Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Plenty of Wire

An engineer, a psychologist, and a theologian were canoeing in the wilderness of northern Canada. Suddenly, the temperature dropped and a furious snowstorm was upon them. They came across an isolated cabin, far removed from any town. The canoeists had heard that the locals in the area were quite hospitable, so they  knocked on the door to ask permission to rest.

No one answered their knocks, but they discovered the cabin was unlocked and they entered. It was a simple place... 2 rooms with a minimum of furniture and household equipment. Nothing was unusual about the cabin except the stove. It was large, pot-bellied, and made of cast-iron. What was strange about it was its  location... it was suspended in mid-air by wires attached to the ceiling beams.

"Fascinating," said the psychologist. "It is obvious that this lonely trapper, isolated from humanity, has elevated this stove so that he can curl up under it and vicariously experience a return to the womb."

"Nonsense!" replied the engineer. "The man is practicing the laws of thermodynamics. By elevating his stove, he has discovered a way to distribute heat more evenly throughout the cabin."

"With all due respect," interrupted the theologian, "I'm sure that hanging his stove from the ceiling has religious meaning. Fire LIFTED UP has been a religious symbol for centuries."

The three debated the point for several hours without resolving the issue. When the trapper finally returned, they immediately asked him why he had hung his heavy pot-bellied stove from the ceiling.

His answer was succinct...

"Had plenty of wire, not much stove pipe."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Jay and Rod are at camp. Jay turns to Rod and says "Rod, look up there and tell me what that means". Rod says "Horologically, it means it's about 2 am, theologically, it shows how puny we are and astrologically, I'd say the sun is in Leo." Jay says "Rod, you dolt! It means that someone has stolen our tent!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grey Cup Fever

It's game day and Northstar Expeditions endorses the following video message.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sucking at Paddling

NSE might consider trying out for this team, we're pretty sure we can make the cut...

Friday, October 8, 2010

NSE 2010 Trip - A few photos

This year in early September NorthStar Expeditions did a fly-in trip on the Churchill River from Sandfly Lake to Missinipe.  We spent 7 full days paddling back to Misssinipe and covered a distance of 150 km, according to the recorded GPS track. About five out of seven days were windy, at some points extremely windy. It was a great trip and entailed a lot of new experiences for us.

A full photo report will come at some point, but in the meantime here is a slide show of Bryan's photos to tide you over.  Rod likely has some excellent photos to contribute and I know Jay has at least one exciting video to add.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

6 Minute Management Course

We are off on our annual canoe trip right now so here is some humour to bide the time until we return and post the 2010 trip report!

Lesson 1:
Jay is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Jay's friend Rod,.
Before she says a word, Rod says, 'I'll give you $370 to drop that towel. After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Rod, after a few seconds, Rod hands her $370 and leaves.
The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, Jay asks, 'Who was that?’ 'It was Rod,' she replies. 'Great,' Jay says, 'did he say anything about the $370 he owes me?

Moral of the story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:
A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest removed his hand but, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'
Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'

Moral of the story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity

Lesson 3:
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.
They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'
'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.'
Puff! She's gone.
'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.'
Puff! He's gone.
'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager.. The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.'

Moral of the story:
Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4:
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.
A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'
The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5:
A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey,
'but I haven't got the energy.' 'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull.
They're packed with nutrients. The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough
strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Lesson 6:
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung,
and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:
(1) Not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of doo doo is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep doo doo, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In the Mood

Here's a video to help get us in the mood for this year's rendition of the 2010 NSE Canoe Trip.

