Monday, July 28, 2008

Fort William

When Carol planned for the WINs to go to Fort William Historical Park, I have to admit that I groaned. I am not a big fan of forts. But even I had a terrific day exploring this fascinating place just outside of Thunder Bay, ON. The park is a recreation of the fort as it existed in 1815, when it was a bustling community engaged in fur trading. For a time, Fort William was the center of the Canadian fur trading economy, owned by the North West Company. (Warning - this post contains way too many pictures, but I'll keep the commentary short.)

This is only a very small section of the fort which consists of 42 beautifully recreated buildings.

There were people dressed in period costume who explained how life was in those times. You can see where this beautiful child got her looks!

Appropriately, there were furs everywhere. I hope PETA doesn't find out about this place.

Here the local doctor demonstrated the amputation process on a very brave volunteer.

Ron really liked this demonstration of how the natives cooked one of their staples, similar to the fry bread of the Southwest. They gave out samples.

Ron even helped churn butter - a long and tedious process.

Ron and Billy liked this old fire engine.

Phil and Ron clowning around with the cannon.

Oh, no, that's me trying to throw an axe! Whose idea was this?

Good grief - I throw like a girl! (You can see the axe in the dirt below the target.)

According to the brochure, one of the activities was a ride in a birch bark canoe. I thought it would be great to get all the WINs paddling down the stream in one, but it was not being offered that day. I was disappointed, but instead we had a reenactment. Now I have to ask my cousin this question - can it really be called a reenactment if the battle never happened? As I understand it, they were demonstrating what might have happened if the Americans had attacked the fort.

These are the French soldiers. Is it a coincidence that the commander looked like Napoleon?

Here are some of the WINs waiting for the wharf battle to begin. We found that wars don't run on schedule.

Ah! Here come the Americans. But what is that one guy doing out of the boat? Oh, they're stuck on a sandbar.

But being the resourceful Americans, they just walk to the island for the planned attack.

The British in their glorious red coats fight them off. . .

With the help of this really big gun which made a tremendous bang. The sound reverberated off the cliffs on the opposite side of the river.

Later there was a land battle when they brought in the cannon. Hey, this is the same one Phil and Ron had been messing with.

When the cannon went off everybody jumped. Notice that the reenactors are covering their ears. I thought the little kid who lit it should have had safety goggles.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marathon, ON

We had a couple of gorgeous sunny days in Marathon so you know what that means - scenery pictures!

First we made our way down to Pebble Beach in Marathon. We weren't too sure if the name was appropriate since the 'pebbles' were more like rocks! It's a good thing I don't have a garden because I would have been tempted to take a few.

And we went to the other end of Marathon to Peninsula Harbor. I call this 'Man contemplates the meaning of the universe.'

Next we went to Pukaskwa National Park. We covered ourselves with insect spray and net hats to walk to North Beach. Once again, that may be a misnomer - Log Beach might be better.

Ron took this one of Mink Falls nearby.

In the evening we went right across the road to Neys Provincial Park. There's a lot of logging history there and they even used prisoners of war to do the work. Here's Ron doing a balancing act across the water. Such a showoff! (I went around.)

Once again, we donned our net hats and hiked out to Prisoner Point. The rocks here are magma rocks from the center of a volcano that has since worn down.

Yesterday we left Marathon and headed for Thunder Bay - our last stop in Canada. On the way we stopped at Aquasabon Falls and Canyon. I thought it was cool how the water makes a 90 degree turn after it comes over the falls.

Coming into Thunder Bay, we stopped at the visitor center and got our first view of the Sleeping Giant across the bay. The info sheet says it take 'no' imagination to see it. There were differing opinions on that. I must have no imagination because I saw him right away!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wawa and Beyond

Yesterday we left the Wawa area, but not before seeing more of the town. It's a charming town of 3700 people situated on the west end of Wawa Lake.

The word Wawa means goose in the native Ojibway language. So it's appropriate that they have a very large goose to welcome the visitors. This is the new version made of steel. The original one of plaster didn't hold up to the elements. We also noticed the goose lost some weight between versions. Reminds me of the way the Pillsbury Dough Boy slimed down since I was young.

Although everyone refers to it as the Wawa Goose, Ron pointed out that is redundant.

There were lots of gorgeous lakes in the area, but we didn't have the nicest weather. This is the best I could do.

We found these old timers sitting on the porch of the general store. Some things never change.

The community center had a lovely project this summer called 'Grandma Doors.' We have no idea where they got all the doors, but kids and adults painted them to honor their grandmothers. The doors ranged from the primitive. . .

to the expert, but all were charming.

I wanted to photoshop Sally's face on this one, but I don't know how.

Here I'm trying to horn in on the project. You can just see me peeking through the window.

We're now in Marathon at an RV park, but on our way here we passed through White River which is where the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh was from.

Now, I know what you're thinking - Winnie the Pooh was British. At least that's what I always thought. Well, this story rivals the one about Ole RIP in a previous post. It seems in 1914, a lieutenant in the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps purchased a black bear cub in White River while enroute overseas. (Why you may ask? I certainly did.) Anyway he named the bear Winnie after his home town of Winnipeg. When the lieutenant was sent to France, he had the good sense to leave her with the London Zoo, temporarily at first, but later he gave her to the zoo permanently. Winnie was very gentle and would allow the children to pet and feed her. Two of her greatest fans were Christopher and his father A.A. Milne who was inspired to immortalize her as Winnie the Pooh.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wawa, ON

We are now in Wawa, Ontario staying at a free spot overlooking the Magpie River as it spills over the dam. Carol really outdid herself finding this spot for us. We're all lined up to take advantage of the view with Marvin and Mark responsible for organizing the parking. Only another WIN can appreciate how hard that is - our middle name is not 'individual' for nothing.

This is our view out the front window. We haven't had the sunniest weather, but it hasn't stopped us.

For instance, this is Sandy Beach and, from what we could see of it, it was.

How's this for local wildlife - Canadian lynx. They have really big paws.

Of course, they were stuffed, but beautifully done.

We tried Canadian five pin bowling - not as easy as it sounds. The pins are 3/4 the size and the ball is about softball size. Here's John demonstrating his technique.

The excitement builds. . .

Peggy almost had the highest score the first game, but Mark beat her by one point. Here she is in her 'Vanna White' pose.

Yesterday we split into two groups for hiking - the racehorses and the trotters. We were with the trotters who hiked three of the hardest miles I've ever done. We started at Old Woman Beach below and hiked up to several overlooks of Lake Superior.

Oh, the racehorses went almost seven miles over the same kind of rock and root strewn trail. I'm glad I didn't go with them.

I had to take this picture of Ron taking the group picture. I swear we had more cameras than hikers.

Sandra models the latest in hiking footwear. She said she had to go home and polish her sequins.

The wildflowers have been gorgeous this whole trip and especially since we've been in Canada.

Even though it's raining, some of the group is kayaking the Magpie River today and hopefully taking out before this waterfall!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Soo

While researching the area, our host Carol emailed the Voyageur Trail Association to ask about hiking part of the trail. The Voyageur Trail is planned to go 700 miles across Ontario and currently 200-300 miles are completed. She had more of a response than she expected when two of the members volunteered to show us their favorite part of the trail, the Gros Cap section.

Here we are ready to go - some of us more prepared for the wildlife than others. Our knowledgeable guide Mike is in the aqua shirt.

Gros Cap is a large ridge of Algoma granite overlooking Whitefish Bay and Lake Superior. Despite thin or no soil, the hardy plants find places to grow. The cheery yellow coryopsis was in full bloom for us.

It was a lovely hike through the woods with several scenic overlooks. Here Ron and I take the classic 'we were there' picture.

A closer look at the rocky cap and vegetation.

Yesterday was the high point of the trip for several of the group and I have to admit that Ron and I didn't participate. They kayaked through the Soo locks! The Canadian locks are free for pleasure craft to use. Here they are on the Lake Huron or low side waiting for the lock gates to open. The excitement is building.

Once inside, they either tied on to the cables on the side or held on to each other while the water level rose 21 feet.

Then the upper gates opened and they continued along the channel.

Sign? What sign? Did you see a sign?

After stopping for lunch, they returned through the locks. This time they entered on the Lake Superior or high side and shared the space with two tour boats.

I'm sure that paddling past this fountain felt refreshing after all their efforts.

Once again, thanks to Peggy for all the great kayaking pictures. She's going to start asking for royalties.

And what were Ron and I doing while our friends were having this once-in-a-lifetime experience? Well, we did laundry and shopped because we're moving 150 miles today to Wawa and heaven knows we'll never see another laundromat or grocery store. Oh well, at least we have clean clothes and lots of food. I guess you can tell I'm sorry I missed 'locking through', but I'm glad my friends had such a great day.