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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

Algonquin in the Fall, Thanksgiving weekend

CANADA | Wednesday, 19 October 2011 | Views [460]

Algonquin in the Fall

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MOOSE!!! Moose do not exist, they are mythical creatures that have been thought up by the Canadian Tourist Board to entice people to Canada and more specifically to Algonquin Provincial Park. Any moose we may have seen in zoos can only have been cows with garden rakes fixed to their heads.

The reason for this rant? We did not see a single moose the whole weekend, even though the park is supposed to be crawling with them. I did everything the guide books say; the most sightings happen along the highway through the park; check, drove along there. It is the rutting season, so bull moose are more prevalent; check, right time of year. Moose are more active at dawn or just after and around water; check, went out early and drove around some lakes. Not as much as an antler was seen.

Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, the Nightingales along with the Barnards and the Watsons all planned to meet in Maynooth just southeast of Algonquin Park. Setting off early on the Saturday morning (as we always do, sorry to my family) we head to Peterborough, home to the tallest lift lock in the world. A lift lock is another of those novelties we Australians can’t get enough of as it’s not something we would see back home. The purpose of this lock is to lift a boat over 19 metres from one level of the canal to another, it does this by the means of a boat entering a lock similar to a bathtub which is then raised by means of hydraulic pressure. Once again our luck held out and we got to see the lock in operation.

As well as visiting the lock we got to drink in the Autumn colours along the canal. Just down from the lock was a rotating bridge with railway track, mum suggested that if you put your ear to the rails you may be able to hear a train coming (What, doesn’t she like her children!!), good one mum didn’t hear any trains, but Ryan got a nice big smudge across the side of his faceJ. From Peterborough we headed to Bancroft for lunch and to pick some produce up from the local farmers market where Tash was given a miniature pumpkin she christened pumpky and which we then had to make room for in the car, sigh!

Next stop Algonquin Park, we passed through Maynooth but as it was still early afternoon we decided not to check in and anyway we wanted to see the park. Everyone we have talked to over here has told us that the best fall colours were in the park and they weren’t wrong. I could try and describe them here but I think the photos do a better job. After stopping at a couple of Lakes we went on a hike to a couple of beaver dams and lodges, once again beavers are supposed to be active at this time of year repairing their dams ready for winter, but we didn’t see any. This may have had something to do with the families with screaming kids that were ahead of us.

Leaving the park we head off to our lodgings. This was a hostel, which is something different for us and wasn’t too bad. It had nine rooms of which the Aussies occupied five. Tash Michelle and I shared a room with three beds, while Ryan and Callunm got their own room. Lucy and Ed Watson and their two girls had arrived the night before us, so once we had settled in it was time to settle down for a well earned drink and a catch up. Having determined the pub downstairs in the hostel didn’t serve food and neither did anywhere else in town a quick message was sent to the Barnards to pick up dinner on their way up. So Saturday night’s dinner was a good old slap up Aussie BBQ. After dinner Ed persuaded the owner to open up the bar and we headed down for a couple more drinks along with a Canadian mother and son we had got talking to. Mick and his brother in law brought the guitars and provided the entertainment while the rest of us settled in for a game of killer darts. This rapidly expanded to an International tournament consisting of Aussies, Cannucks and some German backpackers who were staying at the hostel (no one mentioned the war).

Sunday morning after a restless night, the floors creaked every time Michelle rolled over in her bed, I woke up early and meeting Lucy who was also wandering around, we both decided to go moose hunting, as I related earlier, with no results. Back for breakfast we found the Barnards had headed out and would meet us for lunch, so ourselves, Ed and Lucy headed back into Algonquin to do some more hiking. Once again the views and colours were spectacular. Lunchtime we went to the beach and met up with the others. It’s hard to imagine a beach on a lake in the middle of a park but it was another great place to while away the afternoon, though the sun was hot the temperature of the water dissuaded any but the bravest from venturing out above their knees.

Being Thanksgiving we had to celebrate, even though none of us could relate to it and for all our Canadian friends reading this; ”no we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, neither do we celebrate HalloweenJ” these are purely North American customs. Laureen had made bookings earlier in the week for dinner so we headed to a local resort for a meal of roast turkey with all the trimmings, this was topped off with pumpkin pie for dessert. Everyone waddled out later agreeing that it was worth every cent. Back at the hostel it was time for the darts tournament again and this time it took on a truly international flavour as we dragged in some French that were also in the hostel, into the game. It seems to be a trait of Australians to be able to pull in anyone and everyone nearby into their activities. This time the activities went on into the wee small hours, I bailed out at midnight leaving a couple of Aussies and the Germans and French to fight it out. (no good could ever come of that).

Monday morning after a bit of a sleep in we all started packing to make our individual ways home and hopefully beat the traffic heading into Toronto (we did, Mick and Laureen weren’t so lucky). I have been told that Thanksgiving weekend is change over for a lot of Canadians, they head up to their cottages and pack them up for winter so the traffic both into and out of Toronto is heavy.

Chelle, the kids and I headed west through the park and the thing that was most noticeable was that over the distance of an 80Km drive the trees and colours in the west of the park had peaked and many of the leaves had fallen, whereas over in the east the colours were at their peak, so once again we can think ourselves fortunate with our timing. As I mentioned the early start allowed us to miss the worst of the traffic and we finally made it home mid afternoon after another experience unlike any other we have seen.

Canada is a beautiful country, but is truly at its best in the Autumn. Even before coming over here I had always wanted to see North America in the fall and I haven’t been disappointed, this one weekend alone has made it worthwhile buying a good camera earlier in the year, I just hope my photos did it justice.


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