Pirate Ship

I promised more on the Pirate Ship sighting, so here is the straight goods. There are pirates roaming the bay in front of our cottage on Lake of the Woods!

Last Sunday we spotted their ship and took our own ship out for an exploratory mission. As we approached the pirate ship, which was flying a very official looking Skull & Crossbones flag, we were greeted by several young pirates on board looking quite friendly any waving at us to come closer.

As we slowly approached the excitement on their ship seemed to increase. Were they really that glad to see us? Then we could hear whispers, “wait until they get a little closer”, what could this mean? Then, with a flurry of action a towel was whipped off what looked like a turret mounted machine gun on the fordeck and the sounds of a gas powered water pump roared to life. The machine gun was actually a water canon and we were under attack! After getting quite soaked we beat a hasty retreat, obviously over powered by superior fire power. As we returned to the dock we started formulating plans for our response to the pirate ship. Perhaps as British Man of War. Hmmmmm. 

Lake – Good Times – Tempus Fugit

Then there was the pirate ship sighting. Yes, that’s right a pirate ship, complete with a water canon, pirates and flying a very official looking Skull and Cross bones flag above a make shift sail with a emblazed with a Canterbury Cross. But there are no pictures.

Boat seats

Boat seats
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

It was a quiet day around the cottage today. After 23+ years of wood bench seats I installed these comfy deluxe seats and we took them out for a spin. It was a little choppy, so we didn’t go far. Out around the south end of Sotty’s Island, up the Second Channel and back down Kewatin Channel to home. We investigated some nice properties and some unusual constructions under a warm and sunny sky.

The day wound up with a little reading on the dock, painting one more side of the tree fort, dinner and a movie.

Water Bombers

Bombardier CL415
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

While we were out in the boat with Debbie & Craig this afternoon a water bomber made a low level pass over Henan Point head and then circled around to pick up a load in the bay in front of out cottage. Very shortly another plane came in and made another pickup run. It seemed like there were two planes making loops of about 5-8 minutes to fight a fire in the area. They made perhaps 5-6 passes and then they were gone.

In each pass the plane picks up 6137 litres (1621 US gallons) of water in 12 seconds! The full specs and capabilities can be seen on the Bombardier CL415 site. A great video of the CL415 fighting fires in Northern Ontario is here, and another video of forest fire fighting air traffic control with multiple planes can be found here.

UPDATE: A reliable local source told me they were bombing a fire at the intersection of the Jones Road and the railroad line. Apparently, a train triggered a small fire which was quickly contained.

Tunnel Island Adventure

View from the chair
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

We’ve been summer residents for over 23 years and this is the first time I’ve explored Tunnel Island and it’s almost in the heart of Kenora.

This is some of the best hiking and biking in the area, very similar to the Minaki trails only more technical and difficult. I rode two basic loop, one to the east of the trail head road and one to the west. I posted a route map here.

The  east loop took about 1hr with lots of stops to get over fallen trees that we too big to hop, at least for me, and some un-ridable sections, again for me anyway. This photo is at a spot called the Voyageur Lookout on a high spot on the island looking over the Winnipeg River.

The east loop took about 1.5 hrs and was even more challenging. This must be where all the local hard core riders come out to play. Part way around this loop I fell and whacked the camera pretty hard, but it still seems to be working OK.

The trail provides some excellent views of the Norman Dam,  a railway bridge and the Winnipeg River system. There are also bald eagles nesting on the island which are visible from the trails.

It was a great ride on a very hot day. It definitely rates a return visit.

Wild Life

Floating Dock #2
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

Your wondering what this picture has to do with wildlife, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

While we’ve been at the lake this week we’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife. There have been the usual deer, chipmunks, squirrels, loons, bald eagles etc. and then some more unusual critters like otters, beavers, wild turkeys and turkey vultures.

Today, I was working on fixing up the second of our “free” docks that were recovered a couple of weeks ago. Earlier in the week we were in Kenora at a store that specializes in dock systems and learned that replacing the flotation in this dock and getting a ramp and hinge system to connect it to the main dock would run in excess of $2,000. It seemed to me that there should be a less expensive option as a Phase 1 approach. So, the excess Styrofoam from dock #1 was used to bolster up dock #2 and the tires re-installed and then I tied the floating dock to the fixed dock. So far, so good. This dock will come in quite handy since the water level is currently 4′ below the top of our fixed dock.

Back to the wildlife. In the process of getting ready to push the extra bits of Styrofoam under the dock I needed to get into the water and push the dock forward to get it off a rock. While doing this I feel something by my right foot in the water and I kick it out of the way. Then I think, “Hey, there’s only rocks down there and you don’t just kick them out of the way”. That’s when I decided to have a look only to see a very large turtle cruising around my foot. Everybody out of the pool! This thing was at least 12″ across and the head and neck were the size of my wrist! (Sorry. no picture).

Geocaching in the Sioux Narrows Area

Yesterday, we went by boat to Timber Island in Whitefish Bay on Lake of the Woods to track down the geocache called Kanchenjunga placed by my friend Adam. It was a sunny day with near calm winds, which made the 58.6 km boat trip quite enjoyable. You can read about more about that part of the adventure here.

The photo is the new bridge construction in downtown Sioux Narrows which is replacing a rather historic old wooden bridge which was the world’s longest single span wooden bridge. Click the photo for a few more details on my Flickr site.

