the washrooms (this is provincial park camping so thankfully I didn't even have to think about those outhouses) We then proceeded to the camp office to see if maybe one of those warm looking yurts was free, you know so we didn't have to spend a second night in that stupid car. As we waited in line a friendly older gentleman chatted us up by telling us about how cold it had been up there the day before. They had been out on the lake fishing when a snowstorm blew in (I'm sorry, a snowstorm at the end of May??) Amy and I both responded in unison "yes we are aware of how cold it was, we slept in it last night". He chuckled and told us he hadn't noticed he slept in one of the yurts (one of the yurts that were all taken so screw you Amy and Michelle). Never in my life have I wanted to punch a cute old dude as much as I wanted to punch that guy, in that moment. But I'm a well mannered camper (despite the inappropriate language I may have used during the night) and I refrained from any physical encounters. And I noticed the weather forecast for the day was posted. It wasn't getting any warmer. So, I was totally wrong about summers' sweet breath, we were in store for the morning after, hangover breath. Thanks Mom Nature!
We drove for a bit, enjoying the scenery and looking for more moose when we decided upon the Whiskey Rapids trail. Because it has to do with Whiskey, so of coarse. (to note: I have actually never had whiskey before) It was pretty gorgeous, the rapids are only a small bit of the trail, but it runs along the river and you're all cozy in the trees - lot's of scenic points. And the story with the name is something along the lines of some fisherman carting some barrels of whiskey along with them up the river, they all get thirsty but don't drink the whiskey yet, then they all go mad, someone gets tossed overboard but takes the barrels with them and none of them are ever seen again. This is the way my sleep deprived brain remembers the story. If you are in Algonquin park anytime soon and get the full story, please feel free to share it. Because my version sucked it. You're welcome!
That was exhausting (no not writing this novel of a post, the actual hike). Algonquin 1 - Amy + Michelle 0. 40-somethings just don't have the ability to pull all nighters and then hike all day. At least these 2 don't. Algonquin had beaten us. It's slightly crushing, but it was all in the name of Good Time Forest Adventures. You certainly can't say our stay was boring. Because the stories were going to be so funny. Everyone was going to laugh at them. Or us.
We went. We saw Moose. We had Fun. We chilled the Fuck Out (literally)
So the journey was packed up and we headed home. At least to Amy's home. It was so much closer and I wasn't ready for the big city yet. Plus she has a sweet fire pit, we could actually roast some marshmellows in. YES! Nope, by the time we got home and her husband Tom made fun of us we watched "The Great Outdoors" with the always hilarious John Candy and Dan Ackroyd. I'll leave you with a clip from the movie, what NOT to do when you encounter a bear. At least I can say I've still never encountered a bear in the forest.