Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Well Wishes to Jim and Ted Baird!

Brothers Ted and Jim Baird - second and third from the left respectively.
This picture is from a spring run on the Credit river.

Just a small note to our friends Jim and Ted Baird.

They are well under way on their canoe expedition to Victoria Island to paddle the remote Kuujjua river for the next 3 weeks. Victoria Island is north of mainland Nunavut and is also part of the Northwest Territories. This trip is extreme in almost every manner possible such as the weather (it is located above the Artic circle), wildlife (polar bears), remoteness, and cost!

We would like to wish them all the best in their journey- especially their well-being and safety.

Looking forward to hearing their story and the accompanying pictures/videos when they get back! Here's a link to their website where you'll find more info on their trip as well as a radio interview: http://www.canoebeyond.com/

Here's is another link to their expedition on Kokotat's website: http://www.kokatat.com/expeditions.asp - Kokotat is a premiere manufacturer of watersport products which Jim was able to secure as a sponsor. Congrats guys!

Godspeed my friends!

Ben & Imroze's Honeymoon Trip Update!

One of the best investment in backcountry gear: the Eureka VCS shelter!
Just ask Ben and Imroze!

After my previous post regarding the wedding gift to Ben and Imroze for their honeymoon trip, you know I couldn't just leave it hanging like that. I had to do a follow-up! (I'm starting to feel like a journalist!) They called me just before they got home from their trip to report that everything went well, (well almost) and that they had a great time together. (of course they did! - it was a honeymoon!!) Lastly, they stated that the bug shelter was a godsend and that they were completely thrilled with it! Our conversation was brief, so I invited them over the following week to hear their story.

When the bugs are bad outside, being inside the shelter
is sure to bring a smile!

Several nights ago, Ben and Imroze came over to my place to share stories and pictures of their honeymoon in Temagami. We had a great time together. After chowing down on some good 'ol chili Marylou had cooked up, they gave details of their adventure in the bush over a few beers. They shared moments of hardship, how they overcame challenges, times they worked together as a team, when they laughed uncontrollably, and made unforgettable memories. All hallmarks of a great canoe trip, but more importantly, the building stones of a successful marriage. I know I'm going off on a tangent, but as I see it, if they can get through a challenging canoe trip like this together, (especially being their first) they have a great future ahead of them.

The honeymoon had a few hiccups - Ben splitting his hand
when the axe kicked back. His hand is ok, but he left
a few pictographs at the campsite!

So the big question was, "Did the bug shelter save your honeymoon?" They both agreed that the bug tent was pivotal in making their honeymoon great. In Imroze's own words, it wasn't the tough portages, the long paddles, or battling wind and waves, (or even Ben! lol!) but being unprepared for the bugs that could have made the honeymoon a disaster. I can't say they weren't prepared, but I can definitely say they were much better off with the bug shelter. Especially on the first day when they flew into Katherine lake, they said the black flies were insane! The bugs were so bad that poor Igloo's eyes (Ben and Imroze's West Highland Terrier) were swelling shut due to the innumerable bites around her eyes!

Igloo finding respite from the bugs - even she appreciated
the bug shelter!

Ultimately, Ben and Imroze's honeymoon trip was a success for many other reasons, irregardless of the bug shelter. They got to experience a floatplane for the first time, see some of the most beautiful scenery in Temagami, dined on some amazing food including fish they caught, climbed to the second highest point in Ontario, and even had a friendly boater offer them beer in the middle of their trip! But most importantly, they got to spend quality time together in the wild open spaces that they love. Not everyone can relate and see the logic in spending a honeymoon in the bush, as some (okay, most) would prefer being at a resort sipping Pina Colata's, but I totally understand. Yeah, the hum of the mosquitoes outside the bug tent may be slightly annoying, but the peace, solitude, and beauty of the wilderness is a honeymoon paradise unmatched by many. That, I can vouch for!,....well, minus the honeymoon.

Ben and Imroze having a moment at Centre Falls. A picture of the same
place was the catalyst that first convinced Imroze to come here.

