The Gatineau Park, stretching out from its tip very near to Ottawa towards a vast expanse of Canadian Shield. This was our desitination after dropping Jovita off at Ottawa Serve Saturday afternoon. Press F1 anytime for this aid to gallery navigation.  And consider using the interactive access features (Facebook and Comments) at the bottom of each page. Past seven, Saturday evening on the day of our arrival. We've already been swimming to cool off. Not much time to set up yet, but we're getting hungry. We had to carry all this stuff (with the help of a large wagon) quite some distance to this walk-in site (the furthest one of course). After the total privacy of our last three camping spots, we were a bit dismayed to find neighbours so close to us. But they were a lovely family with two small boys and we did enjoy hearing the murmur of french. They left Sunday evening and after that we had the whole 'shelf' to ourselves. Chicken fajitas for supper. The first meals are usually the best since food has to get used in order of freshness. At least this time we had a proper cooler and could buy ice. Day two - Sunday morning breakfast at 9:30 - don't think we'll make church anymore After a leisurely morning, not doing much, we headed out to the O'Brian beach, at the very tip of Meech lake (forty minutes drive from Lac Philippe). This is a lovely spot, in spite of the fringe of cottages, and seems well used by locals. We were surprised by how much English was being spoken (also in the campground) - more than half.
After camping without beach access for three years running, we must confess that setting up on the sand surrounded by people was enjoyable. Looking out into Meech Lake. Just out of sight, past the pine trees in the middle, is the Wilson House where the Meech Lake accord was struck. As at all the public beaches we were frustrated by having to stay within the buoy lines, in shallow water. After asking the lifeguards, we found out it was acceptable to go beyond the lines by entering the water from outside of its perimeter. (liability issues, no doubt). So we waded through some weeds and  swam to the rock on the point. Swimming together in deep lake water has to be one of our favourite things. Alexander Bay at the eastern tip of Meech Lake. You can see the O'Brian beach at the end. A road from the beach parking lot winds its way up to the Wilson House where the Meech Lake Accord was struck in 1987. (Click Globe/Map icon to open Google Map) We drove up the road, lined with cottages, along the shore of Meech Lake to the public beach on the other end of the lake (not nearly as nice as the O'Brien).  On the way back we spied the Wilson House looking over the foot of the Lake. We glimpsed The O'Brian House too, but it is out of sight in this photo. Monday morning, after waking a few times during the night to shoo the racoons away, we can see that our cooler is clearly the object of much frustration. You can see racoon paw prints and the easily opened latch. The rock however, also weighed down by a picnic table is too much for them. It's nice to have an old, well used cooler that you don't have to worry about scratching. Monday morning introspection
By late morning we've packed a lunch and have headed out to be tourists. We again drove the 40 km all the way back over the three 'finger' lakes (Philippe, Mouseau and Meech) down through Old Chelsea and back around  to the escarpment at the bottom of the park. Our first stop - the Champlain Lookout at end of the Promenade Champlain. From there we could wind our way back. Taking panorama shots - a series of six to be stiched later. The view was a bit hazy from the heat, but spectacular none-the-less. Wendy is tormented again by dares from Henry. Thank you Wendy for being game and for having worn a dress. This looks so much classier than shorts and a t-shirt. A bit of HDR tone mapping helps to bring details out of the shadows. Eye Witness The western end of the Promenade Champlain running along the crest of Gatineau Hills. There are several lookouts (with parking) onto the farmland and the Ottawa River below. (Click Globe/Map icon to open Google Map) The Huron lookout also offers a good view
The view from the Etienne Brule lookout is not nearly so sweeping, but there is a nice picnic area. We chose to wait a bit yet and had our lunch at one of a few lake-side picnic areas. This wall drops off precipitously to the highway below, so after an initial few steps into view, Wendy was hanging on to the tree for dear life. Our primary objective of the day is to visit the Mackenzie-King Estate. This is  the Moorside house  - where King received such notables as Churchill & Roosevelt. The  Kingswood cottage, built first by King in 1903, was being renovated and could not be visited. Also on the estate is 'The Farm', which King lived in for a while and which is now the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons. Looking down from the lawn of the  Moorside house you see King's original and planned progression from formal French garden, to English landsacpe garden, through the window ruins of an Ottawa landmark, to a natuarlized rock garden, and the deep woods beyond. Standing at the crest of the rock garden. Much of the exposed rock on the far side is a natural outcropping. Planted and bed rocks combined to good effect Detail of the  rock garden
This river falls, which is now almost dry because of damming upstream, was loud enough, in King's day, to be heard from the estate. We followed the Waterfall Path through a wonderful woods. At the end of this trail is a lookout over the now much reduced waterfalls that King was so fond of. Only later did we realize how close we were to the edge of the escarpment and to the farmland on the plains below. On the way back along King's Waterfall Path I stop to take in a vision that King could only have imagined. At the end of the culvert taking the waterfall path under the Champlain Parkway, Wendy stops before entering the light. The Abbey ruins include parts of the old printing shop of Kings' grandfather William Lyon Mackenzie. The Abbey ruins would make a good backdrop for a wedding photo shoot. Wendy and I have been married for thirty two years, but it's never too late.
