Paddle for Pints

First beers of the day at the Filing Station

First beers of the day.

Last weekend Andrew and I went on an adventure to Traverse City.  The main reason for this trip was so that we could participate in Paddle for Pints, essentially a wonderful combination of kayaking and craft beer.

It was a rainy day but we still had a wonderful time kayaking and sampling a variety of tasty beers.  The event took us to four separate breweries/brewpubs where we each sampled a range of tasty beer.

The Filing Station Microbrewery

Registration and the first brew stop of the day.  After registering for the day and receiving our t-shirts and swag bags we had some food and a couple of drinks before starting the kayak adventure.  The pizza we ordered was a delicious thin crust treat.  On the beer front Andrew tried the Salem Raspberry Pale Ale and I had the Ironwood Amber Ale.  Both were a good start to our day – not overwhelming and subtle enough to be enjoyable when paired with food.

Right Brain Brewery

Artwork at the Right Brain Brewery

Artwork at the Right Brain Brewery

The first brewery we paddled to was Right Brain.  I loved the atmosphere of this brewery, it was a community space, art gallery, and beer hall all mixed together.  It was also surprisingly kid friendly with a toy area, board games, and lots of cool stuff to look at.  We saw a number of families hanging out in the space during our visit.

I tried the Irish Goodbye red ale to start and Andrew has a pint of the Flying Squirrel Brown Ale.  I really enjoyed the Irish Goodbye, it was a dark amber colour with a bit of sweetness mixed in with subtle hops.  We also split a tall can of the Northern Hawk Owl.  Andrew picked this one out but it was one we both enjoyed and one I wanted to try just because it had a cool sounding name.  The Northern Hawk Owl was a bit more generic than the Irish Goodbye, it had some malt and very subdued hop notes but was pretty smooth drinking.

Rare Bird Brewpub

Rare Bird was the smallest location we visited – or at least it felt pretty small with all the paddlers plus the regular lunch crowd packed into the pub.  There was some really interesting woodwork in this brewpub – the tables were made out of single slabs all cut from really large trees and one of the walls included reclaimed wood from industrial packing crates.

Andrew tried the ‘Dam Paddlers’ beer which was crafted especially for the Paddle for Pints events and I sampled the Hopricot.  As you might guess my beer was hoppy and made with apricot.  It was a surprisingly good and layer combination.  The Dam Paddlers beer was also a bit of a surprise, it had a lot of lime and despite being labeled a cream ale it was surprisingly light.

The Workshop Brewing Company

Workshop Brewing Company

Workshop Brewing Company

Another really interesting physical space – the Workshop had an industrial feel but had a surprisingly warm touch to it.  It was also fairly family friendly with games, books, and lots of space.  We saw a number of families with small children enjoying some food and just hanging out in the space.

Andrew tried the Plumb Bob and the Pipe Wrench.  I ordered the Plumb Bob for him – and had I read the description more closely I probably wouldn’t have picked it, it was very coffee flavoured.  I had the 20-pound Sledge IPA and the Bastard Rasp.  As one would expect the IPA was on the hoppy side and was a fairly standard IPA.  The Bastard Rasp was surprisingly good – it was a wheat ale with a raspberry kick.  I had fears that it would be overly sweet but it was well balanced and easy drinking.

Overall this was a great day filled with kayaking, delicious local beer, and visiting new places.  The event itself is a bit expensive but it was a really unique experience that I’m really glad we took the time to do.

All the mead? Yes, please.

A few years ago Andrew and I went to Traverse City for the first time.  During our weekend in the city I discovered mead.  It was cheery mead and it was one of the best things ever.  Since that trip I’ve been scouting local stores for all the mead varieties and stocking up at Christmas time when they seem to have more options.  I’ve also been telling everyone about the long history of mead making and lots of other random mead facts. Basically I really like mead and think more people should make it.

When Andrew and I were getting ready for our trip to Traverse City a couple of weeks ago I started googling to try to find out where I had the cherry mead years ago.  Googling resulted in me finding the Acoustic Tap Room.  Essentially a meadery –I didn’t know these even existed!  They specialize in making all kinds of mead and their ‘tap room’ has a cozy living room feel. There was live music, board games you could play if you wanted, and communal comfy seating.  We tried a flight of all the mead they had on tap, nine samples which were served in ukuleles. Yes, ukuleles. Basically it was the best thing ever.

Of the nine offerings on tap I think the cheery mead is still my favourite but I also enjoyed their more traditional honey variety and Andrew seemed to enjoy the blueberry mead. We brought a few bottles of the mead back with us and I’m already trying to think of excuses to make another trip to Traverse City.

Mead

Neys Provincial Park

Cross-posted from Historical Reminiscents, Krista’s public history focused blog.  

