Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quetico Canoe Trip - August 5 - 7

So, here is the opportunity I've been waiting for all summer.  I swore up and down that during my break from work I'd be doing all sorts of leisure activities.  Thus far, I have had none (aside from band trips).

Day 1
Dad and I planned to jump into Quetico around Stanton Bay and do a little day tripping around that area (as we had done the last trip with the guys).  The problem was as we were getting packed the truck (my aztek) decides to have problems with the oil change light.  I thought it was messed up... because we had JUST had the oil changed.  However, what had happened (as I assumed) was that the oil place didn't reset the oil counter thingie... and it takes me a long time to figure it out.  Turns out that when you do the reset, you shouldn't IMMEDIATELY turn the car back on, but wait 10 seconds... who knew?  So we get all ready to go and had the car all packed [note... when we do the canoe next year, remind ourselves that we tie down the bow end, then only on the body through the car -- not on the stern as well -- although it was SUPER tight and didn't move, I'm concerned about the gunwales].
So we get to Quetico main camp and check in.  Turns out that the road to Stanton has been washed out and is impassable.  Oh, well... French it is.  Quick little setup and paddle and we get our way to the Pines.  Always gorgeous at the Pines.  Plus, as we saw TONS of vehicles in the interior parking lot, there was NOBODY camped.  So we decide to stake a claim and hang out for a bit, besides... the wind was really picking up.
We have the tent setup and we scour for some wood [admiring the funny drawing somebody has etched into the sand -- kinda funny].  I decide next trip I'm getting a foldingsaw, my hatchet is brutally slow.  We decide to hop into the canoe and do a bit of fishing before the wind/rain gets worse (it had showered intermittently and very lightly).  Lo' and behold, I prove my wilderness worth by actually catching a fish!  Nice ~3-4 lb pickerel.  So, tricky part here is that I've not brought a fillet knife.  Hmm... this makes it a bit messy to get the fillets.  But we make do with my regular hunting knife.
We head back to the site and start to cook up my catch (we do so on a fire I started myself).  We happened to have some aluminum foil and cook it in the skin... it wasn't half bad.  Then we meet our new neighbours and they decide to let us have their left over fish breading... dang it.
So the wind gets that bad, that we jump into the tents and wait out the rain.  The rest of the night is pretty uneventful.  Dad goes to bed way early... well at least it feels way early.  The stars don't even start to come out until super late... but it's nice just relaxing in front of the fire.
Day 2
This day dad has it in his brain he hasn't paddled nearly enough for his new heart and wants to go check out Stanton Bay... so we head out (after I've slept in a bit) and paddle the roughly 2 hours out that way.  Dad mistakes a couple of islands, but we eventually make it there.  Nice little area, and when we walk up where the launch is, it's clear I've forgotten how nice that trail is.  Plus the landing/parking area has picnic tables and everything.  Too bad the road was gone.  I try some more fishing (unsuccessfully) and then we decide that we should head back.
Going back there's some wind... which we hoped there would be, however, instead of the hoped 'at our back' wind, it's almost a perfect cross wind.  Which makes it a) hard to steer, b) extra tiring.  By the time we reach the tent, we're exhausted.  But dad's not too exhausted to get exasperated at all the new arrivals to the Pines... almost to the point of rude.  We're all visiting here anyways, share and share alike.  He even has to go over to the tent 2 sites over and complains about the noise... sheesh.  So this night ends pretty much like the first ... we just relax and then dad goes to bed and then I play with the fire.

Day 3
So we wake up nice and early and I decide that if we can, I'd like to head back to town soon, thus relieving Mandy.  Dad then hears something you don't normally hear in Quetico -- a motor.  Weird.  So we pack up and head on out back through French and then we see the boat.  It's a Quetico worker... apparently they're doing a lot of work down by the dam area and they need to get alot of equipment in and out... she slowed down for all the canoes, being very gracious in that aspect, and expressed her disdain for the 'stinky' machine out here in Quetico.
We eventually get back in and check out.  Dad finds some blueberries around the main building (after going in and complaining about all the campers at the Pines) and we head on home.
First thing I do is check out the distance from the Pines to Stanton... 12km (dad thought roughly 6-8).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Piping Parades - alot in July

We had a lot of gigs to do this summer... what was kind of nice was that some of them were 'multiples'.  So we really only had to leave town for 3 weekends, but we got like 7gigs done!

