Our aborted-pyramid group shot at Sandbanks. As always, you can see all the photo from this trip at our SmugMug Gallery. Just click the image.

I like to organize group outings. Planning events for a large group of friends can be fun and rewarding (even if it leads to headaches). When done well, it brings you closer together, and it leads to those wistful future days when you look your friends in the eye and say “remember that time when…?”

It’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Well, this past weekend, we had a time that we’ll be talking about for decades. It was epic…but I can’t claim credit. This one was all down to our friend Jenn. She masterminded an 11-person weekend road trip with stops in Belleville, Prince Edward County, Kingston, and Brockville.

Planning for that size of a group is too daunting for me – I’m more of a 6-8 people kind of organizer. Two carloads, tops. But Jenn managed a seamless, 11-person, 4-stop, 3-carload round trip – and even managed to keep the rain away. What a star! (Okay, in fairness to everyone else, they all pitched in to do their parts – but none of it would have happened without someone to lead the way.)

The instructor (second from right in back row) was delighted and energized by the Ottawa crew.

We had talked about doing this trip for some time now. It started as a plan to crash a step-aerobics class outside Ottawa, bringing our own unique brand of National Capital energy to some sleepy, suburban gym. It turned out that Belleville offered the nearest opportunity (Kingston’s class schedule wasn’t cooperating). And with Jenn being from Belleville, it seemed a good fit. Here’s the itinerary:

  • Friday night: we caravanned to Belleville, where we stayed at the home of Jenn’s parents (who were away). Aside from some major rain en route, our trip was smooth and our gang had a few air mattresses, so beds were plentiful.
  • Saturday a.m.: Up early to crash the step class. We were giddy, but well received. The instructor was shocked but had a blast, and we got multiple invitations to come back EVERY week. (Sadly, it’s too far to commute).
  • Saturday Lunch: Back to Jenn’s place where our crew cooked up eggs, toast, fruit, and (the best bit) FOUR POUNDS of bacon for a homemade brunch extravaganza.
  • The water of Lake Ontario was beautiful, especially once the skies cleared.

    Saturday p.m.: Back in the cars for a drive to Sandbanks Provincial Park (Prince Edward County). We got lucky. It threatened rain, but the skies cleared and sunscreen was applied as we spent the afternoon swimming in Lake Ontario and sunbathing on the beach.
  • Saturday night: We left Sandbanks for a stay in picturesque Kingston, sleeping in a residence at Queens University. Dinner, drinks, and dancing kept us out until last call, despite our early rise that morning.
  • Sunday a.m.: We shopped the flea markets and stores of downtown Kingston, and hit the ice cream parlour before we left for Brockville.
  • Sunday p.m.: “Why Brockville?” you ask… well, Ribfest of course. Brockville Ribfest was in its final hours by the time we got there on Sunday, but we feasted on delicious pork products before heading home to Ottawa (just in time to skip dinner, because we were too full!)

Incidentally, Brockville’s Ribfest has a lot more going for it that the one in Ottawa. Ottawa’s is pretty much just the food vendors, but Brockville adds a beautiful setting (a park along the St. Lawrence River), merchandise vendors, live music, and a BEER GARDEN! I’d highly recommend it for a day trip from Ottawa in future years.

Cheers to a successful trip! Click any of the photos to go to our SmugMug gallery, where you’ll find more pics from this trip.

And speaking of future years, Class Crash 2012 was so successful that everyone is looking forward to a repeat. Three members of our gang come from New Brunswick – Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton (that’s me). Maybe next year we’ll plan to go further afield and drop in on clubs in each of those cities. If that happens, I might have little choice but to be part of the planning committee. I might have to volunteer my Dad’s house as a place for the gang to to sleep the night.

Heads up, Dad.

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