Algonquin Adventure

This has got to be the longest I’ve been offline — truly offline with not even cell phone access — in a decade. Caitlin and Nefarious and I just got back from a week up in Algonquin Park, where we were staying on a homestead helping with (and learning about) an eco-construction project. In this case, the project we took part in was building a cordwood-walled structure with cob (clay/sand/straw) mortar, all of it locally sourced. In addition, pretty much everything we ate was either grown or foraged on the property, so I also learned a little more about wild foods that can be eaten here in Ontario.

One of the things that struck me most from the week’s experiences was when Steven, the event’s main organizer, said that his moment of revelation came after he’d been living in the woods self-sufficiently for some time — the simple realization that “everything is edible”. Everything that one needs for a happy life is being provided free…

Unfortunately I forgot my camera battery in the charger at home, and Caitlin’s battery was dead when we left, so we were only able to take a few pictures along the way. We took an additional trip afterwards to take Nefarious to all the beaches around Prince Edward County, and then visited Ryan and Corrie’s new homestead as well.

  1. Caitlin putting on her boots getting ready for the first day of work. In the background is part of the operation getting the cob mixture prepared. The big frames are for the two large windows in the new building.
  2. Walking through the wetlands to the building site.
  3. Nefarious exploring the wetlands. I was worried that she was going to have a hard time in this environment (or just be bored), but I don’t think I’ve seen her have more fun in any given week… other than a terrible set of mosquito bites that she got the first night!
  4. We built this bonfire to char the logs that were going in the bottom row of the cordwood house to reduce the risk of bug infestation. Cutting down one of the dead trees for it I got bitten by a lot of very angry ants!
  5. One of my jobs was de-barking some of the 22″ sections of log that would later be used to construct the walls. It wasn’t fun at all with an axe, but after switching to a machete it went much more quickly. Caitlin is in the far background of this shot taking the bark off the long poles that would be used for the roof.
  6. Sorry this is the only picture I have of it, and I know it’s not very obvious, but this is the area the cordwood building was constructed in. It was a circular earth-bermed structure with a radiating roof design, and two large windows. It was intended to be a ceremonial or meditation building.
  7. Nefarious in the yard doing yoga with River, a seven year old boy from Niagara that was there as well. The whole experience, especially seeing the way she interacted with it, really reminded me of my childhood and what a wonderful place for young people the country is.
  8. River and Nefarious after coming back from one of our swimming trips to Lake DorĂ©, a beautiful golden sand beach with exceptionally shallow (and warm) water — they could walk and walk and walk and still never get past the middle of their chests.
  9. Nefarious loves the water and spent as much time as she could swimming with Caitlin, River, and I. As well as swimming here at the lake, we’d also swam in a leech filled pond, and then on the drive back, in a hotel pool — all fun in their own way.
  10. They never got tired of being chased around and then grabbed and thrown through the air — they don’t weigh much, so I could toss them about fifteen feet for a giant splash… at once incredibly terrifying and incredibly fun. I admit that we probably spent more time vacationing than working.
  11. We slept in the ashram (a barn), which was essentially sleeping outdoors. Other than the mosquitos — she completely refused bug spray the first day, but then learned her lesson — Nefarious loved getting to sleep in the barn, and loved the outhouse even more.

Anyway, a really wonderful, inspiring, and tiring week.



  1. cirrin wrote:

    Wow, what an amazing experience.

    Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Ania wrote:

    a few weeks back I went 4 days with no internet (I really don’t care about cell phones) and it felt just awesome.

    There’s a whole different, and better and simpler, life out there once we forget about everything we think we ‘need’ or ‘must have’.

    great pictures and it’s great to read you again!

    Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Permalink
  3. Scienkoptic wrote:

    I’m moving to a cordwood house. The previous owners attended a Mother Earth class given at their Eco Village in NC.
    So much of what you say about growing up on a farm or in a rural setting resonate so much with where my wife & want to be. Our Daughters love the disconnect we have from civilization. The time we spend interacting with each other instead of isolating ourselves. I wish I could sell my house & business already! I’d be there now!
    It’s so cool to see others are doing exactly what we want to do. I only found your site after we had made up our minds to move away from the big city.
    Thanks Shannon & good luck

    Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  4. Nicole wrote:

    Algonquin is one of my favorite places in the world. Such great memories from childhood.

    Looks like you guys had an amazing time!

    Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  5. MoonChild wrote:

    That sounds like a lot of fun, I’ve also been thinking about how nature provides everything we actually need, and how people make their life so unnecesarily complicated thinking that is the only way to live… :)

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  6. daniel jacques wrote:

    nice to read, very pretty photos.

    Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 6:19 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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