Mini-Vacation: Ottawa

This week Rysio and I went on a whirlwind tour of Ottawa. We arrived at my godparents' house late on Sunday evening. We were pretty tired but after a quick visit, we decided to go out on a magical adventure. My cousin had a sweet connection, a security guard at the tallest building in town. We quietly snaked through parking garages, hallways, up elevators and terrifying maintenance ladders. When we arrived on the top of the building it was dark, windy and there were thousands of warm yellow and orange lights twinkling around below us. We saw parliament, the national gallery, a chateau and tiny cars and people. The heights were dizzying but it was so amazing to be higher than anyone else in the city. Afterwards we fixed our craving for Pho at a small place in Chinatown, it was so delicious!

On Monday we got up relatively early to fresh and yummy homemade muffins that my godmother had baked that morning. We decided to go downtown and soak up as much of the city as we could during our short time there. The most obvious choice was a tandem bike ride along the Rideau Canal! Neither of us had ridden a tandem bike before so we were obviously grinning like fools the entire time and talking about how jealous everyone surely was (we totally didn't look like tourists at all, not even a little bit).

We walked over to look at Parliament and went inside for a while. I'm sure the security guard at the metal detectors and x-ray scanners was mildly amused by Rysio's wallet, it reads: Not Fooled by the Government. We decided not to take a tour even though that gained us access to about one stairway, one hallway and two foyers. Rysio decided to write a strongly worded letter to Mr. Harper about our lack of access to the building while I opted to ask the government to continue supporting Parks Canada, the Arts and First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities in Canada.

Unfortunately, Rysio's camera was out of batteries so there are no pictures of this trip. I like to think that this little mishap allowed us to experience our mini vacation much more fully because we weren't busy taking pictures. Instead, I will share this old photo of my sister and I when we last visited Parliament together.

Rysio managed to survive a bit of shoe shopping that I needed to do for work, then we headed back to my godparent's house for a delicious rib dinner. We had an awesome time and we can't wait to go back and do more. I had my eye on the National Gallery and Rysio was pretty excited to hear that there is a Museum of Space and Aviation.

Sidenote: I was promoted to Dining Room Manager yesterday! I'm fairly honoured to be appointed to this position, hopefully things will go well for the next two months. I know this will be a great experience and it will test my organizational skills. 


Today I have my father on my mind. It's funny how things can change over the years. When I was a little kid, my parents were the God and Goddess of my small universe. They knew the answers to every question I could dream up, they could read chapter books and do pretty much anything. Like most families with teenagers we hit a rough patch for a while but it's funny how things cycle around and my parents are once again the most amazing and capable people I know. 

As I type this my father is racing the Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky. He's cycling his heart out, rocking the road and repeating a little mantra he picked up from some pro-athletes: chop wood, carry water. He has already completed the swimming leg of the race beating his time last year by just under a minute. I hope he is having a fabulous day and that he isn't dying in the southern heat. He's a pretty fantastic Dad and I can't wait to congratulate him on the phone tonight. 

Surprise Date

Last week I took Rysio on a little surprise date to Dorset, Ontario. The sleepy town boasts a giant fire-tower where we started our day, looking out over 800 square kilometres without a fire in sight. I was fine walking up the tower but on the way down my legs were wobbling from the heights! It was a beautiful way to start the day and I think Rysio was very surprised.

There was a large interactive sculpture at the bottom of the stairs, a pair of binoculars that you could look through and see a little cutout scene. Even though Dorset is a fairly small town (hamlet? village?) it boasts many artists, sadly we did not see a mention of the artist's name - but thank you Canadian artist, we really enjoyed this piece.

After spending a short amount of time in Dorset asking for directions (protip: don't ask, they don't know where anything is) we got on the highway for the second surprise. After a short drive to Stanhope and a small trek through the forest, we arrived at Ontario's last historic log chute. I think this was potentially Rysio's favourite part of the day, it was really fun to impress him with such an odd place. It was loud and beautiful and so much more interesting than I expected. 

We walked around a bit and then headed back to Dorset where we ate wood fired pizza out of an outdoor oven, the third surprise I had planned for Rysio. The pizza was my favourite part of the day, we both agreed we hadn't had pizza that delicious in over a year and we started dreaming about the possibility of opening our own little place in Hamilton.

We got up to all sorts of little adventures on the side that we didn't manage to capture. We saw 7 wild turkeys crossing the road, a snake and tons of deer (including the adorable faun pictured above). I feel the need to quickly sign off before my internet connection disappears yet again. I'm off to read Omnivore's Dilemma in my room and possibly do a quick clean up. 

Have a sweet day!

I'm sorry it's been rather quiet around here. I just got back from a little canoe trip into the Algonquin interior with some friends. It was really pleasant aside from the nearly constant rain. It was really nice to be on the water far away from everybody, getting some peace and quiet. Nice to see old friends too.  But it did make me horribly homesick and it's hard to imagine I can keep this gig up for another two months. I'm slowly tiring of my most recent mantra: I live to serve (which I use to take the piss out of myself, not as any sort of life-affirmation). I think eventually everyone must tire of waiting upon the rich, picking their pubic hairs out of showers (did I actually just type that, yes I guess I did) and acting interested in their gastronomic preferences. I'm not bitter, just a little burnt out perhaps.

