Monday, May 18, 2015

A One Night Stand

You have decided to go for a lengthy bike ride and then camp out overnight. Living in the city, there are still places where one can set up a tent and enjoy the camping experience without leaving the city limits.

I found just a place this afternoon and it offered me everything I require in a camping place. Privacy is important and this spot was near a fence that would separate me from others. Some of that separation came from the plentiful trees on the property.  Only the evergreens had any substantial growth on their branches with this still being a cold spring.

There was a perfectly flat spot to pitch the tent.  I dutifully laid down on the ground first to feel if I wanted to sleep there.  I had learned this from reading Ray Jardine's book (I first heard of his ultra lightweight camping methods in the movie and book "Wild") and it made perfect sense. Why I had not been doing this for the last ten summers of camping?  Making a grass angel?

Not far from the tent was a building that housed the washrooms, showers and facilities for washing up dishes.  There would be no stinky pit toilet to contend with.  Near the tent - but not too close was the firepit.  I hadn't planned on cooking over the fire but a blaze is always a cheery companion.  My joy increased when I saw that there was a plentiful supply of firewood.

After sundown, I bunked down in my tent and tried out my new Lamina 20 sleeping bag which is rated for 7 degrees.  By 2 am it was only 1 degree. I couldn't take the cold anymore so I got up and went into the building with all the facilities and climbed into my own bed.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Riding in the Center of the Universe

During a lunch break in Ottawa, I thought it would be a good idea to rent a bike and go for a short ride.  While working near the Rideau Canal, I was sure I had seen a bike rental sign.  My hope was that the rental place would be open at this time of year.

My hopes were boosted when I discovered a couple of signs pointing to a space underneath an elegant bridge.  Climbing down, I could see what looked like a tunnel with hundreds of bikes stacked around its curving walls.  The operator of the rental shop near the tunnel was munching on a ham sandwich clasped in his greasy, bike mechanic hands.  The place had that distinctive bike shop smell - rubber, oil and dirt mixed together,
The tunnel

It surprised me that the mechanic asked me what hotel I was staying at while he filled out the rental agreement.  How did he know I was an out-of-towner?  Then I remembered that Ottawa, like most capital cities is also a tourist town.  He warmed up a little when I explained to him that I'm a bike mechanic at my city's community bike shop and in minutes he had me riding out of the tunnel on a GIANT bike.  Although it appeared to me to be a normal size.
A Giant bike
Riding along the Rideau Canal should be a pleasant experience.  A decent spring afternoon, an empty bike path, a nice enough bike.  But there was a pair of eyes that stared right at me.  In fact, followed my every move.  Right out of a cheesy horror movie.
Scary eyes
The bike path along the canal is very organized and interesting.  I say organized because the city has, for your convenience, place strategic signs to help you on your way.  For example, the signs show you how to get to a bank. (To pay for renting a bike)?
In the canal itself was a pair of ducks, three seagulls, a car tire, one rusted shopping cart and a shelf of crusty snow lining the south bank.  There must be woodpeckers in the vicinity as evidenced by a tree so peppered with holes that it was a wonder it could still stand.
Woodpecker machine gun action
The thing that most impressed me about the Rideau Canal bike path is that it is for everyone except pedestrians.  Apparently, walking on the path is prohibited and fine - able.

When I peeled up to the rental shack I didn't need to visit the bank.  I had the ten - spot right there in my wallet.