Archive for the ‘ducks’ Tag

Day 219 – Duck!   4 comments

Okay. So, if I’m going to continue telling camping stories, I have to admit something about the way we camp. I have to admit to being a car camper. Sure, we tent. We’re still roughing it. Sort of. But I must also admit to using air mattresses. Back in my youth, I remember roughing it with one of those flat blue pads that you roll up and tie with nothing more than a piece of string. In grade 12 I even did a 24 hour solo and camped out in the snow with nothing but a sleeping bag and a big sheet of plastic tarp for a tent.

Since then, I’ve grown soft. Comfort has apparently become a higher priority. We graduated from the blue mats to thin, self-inflating sleeping pads. They’re okay, but a bit thin. Most recently, we’ve shifted to full-size inflatable air mattresses. The kind you might put out for guests in your home if all the real beds were full. Honestly, I’m still a bit embarrassed. It really kills my camping cred when the air mattresses come out. To make it worse, we now fill our air mattresses with an electric pump that we power from the car. Back country campers we are not.

On the bright side though, I like to think we now save lives. A little while back, we had set up camp and were just watching the campground slowly fill up as we prepared dinner. A couple in a car pull up next to us and get their tent setup. Like us, they enjoy the comfort of air mattresses. Unlike us, they did not have a pump. I realized they didn’t have a pump when the woman had her boyfriend turn on the car and then she held the valve on the mattress to their exhaust pipe!

Recovering from the shock of this remarkably bad move on her part, I ran to the car to get our pump and brought it over to offer them a safer alternative to the slow-death-by-carbon-monoxide-poisoning that they seemed to have planned for that night. The boyfriend just laughed and said “Yeah, she’s crazy. Does this all the time”.

[sorry, I know that story had nothing to do with ducks, but the duck picture caught my eye tonight.]

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Day 163 – Terror in the Park   6 comments

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Edmonton. It was 24C with nary a cloud in the sky. I set out to Elk Island National Park (just outside town) to track down some bison. The park contains a large local population of wood bison and plains bison. I rock up to the park in late morning and I’m seriously the only person there. There were some guys doing some maintenance on the parklands, but they cleared out just as I got there. Not a problem though. I’m not looking for company. I’m looking for undisturbed wildlife. I gather my gear and I’m off.

At the entrance to the park, there are some friendly signs telling interested visitors about the bison, the population of the local group, how well they’re recovering from previous over-hunting and then come the warnings – wild animals, don’t approach, don’t get between bison, stay away from the males in particular, if you encounter a bison don’t try to scare it away just try to walk around it giving it a good 25 to 30m. They even include a nice photo of a kid running terrified from a charging bison. Nice.

Seriously though, they’re just bison. It’s like a big cow, right? Right?

Anyway, I set off into the bush. By the way, this is dense bush. The path is narrow and winding. If there are bison on this trail, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to walk around them. I’m not even sure I’d see one before I came around a corner and found myself standing on one’s tail. As I get started, I’m taking my time, looking carefully around in all directions not wanting to startle any bison into some unprovoked charging. As I get deeper into the hike, I see no signs of wildlife whatsoever. Sure there’s the odd bird, but nothing larger. Mostly just lots of bees. I’m picking up my pace and just glancing around a bit, seriously doubting the presence of bison in these woods.

An hour into my walk, nothing. Not a single sign of life. I’m feeling like maybe I’m in the wrong spot. I head back to my car and drive to another hiking trail. I set out with some hope knowing I’ve seen Elk on this trail before – no bison, but my hopes are still high. After another hour of hiking, I’ve now added a crow to the list of wildlife I’ve managed to spot. Lucky me. Just not my day.

Prepared to pack it in for the day, I start back to the trail head. I step across a little wooden bridge over a tine creek and suddenly there’s an eruption under my feet, there’s splashing, and a flurry of activity, I jump back startled clean out of my skin only to find… ducks. Yes, apparently I’ve been scared half to death by ducks. One momma duck and seven little ducklings. Cute, fuzzy, cuddly, quacking terrors in the park…