Following a great trip to Pukaskwa National Park I kept up the natural history and camping adventure by spending a few nights at Neys Provincial Park.  I was struck by the difference in landscape between the two parks despite them being less than an hour away from each other.  Pukaskwa had very hilly, cliff views of Lake Superior and the shoreline was a rugged .  In comparison Ney’s had long open beach shorelines, sand dunes, and forested areas.

Prisoner of War Camp

Star embedded on lawn from POW era.  It is believed that the star was around the flag pole.

Star embedded on lawn from POW era. It is believed that the star was around the flag pole.

Prior to becoming a provincial park the land now encompassed by Neys was used as a Prisoner of War Camp known as Neys 100 during the second world war.  The camp housed high ranking German officers and others and was primarily staffed by veterans from the First World War.  There are bits of this history scattered throughout the present day park — building foundations, bits of embed stone, and other physical remnants are all interpretation points in the Park today.  Additionally the physical landscape was fundamentally changed by the POW camp, they flattened sand dunes and used many of the trees for lumber.  Trees were later replanted by the Boy Scouts but in standard plantation rows, leaving evidence of how the land has changed.

Point Trail

Boats on Prisoners' Point

Boats on Prisoners’ Point

We didn’t do nearly as much hiking at Neys as at Pukaskwa, but I did manage to explore a couple of the trails.  The Point Trail is a short 1 km trail that follows the shore of Lake Superior and ends at a rocky outcrop known as Prisoners’ Point.  The trail then connects to the Under the Volcano Trail that explores the shoreline stretching from the Point.  I explored a bit of this trail as well.  The trail was a relatively easy walk, albeit a bit wet when I walked it and it was well worth the puddle jumping to reach the views of the lake at the end.  There was a few interpretive signs but they were relatively sparse.  I did enjoy the one that talked about the remains of old boats located on the point– the boats were left over from the Prisoner of War camp era and the logging days of the region.

Dune Trail

This easy loop hike included an interpretive handout that visitors could take with them on the walk.  The handout included numbers which matched specific points on the trail and provided interpretive details about that area.  The handout included a bit of information about the role of the POW camp on the landscape but primarily focused on flowers, the dunes, trees, and the impact of local animal life on the landscape.  Unsurprisingly, I liked the fact that there was a physical thing to hold during the walk and that the interpretation was a bit more developed on this trail.

Visitors’ Centre

Beach at Neys Provincial Park

Beach at Neys Provincial Park

The Visitors’ Centre was only open during the last day I was at the park.  Despite this we managed to make a short visit to the Centre and check out some their primary interpretive space.  The displays were fairly standard for a provincial park, a lot of focus on the natural landscape with most material geared at families and including a number of touch and feel stations focused on children.  There was also a substantial section dedicated to the history of Neys 100 which included a model which demonstrated what the POW camp would have looked like.  The staff at the Centre were very friendly and seemed to know a lot about the history of the Park and were happy to answer questions about the way the landscape had changed.

 

Pukaskwa National Park

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Cross-posted from Historical Reminiscents, Krista’s public history focused blog.  

Recently I visited Pukaskwa National Park, the only wilderness national Park in Ontario.  The Park features a small campground and 1878 square km of wonderful Northern Ontario natural heritage.

I had a wonderful time camping, exploring, and learning about the landscape at Pukaskwa.  We were there prior to the official start of their interpretation season (July and August) but still managed to take in some activities and many of their trails have great interpretive signage that can be used without a guide.

Anishinaabe Camp Construction

The first morning at Pukaskwa we joined in a walk to the Anishinaabe Camp that was currently under construction.  We were the only ones to participate in the walk that morning but it was worth the half hour to talk with the people building an interpretive space based on traditional knowledge. Our guide was from Pic River First Nation and works as at the park as a cultural interpreter and programmer and the builders were a combination of local and visiting people with knowledge of traditional structures.  As an added bonus our guide took us into the Visitor Centre despite it not being officially open for the season so we could take a look at some of their other programming spaces and some of the other birch bark items that were made at the Park.  I loved that the park integrates traditional knowledge keepers into interpretive programming.

Beach Trail

20160625_085744Pukaskwa has a number of short hikes that can all be completed in a hour or two from the campground.  This was perfect for us given that we were traveling with a small child.  The first hike we did was the “Beach Trail” which visits driftwood filled beaches in three different areas of shoreline – Horseshoe Bay, middle beach, and north beach.  The views of Lake Superior and the huge amounts of driftwood were amazing to look at.  This trail was a fairly easy hike though there were a few spots that could have used better signage and required some hunting to pick up the trail again. In addition to the natural beauty Horseshoe Bay also featured an easel which explored the Group of Seven’s paintings inspired by the landscape contained in Pukaskwa.  I loved this integration of history, culture, and natural heritage.

Bimose Kinoomagewnan

Bimose Kinoomagewnan signage at start of trail.

Bimose Kinoomagewnan signage at start of trail.

The second trail we explored was the Bimose Kinoomagewnan trail or the “Walk of Teachings”.  This trail may have been my favourite of the many hikes we did at Pukaskwa.  It didn’t have Lake Superior views but the views around Halfway Lake and the interpretive signage focusing on the Seven Grandfather Teachings was extremely well done.

