Monday, December 13, 2010

Name Change

You may have already noticed, but I decided to change the name of this blog.  I decided that "Bryan's Boat Building and Paddling Blog" was neither interesting nor terribly accurate.  Hence, my blog will now be referred to as "The Mundane Adventures of Bryan", at least until I change my mind again.  That name is purposely non-specific, leaving me wide open to discuss whatever I want.  However the subject matter is not going to change, I'll still write about undertaking my small adventures, the Roughriders making it to the playoffs, cycling in traffic, travelling with family, things that annoy me, boatbuilding, and more.  All pretty mundane stuff, but that's what interests me.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

What A Winning Week

The last seven days have been pretty lucky for me.  It started last Wednesday when I was listening to CFCR 90.5 while at work.  They mentioned on air to call in for the chance to win a pair of tickets to Sundog, a local craft fair.  I got through first and won the tickets (enjoyed by my wife and a friend).  Then, the same day, I received word that I had won a Littlbug Sr. wood and alcohol burning camp stove courtesy of a contest being presented by Littlbug Enterprises and  Yet a third lucky stroke that day occurred when I received an email from someone I've never met or heard of, informing me that I had been selected as the recipient of a $14 million inheritance.  Following that stunning windfall there was a lull of several days, but today I learned that my entry into the Badger Paddles High Water Mark contest was also a winner.  There will soon be coming my way a new paddle & paddle sock courtesy of Badger Paddles, and a $50 gift certificate from Algonquin Outfitters!

Wow, maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket or something, but I don't want to push it.  Besides, I've got that $14 million coming my way - I sent them all my credit card and banking info and am now just waiting for the cash to be deposited.

I'm really looking forward to trying out the Littlbug stove to see how it performs for me.  Maybe I can reduce my reliance on white gas and my MSR stove, burning small branches and twigs instead.  I also now get the fun exercise of deciding on what paddle to select from Badger.  I think perhaps the 'Tripper', or maybe the 'Badger Tail' or the 'Badger Paw'.  Any of those in an oiled walnut or cherry would be nice indeed.  And, what to get with the gift card?  I will have to phone Algonquin Outfitters to find out what my options are with that one, but at the moment I'm inclined to put it toward a new pot set if it's available for me.

Oh, and before I forget, go here to see the blog post which served as my entry into the Badger contest!  It was a fun way to enter a contest and gave me a chance to write about myself in a way that I wouldn't normally.  I have to give credit to Rob & Jay, because I think the photo of Rod golfing and the photo of me soaked after a capsize may have been what tipped the scales in my favour.  Maybe I'll let them cook me supper on my new stove. ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Riding's Here Again!

Thankfully, I did not have Yehuda's troubles today. (Click the image to see the full-size version at
Well, winter riding has arrived here in Saskatoon.  I still have to tweak my layering a bit, but things worked out pretty well this morning.  Long underwear, wool army surplus pants over jeans, a Roughrider shirt (of course), wool sweater, and a couple of fleece layers under a cycling shell jacket, winter boots, a balaclava a liner toque and my winter helmet (ie an older helmet with all the vents taped closed).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Green Over Red

The Riders are Grey Cup bound for a rematch of last year's contest against the Montreal Allouettes. There are at least a million people who are damn near ecstatic about that.

However, some of the Stamps don't seem too happy about for some reason:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Paddle During the Dying Moments of Autumn

I got out for a paddle late last Sunday afternoon. It was a warm November day and was a day that marked the tail end of our late Indian Summer, a warm spell we had been enjoying for the previous week or so. I was able to take some advantage of the warm weather both Saturday & Sunday getting out for short paddles on the South Saskatchewan River on both days. On Saturday my wife & I launched kayaks borrowed from the Saskatoon Canoe Club and paddled through the southern portion of Saskatoon. On Sunday I went out alone, paddling through north-central Saskatoon. I was test-paddling a CD Sirocco loaned to me by Viki of Kingston Kayak Instruction. Back in June she recommended that I try out a kayak that fit me better than my wife's guillemot which I paddled during the lessons I was taking.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"White" Water Kayaking

Using the term "whitewater" rather literally, these paddling enthusiasts have extended their season considerably.

Thanks to the Saskatoon Whitewater Club for the link.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sea Kayaking TV

There is a great series of videos called Sea Kayaking TV that have been put up on YouTube recently courtesy of the folks over at Heliconia Press.  I'm at home sick today with a cold so have been spending my time watching the videos and from what I've seen thus far, they look pretty good.

There are several playlists to choose from which cover topics including rolling, bracing, launching in surf, a variety of strokes, kayak tripping, and more.  There is also a video which covers the "paddle float reentry".  I highly recommend that the fellow who was the subject of one of my postings from a couple of weeks ago watch that particular video.  And, for those of us that can relate in some small way to the fellow in the water, we should probably watch it too (and take some lessons) even if only as a refresher.

Hey, I just found something else kinda neat. In the "Sea Kayak Navigation and Signaling Devices" video they show a nautical chart, and they just happen to show the exact place we camped and paddled this summer in the Broken Group Islands, BC (trip report still on it's way).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saskatoon Bike Map

The folks over at Saskatoon Cycles have created a bike map which allows Saskatoon cyclists to submit reports of good bike routes, accidents, problem intersections, etc.  Not only does this tool then allow folks like me choose where to cycle and which areas to avoid, it will also hopefully be of use to the bike advocacy people of Saskatoon Cycles and the city planners to see where the current situation is working, and where some improvements are required.

I have submitted a handful of reports, both the good and the bad.  The more people that add their reports, and comments on existing reports, the better.

Check it out at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scary Fast

Today while searching through my email for a friend's cell phone number, I came across something I had written to him last winter regarding a HDPE camping toboggan I had built. In the spirit of getting excited for snow (60% chance of snow tomorrow, but it won't stay) and the coming camping season, I thought I'd share the passage here.

