Tuesday 30 June 2009

Lake Superior

After our trip north to Lake Superior, I was drawn to do some research. One thousand million years old, it is. Created when 2000 degree basaltic lava rose up from the earth, basaltic, rhyolite and gabbroic flows and a crust that sagged into a huge depression.

The sheer immensity of this lake, and its big skies, inspires me. I am still processing all the photos and video. And we only visited the eastern portion. Along the drive the mountains rise up, one million years of sediments eroded from mountains in the east. As Dr. Joseph McInnis says, in Fitzerald's Storm: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, "four gigantic glaciers shuddered out of the arctic", 2 million years ago.

It was the last glacier, Wisconsin, 115,000 years ago that moved like a giant cougar across the land, tearing of the hill tops, with such weight and "granite teeth", that scoured, stripped, ground, and pulverized the rock. The massive sand and gravel pits dot the highways, evidence of the massive movement of earth.

The ice, he says, was hundreds of fathoms deep and it gouged sandstone, siltstone and shale. The book is an excellent read, and includes some geological information. The lake bounds Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. The lake is 400 miles from east to west, 160 from north to south. It contains 1/10 of the world's fresh water.

In the 1800s the whites moved in to clear cut the land, ripping the pine and spruce to transform them into ships and houses. Them, in the 1840s, copper miners from England and Germany began exploitations of the lake effect snowland. A major transportation route, the lake holds 350 ships that have sunk in its cruel, unpredictable weather. With a maximum depth of 1300 feet, it roils with the lake effect winds picking up moisture much as the glaciers did many moons ago. During the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Nov. 10, 1975), it raised 16' high waves, with winds of 58 knots. A person would last 30 minutes in November waters. Accidents on the ship were common in shifting seas, with metal bulkheads and dangerous, slippery conditions.

In the meantime, the First Nations, Ojibwe in the east, perceived the lake to be a living, breathing body, always moving, changing, with many facets. The Fog had a big impact on life. Their lives revolved around nature, with artifacts from 8800 BCE having been found around the lake. The forest's harvest of maple syrup, spring fish runs, berries, herbs and, of course, migrating geese made it prime for living off of the land.

Gargantua Bay

We bought a great CD, all Ian Tamblyn songs, Coastline of Our Dreams, and it was amazing to be videotaping in Gargantua Bay, Lake Superior Park, listening to songs about these places.

Songs of the northern shore; the music on the video below is 'Heart of the Run', and 'Black Spruce'. It was bizarre playing the CD and hearing them sing of the 'mighty Gargantua', and the other places we were driving through. I have not been this far north in years.

The climb up to see the pictographs was so tough. You can see the rock fissure on the right, with the waist high metal railing. They do lose tourists in Agawa Bay as the winds whip up the water and unexpected swells wash them away. We both did well, with bad backs and aches and pains, to climb up the rock and around the roots. It wasn't until the next day, when walking along the next trek, while walking beside the Pinguisibi R., fairly flat terrain, as you can see, that I tripped on a root. Two hand-sized bruises on my shins, a sliver in my hand where I broke my fall with a root, and a twisted ankle. When we returned to our resort Sylvia, one of the daughters, prescribed ice and lots of wine. The TLC at the resort, as well as the Rx, eased the pain!

Evidence of peoples from across 4000 years are quite absent in these spots. There is a reverence in the glorious rocks, trees, sparkling waters and the flora and fauna in the lack of human interference in the land. The park is pristine. There are a few spots, e.g., out buildings where campers must sign in, lots of road markers, but little else.

On the trail we saw two sets of camps, a truck and a car. That was it. We were 14 km driving, and 2 km walking, off the beaten path, and very isolated. Seeing the tracks of the critters was shocking - if only their size. We are so low on the food chain!
Our accountant is driving up to Lake Superior Park to camp today. What a coincidence. He is a serious kayaker and camper. We don't so camping (a long story!) but wish him well. We are awed by those who can and do. The mosquitoes, on our trip to the Bay, were vicious with no wind. We had to eat the sandwiches we'd packed while standing up and swatting them.
In my mind's eye I can see ancient spirits canoeing, making their way across this fearsome la
nd, creating the pictographs we saw on the rock face at Agawa Bay. Images of the huge creatures that walk this land gave me shivers. We drove along the incredible roads and were amazed.