There was Hibbing at the end of June; Minocqua which consisted of Rhinelander, Three Lakes, Lake Tomahawk and Minocqua; Coleraine and Butternut.

Plus we had some grads and the summer in the parks to do too...

Minocqua was amazingly great as always.  They treat us right there... i mean it's the only parade we get to stay in a hotel for!!  And there's huge fireworks at night.  I can tell I'm getting old tho', as we went to the one bar and it got packed I started getting 'antsy' and annoyed.  I nearly started a fight trying to push my way out.

Coleraine and Butternut were funny... It was also Andrew's first band trip -- and I even had him play in the ranks!
Coleraine is where Lefty's from and that guy can throw a heck of a party, insanse! Funny part about that night is that after the street parade, Peter and the boys came back and were ready to party still.  Pete loves his new car's stereo and had it blasting at like 330am... it came to a point where I had to just go and turn it off.  I got up, walked outside, grabbed his keys out of the ignition (debated about just throwing them, but thought better) and walked inside with them.  The next morning Peter came up to me and said "thanks for being the voice of reason Ryan, I'm sorry"... however I believe this was before he looked at his vehicle.  See, he left all his windows open... and it rained alot last night.  Woops... felt bad, but he could have gotten the keys easily (just inside) and closed the windows himself before going to bed.
Butternut I ended up trapping my own keys in the car.  Shouldn't do that in a small hick town.  Nobody to help you out... eventually I was able to find some people.  Thank you the FD of Butternut.  Still have to send them something.  We ended up having to use Deb's car antennae to push the button to unlock the doors (she was surprised to hear that they came off... and went back on... I was somewhat surprised too).


MooseJaw/Regina - May 16-17

Finally... after a while of not competing I was drawn to put myself up against some others...  the main reason I went was that we were able to convince Andrew to go and give it a shot.  This is usually very good for a new piper to get enthused in the art, so in order to get him to want to go more I said I'd go.  And somehow my saying I'd compete also meant I'd go up a grade as well... see, if you look at the bottom of this 'space' I put up a list of all my competitions ... and with the exception of like 2, I've competed in Grade III forever.  So it probably was time for me to go up.  Grade II... yoiks.


It was a good trip, stopped in Winnipeg on the Thursday night, drove to MooseJaw Friday, rested up and competed Saturday morning.  We went to the park and wandered around for a while... only to find that they had moved it to the school a few blocks away... not cool.  Once we got settled tho' it was kinda cool, get the adrenaline rush going... we all had to compete pretty early.  But I got to watch Andrew compete and took some pictures.  I then competed for my first time in Grade II for the Hornpipe/Jig.  It was good.. thought I made a few blubs while playing.  The judge was very cool after and we talked for a bit on how to improve etc... and then I heard the guy after me.  He was good.  We went down later to catch the score sheets and I saw that Andrew had gotten a bronze.  Good for him!  I then looked at my sheet... what's this 1st place?? No way!!  I think I swore kinda loudly at that point.  Awesome.  Didn't do so well on my MSR, but can't win them all.


Next day at the Regina Games was also cool... I did the same in my MSR, but got all the way to the end of my Jig of the Hornpipe/Jig and missed half the bar and ended up getting a 'breakdown'.  Crap... Andrew pulled out a 3rd place again for himself.


Just so you don't think I'm making this up, here's the official results.


It was a great weekend, and I really needed that injection of enthusisasm for piping again.  Thanks to Deb for arranging it all.

P2P Events - May 6th / May 21-22 / May 27th

I had 2 major events take place this year for Passport to Prosperity:

 - Success-Certified - May 6th - I planned this one based on how they had done it last year and I think it was a great success.  Students got to choose from 11 different courses and I got Jeffy to come and do an on-site report and I even got to be interviewed the next day.  See the Employer Registry facebook page for more pictures.

 - Regional Career Fair - May 21-22 - this really wasn't P2P's but I helped out in the meetings etc... and it was a big showcase for the program.

 - Multi-Workplace Tour - May 27th - not really a major event, but a good one.  I was able to arrange 2 tours for coop teachers to go and see some workplaces.  We toured GRK Fasteners and the city's Bare Point Water Treatment centre


For all the info on these see the Facebook page or go to the new Employer Registry local site.  Part of my job now is to maintain that page and ensure there's local content on there.

OCEA Conference -- April 26-28

The near culmination of the P2P year is at OCEA where we get to mingle elbow to elbow with many coop teachers from the province and learn what they learn.