Originally written February 8th, 2010:
I took the new toboggan out to Diefenbaker Hill* last night after Amigo's (the local pub).  It is Scary Fast!  On the hard-packed snow of the hill I was rocketing down and running out into the soft untracked snow at the bottom, well beyond where most of the sleds were stopping.  I tested both sleds, the old & new and the new 'boggan won out by an average of 45' of sliding into the soft stuff.  The new sled was so fast that I'm sure I was younger at the bottom of the hill than I was at the top due to some sort of space-time anomaly.  Unfortunately, the climb back up again more than made up for any gained youth and after about 9 runs I was feeling decidedly elderly.  Even more so this morning as I felt the delayed effect all those jarring bumps on my skeleton.  Too bad pulling a 70 pound load up a hill will still be pulling a 70 pound load up a hill, no matter how slippery the sled is.

Zoe & I about to ride the same sled on a MUCH smaller hill in Stanley Mission while we wait for the others to get the vehicles.

*Here is a video showing how Mark (the aforementioned friend) "sleds" down Diefenbaker Hill:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Badger's Who's Who of Devoted Paddlers Contest

The folks over at Badger Paddles are having another contest.  This time they are making us work a bit for our entry though and there is an exam! Here then is my contest submission and the completed exam.

Badger's Who's Who
Take-home Exam Questions:

  • Real Name: Bryan
  • Entry Name: Pawistik
  • Approximate Age:  Not as old as I might feel, aka late thirties
  • Country: Canada
  • # of Years Paddling: Maybe about 19 years of serious paddling (where I had some clue what I was doing).
  • How many boats in your fleet? Only four - two home-built kayaks, a Swift Yukon canoe plus a Clipper Ranger canoe. Of course I'm always hoping to expand that fleet.
Three of the boats in our fleet on the rail portage into Kingsmere Lake (Prince Albert National Park).

Our Swift Yukon, the Sea Flea, and our old Ranger 17 along the Kingsmere River.
  • Oil verses Varnish? My paddles are varnished, but one of these days I'm going to make (or buy) a paddle with an oiled finish since people seem to swear by it.
  • Where do you paddle? Northern Saskatchewan & beyond. Churchill River, North & South Saskatchewan Rivers, Torch River, and even the Pacific Ocean.
Early spring paddling on the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. The canoe pictured is the Saskatoon Canoe Club's Swift  Osprey, the paddle is one I built
  • Are you, or have you ever been, part of the paddle sports industry professionally? Moving in that direction - I'm now a Paddle Canada certified kayak instructor (hey, if you want to learn to kayak, give me a call!). Coldspring Paddling Instruction
  • Do you have a blog, facebook or twitter account where you advocate for the power of self-propusion?  Right here, of course! (
  • Favourite wood and paddle shape? Cherry or walnut, Otter Tail.  Although I don't have one, a cherry or walnut Otter Tail paddle is just about the sexiest thing out there.
  • If you were a Badger WaterColours Paddle - what colour would you be?  Dark Blue
  • Have you ever tipped your canoe  & how did that happen? Never of course. Except for a bunch of times. Most recently I was paddling solo and pulling in to the portage above a Class 3 rapid (Trout Rapids) on the Churchill River while doing a lovely hanging draw leaned way out on the paddle and heeling the canoe over very gracefully. It was late afternoon after a long paddle and the water was calm, the weather in that protected spot was calm with sunshine and dark clouds and a bright red canoe. It really was a beautiful sight. Then the unsecured food barrel (positioned lengthwise in the canoe's bow) rolled over and I was suddenly  and unceremoniously dumped in 2 feet of water.
Getting out at the portage a tad early. Photo courtesy of Jay.
  • What is your favourite wilderness tripping meal/paddling snack? Curried lentils with added dried fruit and sunflower seeds is pretty good. Especially when accompanying some nice fried walleye. However, when the lentils are consumed by three gassy men sharing the same tent there can be some unfortunate consequences.
  • Do you solo? I just spent a week on the Churchill River paddling 150 km solo in a custom-built solo expedition canoe. (A trip report is coming soon! Look for it at
Solo on the Churchill River, September 2010. Thanks to Jay for the photo.
  • What’s the best advice you have to give to a beginner paddler? Just get out and paddle and don't be afraid to try a few new things in a controlled environment. And take some lessons.
  • What 3 words best describes the way you feel about paddling or that inspire you the most to get out on the water, year after year?? Fun, relaxing, beautiful.
  • Where does your heart truly lie: Wooden/Canvas, Composite (i.e. Kevlar, Fibreglass etc.), Plastic or Aluminum? Cedar strip.
My daughter takes Mom's kayak out for a paddle.

  • Who took you out for your first time paddling and what was your age when your took your first adventure in a canoe/kayak? Not sure - may have gone out by myself or with my younger brother in a rented canoe at the local lake where my grandparents had a cabin, maybe about 10 years old.
  • Who was your best paddling partner or inspiration? My kids.

Me and the girls. Staircase Rapids, Devil Lake 2009.
  • Do you know of or can you describe a canoe/paddling game? Canoe golf.
Photo courtesy of Rob Kunz & Eclipse Photography. Rod follows through in Canoe Golf. See our NorthStar Expeditions blog for more such shenanigans. Be sure to zoom in for the close-up.
  • How tall are you and what length of paddle do you prefer? 6'2" and I don't know what paddle length I prefer. The voyageur-style paddle I built is really long - best for deep water so something somewhat shorter is what I would build my next paddle. The highly inaccurate "hands over my head with elbows at 90° bends" method indicates a shaft length of about 38".
"Voyageur" paddle built following the plans and instructions from the book by Warren & Gidmark.
  • Have you ever tried Stand Up Paddling? Nope, nor am I very interested (though just a couple of nights ago it figured prominently in a dream I had).
  • Do you have nicknames for your boat(s), paddle(s), and other gear?  If so - what are they? No, I guess I'm not that imaginative. I was going to name the kayak I built Kisiskatchewan or something similar but my wife vetoed that since she couldn't pronounce it.
Well, that's my entry. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Not to Use A Paddle Float

This Youtube video is an excellent reason why paddlers should take lessons before heading off on their own. At least this fellow is trying out his skills in a controlled environment with at least two people on the dock that could assist him if necessary. A paddle float reentry is quite easy when you do it right and there are a number of things that this fellow is not doing right. Come join me for a paddle sometime and we can talk about it and practise before you need it for real.