There's a silver lining to all of this somewhere and I intend to find it. Maybe I'll meet an important work contact here or something magical will happen. Or maybe I'll just dwell on the little parts of my day that are fantastic, like cuddling with Rysio on the couch while we watch old tv shows and movies on the computer. Speaking of that lovely man, I think I'll go find him. He always cheers me up. Hope all is well with you.

xo, Robin

Summer Adventures

I know I've been going on and on about summer adventures but I came across this quote (via The Happiness Project) by Robertson Davies and I couldn't resist reposting it. 

“Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.” 

There are only a couple weeks of summer left and you don't want them to slip away unnoticed. Go outside and create your own adventures because you are responsible for your own happiness. Aside from adventuring, I like to curl up with a good book (or sometimes a couple of blogs on my laptop) and read an afternoon away. I deemed 2011 to be my summer of Canadian Literature and I have done quite well so far. I might write up a couple of literary reviews here, just to keep my skills sharp. 

My summer reading list has been:
  • Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden
  • What's Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies
  • This Cake is for the Party - Sarah Selecky
  • The Penguin Anthology of Stories by Canadian Women
Coming Up:
  • A Treasury of Stephen Leacock
  • Barney's Version - Mordechai Richler
  • ...And any of your fine Canadiana suggestions
Happy reading and adventure making!

Little Island Lake

I was finally rewarded with a nice August camping expedition this week. Rysio went ahead of time and set up a nice camp while Sam and I were working the evening shift. We stole away from the Lodge at about 11:00pm under the cover of darkness. We paddled and portaged under a starry sky and traveled through misty wisps, reaching our destination in the early hours of the morning (we estimate about 1:00am). There is something so pleasant about having no idea what time it is for two days. 

We built fires, ate camping food which always tastes delicious (no matter how sparse and improvised the ingredients are), paddled around, read books and went swimming. It was nice to get a little break from the Lodge. It's funny how it can be hard to disentangle from the busy modern world though. The sound of a singing bird reminded me of a cellphone ringing and the crack and pop of fresh pine needles on the fire sounded like bubble wrap being popped in rapid succession. 

I like how this portrait of Rysio turned out, it reminds me of a painting of a warrior or an aristocrat (he'd be the first one with dreadlocks I think). He was very patient with me on our trip, letting me photograph him about a million times. I also had the pleasure of discovering and photographing this little guy: 

Blue Spotted Salamander - Ambystoma laterale

Some lake side flowers were the most colourful aspect of our trip, as it was mostly grey and cloudy while we were away. We were even visited by rain and a thunder and lightning storm while we slept in our tent (I quietly hoped that a tree wouldn't fall on us). At least when everything is damp you don't have to worry about setting any forest fires (there is always a silver lining). 

We had such a great time. It's funny to joke about how people come to relax and vacation where we work, so we have to go deeper into the woods for a relaxing mini vacation. I already miss the peace and quiet of the bush. Even drinking my coffee without cream was kind of fun. I mentioned to Sam that I think camping is about learning how to live with discomfort. Learning to live without and learning to make do. In the end, you can always come home to a hot shower and a soft mattress. 

Happy trails to you, until we meet again!

Steamy Days Part II

A couple of weeks ago Rysio and I went on our second "steam themed date" of the summer on the Portage Flyer in Huntsville. We really like to go on little adventures like that. I tease him that I will start a section of the blog called Tips from Rysio which will include such notable quotes as "You should go on little adventures every day... so that you feel like a pioneer." This actually pertained to our mini "offroading" expedition next to a Home Depot parking lot rather than the train but I think it is fitting to how we spend every day together. 

I bet you didn't know that Huntsville Heritage Place operates a miniature steam powered train (something we sadly missed out on at the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology). Of course there was no way Rysio would miss out on this mini adventure so we structured a day off around visiting this local attraction, never mind that that we were the only adults there who weren't accompanying children. We had a great time, Rysio admired the machinery and I took tons of photos. A perfect day was had by all (even though we had to visit several establishments before finding the perfect coffee to maintain our steam-powered-high). If you have children or you happen to be dating an engineer, the Portage Flyer comes highly recommended by us. 


Even though I've been in Algonquin Park for about two and a half months now, I still haven't been out camping-for-real in a tent. There have been plenty of opportunities for camp-like activities: canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming off the dock, making arts and crafts, checking out the wildlife and collecting Labrador Tea (don't tell the park authorities on me! I promise I harvested sustainably). I have not slept in a tent and I have not used my new sleeping bag (although I was tempted to use it the night our sheets were still damp from being out on the line... and by line I mean thrown over our balcony railing in true camp-style).

Needless to say I've been feeling a bit anxious about getting out for a real night under the stars. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for some of the camping trips Rysio and I took last summer so I thought I'd share a couple of photos. On this trip we stayed at Killbear Provincial Park but we also tented at Rondo and Pancake Bay during 2011.

We're deliberating on what to do for our day(s) off this week. Rysio is off tomorrow and Friday, whereas I work until 11:00 tomorrow night and then I'll be off Friday. We were considering a quick jaunt in to Ottawa or Toronto but the thought of all that driving seems unbearable. I think we might test out the tourism in our own neck of the woods and pitch a tent somewhere nearby. There's even an adorable little island not to far from the Lodge that seems like it might be the perfect getaway, although I'll be really nervous paddling in dark! Either way, I am looking forward to some much needed R&R for R&R (rest and relaxation for Robin and Rysio)!
« »

Ursa and Alces All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger