We Visit Smiths Falls...Twice...Then Athens
Sunday, July 22, 2007 - We spent much of the weekend traveling in the area.
Being a beautiful sunny day after a couple days of clouds and rain, Saturday we decided to make the short drive (21 miles/34 km) south to the regionally famous and very popular Chocolate Shoppe at the Hershey Canada factory in Smiths Falls, Ontario, where Hershey makes its chocolate candies for Canada. It's quite a place and the prices in their shoppe are very low, so it was quite busy and doing a very brisk business, but unfortunately it looks like Hershey will be closing the facility sometime in the not too distant future.
However, the main goal of our visit to Smiths Falls was to see some of the town, a place we have driven through many times in the past but one that looked like it was worth a closer look, since the Rideau Canal passes through it and the downtown has a bit of quaintness.
As things turned out though, plans changed when it appeared that some event was taking place because the town was literally crawling with people, so we settled for having a late breakfast at the Roosteraunt, which turned out to be surprisingly good and agreed with my sensitive insides, and we then did some shopping at Wal-Mart, where I bought another weather station, which hopefully, being a completely different make and model, will work better than the one I'd bought during out stay in Lexington, Kentucky a few months ago. The jury is still out on the new one. There are a lot things about it that are much better than the first one and a lot of things that aren't, but the determining factor will be how well it reads wind speed and so far we've had very little wind.
Then this morning, Margie called and wanted to know if Sandra and I wanted to go with her and John to the Chocolate Shoppe in Smiths Falls! Great minds thinking alike.
They were also planning on continuing 25 miles (40 km) further south to Athens, Ontario where an antique tractor and truck show was being held, called the Farmersville Exhibition, aka the Steam Fair, which sounded interesting, so we went with them.
The Chocolate Shoppe hadn't changed much in one day except the place was packed with even more customers than had been there the day before.
Margie and John got their candy and we headed on for the tractor show, arriving rather late in the afternoon and found the show winding down with people starting to leave. This was bad in that we didn't get to see everything, but good in that they were no longer charging their $8 admission fee and we still managed to see most of what had been there, so it actually worked out perfectly.
It was quite interesting looking at all the old vintage tractors and trucks, but the most interesting thing I saw there was the horse draw they were holding as part of the show, where teams of horses competed to see which could pull the most weight. When I got there, they were up to 4 tons.
The horses were great to watch. They loved to pull those weights and got so pumped up over it that they were often hard to control. For a city boy such as myself, it was quite entertaining to watch.
After the show, we decided to head back to Smiths Falls for supper, but when we got there found the main street was closed for whatever the event was they were holding and if it had looked crowded yesterday, it was even moreso today. So we ended up having dinner back here in Carleton Place at the Thruway Restaurant, where I got a hamburger (without the bun) that proved to be excellent.
Click here for Sandra's account of the weekend.
We Visit Murphys Point Provincial Park
Friday, 20 July 2007 - Monday, I was in the mood to see some new sights and since I had just noticed Murphys Point Provincial Park on the map, we decided to go there. Turned out we were less than awestruck with the place.
First annoyance was that it cost $11 just to get in, which seems exorbitant, but since it's on the shores of scenic Big Rideau Lake I was hoping for some good scenery to photograph.
Second annoyance was when we couldn't find the trail we wanted to walk along, called the Loon Lake Trail. Upon paying our $11 we were given a park brochure which contained two maps and even with them we couldn't find that trail and ended up having to ask a park ranger. Signage in the park was the worst we've seen anywhere.
Third annoyance was the lack of parking. The park is clearly intended only for campers (more than 160 campsites in two large campgrounds, a lot for the size of the park), and boaters and fishers, since the main attraction of the park is water, being on the Rideau Waterway. So, if you aren't staying in one of the campgrounds where you can park on your site or launching a boat (nice large parking area at the boat ramp), available parking elsewhere was quite limited. For instance, there were several scenic spots viewable from the road but nowhere near them to pull off the road so I could take photos.