Edit Update:
So now that we've seen how NOT to do the paddle float entry, let's have a look at doing it in a better way:

For more videos like this, see the Sea Kayaking TV channel on YouTube.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Photos from September Canoe Trip

I've posted some of my photos from September's NorthStar Expeditions canoe trip on the NSE blog. You can find the posting at

Here's a handful of photos to whet your appetite:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saskatoon Snowshoe Club

Hi folks, with the absolutely gorgeous fall weather that we are having here in Saskatchewan at the moment (finally!) I thought I'd post to point out that the Saskatoon Snowshoe Club is getting ready for another season of fun. Mark has moved the web site over to blogger to make it easier to update. At the website you can find a link to the membership form. There are currently no fees so sign up and join a group of like-minded winter enthusiasts.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

National Drink Beer Day!

Thanks to the good folks over at 365 Foods, I now know that it is National Drink Beer Day! Woohooo!

Thankfully, I am always prepared for this sort of contingency. Currently I have some very nice Paddockwood beer chilling in the fridge to enjoy this evening. The toughest part will be deciding whether to choose the 606, Czech Mate, Black Cat or B├ęte Noir. I also have some homebrew in the fridge, but supplies are getting low. I need to set up a system to brew all grain like they show in the post at 365 Foods.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flight Delay

The above photo (click for a larger version) was taken while we waited for the fog to clear in Missinipe before starting a recent fly-in canoe trip. This was a NSE trip and I'll be sure to post a link here once the reports and pictures go up there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Canada Nature Escapes

I came across this promotional video recently from Canada Nature Escapes, a Saskatchewan-based group of small businesses that are offering "nature-based" tourism. I thought the video was pretty interesting because I have canoed, skied and tobogganed at many of the locales depicted in the video. Watch it in HD if you can.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Land of the Living Skies

I came across this video for a song by Nathan Rogers and thought I would share.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Case for Eating Insects

Here is a recent article that was forwarded to me by the President of the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan. I found it interesting and thought you might too. On a semi-related note, I found this past weekend that peanut butter & Nutella on a bagel makes for an excellent camping breakfast, especially when washed down by some fresh unfiltered Okanagan apple cider! So, what do you suppose the insect component of that meal was?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Lessons Learned From a Bad Day on Blackstrap

Here is an interesting article that appeared in the recent Star Phoenix. It makes the case for, among other things, receiving proper paddling instruction and interviews Kevin from Eb's and Viki from Kingston Kayak Instruction (see here for a recent post relating to lessons I took from Viki).

For those not from the region, Blackstrap Lake is a long narrow prairie lake set in a valley. Winds can come up quickly and would be funnelled and intensified within the valley.

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How NOT to Pack a Kayak, Part II

A couple of months ago I posted this short Youtube clip about a fellow that exercised poor judgement in their approach to kayak packing. Well, after seeing a photo on Lee's blog, apparently they are in good company. Head over to the link for the second instalment in the developing series of how not to pack your boat.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Helluva Sock

A while ago Fiona over at Badger Paddles sent me a sample of one of their "paddle socks" to test out and review. Well, I've been using the sock a bit now and am pretty happy with it. It's long & stretchy and easily accommodates my very long voyageur canoe paddle. It even contains about 3/4 of my greenland kayak paddle, with the kid's kayak paddle thrown inside too.

Soon, the sock will be protecting a couple of my paddles all the way to the west coast and BC's Broken Group Islands and back again. I'll post a follow up report on the sock at that time and let y'all know my thoughts on it then.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Rolled, I Rolled! - I mean it this time!

I Rolled! No really, I mean it this time! (See my post from a couple of weeks ago.)

Last night at the tail end of the pool session for some kayak lessons I was assisting with there was time to just mess around in the kayaks. I was again playing with the paddle float for bracing and pseudo-rolling. I was concentrating on not putting much pressure on the float end of the paddle and bringing my head up last. At the prompting of one of the students I tried without the float, and it worked! I had full success about 6 times rolling on the right side! I'd screw it up some of the time and always it was because I forgot to bring the head up last or was otherwise putting too much pressure on the paddle. When it worked, it worked very well. I could not believe how effortless it was. It was a VERY good feeling.

Now, to practice, practice, practice until it becomes totally natural on both sides and in all conditions.

In the meantime, I gotta go finish getting my stuff together because I have kayak lessons to teach in the morning.

Bryan H. says I should start working on my butterfly roll next. (The video below is of some random person on Youtube doing a "butterfly roll".)

Friday, July 09, 2010


In the name of passing along valuable information of use to the canoe & kayak tripper, I am sharing this with all of you. Skuntz over at the Canadian Canoe Routes forum has come up with a formula to calculate and quantify the age old decision, "repair or replace?"

where A=age, S= sentimental value, T=time to dick around with repairs, RC=replacement cost and c=comfort.

There you go. Plug in the number and find out if fixing up that bit of camping gear is really worth it. Let's see now, I have a leaking MEC sleeping pad. A=3, S=0, T=0, RC=$100, ....

Friday, July 02, 2010


I can't believe it happened again, for the second time in a row excluding the pre-season. Sheesh.

On the other hand, it was one helluva game and their inability to count just added to the drama. My brother had called me to ask if I wanted to go and an hour later we were on the road to Regina.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Rolled, I Rolled!

