Archive for September, 2009

a wild kingdom moment   8 comments

Posted at 6:48 am in Uncategorized

This post is a little out of sequence. I’d actually wanted to write about a couple of the places where we’ve camped over the past two weeks, but don’t have time to do them justice this morning. I’ll get back to them very soon — perhaps even tonight. However, this little moment was too good to delay sharing.

A couple of days ago, the dogs and I camped at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, which is located on a long peninsula that extends into western Lake Superior near Thunder Bay. It’s a terrific place with many beautiful trails. Sabrina, Sage and I did quite a bit of hiking during our two days camped at Marie Louise Lake. During that time, we saw many deer, a black bear, and the fox in these photos. I noticed the fox lying on the roadway near the park office. At first, I thought it might have been injured by a car as it was right out on the roadway, lying sprawled out, eyes closed, and panting heavily as though it was in pain. Then I noticed the big hind legs of a fat rabbit nearby. The rabbit was folded in such a way that the upper body was beneath the hind end. I realized that the scene was not as it first appeared to be.

Watching from the van which was stopped in a nearby lane, I grabbed for my camera, but by this time, the fox was standing looking down at the rabbit. Some vehicles were approaching on the roadway, so it was probably feeling some pressure to move. However, its eyes were closed and it looked weary — as though it was thinking, “Darn, I guess I’ll have to get up and move this rabbit off the road.”

It picked up its prize, but then seemed to have trouble and dropped it back onto the road. The rabbit was very plump and heavy-looking, so it must have weighed quite a bit. I expect that the fox had caught it elsewhere, and was having a difficult time carrying such a big rabbit – presumably back home to its young. Finally, it did get a good grip on the rabbit and stood holding it while staring right at me for a few seconds. Then, it turned and began trotting along the roadside, disappearing into the underbrush as a car approached. It was one of those neat little encounters that so often happens when you spend a lot of time in the outdoors.

Okay. Well, here’s a bit of an update on what’s been happening since my post about the grandma doors at Wawa. That day, I continued west along Hwy 17 over the top of Lake Superior. Just before Marathon, I turned off into Pukaskwa National Park, intending to spend a couple of days. The two days stretched on into a week. It’s a remote and beautiful place — coastal boreal forest. Once we arrived, I felt little desire to leave. I have photos and more to write about the park, so that’s all I’ll say about it for the moment. I’ll try to put up a post about it in the next day or so.

After Pukaskwa, we visited a couple of days with friends who are building a house near Rossport. From there, I drove on toward Thunder Bay. My original plan was to go to Quetico’s Dawson Trail campground, but I felt a bit “off” while driving that difficult stretch of highway through Nipigon. I laugh a bit as I say it’s a difficult stretch as, in reality, all of the north shore of Superior is a fairly demanding drive. At this time of the year, most of the traffic consists of long haul transport trucks. Traveling with them seems to demand a different style of driving — uphills are slow, and downhills often very fast, with a big rig breathing down your neck the whole way to the bottom and part way up the next steep climb. When there’s a truck lane on a long upwards grade, I either move past or drop behind certain trucks. If I think it’s a truck that will soon be crowding me, I’d rather have it ahead of me than behind, even if that leaves me twiddling my thumbs on the way up the long grades.

Although nothing too unusual happened during that drive, by the time I got to the turn off for Pass Lake and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, I just didn’t feel on top of my game. Whenever, I get that feeling, it’s time to knock off for the day. Call it some kind of superstition, but when I get to feeling weird about a drive, I usually try to find a place to camp and quit while I’m ahead. I’m so glad that I chose to make the side trip to Sleeping Giant as it’s a terrific place. Again, there will be more about it in an upcoming post.

As of this morning, I’ll be traveling west into Manitoba. Yesterday, after leaving Sleeping Giant, I made a side trip into Thunder Bay to look for a new battery for my blackberry — the old one having given up the ghost while I was at Sleeping Giant. Luckily, it survived Pukaskwa, as it was my main link to “back home”. Pukaskwa is pretty much off the communications grid, although there is a pay phone at the visitor’s center. The blackberry had problems there, but that’s not actually unusual along northern Lake Superior. Often, the phone doesn’t work, but you can usually send off email when you’re near a town, atop a high hill, or along an open stretch of shoreline. At Pukaskwa, it was possible to send and receive email if I set the blackberry on the windshield of the van and just left it there for an hour or two to catch a stray signal, or if I took it to one of the beaches with clear sky to the west.

I suppose I should probably say something about communications. Maybe you’re wondering why it matters if my blackberry works at this place or that?

