Thursday, May 12th was a splendid day. Sunny, warm and breezy, we decided to head out for a catrike picnic. This is typically the way we both start and end the catriking season. Armed with an awesome lunch (they're always awesome 'cause I make 'em that way!) we left our house around 10:50am with our intended destination being Mooney's Bay park and likely beyond. I was pretty sure we would get to the park long before lunch time so we had planned to continue our trek north along the bike pathway until we were hungry enough to stop.
We got to Mooney's Bay, veered around and under Hog's Back Road and, as predicted, continued north parallel to the canal. We approached and passed both the locks at Hog's Back and Hartwell. The day remained sunny, breezy and just gorgeously warm enough that anything more substantial than a light nylon windbreaker would have been too hot to wear.
We cycled happily along the bike pathway, passing Lansdowne Park, many joggers and a few more cyclists who were also out and taking advantage of the fantastic weather. Eventually, hunger made itself known and we sidled to the nearest bench. Though Colonel By Drive was right there, it was not so heavily travelled that we couldn't enjoy our lunch in peace and quiet. The trees were leafing up quite nicely, the bushes were displaying their collection of gorgeous little yellow flowers (I think they were potentilla but don't quote me) and Adam and I got to do lots of people watching.
Lunch over, we both decided that we needed to find a washroom. Assuming, as foolishly as we did (or maybe just naively) that we would be able to find some place to go, we merrily headed back. Recalling that we had passed not one but two Parks Canada locks, we both thought that we could find a public washroom. After all, we reasoned to ourselves, with the cycling season obviously having started as evidenced by the copious numbers of cycles on the path, surely the washrooms would be open. Right?
Bladders uncomfortably full, our trek to find a public facility of any kind became a comedy of errors as it were. We stopped at the Hartwell Locks across the street from Carleton University and I hurriedly walked up the ramp and across the little bridge to one of the Parks Canada buildings. Three women were outside enjoying a picnic lunch. They looked to be employees there and so I asked them if there were any public washrooms in any of the buildings at the locks. Sadly, there were none and I was directed to the university across the street. Oh, they were quite sympathetic to my increasing distress level but they couldn't help me either - or Adam for that matter whose level of discomfort must also have been mounting. "Go across the street to where all that beeping was happening."
I turned to see that there were clusters of university students milling around while a loud and obnoxious beeping was heard. At first, I didn't know what the problem was - then I found out very quickly. I had tried to enter one of the buildings only to be met by a firefighter who gently informed me (and a few others) that the fire drill was still in effect and that we all had to leave the building.
I hurriedly zipped across the street, seriously considering finding the nearest ladies tree, and sadly announced to Adam that a fire drill was happening and that we had to continue on our way. Growing exasperated, not to mention increasingly desperate, we got back on our trikes and continued our venture south to Mooney's Bay. There is a pavilion on the north side of Hog's Back and Adam directed me to go there where we would likely find at least some place to relieve ourselves.
It was the existence of construction crews and the port-a-potty that, quite literally, saved our butts. We quickly parked our trikes and, not caring whom would say what, I darted into the telephone booth sized biffy. Adam followed suit after I got back and all was well.
So, here is my special message to the city of Ottawa:
When the weather turns nice and there are people outside cycling, jogging or otherwise partaking in outdoor activities, having facilities to - uh - make our ventures more pleasurable and less distressing would be a huge help. It would be a tremendous help if there were some actual portable toilets as some of us don't have bladders with the capacity of basketballs. Otherwise, keep the cycle paths closed tightly until you open up public facilities.
Once relieved, we went on to explore Vincent Massey Park, following the bike path around to Riverside Drive and approaching Billings Bridge. No longer distracted by having overfull bladders, we were able to take in the sweet sunshine and finish the trip having done 28.78 kilometres. The intention here is to build up my endurance and distance; now we work on speed...and maybe being able to find places to go pee that much more quickly!