Last night I taught the second half of an introductory kayaking clinic at Erindale Lake (a local suburban pond). After the class I decided to spend a little time out playing on the water. I went through some of the exercises described in the book Sea Kayak Strokes by Doug Alderson (I have access to an online version through the library at my workplace). These exercises had me progressively building the motions to perform a kayak roll, with a paddle float on my paddle throughout. Initially I was in a high brace, then laid on the back deck while in the high brace, then moving my body out beside the kayak, then eventually tipped right over and moving back to the upright high brace position. This progression of movements worked very well for me and allowed me to work toward building these motions into my muscle memory, so that they can hopefully become automatic. The next step was to be completely upside down, then using the paddle (with paddle float) to get back to that upright high brace position, rolling the kayak underneath me using my hips and trying to keep my centre of gravity low and remembering to bring my head up last. Rolling up from completely submerged proved quite easy when done this way, however I was still reliant on the paddle float so was cheating.

I'll be heading out to practice again soon - this time I'll be focussing on reducing the amount of pressure that I'm putting on the paddle float. Hopefully Jay can come out with me and we can work through some of the exercises together. With any luck, after a couple of sessions we'll be rolling our kayaks without the cheat of using the paddle float.

If you have any tips or tricks, please leave me a comment!

See an update at this link!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saturday Sunset Co-op

Lee over at has come up with an interesting idea. He is encouraging paddlers to head out on Saturday evening (or dawn) and photograph the sunset (or sunrise). Paddlers can then send their photos in to him, and he'll post the likely splendorous results.

Lee says:
So here's what I'm askin:

  • Spread the word! feel free to copy paste/ link/feed etc this elsewhere!!
  • Saturday head out on the water; all day till sunset or 5 minutes prior.
  • Take a pic of the bow of your boat and the sunset
  • Come home later that night fire me a email with your pic.
  • Sunday log in to [Lee's] blog and HOPEFULLY see pics of the same glowing globe setting from other paddlers perspectives across this wonderful world we live on.

I don't think I'll manage to participate, unless I get up really early to go for the sunrise option (sunrise this morning was at 4:45 am). However, I think it's a neat idea so maybe a few folks who see it here will agree and participate.
A sunset photo from last summer on Kingsmere Lake.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Instructor's Course Guest Starring Michael Pardy

This will be a very short post because I'm darned tired. I just finished a Paddle Canada "Kayak Instructor Introduction to Kayaking" course. It was a three day course, running all day Friday, Saturday & Sunday and included classroom sessions, on the beach sessions, and lots of paddling (at Pike Lake). The course was operated by Viki of Kingston Kayak Instruction. Viki is herself becoming certified as qualified to teach instructors so had Michael Pardy here assessing her. Viki is a very good instructor and I've enjoyed her courses in the past, but having the added element of a paddler and leader of the caliber of Pardy here in Saskatoon was something remarkable. I only wish I could have taken even greater advantage of that resource. Although right now I feel burned out from the sun (a rare thing here lately) and being on the water, I would have eagerly taken a few more hours of his time if I had the opportunity.

I'm proud to say that I have received a conditional pass (as did all 6 of us in the course), and following the submission of my yet to be received homework assignments, will be officially a flatwater kayak instructor qualified to teach the Paddle Canada Introduction to Kayaking 8-hour course.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fancy Schmancy Peanut Butter Jars?

Sammy over at recently got in touch with me about sending a sample of their product my way for testing. Probably I could have considered his post on the blog as spam, but I was intrigued. "That's a fantastic idea" was my quick response. At least, that's how I responded after figuring out what a "Gear Pod" is.

You see, I received Les Stroud's book Survive! a while ago as a gift. Since then, I've been meaning to put together a survival kit (or perhaps multiple kits) in a waterproof container. The kit would come in handy if I (or the folks I were paddling with) were separated from my gear or had some sort of emergency that left us stranded. My container of choice so far: a plastic 2kg peanut butter container (sans peanut butter, even though that in itself would be a useful survival item). The kit would contain a variety of means of starting fires in adverse conditions, some means of providing shelter (a sheet of plastic or an emergency blanket, either of which would have multiple uses), signalling devices, and a variety of other useful items (fish hooks, wire, string, fish line, safety pins, bags, tape, button compass, etc.). I tried and the peanut butter container can be squashed into the bow or stern of my Swift Yukon canoe.

So, back to Sammy and Gear Pods. These Gear Pods are essentially, waterproof containers to do the same sort of thing I had in mind for the peanut butter jar, only they are intended to be more versatile and tougher. They also cost a bit more (it's hard to compare prices to free recycled plastic jars). They sell the Gear Pod jars either empty in a variety of sizes, or as part of pre-packaged kits. Some of the kits are specifically survival-oriented, while others are first-aid, shelter, or food oriented.

Sammy has my address and has promised to send me samples to test out over the coming months. I don't actually know anything more specific about what is being sent but I look forward to putting the Gear Pods to the test over the summer. I will have the opportunity to take them north to the shield and boreal forest of Saskatchewan, and out to the saltwater of the West Coast, and next winter, into the extreme cold of a Saskatchewan winter. So, stay tuned for updates and eventually a Gear Pod review!

Friday, May 28, 2010

National Life Jacket Day

May 20th last week was Red Cross National Lifejacket Day. I didn't hear anything about this occasion until late that night. Coincidentally, on the same day there was an unfortunate accident on Echo Lake in south eastern Saskatchewan. A group of school students was out on the lake when two of the canoes capsized due to sudden winds. One of the students that ended up in the cold water was not wearing a life jacket or PFD and apparently needed to be resuscitated by the RCMP. Thankfully, everyone was eventually OK though 4 students were treated at hospital for hypothermia (they were in the water for an hour).