The video shows Le Roux Craven running a rapid on the Nahanni River. Le Roux is in the Canadian leg of his round-the world trip which included fishing in BC, paddling the Nahanni, and more recently, paddling in Northern Saskatchewan including the Churchill River (where half of NSE will be by Thursday evening). I just had contact from Le Roux and he was sitting in a cafe in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. By tomorrow (Wednesday) he'll be in Saskatoon & we'll hopefully be able to share a pint of beer or two, and he can tell me of his adventures.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Ready To Fly

The NSE 2010 trip is fast approaching and we are busy finalizing plans, going over equipment lists, planning the food, ensuring our gear is in good repair and even practicing our whitewater moves. We'll publish the details soon but our plan is to fly in a twin otter upriver on the Churchill River about 120 km then spend the next 7 days paddling through a series of lakes and rapids back to Missinipe. By the time this is published, hopefully Jay has talked to the air charter service and nailed down our landing spot (they can't land the float plane just anywhere), but we are looking to land either on Sandfly Lake (above Needle Rapids and Needle Falls), or Kinosaskaw Lake (below those same waterfalls). Something in that vicinity should provide us ample time to paddle back to Missinipe and afford us some time to fish, play in whitewater, and relax.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

12 Inch Bic

Rod & Rob were golfing when Rod pulled out a cigar.

He didn't have a lighter, so he asked Rob if he had one.

"I sure do," he replied while he reached into his golf bag and pulled out a 12 inch Bic lighter.

"Wow!" said Rod, "Where did you get that monster lighter?"

"I got it from my genie."

"You have a genie?"

"Yes, right here in my golf bag."

"Could I see him?"

He opens his golf bag and out pops a genie.

Rod asks the genie, "Since I'm a good friend of your master, will you grant me one wish?"

"Yes I will'" the genie replies.

Rod asks the genie for a million bucks.

The genie hops back into the golf bag and leaves him standing there, waiting for his million bucks.

Suddenly, the sky begins to darken and the sound of a million ducks flying overhead is heard.

Rod tells Rob, "I asked for a million bucks, not a million ducks!"

He answers, "I forgot to tell you that the genie is hard of hearing!"

"Do you really think I asked him for a 12 inch Bic?"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Little Jay

Little Jay wanted desperately to have sex with this really cute, really hot girl at school.... but she was dating someone else. One day little Jay got so frustrated that he went to her and said, "I'll give you a $50 if you let me have sex with you."

The girl looked at him, then said, "NO!"

Little Jay said, "I'll be real fast. I'll throw the money on the floor, you bend down, and I'll finish by the time you've picked it up."

She thought for a moment and said that she would consult with her boyfriend. So she called him and explained the situation. Her boyfriend says,"Ask him for $100, then pick up the money really fast. He won't even be able to get his pants down."

So she agreed and accepted little Jay's proposal.

Over half an hour goes by and the boyfriend is still waiting for his girlfriend's call. Finally, after 45 minutes the boyfriend calls and asks what happened....

Still breathing hard, she managed to reply, "The bastard had all quarters!"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Club Sask

We came across this site recently and thoroughly enjoyed the content. The humour at ClubSask.com is largely tongue-in cheek and, like this blog, I would suggest that you not take anything there too seriously. To quote from Scott Jacques, the creator of  the web site "I've had a few complaints over the years, (my philosophy - if you can't laugh at yourself, then you're not a true Saskatchewanian) but I think most people can appreciate the humour and don't mind a little fun being poked at them. Mind you, things get touchy when it comes to the Riders!"

In addition to some of the jokes, we really like the t-shirts and are considering ordering a set for the NSE wives.
Club Sask Official T-Shirt.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Northstar Expeditions Meets Kingston Kayak Instruction

The following was previously posted on Bryan's Blog and describes a course we took in June of 2008.

NorthStar Expeditions is the official name for a group of 4 guys (including myself) that I canoe trip with every year. This spring, as a Father's Day gift, our wives signed us up for kayak lessons through Viki at Kingston Kayak Instruction. Some of our group had a bit of experience but mostly we're fairly novice paddlers when it comes to kayaks so we signed up for the Flatwater Skills course. The course included a session discussing various aspects of boats and paddling, a pool session, and most of last Saturday was spent on the water at Pike Lake. Getting the opportunity to practice rescues in a pool was a great way to get comfortable in the water where tipping over in the kayak becomes play. The highlight of the pool session was jumping off of the 5 meter platform - that's a long way down and a lot of time spent falling to think about regrets. Jay jumped off of the 7 meter platform and he said it was a big step up from 5 m. Thankfully, the 10 m platform was closed.

