My week on the water kicked off on Eagle Lake with SUPNorth. I joined in on a SUP and Swim session which consisted of an introduction to Stand Up Paddle boarding followed by some fun in the mermaid lagoon. For a first timer I was quite pleased with myself, I didn’t fall off once, not even during our mini yoga class sun salutation progression. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my GoPro. If anyone has diving gear and wants to go for a swim to look for it at the bottom of Eagle Lake, let me know. The moment I put my mermaid tail on though, I forgot all about my GoPro troubles, it was THAT MUCH FUN! It didn’t take long at all to get the hang of it. We swam and splashed around, enjoying the afternoon sun, until it was time to go.
I had worked up quite an appetite, so before leaving Eagle Lake, I stopped at Smokin’ Jake’s BBQ Shack and stuffed myself with some absolutely delicious pulled pork and sweet potato fries! Man, this guy does it right, using grandma’s original recipes with a few twists of his own. My taste buds have never been so satisfied.
Early Monday morning I headed West, to Barry’s Bay, for more on-the-water action with the Madawaska Kanu Centre. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with them. If I could describe MKC in one word, it be quality – quality instruction, quality facilities, quality food, quality staff, quality everything. The resort is nothing short of perfect. Its rustic beauty creates a tranquil environment that has a real charm about it.
While sitting around the table at lunch, I joked about how the lack of WIFI was a double edged sword – it was difficult to be away from the virtual world, but such a refreshing escape at the same time. One of the instructors replied by simply stating that WIFI was, “a distraction in a place like this.” I thought about that for a while. What a fantastic way to put it. People travel internationally to MKC to immerse themselves in one of the best white water programs out there. It’s like a working holiday – best of both worlds – after spending 8 hours on the white water improving your skills and conquering the day’s lesson, you return to the resort for relaxation, incredible food and great conversation. What else could you possibly need?
The people I met during my stay had the most incredible stories, each inspiring in their own way. I had a couple in their late 60s, George and Marie Christine, in my class who were at MKC to prepare for a 12 day canoe trip in Yellowknife. I can only hope to be as excited about life and thirsting for adventure as they are at that milestone in my life. Another colleague, Darlene from Indianna, was taking on a solo canoe class for the first time. Her animated and detailed stories of past travels gave me goose bumps and stirred my interest to see the world.
Something I noted throughout all of these stories is that it was the experiences and the unexpected moments that were the fondest memories for these folks, not the attractions. This is something I have found throughout my Great Escape Road Trip. I’ve said it before, and it is a theme that has become more and more apparent as the summer progresses, the people truly make your experience.
At OWL Rafting, MKC’s sister company, I was in a raft with four young teens from Winnipeg. Upping the ante from my last rafting experience, I was in a ‘sporty’ 6-person raft rather than the 12 seater. Obviously, we had an absolute hoot! My co-paddlers from the prairies were always stopping to take in the scenery of the Ottawa River. They were in awe of our tall trees and endless green space – something I find so normal. It is easy to take our beautiful, vast landscape for granted.
The day of rafting was a drastic change from the canoe course at MKC. After learning how to read the water, control my direction and ride the waves myself, I wanted more of that. This is how I see it. There are strategic steps involved in the world of white water.
Step 1: Family rafting with MKC
Step 2: Family rafting with OWL
Step 3: Big boat rafting with OWL
Step 4: Sports rafting with OWL
Step 5: Canoe or Kayak course with MKC
Rafting is the perfect first step – it’s a fun, exciting, thrilling introduction to white water. If you fall in love, like I did, than you just keep going back and ‘step it up’.
If you are feeling adventurous from the get-go and looking for a fun, outdoor experience that incorporates personal growth, challenging yourself and accomplishing something then MKC should be your next summer destination! You won’t regret it.
A special thanks to Terri Matthews-Carl for using #OHletsgo and suggesting that I check out SUPNorth. Keep the suggestions coming! Remember, you can be entered to win a GoPro by simply using #OHletsgo in your summer social media posts!
See you out there!