So, with that event calling to attention the importance of PFDs, I received a phone call from CBC television the following morning, asking to talk to me about life jackets. I am the "Publicity Director" for the Saskatoon Canoe Club and I guess based on that they figured I was the guy to talk to. Coincidentally, I was home with nothing better to do than to build a deck (my daughter was in daycare for the day). After discussing the issue of paddlers and life jackets on the phone for a few minutes, they asked if I would be willing to do an on-camera interview. I agreed and 90 minutes later I was down at the boathouse.

The reporter and cameraman chatted for a bit, asking general questions about the SCC, it's policies, and it's equipment. The cameraman recorded a ton of video throughout, then they did a 3 or 4 minute interview. The questions were pretty straight-forward, and I answered as best as I could. One question threw me off a bit though - they asked if there was a story I could share relating to when I was thankful to be wearing a PFD. Of course, there are several things I could have mentioned (wiping out in Farside with Rob, wiping out in Corner Rapids with Rob photographing, wiping out with Rob....), but the only thing I could think of immediately was some lame story about the first time I went down Otter Rapids - I was so excited to be running the rapids that I had completely forgotten to zip up & buckle my life jacket. At the end of the interview she asked if there was anything else I would like to add. Of course, I couldn't think of a single thing to say.

It was only later while I was out for a paddle on the river that a whole host of ideas came to mind. I should have talked about proper PFD care (keep it out of sunlight, treat it with a protectant such as 303, clean it, dry it, check for damage, check it's buoyancy, check for breakdown of the fabric, and replace it when it's old), getting proper paddling skills, having the right equipment on board, wearing the right clothing, dressing for immersion, being aware of the weather and your surroundings, and not over-estimating one's skills. They were still at the boathouse filming extra footage so I stopped back in and talked to the reporter about my concerns. They were willing to re-shoot the interview, but advised me that they thought what they had was good enough, that it was PFD's specifically they were most interested in, and that the segment was going to be severely edited anyway.

So, I got back into the kayak and continued my paddle. The cameraman was in the area shooting for about an hour, shooting film inside the boathouse of the equipment, taking close-ups of the PFDs, shooting film of me paddling off into the high winds and chop on the river, etc.

When I later saw the video, I was rather surprised to have seen my interview cut down to that one lame story. You can find the video at Early in the piece are several kayakers shown out on the water without PFDs. One of them is Jimmy. It looks like he might even be teaching some lessons, something I would hope he would have better sense than to be doing without a PFD, especially on such a windy day on the river (perhaps that footage was shot some other time).

The news video also shows a fellow who talks about mandatory wearing of PFDs, something that has been coming up recently. I certainly hope the lawmakers in Canada do not decide to go that route. Although I am a strong advocate of proper PFD use, I believe people should be able to use their own judgement based on the conditions in which they are paddling. Perhaps it should be mandatory for school groups or situations involving groups of kids, but there are situations where I do not feel it necessary to have mine on at all times (calm waters, warm water, no kids on board, etc.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Exploding Beer, Part II

The following was written a couple of years ago, but never finished and so never published.

I had my second exploding beer experience this evening and for the second time I have coated the exposed floor joists above a furnace room with yeast-laden beer. This evening's experience, thankfully, wasn't near the mess or volume (in both senses of the word) as last time.

A few years ago I decided to brew a nice strong beer well in advance of Christmas, a "fallen angel trippel" (trippel=knock you on your ass) from Paddockwood Brewing. This "christmas beer" was flavoured with lots of tasty chunks of orange peel and numerous spices. Since a trippel is a big strong beer finishing out at over 10% alcohol, a helluva pile of strong healthy yeast is required so that they are so busy they can rip through all that candy sugar-supplemented malt and race to the finish before they even notice that they fermented themselves into a toxic concoction of their own waste byproducts (ironically, ethanol, that lovely waste product of fermentation, is toxic to yeast). In order to get so many yeast just rarin' to go, I started with a sort of mini batch of beer (ie a starter). Once that was growing nicely, I then tossed those billions of happily churning and very active fungi into the larger 5 gallon batch of my christmas beer, slapped the airlock on and forgot about it for a few hours. At some point in the day I checked on the beer and was amazed to see how quickly this batch of beer took off (I know that was my goal, but it was truly amazing to see) with a nice bit of foam (krausen) accumulating on the surface, the beer churning violently within from the yeast activity, and the airlock nicely bubbling away. Happy that things were proceeding so well, I returned upstairs for lunch. I think I was enjoying a nice rye bread sandwich when I heard it. A giant "WOOP!" from the basement, followed by a steady "fwoosh". I flew down the stairs in time to see the last of about 3 gallons of beer foaming out the top of the carboy in a yeasty orange and spice flavoured geyser, with a judicious portion of the beer dripping from pretty much everything in the room. It seems that the krausen had risen to the airlock and began coming out of the airlock. The airlock had then become plugged with the chunks of orange peel that were in the wort, trapping the CO2 that was being produced by the rapidly fermenting yeast (CO2 and alcohol are the waste products of fermentation, the process by which yeast consumes sugars for energy in the absence of O2). Not only did that begin to build up pressure behind the airlock, but it also caused a good deal of the CO2 to go into solution (just as it does when carbonating the beer after bottling). That pressure just continued to build up in the carboy until it released with a dramatic explosion, perhaps a couple of hours after first becoming plugged. The pressure in the airspace of the carboy caused the initial loud noise I heard and shot the airlock and carboy to the ceiling, with a good measure of the krausen to boot. Immediately after the explosion and the release of the pressure, an awful lot of CO2 came suddenly out of solution. This then caused the subsequent geyser of wort shooting out of the carboy and the loss of gallons of precious Belgian beer. Not to mention more mess.

Other than losing about half of my batch of beer, and making a sticky mess of my basement storage room, the beer itself suffered no ill effects. It finished out at a respectably high alcohol content of over 10%, and tasted great after it had over a year to age. As I recall, it was a little rough the first Christmas, but mellowed a lot with lots of time and was excellent by it's second Christmas. Such a big beer with a high alcohol content is not something you want to drink "green", but rather is to be put away to the back of the storage room and forgotten about for a very long time.

