Archive for October, 2008

off the grid   12 comments

Posted at 2:31 pm in Uncategorized

Last week, I spent three days visiting with friends who are building a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior a couple of hours east of Thunder Bay. It was nice to see their place and catch up on what they’ve been doing. One of their projects has been to outfit the cabin with gear to provide alternative energy as they’ve chosen to remain off the grid. Above is a photo of a solar and wind platform on the roof. The pipe from the large wood cookstove may be seen to the right.

The woodstove and the interior of the cabin conjured up some memories of my family’s cottage on the Ottawa River. We had a woodstove which was the only source of heat and was also used for some auxiliary cooking, although we did also have an old propane range. We also used to cook certain foods like foil-wrapped baked potatoes in a bonfire on the beach.

The view from the front yard was fantastic. The autumn leaves in this area are different than on the eastern side of Lake Superior. The red leaves of maples are seen until about the northern edge of Lake Superior Provincial Park, but as you travel northwards, these fade out and give way to the yellows and golds of aspen and birch. I was surprised to find a few flowers such as this blanket flower yet in bloom (see below). Although the climate of Superior can be harsh, in many ways, the lake also has a moderating effect on the temperature. The weather was a bit wet and cold during my stay, but everything was still beautiful.

Unfortunately, the dampness had a deleterious effect on the electrical wiring problem in my van. On the morning that I chose to push on with my trip, we traveled no further than a couple of kilometers west on the Trans-Canada when the engine light came on and the van began to chug and shudder. I made an executive decision to just continue on my way as no parts or service were available in that vicinity over the Thanksgiving weekend anyhow. It was a little nerve-wracking having to worry that the van might konk out somewhere along that section of highway, but it had been pretty trustworthy up to that point, so I decided to hang tight and carry on. Over the next hour or two, the whole “van problem” got me thinking about how we perceive risk. Here I was in a van with a comfortable bed with lots of warm bedding, plenty of food and water, a blackberry to communicate with, and my dog for company. If worse came to worse, we could just pull off of the road somewhere and hunker down for awhile, and then call for help after the holiday weekend. Compared to some of the other “risk” that has been a constant in my world over the past year, the possibility of spending the night in my van along a fairly well-traveled highway seemed pretty tame. It’s interesting how our perception and acceptance of risk can change dramatically over time.

Written by bev on October 19th, 2008

written in stone   7 comments

Posted at 9:29 am in Uncategorized

Picking up where I left off in yesterday’s post, last Friday, part of my journey led through Lake Superior Provincial Park. By Ontario park standards, it’s large, being 1,550 square kilometers (600 square miles). As the weather has been unusually cold recently, I decided not to try to camp there during this trip — instead, pushing on to visit with friends at their cabin near Thunder Bay. However, after stopping several times to linger along small rivers, I began to regret that decision and have already vowed to return to spend a few days here next year.

One of my stops was at a river trail known as Pinguisibi, or Sand River Trail. Here is a map of the trail showing a river with many rapids and falls. Sabrina and I explored the lower section, wandering about on the great slabs of rock.

At this time of the year, the rocks were cut through by a narrow torrent. Evidence of their wear leads me to suppose that this river must appear quite different during the spring freshet.

Most of the rocks are patterned with swirling striations such as those in the above photo. Click on the image to see a larger view — I’ve posted quite a large image, so you can scroll around to see it a bit better. Unfortunately, the images don’t really give a true sense of the appearance of these rocks — you’ll have to go there in person to appreciate them. I could spend a day or more just studying that one little section of river.

The view upstream was almost too much for me and it wasn’t long before we had wandered upriver over the tumble of rocks. We could have gone on like that for hours but that I had hopes of reaching my friends’ cabin before dark.

Along the shore, I spotted this Eastern White Cedar, appearing to beckoning from the forest’s edge. In this place, it’s not difficult to imagine that there must be forest spirits, and perhaps even the trickster, Nanabozho calling me into the woods.

I did venture a few paces along the woodland trail and soon discovered a wonderful knot of cedar roots joining two trees growing upon the rock. I’m not sure if Nanabozho intended this to be a lesson or message for me, but perhaps I will take it as such — that two beings can have lives that are so interwoven as to be like one.

Written by bev on October 17th, 2008

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