Day 1

October 11, 2002, 9:15pm, George Lake Campground, Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney in the fall. I’m very excited. I’m inside my tent, on my own, at site #15 in the George Lake campground. I think I am going to be warm enough.

That was my preoccupation all through planning/obsessing about this trip. And it looks promising, for a number of reasons not the least of which being that I think I’ll be warm enough.

Today was travel day. I was up and ready to go at 9am, precisely when my travel buddy, Michael McManus showed up to get me outside my apartment. I threw all my junk into the car and off we went.

We stopped for lunch around 2pm in Sturgeon Falls at the same Mr. Sub we stopped at on the way to Hartley Bay on the French River trip I took in July.

We got to Killarney around 4:30pm and booked a site in the George Lake campground. There were quite a few to choose from. We tried to get as close as possible to the canoe launch, where we needed to be for 9am Saturday. No reservation? No problem. Mind you, the interior sites are all booked five months in advance even on this weekend. After hearing Richard’s stories about booking trips here, I’m more convinced than ever that the reservation system in Killarney and Algonquin has to go.

So we set up our tents under overcast skies and headed into town. Neither of us had cooking equipment, and we needed to get... ah... stuff.

We went to Pitfield’s General Store and got gas for Michael’s car and some Kit Kats for dessert for Michael’s dinner (try to keep an open mind). When we were gassing up, this lear jet came roaring over the town, maybe 100 feet off the ground.

I asked the manager at the LCBO (our next stop) if that happened often and she said yes. Apparently there are these multimillionaires that anchor their yachts here and fly their jets up from the ’States to hang out on them. Amazing. Richard added later that many of the yacht set never actually weigh anchor. They just use the boats as cottages.

After getting gassed up and fueled, Michael and I ran into Richard and Lynn checking out the town’s hotels. They were going to stay in one of Killarney’s finest. They settled on the Killarney Bay Inn, $70 per night, single occupancy.

The four of us walked around Killarney for a bit and then went to the Killarney Bay Inn for dinner. Sufficeth to say the tourist bug has not hit Killarney. Yes, there may be yachts, private jets and suntanned consultants with trophy brides roaming the streets, but the Killarney Bay Inn, Pitfield’s General Store, the fish n chips shop are all the genuine article: salt of the earth, down home middle of nowhere outfits.

The Inn opened ten years ago, which seems to be about the last time the carpets were cleaned. The lounge/dining room has cheap period-piece chairs, clearly bought in bulk, duct-taped carpet, round, foldable melamine tables and the menu is strictly greasy spoon, complete with the enticing "meat sandwich" menu item. A hunting lodge aesthetic in a Ramada Inn shell.

Killarney is a great place to camp. Did I mention that?

So we had our meal (I had a grilled cheese and fries with a chef’s salad: $40 for four people with no alcohol), and then Michael and I headed back to George Lake ($21.25 per night for a patch of dirt that sleeps 12).

I went for a short walk, stared at the stars from atop a small rock hill, and came back. Could it be that we will have sun tomorrow?

And now to bed.


(click to enlarge thumbnails)