Saturday at Pike Lake the day started off pretty nice with warm and sunny skies, but eventually thunderstorms and rain rolled in (as previously posted). The rain really didn't matter too much since we were spending the afternoon largely in the water anyway. A bit warmer might have been nice but it was OK. My outfit for the afternoon while we were wet and practicing rescue techniques was a "shorty" wet suit, a polyester t-shirt, cycling sleeves (arm warmers), PFD, paddling gloves, with my light cycling jacket thrown over top of everything (I didn't realise how odd the jacket over everything made me look until I saw the pictures later - think red beach ball with a head on top). I tried goggles for about 30 seconds but they immediately filled with water.

After getting pretty confident with our "eskimo rescues" (aka T-rescue) I decided it was time for an impromptu test. While paddling fast alongside Jay, I called over to him and asked "Jay, are you paying attention?" He looked over and said "yeah" or perhaps it was "nah" or maybe "huh?" I promptly flipped over (while still under steam) and began banging on my kayak hull, the signal that I need assistance. My thought was that Jay would just paddle right over and present his bow for me to grab onto allowing me to right myself without leaving the cockpit of the kayak. Only problem is that Jay was paddling fast in the slowest turning kayak in the group. By the time he even realised what was going on, I was under water, banging on my boat and moving my hands back and forth waiting for the sudden appearance of his bow in my hand. Everything also seems to go a little slower while your are hanging upside down under water. I quickly ran out of breath and had to wet exit. By the time I came up in the water alongside my kayak, Jay was rounding the turn in his kayak and just about on his way over to me. Well I guess it ended up being a good practice of assisted re-entry techniques.

At the end of the class our families found us and took some photos. Unfortunately the batteries on our camera were dying so the videos that my wife took didn't turn out.

In the photo below the class is grouped around Viki who is wrapping things up.
Viki and the others head back while the 4 guys paddle over to the families.
NorthStar Expeditions

Using the water pumps to spray the kids.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coming Home

Jay's hobby was fishing. He spent all his weekends near the river or by the lake, paying no attention to weather. One Sunday, early in the morning, he went to the river as usual. It was cold and raining, so he decided to return back to his house. Jay went inside and headed to his bedroom, undressed and lay near his wife. The lights were off and he snuggled up behind her. She didn't even turn around. "What terrible weather today, Honey," he said to her. "Yes, she answered. "And my idiot husband went fishing."

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 Plans?

As previously mentioned on the NSE blog, 2010 is a big year for Northstar Expeditions. It's our tenth year of paddling together so we want to do something a bit bigger than we had in the past. We are thinking a bit longer, and a bit farther afield, than our usual 4 day trips. And unlike our infamous April Fools Trip, this one is bounded by the realities of time, money, and practicality. However, this year we might even fly!

So, we are looking for suggestions. Here are the criteria and considerations:
  1. 5-7 days.
  2. If a flight is involved, it's gotta be a cheap one.
  3. We're 4 generally fit guys, but we're not super ambitious and we are not used to packing light (relates to point 7).
  4. Fish, the more the merrier.
  5. Starting within 600 km of Saskatoon (Missinipe, 460km away, is our usual launching point).
  6. Some whitewater (to play in and fish below) would be good (Class II+).
  7. Major nasty portages would not be good.
  8. We're OK with a layover day or two (relates to points 3 & 4).
  9. We'll be paddling in September so there must still be water in the river.
  10. Paddling on the shield is preferred. 
  11. Trip costs should be kept moderately low (we know, that's a relative thing).
  12. No international borders should intentionally be crossed. 
  13. We usually travel with only one vehicle so if a shuttle is required we probably would be hiring it.
Some ideas we have had in mind so far are the Paull River back to Missinipe (fly-in), Needle Falls or Black Bear Island Lake on the Churchill River back to Missinipe (fly-in), Nemeiban to Churchill River and back to Missinipe (drive-in), Sturgeon-Weir (drive-in with long shuttle), ...

