Fishing, Ontario and family- 15 of 100

In Ontario, we woke up at the crack of dawn (nothing new, James was getting up before 6 the entire trip), to go fishing. Dan’s brother, Kevin, his mom, Belle, Dan, James and I.

We grabbed extra coffees at Tim Horton’s. We boarded a big boat and motored out onto Georgian Bay. Dan and his brothers love to fish, and though I haven’t fully caught the bug myself, I love being included and sharing this pastime with the boys – I think Belle felt the same way.

James slept in the Ergo Baby while Belle reeled in a sizeable lake trout. She was giddy. “Oh my gosh!” she kept exclaiming. “This really is fun!”

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James and I were next. He was still sleeping when the line buzzed and I started reeling. Belle was right: it was fun. Dan climbed up to the top deck and started snapping pictures of me, bent rod in hand, baby strapped to my chest.

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“I’m so proud of you right now!” he called down.

James woke up halfway through, in time to see our beautiful rainbow trout hit the deck. I felt awesome – like a total badass.

I’ll be the first to admit that the first few months of motherhood were hard and scary for me. I was more nervous than I thought I would be – given everything I knew about myself before James was born. But the last few months – I’m sure given a combination of more sleep, settling into the role, James growing just enough – have been fun, and I feel a new kind of confidence that I’ve never felt in my life. I don’t shy away from meeting and connecting with new people – something I’ve always struggled with. Getting on a boat to fish for four hours at 7 a.m. with my little seems like as good idea as any. I’m willing to try anything within reason with the babe (and maybe things just outside of reason – after all, my Euchre nickname is Risky Pants Sky). Sometimes, I feel really beautiful and sexy in this new Momma kind of way. (And sometimes, when I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth or put on deodorant, I feel the exact opposite of beautiful and sexy, but I’m pretty cool with it.) I feel this robust love – like loving James has made my love for everyone in my life grow even bigger and more unconditional.

In any case, landing that trout with James – the biggest fish of the day- I felt all of those good things.

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It started to rain and we all huddled under cover. It was so good to be there with Dan’s family – James scratching his Uncle Kevin’s beard, Belle chatting with the captain about their little town and common people they knew.

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When you don’t live near your family, little moments are big. Things like James’ big cousin Nathan giving him a bath and a bottle;

IMG_2610toasting his sister Rena and brother-in-law Paul on their 15th wedding anniversary,

DSCF3638idle time in the backyard making silly faces with James, making big dinners, playing euchre, drinking wine, sitting on the beach and on.

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Family is complex. We all know this. We love them, they drive us crazy – sometimes, we want them to be one thing but they are who they are – and so are we. Now that I have a kid, I can only hope he forgives and accepts me for who I am some day. Sometimes I stilll can’t believe I am someone’s mom – I’m going to drive him totally nuts someday! For now, while I can, I will kiss him 10,000 times day or more, tickle his soft baby feet, take him on as many adventures as possible and hold him as close and long as he’ll let me.

Iceland Part II- Tröllaskagi (& Lake Mývatn and Dettifoss)

The Tröllaskagi peninsula was a bunch of unplanned wonders. For those of you going to Iceland heed my words: make space for the spontaneous and follow your whims- for therein lies the very best of Iceland.

Hofsós was our first stop- and after trying to eat the worst hamburger of all time we parked our van with an ocean view and waited for the pool to open. But this wasn’t just any old pool, my friends! It was infinity-like, heated to a perfect 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) (there was also a real hot tub for non-pregnant people to enjoy) overlooking this…

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The pools are central to Icelandic culture. There’s a little pool sign in nearly every populated place, no matter how small the town (Hofsós has a population of 200). We did not hit any of the big tourist hot pots, like the Blue Lagoon, but boy did we love the local ones.

Our morning coffee walk.

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Dan has become an avid fisherman and brought along his fly rod. Fishing, we had been warned, was not exactly easy or affordable in Iceland. People like Eric Clapton paid tens of thousands to fish the rivers! But just after we wrapped up this walk, we saw a sign with a little fish on it pointing down a gravel road. Why not? It lead us to a farm belonging to a man named Marcus with the cutest dog I have ever seen. For about $18 we secured the rights to fish his lake. What’s more, he gave us a bag of frozen trout – home smoked- ‘in case we didn’t catch anything’.

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So Dan cast a line and I walked up to take pictures, write in my journal, etc. We passed hours at this little lake. Him fishing. Me reading. It was pure peace. My view of Dan fishing below.

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I met these cows (they followed me all over the place- true story).

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And Dan caught our dinner.

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Then we drove and I remember why I miss living by the ocean so much.

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We landed in the small town of Dalvík where camped just outside of town. And the next day we went for those mindblowing hikes that you’ll never forget. For anyone going: it’s hike #3 on the hiking map you can pick up anywhere.

The hike begins at a farm (really, you park in their driveway) and follow a river up to…

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…you guessed it – a waterfall!

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Iceland hiking is steep. Switchbacks as far as we could tell do not exist, they just send you straight up.

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You follow the trail across the green hills, up these meadow terraces. Some horses followed us for a while.

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And finally, you come up to this little lake. Which is filled with fish. Filled.

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The clouds broke for us to get a view of the ocean on our way down.

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The way down.

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This hike was not in any guidebook; we saw only two other people just as we decided to go down. Northern Iceland was full of open space, unplanned adventures and beauty beyond belief.

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A note on fishing while we’re here: Dan had read numerous blogs about how highly regulated the fishing in Iceland is. You have to have your rod professionally sanitized, different permits required everywhere, uber-expensive guides and on. Every body of water is technically owned by the person who owns the land around it. On our way into the country, no one stopped Dan to check if his (highly visible) rod had been sanitized. These were Dan’s two great fishing days. We encountered a few people at the airport who stopped Dan when they saw his fishing rod. One had had absolutely no luck finding any fishing opportunities, the other had paid for one of the very expensive guides and had a horrible experience (not at all what they had been promised or paid for). We’re no experts and we tried to do everything right, but maybe the best tack really is to knock on farmers’ doors. That’s just what we did. Marcus was so warm and friendly and it was one of our best experiences. Anyway- good luck out there!

Below I offer a small gallery of the Lake Mývatn area and Dettifoss. This area is so well documented in every travel guide that I don’t feel the need to elaborate too much here. Mývatn is full of tourists as well as nasty little midges (black flies that come at you in swarms). After the quiet of Trollaskagi it was a bit much for us, but it’s for sure worth a stop to explore the surreal landscape. We walked up the Hverfell crater, down the other side through Dimmuborgir lava fields. Highly recommended, as you get off the beaten path away from the main parking areas. The only drawback is that you have to re-trace your steps to your car.

Dettifoss is well worth the detour off the ring road. There are a lot of waterfalls in Iceland but not so many that command fear and respect in the way this one does.