This evening's explosion was similar, but smaller in every way. I did not notice the noise, just the mess. The airlock and bung had gone missing, having ricocheted off into some dark corner of the furnace room. The beer was "smaller" (lower sugar content in the wort and thus lower alcohol in the end product), and the pressures involved must have been lower as not nearly so much beer was lost. However, there still was a mess on the floor joists in the ceiling above.

So, having learned my lesson twice now, I really should start using a nice big blowoff tube in my carboys!

My Daughter's a Winner at

I've been meaning to post for a few months now about a new website out there called As a father of a couple of young daughters, I'm interested in the Campgirlz website because I hope to get those daughters interested in an effort to counter the Barbie & Disney crap out there that they are exposed to. isn't just for kids though, it's targeted at female campers of all ages.

Back in April, had a photo contest. No particular criteria were imposed and my daughter & I went through our photos and picked one from last summer during our Kingsmere trip to submit (I let things get too close to the deadline and missed the opportunity to have my older daughter pick out a picture too). Well, lo & behold, she was picked as a winner! For her efforts, she won a bandanna and hat (both from Gander Mountain), a t-shirt and a pencil! She is sharing the t-shirt which was a bit large for her with her older sister.

You can find the announcement at

L. playing with her award-winning Polly Pockets on Kingsmere Lake.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How NOT to Pack a Kayak

We'll be heading to the West Coast this summer and that trip will have us paddling with others that will be in kayaks. Since there is no drinking water available where we are going, we'll have to bring our own fresh water (5 days x 6 people x 3L/day = 90L of H2O!). When we go to pack our canoe and the two kayaks we'll have to keep this little video in mind. Does this paddler look ready to take on the swell of the open Pacific Ocean to you?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Badger's Blog: How to Maintain Oiled Gunnels and Wood Paddles

Badger's Blog: How to Maintain Oiled Gunnels and Wood Paddles

Having a look at the Badger Blog has reminded that I need to get my seats & thwarts oiled before the season starts!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pulled Pork

I'm smoking a pork butt for supper on Sunday. I am going to update this post as I go.

The subject: 9lb Pork butt, bone in. $3.59/pound. Purchased at Prairie Meats. I'm not sure if this is a good price, or a bad one. (After reading on the 'net, it seems that this is not a good price. Our American neighbours can get it at well under a dollar per pound while folks out in Ontario are paying about $2.50 - I'll keeping my eye out for sale prices for future pork endeavours, perhaps talking directly to my local hog producer.)

The recipe:

For advice on the timing, I've been referring to various posts at which suggest that pork butt can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before it's ready to pull. The variance is due to the size and shape of the meat, the smoking/cooking temperature, the fat & connective tissue content of the particular pieces of meat, and more. Affecting the cooking temperature are factors like outside temperature, wind, sunshine, etc. The experts at the aforementioned forum also suggest that it is MUCH better to have your butt done early and to let it "rest" longer than to be waiting on the meat to reach an internal temperature of 190°F.

So, here's how things are playing out:

Saturday, 8:00 pm - Applied pork rub following recipe at The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of freshly cracked pepper. That's a lot of pepper to grind by hand so I connected the cordless drill to the pepper grinder in order to do it in a more efficient (and manly) manner.

Sunday, 12:00 am - Took the pork out of the fridge, applied more rub. Set up smoker in the back yard and loaded smoker with several rocks to help hold & recover heat when the door opens. Filled water pan with boiling water to help the cabinet (and the rocks) heat up. The ambient temperature is about 6°C so the heat setting on the smoker cabinet is full bore in order to combat the cold of night. Also have the smoke generator turned on to pre-heat it, and to help warm the cabinet.

1:00 am - Put pork into the smoker and loaded 4 hours, 40 minutes worth of wood "bisquettes". Used 2/3 apple, 1/3 hickory.

1:40 am - Checked the smoker temperature before heading off to bed - the cabinet thermometer is already reading at about 185°F! That's a quicker rise than I expected considering the big slab of meat is still relatively cool and moist, and it's not very warm outside. Rather than head off to bed as planned, I'm staying up to tweak the temperature in order to have the cabinet running at the desired 200 - 210°F. The heat control on my Bradley smoker is a simple slider, with not temperature setting. Thus, it requires some monitoring and adjusting in order to hit a target.

My desire to get a PID temperature controller has just jumped up a couple of notches! In the meantime, I make an adjustment, wait a fair bit of time for the cabinet to react and stabilise, then check and make another adjustment. This is repeated until the target is reached. However, changing outside temperatures or wind affect this, and the changing food inside the cabinet also affect this so it's a moving target.

In the meantime, I have had the time to write all of the above....

2:15 am - The cabinet is at close to the same temperature as 35 minutes earlier, perhaps just a few degrees higher. So, it seems like I can safely head off to bed now for a few hours.

7:15 am - I had the alarm set for 6 am, but apparently I didn't turn it on. Got up to check on things, and all seemed OK. Temperature is stilll low at about 190°F so it's not like it's goign to burn up too soon. Back to bed...

9:00 am - Checking on things again.... Temp still at about 190 or 195. Refilled water bowl with boiling water and inserted probe of digital thermometer.

Overnight low was about 1°C  for several hours. Current temperature is 11°C, it's calm and the sun is shining.

4:50 pm - Guests will be here in less than an hour, and the butt isn't done yet! The internal temperature is 169°F and I need it to be up to at least 175 (higher is better) before I pull it. I think I'm going to have to put it in the oven to finish it off. I don't know, do I leave it alone for another hour or so (the cabinet is at about 230°F), or do I take preemptive action?