Here is the Government of Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Routes page which is a very handy resource for trip planning in this region (Jay has a complete set of print copies which date back about 30 years). We also have a copy of the book Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Trips, A Guide to 15 Wilderness Rivers by Laurel Archer so will be browsing through that resource too.

If you have any good ideas or want to cast your vote for a route we would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Think Jay Likes It!

A while ago, back when the weather was nice and the rain less constant, half of the NSE crew enjoyed some pulled pork and a "bacon explosion" from the smoker. I wrote about it in my regular blog and you can find it with pictures at http://pawistik.blogspot.com/2010/04/pulled-pork.html.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


"I thought I told you to keep an eye on Jay", Sheri said to Rod. "Where is he?" "Well," Rod replied thoughtfully, "if Jay knows as much about canoeing as he thinks he does, he's out canoeing. If he knows as little as I think he does, he's out swimming."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wear A Sweater

Four married guys go fishing. After an hour or two on the water, the following conversation took place. Rod: "You have no idea what I had to do to be able to come out fishing this weekend. I had to promise my wife that I will paint every room in the house next weekend." Jay: "That's nothing, I had to promise my wife that I will build her a new deck with a hot-tub." Rob: "Man, you both have it easy! I had to promise my wife that I will remodel the kitchen for her, again." They continue to fish when they realized that Bryan has not said a word. So they asked him "You haven't said anything about what you had to do to be able to come fishing this weekend. "What's the deal?" Bryan: "I just set my alarm for 5:30 am. When it went off, I shut off my alarm, gave the wife a nudge and said, "Fishing or Sex" and she said, "Wear a Sweater."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

An April Fools Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, on April 1st, NSE announced it's big plans for a grand expedition. This trip was big - over 3000km, the first thousand of which was across the prairie and farmland of Saskatchewan following creeks, ditches and small rivers. Some of the route was standard fare having been utilised by natives and fur-traders for hundreds of years or more. Other parts of the trip were a little more unique and off the beaten path. Most of that first 1000km is only navigable during a narrow window of spring runoff. Furthermore, the 1000km estimate for the first third was highly conservative - we simply got tired of measuring all those meanders in the small rivers. Finally, to make things even more grand, we chose to do the trip in a direction that would ensure that most of the trip was uphill! (We had to hit the southern waterways early while there was still some water left in them.)

Our announcement garnered a lot of response (which was our goal, after all). Some very supportive, others incredulous, some incensed. And, when they learned that it was all a big April Fools joke, some were down right ticked off. We thought certain aspects would have tipped people off to the false nature of the post, but evidently not everyone got it. For instance, our sponsors included not only the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but also the Canadian Wheat Board. Now it's a pretty far stretch to imagine the Riders sponsoring a canoe trip, but the CWB? A certain brother of mine was apparently ready to write a letter of protest to the CWB expressing his degree of outrage that the CWB would be directing any form of sponsorship toward a canoe trip. Other friends of the group were ticked off at being asked to financially support our venture. 

