Algonquin Park

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COVID has changed the way a lot of folks look at travel, I think. In our case, we’d been planning a big bucket-list trip for our 25th anniversary. The basic progression of that went something like:

  1. Two weeks in South America exploring Machu Picchu and/or the Galapagos Islands plus other “nearby” really cool things. (The Nazca figures and the Rainbow Mountain come to mind.)
  2. International travel not looking so hot right now. What if we defer that trip a year or so and do some cool touristy stuff on the eastern seaboard of the US. We’ve never been to New York city and there are some pretty awesome things to see in Boston, Rhode Island, etc. Could be a lot of fun.
  3. Well, things are really spiking in the US. You know, we haven’t been farther east in Canada than Montreal since our honeymoon. Maybe even extend that a bit and spend a week oceanside in PEI or Newfoundland.
  4. Oh, well, that’s not so good now, is it? How about a cottage in the woods on a lakeshore somewhere within a couple of hours’ drive.
  5. Hey, the back yard looks pretty good. Campfires to help burn all the brush I’ve cut down, barbecue, our own bed, and lots of money not spent on gas.

Change, it happens.

Now that things have started to ease up a little and we’re adjusting to how stuff works in a COVID age (at least until changing weather in the fall throws multiple wrenches into things, but I’m hardly the first person to predict that), we’ve starting exploring our general area a little bit, finding little, out of the way beaches, lesser known trails, geocaching. More outdoors and more adventurous than the couple of months leading up to now, but still mostly keeping a distance away from people.

Our farthest trip afield was the drive to Algonquin Park last week. It’s a bit more of a drive than some things, a little over two and a half hours straight to get to the East Gate, but it’s the oldest and third largest provincial park in Ontario and we’ve lived here for almost eighteen years, with ten years in Toronto before that, and never managed to go. Even just thinking about the Highway 60 corridor through the park with no thought to camping, there’s a lot to explore. On our first visit, we did the Visitor’s Centre, three trails, and one beach.

There was a little geocaching involved (there usually is when we get far from home for leisure purposes), but the hiking and the views were the thing. Lots of great pictures and a mere 7.5km of hikes, though only about a kilometre and a half I would call easy. Tough footing at times on one, so you had to go slow if you wanted to look around, and a lot of steep uphill on another, so it was a solid workout, too. I allowed myself to perform two kata at the top of the cliff on the Lookout Trail while my wife took pictures. The footing was… interesting, but I was careful, not performing at full speed or power, not close enough to the edge to scare her, and the backdrop was awesome. And my wife always enjoys finding a place to swim.

The only down point to the day is that the few remaining black flies in the park all migrated to me and considered the repellent I was wearing too much of to be seasoning rather than deterrent. Fortunately, I don’t react to the bites, but I have to wonder what they live on when I’m not around.

And I’m pretty sure one of them followed me home for an early morning snack today.

Not exactly the awe-inspiring, glorious trip to mark 25 years of marriage that we’d been considering early in the year, but it had its moments, even coming three months late, and it’s a place I think we’ll go back to.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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