After checking out the various gift shops in town and gassing up the boat for the return trip we headed out to find one more cache. Then it was up Long Bay to the main track for the trip back home. Our friends Ken & Linda retired to Sioux Narrows several years ago and we’d been to their place just once by car. So, as were heading up Long Bay I’m on the lookout for what I can remember about the front of their house. The main feature I remembered was the large double doors on the lower level that opened onto Ken’s enormous and well equipped workshop. As we boat by house that fits the description and notice two folks sitting on the dock we decide to turn around and check it out. Sure enough, this was the right place and we spent a little time catching up on what had been happening in each other’s lives.

After the visit, it was 6:30pm and a 2hr trip to get back home. The weather was still good and the trip back always seems longer that going out and our rear ends were a little sore from all the sitting. Probably why today we broke down and bought boat seats with back rests for the boat.

It was a great day on the lake as always and the tan is a little deeper after all the wind and sun.

First day of vacation

Floating Bliss
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

We’re at the lake for a couple of weeks of vacation and today was picture perfect weather. clear and calm at at 25-27C with a very light breeze.

Yesterday, as we drove out, the temperature fell from 28C to 15C as it clouded over and rained a little bit. This made it nice and cool to sleep and quickly cooled off the cottage as we opened up.

This morning, after some reading and a couple of cups of coffee at the dock I pressure washed our “new” floating dock. I hefted a near by rock (150+ lbs) onto the dock an secured it with a line to be used as an anchor. We’ll see how well this holds up in rougher weather as the week goes by. some adjustments may be required.

Tomorrow I’ll probably build a ladder as some folks would like a little assistance in getting out of the water and onto the dock.

Family Fun at the Lake

Len & Eric work on the dock

Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

This past weekend we had Len & Darlene and Eric & Dez at the lake and had a blast.

On the Saturday after a leisurely morning of puttering around and fixing up a couple of things Len & Darlene arrived and we had some lunch. Then there was no more sitting around. Len was looking for a little exercise so we cut up & split about 15 six foot tree sections that I’d recovered from some downed tress a couple of weeks ago. This was something I would have put off until the fall, but the help was ready, willing and able. So, in 28C+ we spent a couple of hours stocking the wood pile.

Later in the day I mentioned that there were a couple of sections of floating dock that had washed up on the point after a storm and had not been claimed in over 2 years. I thought that they might be of some use in our dock system. That was all it took, and the adventure was set in motion, Operation Retrieval was on! So, on Sunday Len, Eric & I retrieved the two 6′ x 16′ dock sections and I “retrieved” a sprained ankle.

Well, I thought that just getting them back to our dock was a good days work, but then Eric wanted to renovate the flotation system which had been damaged. So, after a quick trip to Kenora for materials, and an afternoon of construction, one of the sections is float worthy and will most likely get used as a floating swim platform anchored just off shore. This will allow some sleepy head sun tanners to get that late afternoon sun. 😉

Victoria Beach

Dune Jumper

Dune Jumping
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

We spent a day at Victoria Beach with our friends Chris & Elaine and no day at the beach would be complete without a stroll on the beach of course! This guy & his friends were having a great time performing death defying leaps off the top of the sand dune. OK, maybe not death defying a s they all seemed to live to do it again, but there was no mom’s in sight.

Along with the beach walk was a trip to the bakery for Dream cookies, a bike ride to look at the latest cottages and a stop to visit some friends in a vintage 1910ish log cottage, which was very cool.

Speaking of bike rides, somebody (Shirley) on their first ride of the year, hooked her handle bars on a chain link fence and went for quite a spill. No permanent damage, but a few scrapes and bruises. The local tennis pro was quick to run over with his new first aid kit the size of a small suitcase, eager to administer something, anything. Good think he didn’t have a portable defibrillator!

After a wonderful dinner and some relaxing and some good conversation we packed up and headed back into Winnipeg. Good times with good friends. Thanks.

Riding at the Lake

The Ride
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

Unfortunately the ride at the lake doesn’t look like this. The picture is from last years Maah Daah Hey trip (pictures), but the bike is still the one that gets me around. I figure that this year I’ll have logged over 10,000km on this bike since I purchased it in 2000.

This morning it’s overcast and a little cool at about 20C, a nice temperature for a ride. I went over to Rushing River Provincial Park which is just under 20km, but this is not the flat road riding of Manitoba. First there is getting out to the highway from our cottage with  lots of hills. On the way out the longest and steepest climb is the one out of the gravel pit. I still remember the first time I tried this when the bike was new and I was still getting used to clipless pedals. About 2/3 of the way up I ran “out of gas” and stalled and didn’t clip out fast enough and just fell over right in the middle of the road. Well, things have improved and while the hill was still a grind, there was no stalling or falling off.

The highway ride is not too bad, if you ignore the traffic. The shoulders are wide in 17 and most folks move over to give you some extra space, which is always appreciated. After the turn th 71, the shoulder narrows a bit but the traffic is lighter and going a little slower too. After 45min. I’m looping around the park. With the cooler weather there is nobody on the beach or in the lake and several campers are packing up. After a look at the river and an almond snack, it’s back in the saddle. Now there is a head wind and some of the long grades uphill are seeming a little tougher.

Some of my gear selections are starting to slip and skip. I know there is a little bit of excessive cross chaning in the selection, but this never used to be a problem. Must be time for a bit of a tune-up.

Pretty uneventful trip, no wildlife sightings, no road kill, no interesting objects on the side of the road, just the steady whir of the knobby tires on the road and some time to think.