Well, it’s been a while –
A lot of oats have been eaten (an Olde Sheepe adage) since I was last in touch. The Man has been up to par, leading us to the only places in the country where there isn’t Internet or cell phone coverage.
Despite that, we have been having a great time. We arrived on Manitoulin Island on Tuesday the 13th and ended up spending 2½ days there. The island is beautiful and if it was in BC we would move to it immediately. Manitoulin is the largest fresh water island in the world – 140 kilometres long and 42 kilometres wide. We managed to drive over 600 kilometres on it – exploring parks and old 1800’s lighthouses. The island was once connected to Bruce Peninsula to the south and is the end of the Niagara Escarpment. 800 kilometres southeast at the other end is Niagara Falls.
The island is very rugged, made up of limestone, white quartzite and granite. Around the coastline the limestone lies in sheets like an old parking lot. Wherever there are cracks, junipers and wildflowers are in profusion – wild iris, lady slipper orchids (and 19 other varieties of orchids), columbine, daisies, lupines, tiger lilies, wild grapes, Black-eyed Susan, wild rose, lilac, wild onion, trillium, Solomon’s Seal and on and on. It makes my mouth water just writing about it.
Because of the limestone and large field rock the farming on the coast is marginal, mainly cattle and blessèd sheep (obviously a civilized bunch of humans living here). In the interior of the island there is better and deeper soil and the farms are much larger producing mainly hay. By looking at the buildings and fencing you can easily tell that this is a much older settlement than BC.
The first day we drove to the end of the island to a town called Meldrum Bay (one inn, one closed store, one closed museum but the laundromat was open – whew). We stayed at the 103 year old inn there and were the only guests. Actually, the Man and the Lady stayed in the inn, I had to sleep in the car because they had a ‘No Sheep’ policy. It wasn’t too bad though because I looked right out into the North Channel of Lake Huron. During the night I managed to see a beaver, some river otters and some rabbits so there was lots of company. The hosts at the inn were an interesting couple and very friendly as are all the people we have met. It turns out the hostess has a young grandson in Sechelt and she used to live in Vancouver (though originally she was from South Africa).
The next morning we drove to an old lighthouse and had a tour of it. I got a bit of a scare as there is a large limestone quarry near the lighthouse and while we were staring at the view there was a HUGE explosion. Nearly scared me out of my woollies and my hair stood on end. The Lady had to give me a perm the next day to get me curly again.
After that we went on a LOOONG, hot hike into Misery Bay. As with most of the shoreline, the limestone goes right into the lake. Some is very rugged and carved by the waves, some flat and smooth. It causes the very clear, clean water to turn incredible shades of blues, greens, and browns – something the Man takes endless photos of. That night we stayed in Mindemoya.
Yesterday we did a bit more exploring – my perm almost failed me when another large, black bear ran across the road, too fast for the Man’s shutter finger. We drove to South Baymouth and caught the 3:30 ferry to Tobermory on the north end of Bruce Peninsula.
The ferry is a little smaller than our BC ferries but quite a bit nicer. The trip takes one hour and 45 minutes through the beautiful blue waters of Lake Huron. Bruce Peninsula is an 80 kilometre long limestone outcrop that juts out into Lake Huron. On one side is Lake Huron and on the other is Georgian Bay. On the lake side are large, white sandy beaches with warm water and on the bay side are the high, rugged limestone cliffs with cold water.
This morning we went for another long hike in the Bruce Peninsula National Park which is an UNESCO world biosphere area. Lots of rare plants and protected animals like YIKES rattlesnakes – that and the poison ivy stopped me from romping through the bushes! The hike we went on was quite rugged in places, crawling over broken limestone on the top of high cliffs but the view and landscape was incredible! And the colours!
We have been jinxed as far as kayaking on the Great Lakes due to wind but we think we have scoped out a good place for tomorrow. We are staying another night in Tobermory and then we’ll head south tomorrow. Not too sure how far we’ll get cause the Man and the Lady keep finding great places they want to explore.
So . . . we’ll be it touch IF we can find an Internet connection.