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Wisdom teaching signage.

Each teaching had a sign placed at scenic points on the trail and the signage contained stories of Elders’ experiences in the park, their thoughts on the teachings, and their memories of the land.  Each of these written experiences was paired with artwork by local youth.  The signage was in three languages (English, French, Ojibway) and extremely well done and added to the trail significantly.  On the natural heritage side of things I loved the variety of this trail which includes forested land, huge rock faces, hills, a beaver lodge, and fantastic views.

Southern Headland Trail

Red Chairs as part of the "Share the Chair" Parks Canada program.

Red Chairs as part of the “Share the Chair” Parks Canada program.

This was probably the most popular trail we explored – at least judging by the number of people we saw exploring the views.  On many of the other hikes we didn’t see anyone else.  The Southern Headland trail has breath taking Lake Superior views and overlooks Hattie Cove, Pulpwood Harbour, and Horseshoe Bay.

This walk provides visitors with glimpses of the power of Superior and there is some signage talking about the impact the lake has on the landscape and flora/fauna in the region.  This trail also featured the “red chair experience” a Parks Canada national initiative which places red Muskoka style chairs at places with breathtaking views and spots which highlight some of the best spots in national parks.  I love the idea of making destination points within parks that are points of connection, shared experience, and social media opportunities.

Manito Miikana

Outlook over Lake Superior on Manito Miikana

Outlooking Lake Superior on Manito Miikana

Also known as “the Spirit Trail”, Manito Miikana is a predominately forested trail leading to two viewing platforms with panoramic views of Lake Superior.  This was by far the most difficult trail we hiked, it has a lot of changing elevations, a ton of tree roots, uneven ground, and it was very wet the day we walked it.  The views were similar to that of the Southern Headland Trail but overlooked different portions of the lake and also allowed for a look at the Pic River Dunes in the distance.  It wasn’t a bad hike and we probably would have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t rained so much prior to our walk.

Overall

I really enjoyed Pukaskwa National Park, exploring the natural history and learning a bit more about the landscape of the North Shore.  I was also pleasantly surprised by a lot of the interpretation programming and signage in the park.  The interpretation I engaged with was really well done and the Park has made an effort to engage local Indigenous communities in programming and include traditional knowledge in their signage.

Sawdust City Brewing Co: Lone Pine IPA

Located in Gravenhurst, Ontario Sawdust City Brewing is a relatively new craft brewery that was launched in 2013.  They have five core brands and brew the occasional sessions.  I tried their Lone Pine IPA a few years ago but had mostly forgotten how it tasted other than it was a hoppy IPA. I also think the Lone Pine is the only beer from Sawdust City Brewing that I’ve seen at an LCBO – granted the local LCBO is often pretty sparse in terms of craft beer.  I loved the design of the can, the stark lone pine is an iconic Canadian image that they’ve made into a simple but visually appealing label design.

The name of the beer is well chosen as it has a distinctly pine smell.  There’s a bit of a citrus hop smell buried under the pine but it’s minimal. In terms of taste it was an interesting blend of pine, hops, and a citrus (maybe grapefruit?) taste.  It was relatively dry with lots of hops.  It’s definitely a hop forward beer but manages to avoid being too bitter.  I tried this beer while camping and it was a great beer to have in the evening after a hot day of hiking. Refreshing and a tad sweet.

Watching: Doctor Who TV Movie

DW8This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Doctor Who TV movie.  I some how managed to convince Andrew to sit down and watch it with me – partially because it was shot in Vancouver and partially because he seems like to bad movies.  There was a lot of laughter, disbelief, and amusement as we watched the movie together.  Andrew also remarked on how American it felt, very unlike any of the other Doctor Who he had watched.  Though Andrew didn’t love the movie he didn’t hate it and I’m just glad I got him to watch it with me.

One thing I love about the TV movie and the eighth Doctor more broadly is the range of possibilities that were created by the movie.  Without the TV movie the new series as we know it probably wouldn’t have come to fruition.  I also enjoy the fact that the eighth Doctor’s adventures have been extended through Big Finish, books, and comics.  The TV movie was just one adventure leaving so much space for tangential writing and additional stories to be developed in other mediums.

If you’re looking for a way to dive back into the TV Movie both Radio Free Skaro and Verity! podcasts had great episodes around the time of the airing anniversary. RFS had an interview with Yee Jee Tso about Time and Spaces his photo book publication which compares the Vancouver 1996 movie shooting locations to the Vancouver landscape today.  The same episode of RFS also included a panel Long Island Who recorded panel featuring Paul McGann, Daphne Ashbrook, Matthew Jacobs, and Gary Russell.  Both the interview and panel are well worth a listen.  And if you’re looking for a slightly less serious way to rewatch the TV movie Verity! did a pretty amusing commentary of the movie.