This year was great as there was a chance for the new Employer Registry to 'unveil' itself on a large scale.  This is where the video that they came to Thunder Bay to shoot with me came to light.  My segment was shown just before some Ministry big wig (I could have told you a few months ago, but I forget now).  It was cool and embarassing at the same time as from that point on I became known as the "guy from the video".  The other videos didn't showcase specifically on the coordinator like mine did.

I got to learn quite a few things (and they were helpful in me attaining my AQ course for coop) -- namely not to leave my power cord behind.  I was without email the ENTIRE time... very saddening and maddening.


Part of the trip however was great as Mandy and Dean and I all went down and visited with Kelly and Adam and visited the zoo and other touristy things (had an Apache burger!).  Dean got to visit Lenny, I got a new camera (finally traded in the old Elan II) and it was a good time had by all.

Wedding for Lefty's daughter -- April 4th(?) or 3rd

{just catching up on some posts}


So a guy we met in Hibbing or elsewhere, had seen us and hired us to play in Taconite, which was a great gig.  Then he asked a few of us to play for his daughter's wedding and I nabbed a few players to come on down for the trip (Rob, Steve, Graham, Donny and myself).


There's no words to describe this event.  Think of the best barbecue party you ever went to, make it indoors and that's the wedding... but multiply it by 10x.  It was huge.  There was a sushi bar in the middle, 2 bars, plus a bar in the foyer, many many different grab foods all around and a barbecue on one end.  It was like endless buffets, with just endless mingling.  The best part was that I screwed up the wedding... a little...  I marched down the groom and the mom, and then the mini-band marched down the bride and Lefty.  Then we were to play to march them back out... but I missed the cue and called it early.  Everybody laughed as we were signalled to end (I got us to strike up on "I now pronounce" instead of after "you may now kiss").  I had to apologize to him later and say "I hope that's the only thing premature tonight!"  I thought it was funny.


Still an amazing party, absolutely unreal.  Pictures are not ready as Lefty's not the most email savvy...

After the wedding we went over to the Eagles (kinda like the Elks, or Moose back home) and hung out with a band and some more lively people there.  At the end we all tottered back to the hotel and Lefty's girlfriend (r.i.p. Cindy) brought back Donny's drum and thought it'd be funny to hide it on him.  I took it and hid it in my room and then found Donny and asked him where the drum went.  He said he didn't know and went back to the bar to find it... which he couldn't. He didn't seem phased, so I had to show him.


All in all... Lefty can throw a party.  Which was evident in Coleraine later on in the summer... just need to get the photos from him to prove to you all the phenomenon that was this party!

April 1 - August 16 = 137 days ... sorry

Okay, so you would think that with 137 days in between postings, that my life would be pretty bland.  Sure, it did have a bit of a hum drum drone to it for a while, but really I was busy busy busy.  So much has happened that this fell lower in priority that I hardly thought about it, except to say "man, I haven't posted in a while."
So what has happened... alot really.

April - I did that wedding in Grand Rapids, the OCEA conference
May - Folklore Festival, Success-Certified, MooseJaw/Regina games, Career Fair
June - beginning of many many piping gigs, ending of my contract
July - start hanging out with Dean EVERY DAY, more band trips, 5th anniversary, starting to collect music for book, I pick up a new toy
August - Quetico trip with Dad, family trip to Minneapolis, the Pre debacle...

and probably alot more that I have just plain forgotten about.  I should probably talk about some of them, and I will.  Some in more depth than others probably.  But part of me just wants to pick up from here on in.  But that wouldn't be right to leave those stories untold.  I just know that from here on in I'll have less time.  I start work officially tomorrow again... and I'll totally miss being able to hang out with my boy.  I can't tell you what a remarkable summer it has been purely for that reason.  It was great to watch him day in and day out and really see his personality explode and take form.  It's been trying at times too, but I'll miss it immensely.
Going back to work also fills me with a bit of dread as I know that there's a lot to do ... and I'll probably have to start DIVING IN... there's the gearing up for Fall Forum, the S-C day 2010 to start working on (will it be regional, or local, or both... how will I fund it)... there's a project I want to start, there's going to be the Career Fair 2010 to start looking at... plus it looks like I might have App Search thrown into the mix for giggles... I'll find out on Monday how this year will look... kinda not looking forward to it, but at the same time I think I'm about ready to return.

Pictures and full blog reports forthcoming...