We did well this Sunday, first driving north to meet Elva and Laurie at the MacKenzie King Estate in the Gatineau Park to follow the Lauriault Trail, less than 4 kilometers. However, according to the app. on Laurie's smartphone, the hills you climb on this walk are the equivalent of going up flights of stairs in a 35 storey building; you might think twice before attempting that, but you don't mind the ascent under blue skies between the lovely trees, taking it at an easy pace in good company. There was a fresh covering of snow on the slopes, not deep, just enough to cover the icy patches. I'm glad I wore the spikes over my shoes this time, didn't slip once.
Free of ice, the stream was flowing through the valley, with little water falls and clear pools in it. Woodpeckers were knocking at the maple trunks and crows were soaring on the thermals over the south side of the hills. It is starting to feel like spring although there is not a trace of green, nor of buds, or sprouting plants. We must be patient, since it's only the beginning of March. We watched enthusiastic skiers go by as we crossed their trail. In Chelsea, hundreds of cars were parked so that Chris and I had four goes at finding a space. Elva and Laurie, more lucky, saved seats at a table for us in the lively Chelsea Pub, where we ordered large salads, or in Chris' case, fish and chips.
Chris wanted to go flying this afternoon and again (with a day off work) tomorrow --- to Kingston, he said --- so Elva asked, "Why don't you go to Kingston this afternoon, spend the night there, and fly back tomorrow?" We thought: that's a good idea, so we did.
We took off from CYRO at about 3pm at which time the sky was quite overcast and dark with snow clouds to the east, but obviously clearing to the west, as was soon confirmed once we were up above the Ottawa VOR near Aylmer. Our route was obviously going to be mostly in the clear; we only flew through one area of precipitation (sparkling fast moving snowflakes), near Carleton Place. Chris sensibly asked for flight-following from Montreal Centre Air Traffic Control outside the Class C controlled area, which gave us ATC protection until we were only 10 NM away from Kingston. The scenery was as beautiful as I've ever seen it, today, shining bright lakes, the thin ice reflecting the sunlight, and the grassy areas mostly clear of snow, even at this date! Another aircraft from Rockcliffe, C-GMME, was flying the same route at the same time as we; we knew of its whereabouts but only actually saw it once, when we were on the ground at Kingston. During the flight the winds were gusty, but not violently so, and we had a 25 knot tailwind which made our time en route 10-15 minutes faster than usual. We told the taxi driver about this on our ride into town and he made some knowledgeable responses. He'd also had a go at learning to fly.
At home I had quickly found a hotel room online, not spending too long researching the possibilities; we're staying (like Elva and Laurie on their last visit here) at the Sheraton Four Points on King Street. It is comfortable and conveniently placed and we have just been in the swimming pool and hot tub on the 4th floor. The sinking sun lit the city sights (domed roofs, waterfronts, ferry) very nicely this evening. Before it got dark we sauntered up and down the central streets, seeing people skating on the ice rink in the market square behind the city hall, and sat down to share a muffin in Balzac's Coffee Rosterie on Princess Street. After all the exercise and excitement I was still hungry, so we found a satisfactory early supper at Mango, a "pan-Asian" food place, also on Princess Street.
Retracing our footsteps in the dark and then extending the walk a few blocks brought us back to the Sheraton where Chris promptly fell asleep on the bed (this was before we went to the pool).