Which leads me to my fourth annoyance, for the greatest part of the distance we walked along the trails there, we had limited view of the water, which, as I mentioned is really the main attraction of the park and where the scenery is. So what genius decided to run the trails through the forest rather than near the water? Hence, one needs to be in a boat to really see the scenery. With only a few exceptions, about all we saw were trees like in the photo above of Sandra walking along one of the trails. Well, gee, if we want to walk through an unremarkable forest that looks like this we don't have to drive a half hour and pay $11 to do it.
On the plus side...well...uh...from a photographer's point of view there weren't any. We actually saw more worth photographing on the way to the park than we did in the park. I can't imagine we'll ever go back. The weather was beautiful though.
BTW, out of all the campsites in the park, I was told that only two that could accommodate a 38" rig like ours and those two sites were socked in with trees, as were all the campsites we saw there, so satellite access would have been out of the question and getting our rig through the campground, while probably possible, would have been a tight squeeze between the trees that were right at the edge of the road in several places. Like I said, a great place for campers, but I wouldn't recommend it for RVers with large rigs.
Click here for Sandra's account of the visit.
Just Checking In
Monday, July 16, 2007 - Hard to believe twelve days have passed since the Fourth of July, my last entry here, so it's about time I checked in, even though there's little that's new to report.
Really, all that's noteworthy were the continuing health issues I had from my gut-wrenching experience in late June. I won't bore everyone with the sordid details, but basically after improving for a few days things took a turn for the worst and I ended up having to go to the doctor, who just happens to be the best GP in the entire world and is one of the reasons we always return to Ottawa for our medical needs.
Anyway, she suspected the problem wasn't from actual physical damage done from the wrenching I gave my guts, but that it had caused things in my abdomen to become overly sensitized to the point where things I normally ate without adverse side effects had begun causing me rather serious discomfort.
So, rather than sending me in right away for a CAT scan, she suggested I first severely restrict my diet for a couple days and see if that got things calmed down, which it did, and after a follow-up appointment with her she pronounced me sound of health (mind remains debatable) and sent me on my way.
About the only other thing worth mentioning that we've done is the campground potluck dinner we attended Saturday evening, pictured above and held in the RV park's rec hall. That's Sandra in the lower right corner, sporting her new hairdo. As usual, food and company were great.
Otherwise, we've run errands and took a couple drives in the country for evening and sunset photos and have been enjoying the very pleasant weather. Normally up here, July is the hottest month and while we have run the air conditioner some, the weather so far has been nowhere near as hot as it was around here last year. Of course, the summer is still far from over.
I've been enjoying our extended stay in one spot, the longest we've spent in one place since starting the nomadic lifestyle, but I'm starting to get the itch to move on. We had become rather tired of towing so much and my nerves needed a break, but I'm ready now to see some new sights.
Click here for Sandra's account of the last couple weeks.
Happy 4th of July
Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - Happy Independence Day to the American visitors of this page. As an American living in Canada it's always a bit strange to know it's a holiday south of the border while it's life as usual up here, although Canadians are still winding down from their own independence (sort of) celebrations of 3 days earlier, plus they are still quite aware of the American holiday.
Here, it's a very quiet day. Sandra has gone into Ottawa to run some errands and I'm puttering around the RV.
I just finished lunch and like for the past few days, I actually had a sandwich for lunch. Yes, you read that correctly...a sandwich...two slices of bread with meat, cheese, and mustard between them.
We had gone back to Rainbow Natural Foods a week ago and bought a package of the bread mix we had sampled a week earlier during their Gluten-Free Day and had liked so much, called Judy's Magic Multi-Mix, and a few days ago Sandra baked it.
Our oven isn't the best one to bake bread in since it has trouble holding that much heat and we no longer have our bread maker, so Sandra's effort didn't rise quite as high as the photo here, taken from the manufacturer's website, but it tasted as good as the bread we had sampled, which was better than any regular bread I've ever eaten, and it had the same texture, which was so like regular bread that one would never have known it was a gluten-free bread if one didn't already know it. All of the gluten-free breads I've tried in the past were heavy as a rock, dry, crumbly, and had almost no flavor.