PS. Thrilled that Imroze thoroughly enjoyed her first canoe trip, Marylou and I are excited about taking a trip together with them! The summer is short, but we'll try and squeeze something in. Fingers crossed!

Igloo: "I hate bugs!"

All photos in this post are courtesy of Ben and Imroze Albert.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Gift to Save a Honeymoon in Temagami

Congratulations to Ben and Imroze! We look forward
to our first trip together with them!

That's exactly what I was thinking about while Marylou and I were on our trip on the Obabika river in Temagami. Our good friends Ben and Imroze were going to be married 3 days after we got back and we still had to purchase their wedding gift. Its not that we left it for last minute, as Marylou and I had already planned on purchasing them nice matching PFD's. The problem arose when Ben unintentionally emailed me for advice on selecting a nice life jacket for Imroze and then actually went out and bought it! Okay, plan B! (ah, Marylou what was plan B??!!)

You see, Ben and Imroze planned to take their honeymoon in Temagami on a canoe trip. (my kind of thing!) I may have had a little to do with it when I shared pictures of our multi-week trip with them from last year and Imroze was mesmerized by the picture of Centre Falls on the Lady Evelyn river. Its funny how things can change. The honeymoon was always going to be a canoe trip, but Imroze stipulated at least a roof, aka a cabin. However, sometimes its just those small things (like my picture!) that can bring a sudden change. Hence, a canoe trip to one of the most beautiful and rugged places in Ontario was set in motion.

Ben is an experienced canoe tripper and is as passionate about paddling as I am. Imroze's experience on the other hand is more limited. She has experienced outdoor day trips hiking and canoeing, but has never gone on an overnight trip. Therefore this honeymoon was not only about consummating their marriage, but experiencing and igniting a true passion for the wilderness while paddling together in the wilds of Temagami. So what's the problem?

Well, the wilderness does not play favourites and is non-negotiable in its raw state. Therefore, as beautiful and wonderful as things can seem, it can change at a moments notice. Our most recent trip totally demonstrated that. Fluctuating temperatures going from an oppressive humid heat to a hypothermic chill, extreme weather fronts that brought wind, waves, and torrential rains in minutes, and not least, extremely annoying bugs - black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, etc. It was the last one we were most concerned about. Its not like the bug situation was out of control, as we have seen worse, but they were relatively bad. (see previous post) For experienced trippers like ourselves, its no problem, but put a newbie in the same situation and it could be disastrous.

As always, being prepared can mean the difference between enjoyment and misery. And make no mistake, Ben was prepared. He bought a bug shirt for Imroze and lots of bug spray. However, with the cost of the wedding and the recent purchase of some expensive but excellent and comfortable canoe gear (do I hear Ostrom?) they were well expensed out. So when Maryou and I were comfortably relaxing inside our Eureka VCS bug shelter, I had an "eureka!" moment and suggested purchasing one of these for Ben and Imroze. With a resounding "yes!", I knew it was going to be the best gift! (okay, maybe second to the 42" LCD tv) I couldn't have thought of any better canoe related gift then this one, especially considering the circumstances. Sitting around the camp fire covered in a bug shirt or reeking of DEET just doesn't seem as romantic as being comfortably clothed (or unclothed!) bugfree in the shelter! (okay, okay, minus the campfire, but you can have candles!)

So as planned, we were able to purchase the shelter in time for the wedding. Unfortunately, the day before the wedding I had spoil the surprise and reveal to Ben what his gift was. I had to tell him to make sure there was going to be space for it in his pack as they were leaving early the next morning. Needless to say, he was estatic! (yes!) The rest was history! So did our gift save their honeymoon?, only time will tell. But I'm sure it will make it much more memorable!

After Thought: I forgot, Marylou and I also gave them a care package of essential outdoor items as well. One being natural bug spray (it actually works!) to look after the "sensitive" areas when nature calls. As you all know, bugs are ruthless and they spare no spots un-protected! Trust me, I know!, I couldn't even swat the darn thing!