Thursday, July 17

I'm still in bed, but out the window I can see Kurt and one of his kids all suited up in boots and life jackets getting fishing gear ready. Seeing as I haven't even said hello to them yet, I rush to get up and intercept. Aha. The boy - Sam - caught two reasonable fish yesterday - a catfish and a walleye - while his dad rowed the boat, and now he's all gung ho for more, thus this excursion at the crack of dawn. I head out in a second rowboat and take pictures.

Soon the north wind picks up and becomes very stiff with whitecaps on the waves right up to the beach. Kurt gives up trying to keep the boat on the lake under these conditions and comes in.

After the car dealerships open in the Soo, I telephone the Honda dealer, and then the Acura customer service hotline. It turns out that no one in the Soo can help me before Saturday, and no Acura dealer in the States would fix my air conditioning under warranty - only stuff that would prevent me from continuing the trip altogether would be covered this way. So we're screwed. The customer service lady calls back later and it is concluded that maybe in Calgary -- thousands of kilometres of sun-parched highway from here. I worry now that I'll be driving all by my lonesome, with the windows open, while everyone else is in the van ahead.

It is time to butcher the two fish from yesterday. Barbara is an expert at this, and shows the kids how it's done. "This is the gall bladder, don't stab that because the whole fish will taste bad if you break it" and so on.

Luc on the slackline
Luc gets up late (compared to me) and decides he's going to practice slackline stuff. He sets the line up out of sight of the camp in general, by the empty trout pond. I take lots of pictures with the digicam - let anyone try to accuse me of just photographing the pretty girls now - and Luc, after inspecting a couple, gives me his SLR to take some on film too. I'm uncomfortable with this - with film you don't know if the pictures will turn out, you don't get so many tries etc - but handling the camera and good lens he has I'm just thinking, gee I wish this sucker was digital because this is what I remember about photography being fun.

Later I help Luc find the paddles for the canoe and he goes off on the lake, where the wind has calmed down again, whereas Matthias and I eat some lunch and then take Barbara and the two older kids -- Tamara, age 3 and Sam, age 5 - up the cliff on the steep way up the front. Sam has no trouble and does almost all of it unassisted (while I hover close behind just in case) and Barbara and Matthias take care of Tamara.

Up at the viewpoint, we want to wave to Kurt, but our shouts -- and a telephone call from Matthias's RIM device -- produce no results and of course I've forgotten the walkie talkies. So I dash down again and find Kurt upstairs in the guest house watching over the sleeping baby. I take over the watch for a moment, while he goes out and does the wave and shout thing. I then go out and take many tries at getting a picture of the others up there through binoculars. A couple of them come out reasonably well.

I try a swim in the lake. It seems cold at first, but it's actually a comfortable temperature for swimming (barely). However I don't swim very far because the waves are a bit too big for my taste -- I'm not a very strong swimmer.

I help Kurt and Barbara and family set up the old raccoon trap that Matthias built 22 years ago and that still rests, in fully functional condition, in the back of the shed. We bait it with a fish head left over from the morning.

Luc spends a lot of time sleeping and reading - he doesn't feel up to climbing on the cliff today. Eventually he sets up a longer slackline down by the lake, where the whole camp can see. It doesn't take long before an audience gathers. "Are you in the circus?" is the first question. One lady in particular is very taken with Luc's "rippling abs" (true) and wants him to teach her. She doesn't try very hard though.

I am sitting by and taking more pictures - there's bound to be some good ones eventually - until Luc packs it in. Soon after we go back up to the cottage, at about 8:45pm, Andrew and the others arrive. The van is a Dodge Caravan. Hmmm. Maybe he should have asked for a Caravan, with the Pontiac as second choice, and then he'd have gotten the Odyssey? At least I have never gotten the vehicle I asked for, even when given the choice at the time I reserved.

Ewart on the cliff
As Andrew, Caroline, Ewart and Peter pour out of the van, we have maybe 20 minutes of sunlight left so I take them on a turbo walk down to the beach and to the top of the cliff. Then mom serves up "sour beans" - a German dish of green beans, sausage cubes and sauce, on top of Spätzle that even I like even though I hate green beans. It goes over very well. Not long after dinner is eaten we all hit the sack. Andrew says we'll get up at 4:30am so we can depart at 6am! What a slave driver! Look at the bright side, he tells Peter (who is an even worse sleeper than I) - if you get to sleep right away you can still sleep six and a half hours!

Ewart says he snores, so we encourage him to set up his tent outside. I sleep passably well for the first few hours, then not so well.

Ewart: The trip from Ottawa to Markus's parents starts just after 12.00am in parking lot T of the Carling campus. Unfortunately, Andrew was unable to get the Honda Odyssey that he wanted, and instead has acquired a Dodge caravan. However, the vehicle is very comfortable, with 4 individual seats, Andrew having removed to the two rear-most seats to allow room for a huge volume of luggage - it also allows for one or two people to sleep in the back push-comes-to-shove. The drive up is uneventful, Andrew and Ewart sharing the driving. The only stop we make is in Sudbury, where we stop off to tank up with some much needed gas, at a rip-off price, as well as make a visit to the nickel mining visitor centre where there is a giant Canadian nickle coin mounted on a small hill.

By the time we reach our destination, we have been on the road for near on 9 hours, so a nice hot meal in charming company, not to mention being surrounded by the beautiful interior woodwork of the log cabin, is much appreciated. After supper, we all promptly retire for the night - we will be getting up very early, and there is much driving to be done.

Peter: Starting out in Ottawa at noon time we headed for our first road stop at Amogla camp owned by Markus's parents. Along the way we passed through Sudbury and snapped some shots of the Giant Nickel. The Amogla camp area itself was beautiful, on the shores of a lake not far from the Sault Ste Marie border crossing. There was a nice little cliff to scramble up and the house itself was amazing inside. The work of a master wood worker, the entire interior was beautifully done in wood, right down to the door latches and hinges.

All pictures for this day

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