What a trek. First you drive over a long, winding, bumpy road, then walk 2 km to the beach area. Mike, our park interpreter, explained that it was a pretty demanding drive, with potholes here and there. Was he ever right!

The boulders poke up through the road, as well, after the gravel, sand and silt are washed away in heavy rain. I wanted a t-shirt saying "I drove to Gargantua* Bay!"

*pronounced GAR'-gan-twah


Monday 29 June 2009

The Fog

My World White

At Pancake Bay we found a weather station. Very special! Most reliable of all. If the rock is wet - it is raining!

As we drove north, however, the temperatures dropped. It was amazing.agawa rock

I couldn't believe it. I wrote down the temperatures so as not to forget. I changed from a tank top to a quilted jacket in less than an hour's drive.

The Shores of Gi chi Gamiing have a long tradition with fog. Native Peoples used incredible tales to explain nature around them. I am sure it developed an appreciation for the land and the creatures of the land. I know, having led Native Studies with my elementary students, that the stories strike a deep chord. One of their favourites was "How the Chipmunk Got Its Stripes!"

The red sign, at left, explains that they've lost tourists in the waves and to 'be careful'. oh my.

The blue sign (lower left in the photo) at Agawa Bay says,
"Before you is the world's largest freshwater lake, Gi chi Gamiing ("Great Lake") to the Ojibwe. Gi chi Gamiing was vital to the Ojibwe cultrue, providing food and the main travel route.

Even with modern navigation, travel on the lake can be hazardous with the changing weather. In the spring and early summer the land warms more quickly than the lake and fog is common along the coast. The Ojibwe saw fog as the clothing of thunderbirds. As guardians of the Ojibwe, the thunderbirds visited the world to search out evil spirits with thunder, lightning and storms.

The Ojibwe had great respect for Gi chi Gamiing and its changing moods. To appease Misshepezhieu, the spirit of the water, offerings of food, coper and tobacco were left at sites along the coast by those seeking a safe passage or to give thanks, a tradition still honoured by many."
It is amazing, too, the people (like Selwyn Dewdney, 1909 - 1979) who ensured that such historical sites as those at Agawa (the pictographs) and have been preserved. The oral traditions of ancient peoples deserve such respect in this information age.

You have to excuse the bug goop on the windshield in the video. We kept smacking into them as we drove. It was great stopping at the Candian Carver, where two young men bantered and cleaned the bugs off of the windshield as well as the headlights!

Fabulous food and views

Lake Superior - what land, what views as we drove along. I tried to keep the videos short, to give just a glimpse as we drove along. An avid amateur photographer, I forgot to recharge my digital camera battery, I took 200 photos on the way there the first morning, then forgot I had the video camera with me.

Here is our resort, as we drove in the driveway. It is great to travel in the shoulder seasons. It was $72/ night. A very affordable trip. We bought a great CD, all Ian Tamblyn songs, Coastline of Our Dreams, with a variety of artists.

Sunday 28 June 2009

nature nut needs an eagle eye

Driving along, minding our own business....trying to keep an eagle eye out.

Lots of forest, having left the North Channel of Lake Superior.

Just at the side of the road.
Drive-by shooting, just on the edge of a Native Reserve.

How ironic is that?

I did stop the car, though. A drive-by shooting was less than the moment demanded.

The bird was somewhat irritated with me, voicing an opinion about the dumb two-legged ones.

I've seen ravens and crows harass people and didn't spend a long time irritating the creature!

Then, what should fly into the car, but a lovely wee critter.

It is the smaller things in life that are just as interesting!

The research tells me that this is an osprey, but the pun was a fun one!

Scenic Sunday #50 - Take Me Home!

A scenic tour of N. Ontario highways and rock. The little trucks give some perspective. I cannot imagine the work involved. Well, I can, since we drove past the road work around Parry Sound. There are only 3 seasons: bugs, snow, construction - none mutually exclusive!

You know it is summer in Ontario when there is traffics, flaggers, bugs, and tourists. Here is the view on our way home from Lake Superior. The Parry Sound construction is massive. The rocks are impressive. The music is by Betty & the Bobs, performing Ian Tamblyn's Take Me Home.

Scenic SundayClick here for more scenic Sunday views

Saturday 27 June 2009

frowsy goslings

Summer is unfolding as it should. Everything is lush and green. Much is blooming.
We are happy to provide sanctuary from the high speed demons on water ski and wakeboards. The waterfowl kindly fertilize our clover, too. The tourists whip back and forth on boats across the lake; goslings and Eva munch my clover.

It is amazing how quickly they grow. Their wings are little useless stubs for now. They look like the ugly duckling.
The water lilies are blooming.

water liliesBut dear, old, emotionally disturbed Mitz has a deep sleep. None of tmitz sleepshat outdoor life for her. She lets the other 2 cats keep the geese and ducks under control. We still have a bear around, and she likes her peace and quiet.

There is much pollen. With the wind it blows across the lake and covers everything: the lake surface, the shoreline, our decks and dock. It must have been a great (cool, wet) spring for the trees considering the pollen amounts. The bears, however, continue to be active around the neighbourhood, since the blueberries and raspberries are late, due to cool conditions, and they need FOOD!

The day time mosquites and blackflies have lessened, but that is not saying much!

Traffic is busy and there are garage sales aplenty. Lots of places for sale, too.

I must have taken a 1000 photos of Lake Superior. Our accountant just popped by to finalize a tax concern, he is headed to the Lake Superior Park to camp! I shall organize my photos. Such scenery!
Camera CrittersVisit Camera Critters for more CC #64

Friday 26 June 2009

fog and fury

I continue my June journey along the coast of Lake Superior. This was the view from our resort. I gladly watched the sky.

Travelling in June is incredibly affordable. School is not yet out and we are given much attention from our hosts. Visit more sky watchers by clicking on the badge below.

What great views this land provides...Batchawana bay. A lifeboat from the Edmund Fitzgerald was found in this bay.
The fog rolled in, and the temperature dropped from 20 to 12 degrees C. as we drove up the coast to Pancake Bay. We stopped in Mamainse Harbour. Very eerie as the geese came in.

But the weather is treacherous. The The Fitzgerald was lost an hour out.

We met Diane Sims, an author living in Stratford, whose father was a ship's captain and knew the captain of the E.F. and the impact the sinking had on the community. Much like that of recent airplane and not-so-recent ship losses, with artifacts being found after the fact.
The geese rolled in with the fog. A bit eerie.

I'm glad to be home!

Thursday 25 June 2009

death and taxes

I was trying to wax poetic this week. After taking more than 1000 photos on a -day trip...I am overwhelmed. Then I opened a newspaper.

Lots of deaths this week:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Romeo LeBlanc, former Governor General of Canada
Home again, though -
We still have 4 goslings and 5 ducklings, 3 happy cats, and our bear. We made it back safely from Lake Superior. What a relief to both leave and return. Crazy drivers out there and crazy tourist. They trap the bears.

Lots of taxes:
- filed my late father's estate bill today (he died in 2007). While death and taxes are both certain, death with taxes is the BIG certainty. We paid a tax to have me named beneficiary, rather than the original person who declined to be involved. For a piece of paper we paid a 5-digit amount (a percentage of the estate value, including the value of the house...)
We had to file a personal tax for dad in 2007, then file for his estate for the same year. Then, since we declared him disabled (with a brain tumour, physically and cognitively incapaciated) we got back a refund (with interest) for 2008. Then we had to pay taxes this month - on the interest of the refund interest($35). We put the balance of the estate in a non-tax bearing account in order both to NOT earn interest, and not to have to pay taxes on it. But all this had to filed finally for 2008 - for now. Long story, thank goodness for our accountant...

And our final property tax bill came, too. Almost as much as one semester's tuition. Glad the kids are through university and gainfully employed!
And despite having irregular garbage pick-up in winter, and no street plowing, we are happy to live here.

Muskoka - only bigger

So where does a Muskoka girl go for a vacation? A place where you can find more rocks, lakes, trees and mountains.

Lake Superior Park. EVERYTHING IS HUGE.
Under the bridge you can see a car.

The rocks on the beach are boulders.

The climbs are tremendous.
Birds, trees, rocks, the welcome from all...

Elk tracks..

Biker chicks.

The pictographs from Agawa. You can see the small people for comparison!