While I was at it, this afternoon I did two "Bacon Explosions" similar to what I did last fall for the Grey Cup. I used another hours worth of apple wood smoke on that. One is stuffed with bacon, fried onion & mushrooms, and the other has less of the same, but a can of green chilis added. That stuffing is wrapped in pork sausage meat, wrapped in a woven bacon wrap. I'll follow up with photos.

6:00 pm - Bacon Explosion for an appetizer!

Jay digs into the Bacon Explosion - Fried mushrooms, onions & bacon wrapped in pork sausage meat, wrapped in woven bacon.
6:15 pm - I left the pork in the smoker and it reached 178°F, then I took it out, wrapped it in foil, then a towel, and put it into a small cooler (the FTC method - no, I'm not making this up!). There it "rested" about 20 minutes before I unwrapped it all and used a couple of forks to pull the pork. Oh, man was it ever moist and tender - literally falling apart! Of course I sampled as I went, and oh man, was it good.

6:40 pm - Supper's on!

Pulled pork ready to eat.

Not my best picture, but damn, that was a good sandwich!

Not Jay's best picture either, but I think that's one happy pork-eater.
17 hours of cooking created one of the best meats I have ever prepared. Was it worth the sleep deprivation? Hell yes. My sandwiches at work have been pretty darned good at work all week too. In fact, I think this stuff might be getter better with age. My only comment would be that perhaps bacon-wrapped bacon is a bit much for an appetizer that is followed immediately by a massive feed of more smoked pork. Today (Wednesday) I vacuum bagged the remaining leftovers and tossed it in the freezer to keep for a later date. The second bacon explosion was also vacuum bagged and I'll bring that with me tomorrow night and re-heat it in Jay's oven during his birthday celebration.

Next time.... put it in earlier, set the smoker to high (depending on the weather), and go to bed while the smoker and the pork take care of themselves. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Summer Plans

Our family is making plans for summer paddling. It looks like we will find ourselves in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park, for a few days in July.

Here is a map of the area.

Here is a video showing off some aspects of the Broken Group. Also note the "related videos" on YouTube. It looks like I have more viewing ahead of me (or I'll just wait to see it for myself).

And here is a link to a neat little video that shows the scenery, and fog, very well.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Burning Hell Paddles to the Dawson City Music Festival

This is pretty cool, I heard recently on CBC Radio 3 that The Burning Hell will be playing at the Dawson City Music Fetival (#1 on the list of music festivals I want to visit some day!) this summer. What's cool about that is how they are getting there. They will first drive across the country to Whitehorse, an epic journey in itself. However, not satisfied to do things the usual way, they will then be hopping into canoes and PADDLING the 730 kilometers to Dawson City down the Yukon River. What a helluva way to do it!

In related news, The Burning Hell write on their blog about why Bruno, SK, has the "coolest indie music scene in Canada." You can read all about it at Here's an excerpt:
Sorry Montreal: your glory days are over, and no amount of fires or arcades or little moustaches, tight pants and 80s sunglasses can save you. Bruno, Saskatchewan is the best indie music scene in Canada.
Who knew?

And in other news, I just realised the The Burning Hell member Mathias Kom is half of a duo with Kim Barlow known as Spring Breakup. Kim & Mathias played a house concert in my basement last year.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

It's Springtime & Time To Ride

OK, so some of us haven't quit riding all year, but the number of excuses not to ride is rapidly dwindling with the warm springtime weather. My kids and I have been out quite a bit lately and my younger daughter (4) really loves being the stoker behind me on her Adams Trail-a-Bike. It's so much easier to pull than the trailer and she pedals too. My older daughter (7) loves riding her own bike but enjoys stints on the Trail-a-Bike too. When she's back there, I can really feel her contributing which is something I don't detect with the younger one. Our range so far with the older daughter riding her own bike is a 6.6 km return trip to the grocery store. I look forward to seeing that grow over the summer.

I came across this video over at and thought I'd share it with you here. Gives lots of warm happy "springtime with the kids" feelings.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Lessons Learned: Nistowiak Falls Trip

