Ottawa River: How the River Kicked My Ass

Saturday evening we actually watched a safety video for whitewater kayaking and in the video I realized that advanced whitewater kayaking is a pretty dangerous sport and the risk of drowning or hurting yourself by getting entrapped in rocks or “strainers” (fallen tree branches that stick out of the water) is substantial and must be avoided at all cost. We also learned that working as a team and rescuing one’s team mates are critical life-saving skills. By this time I had already decided that I would trade my second day of kayaking lessons in for some mountain biking on Sunday, combined with a little photo safari of Calumet Island.

So Sunday morning, after my interview with Krista, she was kind enough to lend me her mountain bike and I grabbed my camera and started my discovery of Calumet Island, a large island in the Ottawa River wedged between Ontario and Quebec. I cycled through forests, rolling hills, grazing pastures and past a few extremely well-kept country properties. I spent about an hour cycling on dirt roads to the edge of the Ottawa River where I started to experiment with my camera a little bit.

Barn on Calumet Island

My brother-in-law Roger, a consummate graphic designer and visual artist, had recently taught me how to do close-up shots of plants and other objects, so I started experimenting taking close-range shots of plants and flowers right next to the Ottawa River. This was the first time I experimented with this photo technique and I have to say I was reasonably pleased with the outcome once I came home last night and downloaded the images.

On my way back from the river I had an interesting encounter: I drove by a barn and saw 2 horses grazing in the distance. They looked up and noticed me, and as if on cue, two other horses came out of the barn as well. They started approaching me, as I was standing on the side of the road, behind a wire fence. All four horses came trotting towards me. About half way from me they stopped in unison, checked me out, then looked at each other, figured they had seen all they needed to see, and trotted off in perfect coordination again. It was a really comical cross-species encounter and I ended up chuckling to myself when the horses disappeared again into the barn.

These 4 beauties checked me out…

After my 2 hour mountain biking excursion I spent the rest of Sunday exploring the island in my car and drove through rolling hills and farm land. Upon my return to the camp ground I spread out a blanket under a tree and did some open-air reading. All the other campers were gone to either river raft or kayak, and the campground was totally quiet, all you could hear were the crickets and an occasional moo from a cow. It was serenity at its best. The other rafters and kayakers came back in the afternoon and they all reported that they had had a fabulous time at their respective water sports.

At about 4:30 we headed back out on the road and did a nice 5 hour highly scenic drive through towns like Eganville and Bancroft that are surrounded by rolling hills, lush green forests and ancient rock faces, before we headed into the serene lake district of the Kawartha Highlands. It was a perfect weekend – a combination of adventure and relaxation under crystal blue skies, and it just taught me how beautiful the back roads of Ontario can be.

Some samples of my close-up photography attempts

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