Waiting for the Sun (King)

2013 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part 2 — Rain

The rain continued into the third day of our trip, but we didn’t mind. It was business as usual at our Big Porcupine Lake campsite. During afternoon rains, Steve and I slipped into our respective tents for deep meditation while Ken continued to make things out of found objects.

Ken’s project for the day was a bench. Earlier in the afternoon, I helped him find the right piece of wood. I paddled along the shoreline while he looked for downed pine tree with just the right branch configuration.

For those familiar with the Red Green Show, think “Adventures with Bill.”

Ken finds the right tree for his project

Ken finds the right tree for his project

While I steadied the canoe and rifled through the first aid kit to find bandages, Ken worked feverishly, cutting away limbs and painstakingly cutting through the thick trunk.

Ken makes short work of Steve’s saw.

Ken makes short work of Steve’s saw.

Well, Ken, what are we going to do now?

No, Ken, I don’t think you’ll be able to put that back together – not even with duct tape.

No, Ken, I don’t think you’ll be able to put that back together – not even with duct tape.

Looks like we’ll have to go back to camp.

That’s OK, Ken brought my saw just in case.

That’s OK, Ken brought my saw just in case.


Ken emerges victorious.

Ken emerges victorious.

Ready for Ken’s handiwork —

Think I’ll nap while he works on it.

Think I’ll nap while he works on it.

Ken enjoys the fruits of his labors — with all his fingers intact.


Speaking of keeping all your fingers intact, stay tuned for the next installment in which Steve has a close encounter with a snapping turtle.

Algonquin Canoe Trip 2013 — Waiting for the Sun (King)

Part One — Rain


Sun King sculpture by Ken Arthur

For this year’s Algonquin canoe trip, we took up where we left off in 2012. Not at the same spot, but with pretty much constant rain. We decided early on that, if the trip were to have a theme song, it would be “Waiting for the Sun.”

It was the same cast of characters; myself, Steve McKee, Ken Arthur and the friends he made along the way — literally. It could be said that Ken makes friends easily. Mostly out of stuff he finds laying around.

The setting was different. Last year we paddled on Rock Lake, Penn Lake and Clydegale Lake. Steve set up this year’s trip to lull us into a sense of false security, starting on Smoke Lake the first day with an easy portage to Ragged Lake. That would be followed by a portage the second day from Ragged Lake to Big Porcupine Lake — a vertical climb of 400 feet covering a distance of 1.4 gonzometers (roughly one-third of a light year).

Steve had hoped to reach his favorite campsite on Ragged Lake on the first night. But, since it was the week before Labour Day (not to be confused with Labor Day in the U.S.), the lake was crowded and all the choice sites taken by the time we got there.

We were amazed at the number of people on the lake. It didn’t seem possible that there could be anyone left in Canada since every man, woman and child in Ontario seemed to be driving north on Route 400.

We had planned to stop for dinner at Weber’s Grill on Route 11, but the line was out the door and halfway to Saskatchewan.

On the drive up, we passed the time by playing one of our favorite games, Name That Tune. Someone would say a line from a song and the others have to guess what it was.

For example, Ken would say, “A Beatles song starting with ‘A’.”

After about 300 guesses, Ken would forget what song he had in mind in the first place and we’d start all over.

For some reason, things went downhill quickly this trip and we degenerated from rock music to bubblegum. Which worked out well because it gave me incentive to press on during difficult portages. I did not want to keel over from a heart attack with the song “Sugar Sugar” going through my head.

With all the rain on the first part of this year’s trip, “Waiting for the Sun” became our theme song. The “King” part was added after Ken made his first little friend of the trip — a sculpture crafted from an abandoned round grill, which he called the “Sun King.”

Stay tuned for our next adventure as Ken makes still another friend out of found objects, which Steve claimed he never lost.

Steve looks for his lost objects while Ken makes the Sun King out of found objects.

Steve looks for his lost objects while Ken makes the Sun King out of found objects.

On Advocacy Journalism

Beneficial Insects

Advocacy journalism is — or should be — about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comforted. There’s not much call for that in the mainstream media, which performs the same function as government — protecting business interests.

That’s just the nature of the beast. To survive, media outlets have to operate under a business model that requires them to promote a robust economy for the sake of advertising revenue.

And much has been said about editorial independence, the wall between the newsroom and the advertising department. To my employer’s credit, there have been times when articles were published advertiser-be-damned. On the other hand, I’m sure we all pull punches from time to time.

In a previous life, I was involved in advocacy journalism. Until I wrote a story about factory farm workers and how shabbily they were being treated. Ironically, the day that story ran, our publisher pulled the editorial cartoon after the paper had been sent to the printer and replaced it with a note saying it was the last issue. That’s how Columbus Guardian staffers found out they were no longer employed.

I guess there’s not that much difference in the business models after all.

For the past 16 years, I’ve worked in the mainstream media. There hasn’t been much call there for comforting the afflicted or afflicting the comfortable. Except for the time when the city government attempted to add a few loopholes to state laws requiring them to conduct most business in open meetings.

[By the way, your local city council might be using your tax dollars to pay dues to an organization called the Ohio Municipal League. Among other things, this organization coaches them on how to skirt open meeting laws, as was the case here.]

This week, I had the satisfaction of writing an article comforting the afflicted. Not by design. Earlier this year, the surviving members of a local family donated a highly prized insect collection to an organization in Columbus. The extensive collection had been the life work of Thomas E. Thornburg, who donated it to the local high school 74 years ago. It ended up at the county historical society. Unfortunately, there were no documents establishing ownership of the collection, so the historical society was resigned to letting it go.

Caught up in all this were an elderly couple, who had spent many hours helping to preserve the collection — and many joyful hours sharing it with schoolchildren.

The story had a happy ending, just revealed this week. The attached PDF file will explain it.

Bug collection staying at Ashland County History Museum – Times-Gazette _ Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio