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CROSS CANADA TOUR part 2

Ontario

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Home | Newfoundland/Terre Neuve | Labrador | Quebec/La Belle Province | Montreal | Ontario | Toronto | All That Jazz

Part 1

On August 3rd we arrived in our nation’s capital-the very clean and even somewhat pretentious Ottawa. Our friend Todd, another ESL expat, provided some fine Stewart hospitality as we settled in for a few day visit. We explored the down-town area, with its political ambiance and hodge-podge of cultures. The parliament buildings were as striking as they were ominous.

Leaving Sara in Ottawa to venture on her own, The Beast and I undertook a 6 hour drive into northern Ontario, inching across the Quebec border into the small pulpmill town of Temiscamigue to visit with Alain, a friend from Kuujjuaq. I spent a fantastic few days with Alain tucked away in a cabin in the middle of an exclusive fishing reserve. We were bounded by a dense forest, gorgeous lakes and that wonderful isolated silence. We ate, we drank, we were absolutely merry! A million thanks to Tony and Valerie and the Beauchane Reserve. The 37 car line-ups were well worth it!

Back at Todd’s house Sara and I traded places as she drove the Beast to Erinsville to visit her relatives and I stayed behind to prepare for *Stewbash 8.

*Stewbash is an annual celebration of friendship, competition, stupidity, and the "good party" bond that unites us all.

The night was insane, from its “Trailer Trash” theme, to its Tip-Cup tournament and the humiliation of its host’s early retirement. I think the big guy in the hockey helmet broke my camera!

I bused it to Perth to meet up with Sara the next day and spent the night with her very welcoming relatives! From Erinsville we back-tracked our way onto a 1000-islands tour boat. This part of Lake Ontario is known for its beautiful chalets, incredible yachts, private islands, million dollar homes and even a castle that was built for a dying bride-its disuse is still haunting.

The 401 Hwy. then took us to Oshawa, an industrial suburb of the greater Toronto area where some of my relatives have decided to call home (including my parents for 5 years). We parked the Beast in the care of my cousins Tony & Anne, and invaded cousin Ricky’s bachelor pad.

Aahhhh…the ‘Shwa…..

Part 2

On September 13, after getting our first and only ticket (parking without a permit) we left Toronto, returning to Oshawa for the remainder of our things. Kathi was now among the cargo, squished between our backpacks and camping gear. On the way Sara and I decided that we had had enough of the Beast’s rusty and noisy muffler. So, as the van underwent yet another repair we called upon cousin Ricky for another favour.

Leaving Oshawa in our new and improved Beast, we hit the 401 West towards Kitchener/Waterloo. Although we never did hook up with Marcel I did manage a quick visit with Jay, another guy witrh Korean drinking skills. We flipped through digital pics that I hope never make it back to my parents…who knew Korean girls liked strip poker!

We decided to splurge that night, and between the three of us we rented a hotel room, something with a bed and TV to watch the World Cup Finals…probably the last professional hockey game we would see for awhile. The next morning we swung south towards Canada’s gaugdest tourist trap-Niagara Falls. My Aunt & Uncle treated us to some home-made stew and after stuffing our faces my cousin drove us to the Falls where we wandered through the mist and foreign photographers who snap way more pictures than the over-sold attraction deserves. We walked Clifton Hill, the entertainment street, packed with cheesy amusement rides, haunted houses, and expensive theme-restaurants. Although the Niagara Falls is breath-taking and remarkable in its own right, I can’t help but cringe at the Americanism of it all.

Our next adventure took us along the Niagara Escarpment to the Niagara-on-the-Lake region. I will admit that as touristy as this area is, it still maintains its Victorian charm. We toured a local winery, Chateau des Charmes, witnessing the surprisingly technical process of creating a variety of wines and of course the art of sampling the final product!

Heading back to the 401 we anxiously made our way to London to visit our good friend from SMU, Mel, now a bonified police officer. Mel treated us to her Halifax-famous nachos and a visit with a fellow officer, *Bob, who works is an undercover drug cop (*his name has been changed to prevent the crack-heads from tracking him down). Bob grilled us in typical detective style about all the odds and ends of our lives while we observed the “easy drunk” Mel promised us he would be!

While in London Mel gave us the grand tour of the police station, from cars to uniforms to confiscated drugs and guns. London has a lot more character then one might expect for such a typical Canadian city. Kathi was well impressed with the Krispy Kreme donut shop! On our way out of London Mel decided to abuse her police privileges, pulling us over for kicks and a few unprofessional photos! Mel you look damn good in that uniform!!

Leaving Kathi at the bus station for her return to Toronto, Sara and I headed onwards to the Great Lake region. We made it to Bruce Penninsula National Park and set-up camp for the night. We checked out the tiny harbour and the shops that lined its boardwalk. It looked like a fun summer destination! Early next morning we caught yet another ferry from Tobermory across Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay to the Manitoulin Islands. The scenery was fantastic as we drove along the connected patches of country land.

In Sault Ste. Marie we found Felix, a hitchhiker from Hull who was on his way to BC. He was hoping to get there in time for the “Rainbow Gathering”. This, in his words, was a gathering of peaceful minded people wanting to promote a loving, harmonious, and free-spirited society. Sounded suspiciously like a hippie-commune to us! Good luck Felix!

The road ended at Lake Superior Provincial Park, an absolutely stunning park with tent sites snuggled between a beautiful stretch of beach and a towering pine tree forest. We watched the glowing sun sink into the water over hot-dogs and marshmallows, the brilliant colors reflecting in our cameras.

The drive to Thunder Bay consisted of 10 monotonous hours of trees, rocks and highway with the occasional lake hidden among the spruce. We camped just outside of TB at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, the first to have closed most of their campgrounds for the season. It seemed that chilling Autumn was upon us!

The next day we drove another ridiculously long and boring route towads the province of Manitoba.