We had some good responses in the comments section of the original post, on facebook, and via e-mail. For posterity and your enjoyment, we'll post some of the responses we had here.
CP: Slightly insane - and VERY impressive. I look forward to your pictures!
BH: Are you paddling or poling? I heard that poling is the new thing and paddling is so yesterday.
RB: That is in-freakin-credible! You have to get a sponsor who will keep you linked up the whole time so that you can blog it all!
BS Reply: You might even say it's un-freakin-believable! Happy April 1st!
RB Reply: jack ass!
SS: Will you be doing it on a weekend? I might be interested if I could be back by supper on Sunday.
JY: Wow! Make sure you have passports with you for that first leg – and be careful how you brandish your paddles south of the border! Very impressive trip – but maybe for the 20 year trip you can paddle over the 4 corners of the province.
LD: All I have to say is that is a LOT of girl's weekends for me and K!!
JS: WOW! I’m glad you’re starting out early.  I’m from Carrot River and it’s barebones by summer, and I sense this is going to be hot, dry sucker, also the mossies are the size of ravens along it.  Those northeast creeks are going to be, uh, fun…. I hope you like beaver.
Are you going to do Blue Sky [local CBC Radio] reports?
...Ric isn’t familiar with this first part of the route, by the way.
BS Reply: J., I can't believe Ric isn't familiar with that route. It's a famous route well documented by the Hutterite paddlers at the turn of the century.
CN: I think I paddled Yellow Grass Ditch one spring a long long time ago, back when EVERYTHING in Middle Earth was flat.
Remember to take a hard right at the dead cow.
WD: That plan truly is EPIC ! ...one week per leg? How do you guys manage to schedule this?
DB: Hey Jay, I'll offer you all the moral support in the world, and usually financial is not too hard to come by, but I think I better draw the line at paying for my buddy's holidays...:)
MB: (After the joke was revealed) What’s really annoying about all of this were my immediate plans to sneak away for a part of the summer and join the expedition…
The fact that you spent hours creating a trip that couldn’t exist says a lot about you though.  I’m not sure what, but definitely something.
SS: You guys are a bunch of punks.  Good one.  I must say though, it speaks to our overestimation of your stamina & canoeing ability.  And our ignorance of what is physically possible for a bunch of beer-guzzling goofballs.
IB: Wow, that is some trip. How many beers did it take for you to come up with that route, and how many are you taking with you. I suspect that you are pulling a bit of an April fools joke on us? But if not, maybe I can sign on for the Clearwater River section of your route.
RZ: You had me. I was thinking "Epic" and trying to imagine how much time and effort it would take to do it. I guess that I'm just too willing to believe that some people go on these amazing expeditions. Good one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fishing For a Sale

A keen country lad applied for a salesman's job at a city department store. In fact it was the biggest store in the world - you could get anything there. The boss asked him, "Have you ever been a salesman before?" "Yes, I was a salesman in the country" said the lad. The boss liked the cut of him and said, "You can start tomorrow and I'll come and see you when we close up."

The day was long and arduous for the young man, but finally 5 o'clock came around. The boss duly fronted up and asked, "How many sales did you make today?" "One," said the young salesman. "Only one?" blurted the boss, "most of my staff make 20 or 30 sales a day. How much was the sale worth?" "Three hundred thousand dollars," said the young man. "How did you manage that?" asked the flabbergasted boss. "Well," said the salesman "this man came in and I sold him a small fish hook, then a medium hook and finally a really large hook. Then I sold him a small fishing line, a medium one and a huge big one. I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast. I said he would probably need a boat, so I took him down to the boat department and sold him that twenty foot schooner with the twin engines. Then he said his Volkswagen probably wouldn't be able to pull it, so I took him to the car department and sold him the new Deluxe Cruiser."

The boss took two steps back and asked in astonishment, "You sold all that to a guy who came in for a fish hook?" "No," answered the salesman "He came in to buy a box of Tampons for his wife and I said to him, 'Your weekend's shot, you may as well go fishing.'"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NSE 2010 Expedition Plans Revealed

2010 is a big year for Northstar Expeditions. It's our 10th year of tripping together so we want to do it right and we figured this was THE year to go big or go home.

2010 Four Borders Expedition

It's taken a lot of hard work and planning (we just spent the whole weekend preparing and stockpiling jerky) , but we are finally ready to reveal what's in store this year. We are looking at a major expedition. Our goal: to cross all four borders of our home province, Saskatchewan. Yup, that's right we are going to hit the southern, eastern, western and northern borders of our giant rectangular province. We will start in the south and work our north, hitting the eastern and western borders as we go.

