A Happy Hatter
Friday, 19 October, 2012 - (As opposed to a mad hatter?)
Yesterday, on what might be our last Fall Foliage Foray of the season, Sandra and I found ourselves in Newboro, Ontario. When we head out on these excursions we don't always know exactly where we'll be going or what we might end up doing. This time, a half hour southwest of town along Highway 15 at Crosby, Ontario (little more than a crossroads) I saw a billboard advertising Tilley hats for sale at the Kilborn's store in Newboro, so that's where we went.
I've been wanting a Tilley hat for a while now and Sandra had been wanting to look around Newboro's little downtown, so we took care of both those wants with one stop.
Newboro is a small village in a rather remote area, so it not only surprised me that someplace so off the beaten path sold Tilley hats, something I hadn't seen anywhere else in our travels, but it also surprised me how large the Kilborn's store itself turned out to be. It's nominally a gift shop, but calling it that would not accurately convey how much is there, everything from food to furniture and in a sprawling structure that seems to go on forever, although it doesn't look large from the outside.
Anyway, I like the look of the Tilley Outback hats, but not their price. I consider them to be grossly expensive at $79, but I'm the kind of guy who hates to spend $15 for a ball cap, which I've never liked the looks of, but wear them because they're so common. On the other hand, you generally get what you pay for. As can be seen midway down the page here, Tilley hats are extremely well made, to the point they have a lifetime guarantee. If you wear one out, they will replace it for the cost of shipping. They even come with insurance against loss that covers half the purchase price. Even still I was reluctant to pay that much for a hat, but Sandra talked me into it, so now I have a hat I'm happy with, which makes me a happy hatter.
Photo above of me wearing my new Tilley hat was taken by Sandra.
For my latest photos, click here.
Fall Foliage Fading Fast
Wednesday, 17 October, 2012 - For the past 4 weeks I've been out and about photographing fall foliage (aka Fall Foliage Forays) whenever the light has been favorable (i.e. sunny) and sometimes even when it's not, but sadly the autumn color (such as we have) is rapidly running its course and it's now looking more wintery around here than autumny.
And, contrary to what one might think about Canada, its symbol being the maple leaf, the fall foliage in this region has never been what I'd call vibrant, although it was better this year than in recent years. There are a lot of conifers (i.e. pines, etc) that stay green year round, so no fall color there, and for the most part the deciduous trees we have don't ever have brilliant fall color like the various species of maples do. The leaves of most trees (I don't know their kind) just fade to a dingy rust, brown, or dark olive green color before they fall. There simply aren't that many maples away from towns. In towns, maples are a popular tree, but not so out in the wild. Click here to see a photo that is fairly typical of the drab fall color we have in the rural areas around here.
But, there are pockets of fall color scattered about. One just has to spend the time and mileage to find them. The photo above is my favorite of what I've shot this fall and the rest of my autumn photos can be found the gallery here. Although the fall foliage is fading fast, I still have a lot of photos taken over the last month yet to process, so I'll be adding to that gallery for quite a while yet.
On a completely different note, last Friday we drove to Ottawa where we enjoyed a belated Thanksgiving feast hosted by Margie and John. All their family was present, even Danica who made the trip from far off Hamilton, Ontario, 500 km (300 miles) away where she's attending medical school. This was the first time we saw them all together since June when Sandra's cousin Terri and Terri's son Benjamin came over from England for a visit.
Also, one of our Fall Foliage Forays was on October 8, Canadian Thanksgiving Day itself, when we drove north to Clayton and on the way back stopped in at Tranquil Acres Camping RV Park, our former RV home when in the Ottawa area during our five years on the road, where we found its owners, Dave and Shonagh, in attendance along with their family who were in the process of preparing their own Thanksgiving dinner over a grill and campfire right there in the campground. It was good to see them all. We sat around the campfire with them until it was time for them to eat. They most graciously invited us to stay and eat with them, but with Sandra's extremely restricted diet there wasn't much she could eat, so we had to regretfully decline.
|Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend
Sunday, 7 October, 2012 - This is the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Monday being the actual day of thanksgiving. Unlike in years past, Sandra and I will be spending the day at home by ourselves...well, not quite by ourselves since we're dogsitting Jasper, Margie and John's dog.
It's been quite a while since my last report. That's because there's been nothing of note to report, except five days ago we did join Margie and John in Ottawa to attend the Butterfly Show at Carleton University. I love these butterfly exhibits because you not only have a lot of butterflies, you also have a lot of butterflies that are used to having people around them, so they aren't skittish like wild butterflies. In fact, they will even land on your hand or any other part of you. At this particular show, in addition to a lot of exotic butterflies there were also a lot of people. Too many for my tastes, but it could have been more crowded than it was and everyone was well behaved, even the kids, so it was bearable. We were there on a weekday. I expect it would have been packed solid with people on the weekend. So far, I've posted eight of the many photos I took there. For now, they can be viewed at the beginning of my Bugs Gallery.
Otherwise, we've done little else except go for drives around the area, photographing the fall foliage, which will soon be at its peak here. The photo above was taken this morning just after sunrise from the nearby small village of Port Elmsley, where the Tay River empties into the Rideau River.
For the rest of my latest photos, click here.
We Again See The Sea
Monday, 17 September, 2012 - After three years of going nowhere beyond our usual short drives around eastern Ontario and annual visits to Garth & Betty's cottage four hours away in central Ontario, Sandra and I finally went on a real trip, the first since being forced in October 2009 to give up the RV lifestyle that we had so enjoyed for five years.
I had never seen Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island (PEI), one of Canada's maritime provinces (aka the Maritimes) located on the east coast and have always heard how pretty PEI is and thought I ought to see it while I still could, so that is where we spent the past week.
We had visited the Maritimes twenty years ago but didn't make it to PEI that trip because to get there at that time required a long ferry ride and since we were both working back then and on a tight schedule, we didn't have the time to waste on the ferry. However, since then, a bridge has been built which reduces transit time to the island from hours to ten minutes and now being retired with no tight schedules, I felt it was time I saw PEI, not to mention seeing the sea again, something we hadn't done since leaving the Texas gulf coast in the spring of 2009.
So, a few minutes after 7am on Friday, September 7, we left Smiths Falls on the 915 mile (1,475 km) drive to Tignish, Prince Edward Island, where we had a motel room reserved. There was a time I could have driven that distance in one day, but those times are long gone, so we took two days, stopping for the night in Edmundston, New Brunswick, approximately halfway. Unfortunately, to get to the Maritimes from eastern Ontario you have to drive through Montreal, a city I like but hate to drive through. Its freeway system, which at the best of times I find confusing, seems to be under perpetual construction and our GPS unit proved to be no help with it either, but we made it through the city unscathed although nerves a little frayed.
We arrived in due course at Edmundston, but again the GPS unit let us down by taking us to the wrong part of the city. We really do need to update its map. A phone call to the motel got us the correct location, where we ended up with the cute little cabin seen above in the first photo. Due to Sandra's and my food sensitivities, it is better for us to get motel rooms with kitchen facilities, although that and having to carry all our food with us complicated things a lot since much of the food had to be kept cold.
Anyway, we were on the road the next morning at the crack of a misty foggy dawn and arrived at the bridge to PEI (named the Confederation Bridge) around midday, stopping at the overlook on the New Brunswick end of the bridge to photograph it (second photo), crossing the bridge, and stopping at the PEI end of it to take more photos. At 12.9-kilometre (8 mi) long, it is not even close to being the longest bridge in the world (China holds that claim), but it is the longest bridge in Canada and the longest in the world over ice (in winter)
Once we left the bridge behind and were on our way to Tignish, we stopped at a large supermarket in the city of Summerside to stock up on more groceries for the week and then arrived around suppertime at our destination, Island's End Motel, which is 5 miles north of Tignish in an unincorporated area called Seacow Pond, named for the walruses that once inhabited the inlet in centuries past.
Some of the benefits of this motel were: it was clean, in a somewhat remote area, reasonably priced, within easy walking distance to the coast, within sight of the water, and our unit being more a small apartment than your normal motel room as it had a kitchen, dining area, living room with TV, bedroom, and bathroom. The motel also had free wi-fi, but like many campgrounds and RV parks we stayed at during our five years on the road, the motel's wi-fi was erratic, but at least it was free. Strong signal, but it lost its access to the internet several times a day, often for hours. This was annoying but not infuriating since I was there to see the sights and photograph them, not surf the web.
We learned of this motel through the assistance of Rosemary Gallinger, a local who like me posts photos on PBase.com and who also gave us other helpful information about the area. Sandra and I dropped by her house Tuesday afternoon (Sept 11) for a visit and Rosemary then joined me the next morning for my daily sunrise photo shoot.
Later that day, Sandra and I drove back to Summerside because we had left home without a card reader for our cameras and needed to buy one, which we did. While there we drove around the city some, saw its waterfront and boardwalk, and drove down the see the lighthouse on Seacow Head.
Sandra and I also observed our birthdays during our PEI week, Sandra's on Sunday (Sept 9) and mine the following Sunday (Sept 16) when we were on the last half of the return trip to Ontario. I say observed rather than celebrated because our birthday observances are extremely low key. At my age, now 66, I'd be just as happy to ignore any further birthdays, but people won't let me.
Between our arrival and departure, my days were typically spent exploring and photographing the area, mostly along the coast, going as far south along the west coast highway (Route 14) as West Point Lighthouse and as far south on the east coast highway (Route 12) as Alberton and making a daily trip up to the nearby North Cape Lighthouse, only 4 miles (6.5 km) north of our motel. Although a communications tower that dwarfs the lighthouse is right beside it, ruining the view (as can be seen here) unless one crops it out as I did in the photo above right, North Cape was still the all-around most interesting place we saw. There's a nature trail that starts there and goes along the cliffs to the west, an overlook of the longest rock reef in North America, a wind farm (it's very windy there), and the North Cape Interpretive Centre (which houses a gift shop, marine aquarium, the interpretive centre, and a fully licenced restaurant). Since North Cape is the very northwestern tip of PEI, both sunrise and sunset over water were visible from there. Being a sunrise/sunset photographer, I can tell you there aren't a lot of places where this is possible.
Overall, PEI was much as I expected from having done some research on it before making the trip. Its soil, sand, and rock are indeed red, so that is the color of its fields, cliffs, beaches, and unpaved roads. Very pretty, especially along its coast, which had a lot of cliffs and headlands. But inland, things didn't look terribly different from how they look around here in Ontario. I had expected to see the architecture looking more maritime, like shingle sided houses, but saw little of it. The vast majority of the houses looked clean and surprisingly new and contemporary, just not with a maritime look.
Another disappointment was when I was told many of the lighthouses have been decommissioned and either sold to private owners or will be demolished. Apparently lighthouses are considered to be redundant and useless against today's technology. Hopefully, the lighthouses will be saved if for no other reason than for their beauty and the heritage they represent.
One of my lasting memories of PEI will be the intense fishy odor of the seaweed that washed up on shore. It was being harvested by dragging it onto land and piling it up and the stench from those piles was literally overwhelming. I guess the locals get used to it, but we weren't there long enough for that to happen to us.
Another thing we learned was that many of the men who fish commercially during the summer (commercial fishing is a big industry in PEI), go to work in the oil sands of Alberta during the winter, making far more money there than they do by fishing.
Being retired we have no schedules to meet, so we had tentatively planned for a two week stay in the Maritimes, but all the driving and motel sleeping did such a number on my back that we decided to return home after one week so I could see the chiropractor.
On the return trip, we took time to see a couple of things we passed without stopping on the outgoing trip the week before. One of them was the Hartland Bridge, the world's longest covered bridge, in Hartland, New Brunswick (photo above right). It is really long and we drove through it. The other thing was the Butterflies of the World exhibit in the New Brunswick Botanical Garden. I like these exhibits because the butterflies are accustomed to being around people so they aren't skittish.
For the rest of my photos of PEI, click here.
For the rest of my latest photos, click here.
For Sandra's accounts of the PEI trip and a lot more photos, click here and here.
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Updated Sunday, November 18, 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Gordon L Wolford .
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