Sunday, July 23, 2000 8pm
Ottawa

Sunday morning we broke camp and hit the lake in a blur of efficiency, diligence and conscientiousness. The night before, over white wine and cuban cigars (for some of us) we agreed on our plan: get up at six, have a quick bowl of cereal, hit the lake by eight, arrive by nine, load the van, fix the muffler and be on the road for ten. And that’s exactly what happened. Somewhere there was an earth-shaking groan as a paradigm shifted.

Dennis fixed the muffler with a beer can and a bit of wire he found while picking blueberries several days earlier. The man’s a genius, I swear. Earlier, on the lake, we were staring at the shoreline opposite, trying to figure out where the pull-out point was. He said “I reckon it’s between those two houseboats,” pointing at these two white specks just poking out from the early morning mist. We were maybe a kilometre out on the lake at the time. So I picked the mid-point, and we paddled towards it. When we got within a couple hundred metres, I could see the marker on the tree where the trail to the parking lot met the beach, maybe half a degree off the bow of the canoe.

Dennis impressed himself with that one too, I should say.

So we put in ten hard strokes and leaned back as we hit the beach and we were done.

To this point I’ve been avoiding all mention of the fact that the last 40 minutes of paddling were done under cloudless, warm skies on a becalmed lake, because the concept is just too difficult to accept. Somewhere Doctor Murphy was jumping up and down and pointing at us saying “See? See? Didn't I tell you?”

So I won’t talk about the weather.

On the way back to Ottawa, we figured that we’d travelled between 80 and 100km, settling on 90km, I think. That doesn't seem like a lot, to me because the last excursion I was on was 200km in two days. Mind you on that one, there was a lot less to carry, and biking over water would have been much harder.

We said brief goodbyes and abandoned each other beside the MacDs at Billings Bridge. There were two cabs there when we disembarked. Andy took one and I took a minute to rummage through my stuff to find something of Luke’s that I had borrowed. When I turned around, both cabs had gone. So I called one and waited. While waiting I thought maybe I could portage my pack and paddle back home, as a sort of gentle re-integration thing. I thought I was pretty funny, though I guess you had to be there. Eventually the cab showed up and I got home the urban way.

 

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