Abbey ruins reconstruction work. I would have loved to stay and watch, even help. L'Arc de Triomphe, built to celebrate King's 1935 election victory The Harrington Lake estate, on Lac Mousseau (between Lac Meech and Lac Phillipe) has been the official country retreat of the Prime Minister of Canada since Diefenbaker suggested that he needed a quiet place to go fishing (in 1959). Access to this estate is blocked by RCMP, but the staff at the Meech Lake Visitor Center were only too eager to show it to us on Google Earth. (Click Globe/Map icon to open Google Map) Stopping for an afternoon ice cream cone break in Chelsea Vivid colours in the backyard of the ice cream shop The big rock interupting the lakeside path close to our campsite. This is actually a designated snow shoeing trail. From the path below you can easily climb down into the lake where a combination of rocks and a sandy shelf just below water make it easy to swim. Here we could enjoy lake swimming unfettered by buoy lines, and some other things as well.
Wendy takes to the water again, from the trail near our campsite. This entry spot was clear and free of the weeds that plagued us elsewhere. Our first ever campsite with it's own stairs. Every site, from D1-D18, needed them. Tuesday morning breakfast The big rock rising up from our campsite An even bigger rock way above the neigbouring campsite We came across this deer, at 1:30 in the afternoon, on our way back to our van.
The middle section of Lac Phillipe, containing the campgrounds and beaches (Click Globe/Map icon to open Google Map) The Breton Beach on LacPhilippe, for campers and day use A good place to just sit and read and enjoy the view A view to the pine grove alongside where we were sitting on the beach.  The gizmo with with wires (one of three) at this beach is designed to keep Canada Geese and gulls away. I was just thinking about how effective the gizmo was when a huge flock of Canada Geese sailed into sight and headed to the far end of the beach for a snack. They acted very much like they owned the place. These geese are nonchalently ambling towoards the bird scare gizmo.
Jonathon Livingston Seagull I presume. Wendy did not want this picture included One of many seven minute trips down the path from our campsite to the van in its parking lot Another picture rejected by Wendy Wednesday morning coffee. Henry is better at this than Wendy because he stays with it while she's always multi-tasking. A constant dribble of boiled water into the filter works better and produces a very pleasing (to watch and smell) coffee broth. A visit to Wakefield, on the Gatineau River. This is one of its primary attractions - a covered bridge that was completely rebuilt after it burned down.
The town of Wakefield on the Gatineau River clearly showing its covered bridge at the narrowest spot on the river (Click Globe/Map icon to open Google Map) The covered bridge was reconstructed using the old design and techniques. A popular swimming spot on the river viewed from an equally popular jumping off spot The Wakefield covered bridge looms over a matching Tim Hortons cup. Still water reflection beside the fast flowing Gatineau river Flowers set off against the bridge backdrop
Across the bridge from the town of Wakefield The old mill above Wakefield on the La Peche river flowing into the Gatineau has been completeley co-opted by a fancy hotel, restaurant and spa complex. The mill and its landscaping is quite lovely. Wednesday we drove to Lac la Peche, in the western part of Gatineau Park - a big lake with a beautifully long and sandy beach, a large picnic area, a canoe rental outfit, and clusters of interior, canoe-in camping sites. The gravel road to get there goes on forever, it seems, and was ribbled with bumps when we travelled it. The beautifully long and sandy beach on La Peche Lake. Wendy, having finished her book, is bored. Boredom sometimes breeds creativity.
The loveliest castle you ever did see Clouds and sunshine over La Peche Lake A seagull in flight. You have to shoot a lot of duds to get just one of these. Ma and Pa Seagull. I'm not saying which one I think is Ma. The beach ends in a lovely rock outcropping and stretches away right off the left side of this picture Contemplating the life of a mermaid
A smile of contentment Looking a bit too much like an uncle for his liking Back home at Lac Philippe we went for a walk throught the campground to the campers-only Smith beach in the evening. This is the closest we got to a sunset. Thursday morning, along the path from car to campsite A groundhog shows up at our campsite  and gets almost too far away before I can get a good picture. At 8:37, while we're frantically packing to get away on time, a deer and two fawns amble down the path past our campsite.