The downside to Judy's mix is that it's expensive (as are most gluten-free products), it's only available in Ontario and Quebec (for now), and it's quite a chore to prepare, even though it's a mix which has done most of the hard work already, but I've sure enjoyed it while it's lasted.
Happy Canada Day!
Monday, July 2, 2007 - Happy Canada Day to all that it means something to. It is the Canada Day long weekend up here and Canada Day is Canada's national holiday, roughly equivalent to the US 4th of July, but marking the establishment of Canada as a Dominion on July 1, 1867, which means Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a Commonwealth Realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its reigning monarch. As such, she is Canada's Sovereign and head of state and officially called Queen of Canada. This position is apparently largely ceremonial though since she has little impact on the day to day things, which are run by the Canadian government and the head of government is the Canadian Prime Minister. Too confusing for me to really grasp and I think many Canadians don't either.
Anyway, last year we went to a conservation area on the Canada Day weekend and while not intentionally, this year is proving to be no different, except moreso.
Saturday we made the 45 mile (72 km) drive to Petrie Island east of Ottawa, and yesterday we made the 33 mile (53 km) drive to the Purdon Conservation Area southwest of here, and today we made the 25 mile (40 km) drive north to Morris Island Conservation Area, returning to where we went last Canada Day.
Petrie Island proved to be a very pleasant surprise. It is actually not one island but a complex of islands and wetlands located on the south shore of the Ottawa River in eastern Ottawa. I had never heard of it until recently while doing research on the internet, but it turned out to be a very pretty place. It is now a city park and has quite a large beach as well as a number of very scenic nature trails around and through some wetland habitat.
We even saw a heron there, although neither of us was able to get a good photo of it, this one here being the best I could get of it.
Unfortunately, when we were there it was mostly cloudy with widely scattered showers, so conditions weren't ideal for photography although the sun did actually peek through now and then. Despite the weather, we enjoyed our walk along some of the trails. We just need to go back sometime when the weather is more favorable.
Purdon Conservation Area
Purdon is a place we visited last August. It is a unique wetland famous for its exceptionally large native colony of Showy Lady's Slipper Orchids (photo on the left). And I do mean famous among flower enthusiasts. I met one from Virginia during our stay on Goose Island, Texas last winter and even he knew about the orchids at Purdon.
Each year, between mid-June and early July, 16,000 of these magnificent orchids burst into delicate pink and white bloom. It is extremely rare to find a colony of this size and Purdon's is the largest in Canada and possibly all of North America. We were there too late last year to see the orchids and almost were too late this year as well, but enough of them were still in bloom to make the drive worthwhile.
It was another mostly cloudy day, but that is actually good light for photographing flowers.
Morris Island Conservation Area
Like Petrie Island, Morris Island is actually a complex of islands and located on the south shore of the Ottawa River, but west of Ottawa rather than east.
Last year when we were there, we were impressed by the large number of dragonflies we saw along the causeway there and we were hoping to see them again this year, but such was not to be the case. The dragonflies were conspicuous by their absence and in their place was a large number of people carrying butterfly nets, so we suspect those bozos have made a substantial dent in the dragonfly population along the causeway. Fortunately, there were still a lot of them along the trails we hiked, but it was still sad, if not annoying, to see so many nets and so few dragonflies where we'd hoped to see them. Dragonflies, because they feed on mosquitoes, are among my favorite insects.
Anyway, the trails we hiked today were something new for us since we hadn't hiked along them last year. The scenery was fantastic, although we were there at midday which is not the best light for photographs, so again, I'm going to have to go back either very early in the day or stay there for sunset.
The photo above left shows the Ottawa River from Morris Island with the Gatineau Hills of Quebec in the distance.
Otherwise, we had a quiet holiday weekend, opting not to go into town last night to see the fireworks, although we had discussed it briefly, deciding it was more bother than it was worth, having seen fireworks before and having endured the crowds that always show up for them. The weather, although quite unsettled with periods of clouds and showers, has also had quite a bit of sun with temperatures that were cooler than normal for this time of year.
Click here for Sandra's account of the holiday weekend.
For Older News
To read details of our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.
Updated Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Copyright © 2007 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.