Here is our route plan: We will start early in the season by paddling on Long Creek near Crosby, ND, across the border into Saskatchewan and onto Boundary Dam. From there, it's into the Souris River to Weyburn and into Yellow Grass Ditch (that's right, a ditch with a name, and the best part about it is that it skips all the damn oxbows we've been weaving through for the previous 160km! Oh, how we will grow to love/hate those oxbows), back into the Souris River to Wascana Creek. This we will follow downriver through Regina (right past my uncle's house) and on (right past another uncle's house) to the junction with the Qu'Appelle River at Lumsden to Mountain Creek at Craven to Last Mountain Lake, into Lanigan Creek which we will paddle upstream to Delwood Brook, portage into Wolverine Creek (which flows two directions), to Humboldt Lake and on via the Wolverine to Ranch Lake (locally Ranch Slough). The Wolverine will take 50% of NSE right past the farms where they grew up and we will be stopping in for a couple of meals, equipment repairs, resupply, and a few beer. From Ranch Slough we will continue on to Eagle Lake via a series of ditches, sloughs and gravel road portages. We leave Eagle Lake via Melfort Creek (from which point our prairie traverse will certainly get easier) to the Carrot River. The Carrot River will be our meandering highway for a while as we paddle out of the prairie farmland and enter the forest! To this point, we will have traveled somewhere over 1000km.

Leg 1 - 1000 km of meandering creeks, sloughs and reservoirs, with at least one gravel road portage.

Satellite view of Leg 1.

Leg 2 of our journey has us continuing down the Carrot River (in the forest now and we will be encountering our first real rapids of the trip) past the Sipanok Channel (access to Sask River) and on into Manitoba, where we will enter into the Saskatchewan River at The Pas, MB. From there, we paddle just as the voyageur's did, upriver on the Saskatchewan River back into Saskatchewan and entering Cumberland Lake and the Sturgeon-Weir River system at Cumberland House. The voyageur highway takes us up the Sturgeon-Weir River to Namew Lake, Amisk Lake, past Pawistik Lodge, Mirond Lake, Pelican Lake, and Wood Lake, crossing the famous Frog Portage into the Churchill River system at Trade Lake. From there it's upriver on the Churchill westward across the province all the way to Lac La Loche (end of Leg 2, a distance of some 1200 km).

Leg 2 - Out of the prairie and into the boreal forest and onto the shield.

Satellite view of Leg 2.

From Lac La Loche we will continue on the voyageur highway and cross the infamous Methye Portage into the westward-flowing Clearwater River. After having fun in some of the Clearwater's rapids, we will join the Athabasca River at Fort Mac (Fort McMurray), a good location to re-supply and perhaps earn some trip money by working a few days in the Alberta Tar Sands. The Athabasca River will take us to Fort Chip and Lake Athabasca, and once again, back into Saskatchewan. We will follow the beautiful south shore of Lake Athabasca (maybe I will try to show the others where I caught that 35 pound trout), passing the Athabasca Sand Dunes, and travel upstream on the Fond du Lac River to the Grease River which will take us northeast to the Straight River. The Straight will connect us to Selwyn Lake where we will make cross the border into  the Northwest Territories, several kilometers before we dip back into Saskatchewan, finishing our trip at a hot tub in Selwyn Lake Lodge (Leg 3 total over 950 km). Whew, that's a lot of waterways!

Final leg of our epic voyage.

Of course we will be posting updates as we get closer to launch time and may even update things as we go when the opportunity allows.

NSE would like to thank our sponsors: (And there is always room for more sponsors!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Runnin' From the CO

Bryan and Rod were out fishing at their special eddy below Robinson Falls when out of the bushes jumped the Conservation Officer! Immediately, Bryan threw his fishing rod down and started running through the woods and hot on his heels came the CO. After about a half mile through the raspberry bushes and underbrush, Bryan stopped and stooped over with his hands on his thighs to catch his breath and the CO finally caught up to him. "Let's see yer fishin' license, boy!" the officer gasped. With that, Bryan pulled out his wallet and gave the CO a valid fishing license. "Well, son" said the CO, "you must be about as dumb as a box of rocks! You don't have to run from me if you have a valid license!" "Yes sir," replied Bryan, "but my friend back there, well, he don't have one... "

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Making the wood stove.

