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Day 7 - Friday, 7/26/2002

9pm Ottawa

My washing machine is churning through its second load, stuff is hanging off every railing in my apartment, the songs that have been playing over and over my head the last six days are playing on the stereo and I'm trying to piece together what happened to the gadget collection while I was away.

I'm back.

We woke up at our usual 6am today to clouds that had "imminent rain" written all over them.

People were moving much more quickly than normal. Dizzyingly in fact. We swarmed the campsite like ants at a picnic, zipping hither and yon pulling down tents, rearranging barrells etc etc.

And then it started. Around 7:30 would be my guess. Rick's secret weather forecasting ESP had, once again proved infallible. Despite King Robert's proclamation to the contrary, the rain abated only long enough to arrange the gear for departure and gather for a group photo (or three).

We were on the water in record time -- just after 8am I reckon as there was no time to check my watch -- after a quick breakfast of random seed oatmeal that Bruce whipped up. We ate it crowded under the rain tarp.

We divvied up leftovers, organized the food barrells (which unbelievably were still full), should have swapped dieting tips (which would not include taking trips like this), and hit the water.

Chatting up one of the marina staff I learned that someone had been nailed with a $120 fine for having a fire during the ban, even though the ban had come into effect after they entered the park.

The wharfie also pointed out the much-vaunted huge and evident warning sign that to which the ranger had referred. It was a letter-sized poster in green and red that said "Restricted Fire Area." Helmut immediately interpreted this to mean "you shouldn't have fire around here because of the gasoline." Reasonable, and telling I thought. If you look closer you see a symbol of a camp fire in the middle. Fine. In what area, exactly? No camp fires on the wharf? In the marina environs?

And what does "Restricted Fire Area" mean? There are a lot of restricted movies and people still see them, after all. Restricted to what? To where? If they call this fair warning, they need to see a dictionary and a graphic designer but quick. If you think they're idiots, tell them. mnr.nric@mnr.gov.on.ca. It was calm, but rained lightly through our short-ish journey back to Hartley Bay.

After loading, changing to non-trip clothes and dealing with the valet parking (yes -- you got that right -- valet parking for $5 per day) we all set off, shaking hands, heading back into -- sigh -- civilization.

The group had not been unanimous on the issue of hanging out until Saturday. I don't know about the other vehichles, but ours was pretty much decided -- it rained solid, heavy and steady from Sturgeon Falls right back to Lockhart Ave -- that (short of a morbid, obsessive desire to discover just how much rain your tent can withstand) this was a day for driving, not camping.

And drive we did. We got back to Ottawa by around 5pm.

I said thanks to my car mates and caught a cab home.