Although it’s been a very long time since I was a kid, I still keep in touch with my mom while on the road. It seems that it doesn’t matter how old you are, your mom still thinks of you as her kid. To ease her concerns while I’m on the road, I try to send off a little email dispatch to her each morning and evening so that she’ll know we’re okay. Also, one of my brothers checks out the weather forecasts and sends me email notes about what’s ahead. That helps greatly with trip planning as I don’t listen to radios or try to follow news and weather when I’m traveling. Well, with the blackberry out of commission, that began to complicate matters. Luckily, the great people at the Teleco store in Thunder Bay were able to get my blackberry up and running once more. I thanked them, particularly on behalf of my mom who will greatly appreciate things being back to normal once more.

Leaving Thunder Bay around noon, I set out for Kenora. Again, it was us in our little van, among a herd of trucks for the entire trip. For about three-quarters of the way, it was much like the drive along Superior — trying to find a sweet spot where I could just follow some transport truck at a comfortable pace without feeling like we would be mashed by one coming up from behind as we tore down an incline or rounded a lake. The pace was pretty much 90 km (about 60 mph) for most of the trip as far as Dryden. Then we hit tons of construction which probably delayed the trip by about an hour. By the time we got clear of that, I noticed that the trucks had dropped down below 80 km (50 mph), and would slow even a little more in the deep dips between hills, or along any stretch of highway that cut across a creek, or skirted the marshy edge of a lake. With the sky beginning to dim into late afternoon, undoubtedly the drivers were now taking precautions as we passed through “moose country”. Then, just before we reached Kenora, a collection of trucks appeared in my rear view mirror. Together, we headed up a long truck lane, climbing up and over a hilltop. It seemed this was some special spot for finding your niche before the Kenora bypass and the long road onward to Winnipeg. The amount of jockeying to get a lead spot got kind of crazy and I felt very out of place trying to squish in between about ten transport trucks all vying for first place. Then, I noticed a wide turnout ahead right by the end of the truck lane, so just pulled off and let the mess go by. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but one that I’m never in too much of a hurry to do. Sometimes it’s just safer to turn off and not be part of something messy.

Well, almost time to be on our way once more. I’ll try to catch up with a post about Pukaskwa and Sleeping Giant sometime very soon. Take care all.

Written by bev on September 27th, 2009

wawa   7 comments

Posted at 8:12 am in Uncategorized

two “Grandma Doors” in Wawa, Ontario

Note: This is my second “on the road” post after leaving the farm in early September. I’m doing a bit of catch-up while I have a net connection. It seems unlikely that I’ll have one for another spell after I leave my current spot, so I’ll try to put up another post or two before I’m back on the road.

~ * ~

When traveling the TransCanada highway route, it’s easy enough to get the impression that there’s nothing much out there other beyond the rocks, trees, water, wheatfields and mountains. Of course, that’s not the case. If you take any one of dozens of turn-offs marked as such-and-such business section, you’ll find yourself in Small Town Canada. It’s not practical to take every turn-off, but I do try to drift down the main street of more than a few. Usually, it’s to restock our fresh food supply, load up on ice for the cooler, or fill up the gas tank. On this passage along Lake Superior’s northern shore, I stopped at Wawa, one of the larger towns, to look for fresh vegetables. On my way into town, I pulled into the visitor center – one of the largest ones you’ll find along Lake Superior. I soon noticed an exhibit on the grounds and had to check it out. It’s called the Grandma Door Project and you can read more about it here.

two “Grandma Doors” in Wawa, Ontario

I took some time to photograph both sides of all of the doors displayed around the visitor center – probably about thirty. From what I understand, the rest are displayed throughout the town. Each one was very unique, both in how the artists had chosen to depict their grandmothers, but also when you regarded each of these doors for the person they represent. Many of the doors included biographical notes about these women and they relate some pretty interesting stories. Keep in mind that Wawa was quite a remote area at one time — some would say it still is, but not really by what now constitutes remote in Canada.

two “Grandma Doors” in Wawa, Ontario

To me, the doors made for a very powerful exhibit. I was a little surprised that other visitors weren’t spending as much time as me studying these pieces. I’m thinking that it would be very nice to see these works go on to be displayed in some place like the Canadian Museum of Civilization. They certainly would make an appropriate temporary exhibit.

fire truck in front of Wawa General Store.

Just before leaving town, I stopped at the General Store to pick up a couple of items. I couldn’t resist photographing this old fire truck. I’m posting it here for Wayne, who, in addition to all of his other hats, occasionally wears a fireman’s hat for the Wolfskin Volunteer Fire Department in Georgia. This one’s for you, Wayne! (-:

Okay, one or two more posts sometime soon (I hope), and then it’s back on the road for awhile. I’m hoping that my USB modem stick is going to work better after I clear the north shore of Lake Superior, but that remains to be seen. If it does, the posts should become a little more regular in a few days. Thanks to all leaving comments to these posts. I do enjoy reading them when I get a chance to connect to the net. Again, sorry if sometimes they end up in the penalty box. I’m not sure why WordPress is sending some of your comments there, but I do see them and release them whenever I have a connection.

Written by bev on September 23rd, 2009