The long province...

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We arrived back in our home province of Ontario after 12 weeks on the road. From the moment we arrived in Ottawa, our visit to Ontario became a decidedly social visit. Although we had visited one or two people in each province, most of our adventures had consisted of exploring new things and new places. In contrast to this, the Ontario portion of our trip consisted of a steady stream of friends and relatives making it both fun and very busy. Our last visit occurred in August in Sudbury with Al and Anik and from there we got underway to our winter stop in British Columbia. It was somewhere just west of Thunder Bay that we began to realize just how massive this province is - the province that never ends!

August 5 - 6, 2003: We arrived up this morning to a wet and rainy Quebec city, did some shopping at Boreal Designs (an excellent canoe store in Quebec's west end) and then headed for Ottawa to visit John and Lisa. We were grateful that John and Lisa understand the stinky side of camping, biking, and canoeing as our truck was full of wet, stinky gear and within minutes of arriving we had much of this stuff hanging from their cloths-line and spread around their home. Thanks guys (especially for the sink and the washing machine). They have an excellent set-up in Ottawa - a nice house (which already looks very nice and is getting even nicer under various renovation projects) and are both within bike commuting distance from work. Both John and Lisa had to work the second day of our visit so we took great pleasure availing ourselves to facilities (like their sink) that we hadn't had for over two weeks. Tents were hung to dry, stuff was sorted, pots were washed, all which made us very happy. At night we did a tour of the fancy neighborhoods around Sussex drive and then walked parliament hill and the market area. A very nice visit!

August 7 - 10, 2003: On August 7th we drove north through Pembrook and Petawawa and then along the northern edge of Algonquin Park (we like this area due to its proximity to some great river paddling) to Samual de Champlain Provincial Park. Here we met Carol's sister Joanne and with her spent the next two and half days canoeing a short 30 km stretch of the old Mattawa River trade route. Although the scenery is terrific and the historical aspect of the old Mattawa trading route is interesting, this trip certainly won't be remembered as one of my favorites. The river can be accessed from many points so it tended to be very busy in spots and places like Talon Lake were a whirl-wind of boats, jet skies, aircraft and the like. That said, when you did manage to leave the masses behind, the abundance of rock, steep cliffs that plunged down into the river and beautiful deciduous trees made for spectacular scenery. See the Mattawa River link for details.

August 12 - 14, 2003: After visiting Stephen's Godmother, Mrs. Demeza, in North Bay, we headed north to Timmins to visit our friends the Tinneys (they must be good friends as we only gave them 3 hours notice). We spent a few days there and enjoyed our time biking (with Shannon and Aaron), geo-caching (with Lindsay), finding the Grassy River put-in below the falls (with Greg), bowling (with everyone) and swimming and sunning at Ivanhoe. Carol also spent a day up at Kapuskasing visiting her friend Chantal and Chantal's family. Thanks to everyone for the usual warm welcome and especially to Leslie for putting up with our "fuzzy" planning (ie. we might be home for supper or we might not)! And... in a welcomed turn of events, we finally got several days running of solid sunshine- a first for the year. Yeah!

August 15 2003, The Grassy River: This river is an old favorite of Greg and mine. Logging work had destroyed the old put-in trail on the west side of the river so after Greg and I 're-discovered' it, Carol and I made plans to run the bit from the falls down to Dalton Road. The effect of the on-going province wide power outage on the river levels between the day we re-found the put-in and the day we actually ran the river was interesting. The water level was at least a foot higher than it had been earlier in the week - it would appear that they had increased the volume to help put some power back into the grid. No doubt they had the water to do it being that it had been such a wet summer. Anyhow, we got the canoe to the river (through the bush as there is no more trail) and then headed up to the falls. Because of the increased current we had to line up along the shore against a strong current. We explored our old stomping grounds for the first time in many years and then headed down the river. We flew along, passing the Grassy's high sand banks and its section of gravel beds and made the take-out in only a few hours. From there it was a hot, bumpy and dusty bike ride back to the truck to complete the shuttle. A nice day - I miss the beauty, the remoteness and the quick access of the rivers of Northern Ontario. We met with the Tinneys for Chinese buffet and then hit the road for Carol's cottage (after checking that there was power in North Bay to fill up on gas).

August 16 - 28, 2003: As in Nova Scotia, we stopped in at the folks for a good repair and maintenance session. Carol's parents were at their cottage so we based ourselves there. We had a good visit and enjoyed the weather which finally seemed to be on our side. The camper got taken in to a dealer for some more warranty work, and the canoe got a thorough cleaning and gunnel oiling (it is now happy). Our biggest achievement by far though is that we can now roll our canoe! Yeah, yeah, triple yeah! For non-canoeists this means that we can tip over on one side, bring our bodies under the canoe and tip the canoe back upright on the other side all while sitting in the boat (you need thigh straps to do it). It is a river maneuver to get you back upright (and still in the boat) in case you flip in the rapids. At this point it is still a party trick for the flat water but we are working on it. The following link takes you to a video clip of Carol in action but be forewarned it is 2.4 Mb, so don't open it if you only have a dial-up connection: Carol Rolling our Canoe.