A few weeks ago NSE convened in order to build a wood stove for winter camping use. We started this project off back in November or December with a planning session. Rod designed the stove using CAD software, based on a design he had for a fishing shack stove with adaptations based on Dave Hadfield's instructions and other information gleaned from Wintertrekking.com and MyCCR.com. After designing the stove, the components were cut using a CNC controlled plasma cutter. The components were joined by tig welding.

The stove itself is constructed of 22 gauge steel, is 20 inches long, and 11 inches tall by 11 inches wide. It has hole to fit 5" steel stove pipe and a hole to accommodate a pot. There is a false bottom in two pieces so that they can be flipped over inside the stove for transport. The door has a brace on the inside to keep it straight and an adjustable air intake. Four lengths of 5" stove pipe fit inside, along with the cover for the pot opening, though it's a tad tight of a fit. A damper fits into the stove pipe.

Putting the finishing touches in the design before sending the file to the plasma cutter. This photo was taken at about 9 pm.

CNC controlled plasma cutter. This machine is designed to cut steel up to 1" thick and it thinks 22 gauge steel is not worth it's effort. The steel is too thin for it to recognise so we had to trick it into starting. Rod would do that by sticking a metal ruler in under the plasma cutter when it lowered itself onto the steel, then yank the ruler away just half a second before it started to cut.

Parts being cut out by the plasma cutter.

Jay performs while Rod works.

After the plasma cutter had completed it's task, we measure and mark out prior to using the bending brake shown behind Rod. Jay contributes as best he can.

Rod tig welds a joint.

Carefully aligning one of the pieces for the legs in the bending brake.

Putting it together. See the massive steel tanks in the background? That's the sort of thing Rod normally builds!

Test fit. We noted that the legs splay out due to the weight of the stove quite a bit so later added bits of angle iron to stiffen the top of the leg pieces.

Inside view showing the false bottom.

Stove ready to go with the pot set into the hole. This photo was taken at about 3am.

About 30 hours after completing the stove it was set up in the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan during a trip to Iskwatikan Lake.

Practising with the stove in the back yard.

The steel is all still pretty straight with the warpage being rather minimal.

The stove proved to work rather well. Now all we need to do is find a time when NSE can head out on a trip and actually use it as a group!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bush Golf

Jay and Rob were playing golf at a foggy par three near Corner Rapids, and could see the shrubs, but not the island. Each hit their ball anyway. When they paddled to the green, they discovered one about three feet from the cup, while the other somehow had gone directly in. They tried to figure out which ball belonged to who, since they were both using Titleist number threes. Unable to decide, they returned to camp and asked Rod for a ruling. After hearing their story and congratulating them both on their superb shots under such adverse conditions Rod asked, "OK, so who was playing the yellow ball?"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fish Kisses

How do you kiss a pike? ............

... Very Carefully

Sunday, January 31, 2010


An old man rocking on his porch sees a young kid and his fishing pole walking down the dirt road. "Where you goin' with that pole?" he calls. "Gonna git me some fish with this here fishing pole!" answers the kid. Sure enough, as the sun is setting the old man sees the kid going home with a bucket of fish. Next day, old man rocking on his porch sees the kid walking down the dirt road with some duct tape. "Where you goin' with that?" he calls. "Gonna git me some ducks with this here tape!" answers the kid. "You can't git no ducks with tape!" hollers the old man. But sure enough, as the sun is setting the old man sees the kid going home with the tape strung out behind him and ducks stuck all over it! Next day, old man rocking on his porch sees the kid walking down the dirt road with some chicken wire. "Where you going with that?" he calls. "Gonna get me some chickens with this wire!" answers the kid. "You can't get no chickens with wire!" hollers the old man. But sure enough, as the sun is setting the old man sees the kid going home with the wire strung out behind him and chickens stuck all through it! Next day, old man rocking on his porch sees the kid walking down the dirt road with some pussy willows. "Now hold on just a minute" calls the old man, "wait while I get my hat!!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snakes & Frogs

A man went fishing one day. He looked over the side of his boat and saw a snake with a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, he reached down, gently took the frog from the snake, and set the frog free. But then he felt sorry for the snake. He looked around the boat, but he had no food. All he had was a bottle of rye. So he opened the bottle and gave the snake a few shots. The snake went off happy, the frog was happy, and the man was happy to have performed such good deeds. He thought everything was great until about ten minutes passed and he heard something knock against the side of the boat. With stunned disbelief, the fisherman looked down and saw the snake was back with two frogs!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


You may have noticed some AC/DC t-shirts showing prominently in the pictures from a recent NSE trip report. That may warrant some explanation, and we think it's a good story.

You see, last August, AC/DC played a big outdoor concert in Regina. Being small-town metal-heads of a certain age, we all really wanted to go to Taylor Field for the experience. However, tickets were expensive, sold quickly, and being parents of a certain age, none of us bought tickets. That didn't quite stop us though. You see, Jay had a stroke of brilliance. About 4 in the afternoon on the day of the concert, about the time we should already have been on the highway heading south to Regina if we were going to make the concert, Jay decided a little thing like a lack of money, tickets, time, planning or spousal approval should not stop us. Jay had come up with a idea that was the type of brilliance which I had not seen in some time, especially from him.

Jay's first act was to call up Rob and line up some A/V requirements. Next he was off to the local discount department store. There, he found the key component in his plan - an AC/DC live concert DVD, along with a Johnny Cash live concert DVD just for good measure. Also at the store, he found a stack of AC/DC t-shirts at a bargain basement price, so he grabbed the pile - one shirt for each person on his exclusive private concert guest list. Somewhere along the line he sent out a few e-mails and made a few phone calls to invite about 8 friends over to his house that evening. His invitation was vague, but mentioned not to bring beer; something unusual was afoot to be certain.

We arrived at Jay's back yard on a warm August evening to find a bed sheet hung in the yard amongst the trees as a screen and Rob quickly set up the DVD player, projector and speakers. A merchandise table was already arranged off to the side, well-stocked with a variety of AC/DC t-shirts. The camp fire was lit, chairs were set up and the beer was circulated. As the crowds arrived t-shirts were selected from the merch table (free) and we drank more of the beer from Jay's fridge, left behind from various gatherings over the last couple years.

The concert started with the amazing (and normally quite dead) Johnny Cash as the opening act. That was very good, but was a tad mellow. With the full concert crowd now in attendance and quite hyped to see the main act, AC/DC  took the stage and rocked the back yard in their full (though somewhat dimensionally limited) glory. Some of us got rather into the atmosphere of the concert, and it was a great time to be certain. In fact, toward the end, certain elements of the crowd got a tad out of control. Thankfully, that element didn't have far to go to get to bed afterwards.

During the following weeks I wore my t-shirt to work and it would garner many positive responses. Some folks stopped me to ask if I went to the concert. To those I would reply "well, sort of..." and begin my explanation of the excellent AC/DC experience. Others would say "awesome concert" while passing and to those my response was, "yeah, awesome, simply awesome."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Videos: Montreal River, North Falls & Otter Camp

Back in September of '09 we did a day trip on the Montreal River followed by 3 days of paddling on the Churchill River. We posted about that recently and you can find all the details and photos at this link. Rob took some videos with a water-proof point & shoot camera. Here are those videos.

The first video was taken as we cruised a Class 1 section of the Montreal River. The camera was bungee corded to the bow plate of the canoe for the down-river point of view. 

This next video was taken from the North shore of First North Falls. We're not sure what Rod said, but Jay and Bryan sure thought it was funny.

Finally, here is a video showing our campsite on Otter Lake a couple of kilometers from Robertson Falls. Bryan is building some tasty cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

For the full report visit http://northstarexped.blogspot.com/2009/11/2009-robertson-falls-via-montreal-river.html.

Apparently there are more videos to come but Rob has to edit them for language first.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Under-Ice Fish Finder

Speaking of ice fishing, these guys take their dedication for finding fish under the ice to a new level. Impressive.