After our trip to Nistowiak Falls in northern Saskatchewan, the group shared via e-mail some of the things they learned on this trip. It's a way to think about and document these ideas so that we don't have to re-learn them again next time. Here is my contribution to the discussion: 
  1. 12 km is a long way with a heavy load through hills, but it can be done. On the flats (lake travel) it would be easier, and without skidoo tracks would be much harder. (Note that I do think the way we broke it up into 12km & 8km was the best possible arrangement given our goal of the falls).
  2. I think I could manage even solo with the current canvas tent (17 pounds, sleeps 3-4, co-owned by Rob & I) and stove (25 lbs with stove pipe, 22 gauge, built hours before the trip by Rod), though I would not attempt to go very far. A smaller stove and tent would of course be better for solo or tandem travel.
  3. Camera batteries don't work well when really cold. Always keep a spare battery in a pocket so it can be used.
  4. Black spruce boughs work well as a bed/floor, but takes a lot of time to collect with our spindly northern trees.
  5. Black spruce firewood produces a lot of sparks. These embers come out of my current chimney (4 lengths of 5" x 18" black stove pipe, plus two elbows) and can fall onto nearby stuff, including the tent. One ember burned a nickel-sized hole in the tent.
    • I will add a length or two of 4" 26 gauge galvanized pipe, and a reducer to the stove pipe - the extra stovepipe will nest inside the existing pipe inside the stove.
    • I may also add a spark arrestor to the stove pipe. I've since learned that spark arrestors can be a problem, even dangerous.
    • A heat shield or piece of canvas to protect sleeping bags, pads & other gear inside the tent while the stove door is open may also be useful.
    • The hole burned by the ember was still burning when I noticed it, but it was progressing very slowly (or not at all I - I didn't leave it long enough to measure it's rate of progress). It also smelled bad. Both good signs.
    • For more about the stove, see the post at
  6. My sleeping system worked: thin MEC overbag, -12C MEC down bag, and a Serratus vapour barrier liner. I think this is the first time I've ever used the VBL even though I've brought it on numerous trips. The wool long undies absorbed what minimal sweat there was and I woke up barely damp. I was able to wear the same long underwear that morning. 
  7. It is very important to have kindling and everything ready to light the stove fire long before bed time. Matches, along with a striking surface must be at hand too. I quickly lost all dexterity trying to light the fire with bare fingers and non-functioning lighters.
  8. Lighters don't work when it's really cold.
  9. The fire-starters I made using paper towel & vaseline worked very well. (See here for a pictorial "how to" -
  10. Even at -30°C I don't need a heavy winter jacket.
    • My layering system worked - on the coldest morning I was wearing most of what I had brought, but not yet everything. 
    • That included a fleece sweater, wool jacket, a polypro midweight layer, and wool long undies on top, covered by a nylon shell jacket.
    • On my legs I wore three layers - wool long undies, heavy fleece pants, and wool army surplus pants. 
    • Before heading out on the trail, some of these layers were removed.
    • Some day I want to replace my nylon shell with something like this.
  11. Body glide works
  12. You can chop a hole in ice, even when it's nearly 3 feet thick, using just a medium sized axe. But...
  13. For getting water through thick ice, an ice chisel would be helpful.
  14. I must look at garage sales more carefully for old axes (and ice chisels). Bob's old Hudson Bay axe was very nice.
  15. A vent at the top of the tent might be helpful to vent warm, moist air. That would likely speed drying.
  16. There is a huge temperature gradient in the tent when the stove is going - the closer to the wall, the cooler it is; and the higher, the hotter.
  17. I need to think more about food.
    • Gummies are really hard when frozen.
    • Cubed cheese worked but sliced cheese froze together.
    • Chocolate covered coffee beans are still damn fine in GORP.
    • Some people get tired of eating frozen food. 
    • Soft, oily cookies would be good snack/lunch items.
    • I should cut up meats into cubes the way I did the cheese.
  18. The milk crate at the front of the sled works well as an easy access "glove box", but without a top things can get lost.
  19. I need to learn how to tie better knots! (One or two of the knots on the lashing lines of the toboggan came loose. Others had similar troubles too.)
  20. Long and low is a good way to haul gear.
  21. There is skill involved in driving a 10 foot toboggan.
    • The downhills can be lined with bow and stern lines much as you line a canoe in rapids.
    • Steeper downhills can be ridden, steering done with the ropes and using the snowshoes like skis on each side. 
    • Allowing the sled to overrun its ropes when heading downhill allows the ropes to act like a brake.
    • Ropes and strap allow quite a few options for towing.
    • Arms wrapped backwards in the ropes act like shock absorbers and help take up the slack rather than having the ropes yank me suddenly off my feet when the sled stops.
  22. That toboggan can haul a lot of stuff! After the trip I weighed most of it, and came up with some estimates for the rest:
    • Sled - 20 lbs
    • Stove with pipe - 25 lbs
    • Gear duffle (part) - 30 lbs
    • Food box (part) - 20 lbs
    • Food - 5 lbs
    • Beer - 5 lbs
    • Clothes, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads - 20 lbs
    • 2 full water bottles and a thermos - 6 lbs
    • Boots - 4 lbs
    • Other miscellaneous gear - 5 lbs
    •  That's a whopping total in the neighbourhood of 140 lbs!
  23. My steel thermos works well. Filled with coffee at a gas station in La Ronge, the coffee was still (luke)warm a full 24 hours later even though the temperatures were -30°C.
  24. My homemade blue foam water bottle insulator works well. Yes, the water does start to freeze inside but it lasts a few hours on the trail in cold temperatures (time enough for me to finish the uninsulated water bottle).
  25. Don't stick your hands in front of the end of the stove pipe to warm them up when wearing polypropylene gloves.
  26. Leave other people's "juice" bottles alone, don't try to do them any favours.
  27. Nistowiak falls is worth it!

That, more or less, is my own personal list. Below are some of the highlights from things others in the group shared, including some of the more humorous points. Keep in mind that our group was composed of experience levels ranging from novice to more experienced and the reflections offered below are going to be affected by that somewhat.
  • "I need to rethink my lunch menu. I knew that smoked salmon would freeze but I thought that I would at least be able to break pieces off. I was wrong, a knife was needed to cut pieces."
  • "I need to keep a knife on me at all times. For now I think that I'm going to keep a small folding knife on a lanyard around my neck."
  • "Bob's (Norlund) axe is a delight to use, I need to get one similar."
  • "I'm going to look into getting a vapour barrier for inside my sleeping bag for those cold nights"
  • "I can certainly appreciate the benefits of a hot tent."
  • "I learned to change into dry clothes asap."
  •  MEC "hut booties are the best investment ever."
  • "Cheese in cubes would work, I didn't bring any cheese, but cheezies are like cheese."
  • "Wine in a (tetra)pak" not bottles.
  • "Baileys."
  • "Instant coffee."
  • "Beef Jerky and cheezies are the only things that didn't freeze...muffins were crumbly/edible and yummy"
  •  "Bryan's whisky seemed to be 'less solid' than my wine..."
  • "Freeze suppers to size of pots."
  • "I need 2 pair of gloves[inners] for when one gets wet."
  • "Nalgene with blue foam really drinks when it's really cold is a 'gawd send.'"
  • "Tie my bloody stuff in properly."
  •  "I learned  the temp was...minus stupid cold."
  • "Chopping wood keeps you warm."
  • "A nalgene of boiling water in your sleeping bag is a must at night."
  • "It is hard to find good food for lunchtime which doesn't freeze."
  • "I LOVE Bryan's hot tent."
  • "Pulling 80 lbs is too much for day 3." 
  • "My boots do not keep my feet warm at -30 especially when just standing around camp."
  • "The falls were amazing and worth all the discomfort."
  • "Black fleece pants are easily confused with other people's black fleece pants of the same make and model!"