August 21 - 26, 2003: Part of our visit to Southern Ontario included a visit to the place we used to call home: Toronto. We spent a day visiting our old places of employment - I thought I'd be in the office for a half an hour or so but I ended up leaving 4 hours later! I guess I slowed production down for the day... sorry. I sure miss being a part of the Komatsu team but I just can't image living in the big city again. Carol also had a great visit with Ellen and the Geneva Center. Unbelievably, I got sick the next day. No stress, in good shape, not much contact with the masses and I still managed to get myself sick! Anyway, bedridden for a day and a bit I missed visiting Kelly and Corey up in Bolton. Sorry guys! Carol still went and had a good visit with their family, our old couch and the one-eyed Platypus! We visited Mountain Equipment Coop of course (which cost us), had the truck serviced and took a stroll on the boardwalk by the beach (which I miss for obvious reasons). Anyway, a good visit but we both repeatedly expressed our happiness at having made the move to leave! To loud, too bright and too fast (and too slow at rush hour)! And yes... I got my hair cut so I no longer look like the photo above.

August 29 - 31, 2003: We headed to Sudbury and had a good visit with Al and Anik. They had just returned from a vacation where they got engaged in Quebec City. Congratulations guys! Among other things we relaxed, played video games (where Al got annihilated by Anik at his own Karate game - there you go Al - it is on the world wide web), went sailing and had a terrific B.B.Q. As we were leaving, Carol and I realized that we had lost the camper crank (used to raise the roof). Al, who is the engineer at Bristol Machining, came to the rescue in a big way. We headed to the shop, found the perfect piece of material and cut, drilled, heated and bent a new Coleman Camper Crank that I can assure you is of much better quality than the original. We wisely painted it orange to help avoid losing this one. Thanks Al! And yup... I am hoping that the photo of my sexy wife here dramatically increases visitation to our web site!

September 1 - 5, 2003: Carol and I were happy to find ourselves heading north to Sault Ste. Marie after our whirl-wind of social visits in Ontario! It felt great to be going again and the North Shore of Lake Superior was a great place to jump back into our adventure being that, in our opinion, it is one of Canada's most beautiful places. Having spent time in the region before we decided to try to make some distance and as a result, we unfortunately didn't take enough time with our photos or stop at Lake Superior Provincial Park (which is a great spot). We got as far as Pukaskwa National Park where we spent an excellent three days hiking the coastal trial. We saw our third bear of the trip here right in the main campground (it looked like he was self-registering) but we were fortunate not to run into any on the trail. See Pukaskwa Coastal Trail for the details.

September 6 - 9, 2003: We headed for Quetico Provincial Park next, stopping at Quimet Canyon, Thunder Bay and Kakabeka Falls on our way through. What amazing country and definitely one of our favourite spots. Ontario is such a huge province... we just drove and drove and still more Ontario lay ahead. Where Pukaskwa is a hiking/sea kayaking place, Quetico is a lake canoeing park. Lake canoes are everywhere - on people's cars, on the beach and strapped to airplanes. Even aluminum canoes are common here, despite having not been produced for umpteen years. As with the beginning of our adventure, we once again had the parks all to ourselves. No one was around and weather wise we had three of our nicest nights all summer in Quetico. Warm nights, few mosquitoes, fewer people, the camper parked with the windows open looking at the sunset on the lake. Just fantastic. It made me realize that with only three such nights all summer, we have certainly had a wet and cool year. We were looking forward to our last canoe trip of the season being a nice, relaxing two day lake trip on Quetico's lakes but instead, ended up doing the most arduous trip of the season. For the story see the Baptism Creek Link.

September 10 - 12, 2003: Our poor truck... heavily loaded, it has endured hundreds of kilometers of dirt roads, pulled 2200lb of junk (our Coleman Camper) across 20,000 km of Canada and only had the bare minimum of servicing and cleaning. At 99,134 km on the odometer, we had:
  • a broken leaf spring which had been with us before Toronto and would have to make it to B.C.
  • a cracked windshield (in multiple places - some of which had been with us since before we left the city)
  • front brakes which would soon need replacing
  • a blown left front running light bulb
  • a passenger's side floor that got wet when the A/C was used as the evaporator water tube had fallen off
  • a driver's side floor that got wet when it rained as the water followed the brake controller wires (which run through the firewall) into the cab

  • And... the final insult. We had a mouse living in the cab. We woke up one morning to find mouse poop all over the place (even the dash). Despite our best efforts we couldn't get rid of the bugger. Two university degrees, a trade ticket and 18 years of job experience between the two of us and we were bettered by a mouse. We ended up leaving him in the truck while we did our two day Baptism Creek trip. I was terrified of what he would decide to chew up (ie. wires, hard to repair things, expensive things) but in the end he opted for the door seal. So now we had yet a third way for water to get in the truck.

    After passing through Fort Francis and Kenora (which we really liked) we finally finished crossing the longest of the long provinces and hit the Manitoba border. Now it's a bee's-line for Williams Lake, British Columbia where Carol has an 8 month contract! To follow along click on the Winter in BC link.

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