Wednesday, September 07, 2005

paddle to the marsh

All summer, I've tried to visit Point Pelee. Lack of time or bad weather quashed most attempts, but Amy and I finally made to the southern tip of Canada on Saturday.

We started off at the marsh boardwalk. This faded sign greeted us.

(Note: picture altered to show text on sign - it was faded enough to be useless)

The boardwalk was wobbly but busy. The furthest section and watchtower were closed due to decaying planks - a sign indicated discussion were underway as to its fate. The marsh itself was full of canoeists, which turned the gears in my head. We'd rented a canoe years ago and, other than one crash, suffered no mishaps. Attempts to convince Amy to rent one since were futile. This time, she was open to the idea, so we plonked down our $20 deposit and waiting for one to return (canoe rentals at Pelee are cheap - $10/hr!)

I might have imagined myself as Pierre Trudeau, majestically paddling his canoe, clad in buckskin. The reality was Charles Tupper, John Turner or Kim Campbell (take your pick).

I was all bravado and eagerness...until I got in the canoe. A slight wobble set off my panic button. Onlookers got a good dose of comedy, while Amy and the clerk calmed me down. Once we pushed off, all was good, but I don't think she's going to let me live down those two minutes of panic for awhile.

From the launch ramps, you have to paddle your way up a narrow, winding channel into Lake Pond, the main body of water in the marsh. You float parallel to the boardwalk for the first stretch, then are surrounded by high reeds. The fun part is trying not to destroy patches of lily pads or crash into fellow inexperienced canoers. We managed to avoid the latter, but sent a few pads to meet their maker. The only incident we had was five minutes spent trying to push ourselves out of a bank of reeds near the tighest turn. Amy navigated, while I grew increasingly confident and stronger with the steering. Remnants of a blister on my left hand are my legacy of dodging other canoers.

A lily pad we didn't crush.

Everything ran smoothly until we docked the canoe. A slight wobble while attempting to get out of the canoe set off the panic button again. Cue more comedy and a steady hand from the canoe beside us.

And now...big ugly fish! Is a carp or catfish? Would it taste good grilled?

After a quick trip to the visitor centre, we met up with Mom at Paula's Fish Place, a temple to lake fish just north of the park. As usual, I revolted her with the frog legs that made up part of my combo platter (with super-sweet scallops and blackened pickerel). They look too...leg-like...for her taste.

Amy and I headed back to the park, hoping to go for a quick swim. When we reached the gate, we noticed two signs that we must have missed earlier: high bacteria in the water and stable flies. The latter look like houseflies, but have a more painful bite than a mosquito. Instead, we walked through the woods behind the visitor centre.

Yes kids, metal cans go in the composter. - JB

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