A resourceful Canadian cyclist

A Canadian seat cover


Canadian Poutine, french fries, cheese curds,bits of beef all dressed in gravy

Canadian Poutine –  french fries, cheese curds, bits of beef, dressed in brown gravy

“Are you in a hurry? No. Then why did you go through that stop sign? What? You went through the stop sign back there.” In disbelief I turned to look into the eyes of my strongly built accuser but all I saw was an expressionless face draped in dark black sunglasses.


“I did not go through your stop sign my overbuilt friend. In fact if you were more attentive you would have noticed I turned my engine off while I waited for you to finish hassling the poor fellow in front of me.”


That’s what I thought but not actually what I said to the agent guarding his Canadian homeland. Fortunately I was awake enough to realize he was just doing his job; pushing my buttons to see how I would respond. “What?” was actually all I said or needed to say, especially since I had already paid for my hotel in Ottawa and I really wanted him to let me into his country.


Pog Lake

Pog Lake


The clear waters of Pog Lake

The clear waters of Pog Lake

He then asked, in one incredibly long-winded sentence, if I was carrying any guns, explosives, pepper spray and countless other products and weapons that could cause harm to the citizens of Canada. It was obvious that the only reasonable answer was no so that’s what I said. If he had gone the extra mile, searched the vehicle and found the pepper spray, I was ready to blame Sue. “Oh, I had no idea sir. My wife must have packed that.”


Ottawa Ontario is the capital of Canada and we were there July first, Canada Day. That is Canada’s Independence Day so everyone was clad in red, white and maple leaves. People filled Parliament Hill, rain came and went a few times but by sunset Mother Nature joined in the festivities, turned off the showers and allowed a tremendous fireworks show to take place.



A log boat that would drag the booms of logs

A paddlewheel boat, it would drag the logs booms across lakes and down rivers


In the wheelhouse of a log boat

In the wheelhouse of a log boat

West of Ottawa is Algonquin Provincial Park, 3,000 square miles of forest, streams and lakes. The two days we were there it was mostly wet and gray but we still did a little hiking along Pog Lake and the historic logging camp trail. The park is home to moose, bear and wolves and has the feel of the deep woods of Maine or Alaska.


Similar to Alaska the men of Ontario have a need to hang blue tarps over everything they own, i.e. boats, tents, old cars, even family members. Across from us the fellow erected a large family tent single handedly and then began erecting a tent around his picnic table. A few minutes later I looked up and noticed he had ropes dangling from six trees, some were as high as ten feet off the ground. To the ropes he attached a number of blue tarps and after two hours of throwing, hoisting and tying, his campsite looked like a carport with a blue canvas roof.


Naturally you would expect such a wet area to be thick with mosquitos and it is, especially in June and July. To deal with the mosquito and black flies many of our neighbors wore hooded bug suits with a black bug screen sewn across the area where the face normally pokes out. When I first glanced over at the neighbor lady I thought she was Muslim. All I could see where her face should have been was black mesh. Then her son ran up and I couldn’t make out his face either. Finally I figured out they were both wearing the hooded bug suits. The bugs were pretty intense and if I owned a bug hoodie I would have put it on too.


Morning mist

Morning mist


One of many blue tarps hanging from the trees of Ontario

One of many blue tarps hanging from the trees of Ontario

A more pleasant aspect of our Pog Lake campsite was that it was on the, “No radios, No pets” loop. So at night while we snuggled in our sleeping bags all we could hear was the flute like song of the thrush, the eerie call of loons and the endless flapping of our neighbors blue tarps.











Categories: Hiking, Travel, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Welcome to Canada. Loved the blue tarp description. 🙂

  2. Good times! Love the bug suits!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. You’re visiting some of the same places we visited on our recently-completed 9800-mile odyssey. We spent a couple of nights in Ottawa with Camino friends Don & Maggie. Did you ever meet them?

  4. I love Canada. Its wilderness beauty stretches for thousands of miles, and your story does it justice. Interestingly, I was constantly asked by Scots and Brits while I was in the UK, ‘What part of Canada are you from?’ Rather than explain I had come over from the U.S., I simply replied, ‘The southern part’, and no one ever questioned that. – Mike

  5. Hi, You must be eager to return to Canada . H.

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Oh how I enjoyed this trip to Ottawa and Pog Lake. Your wry sense of humor had me chuckling frequently, Brick. I especially enjoyed getting so close to the scene that I, too, could “hear” the loons and thrush. Thank you.

  7. Nice post, have a great time up there!

  8. Thanks! It is a beautiful place that I would like to explore with a kayak or canoe next time.

  9. Ten years ago, my oldest son, Matt, attended freshman orientation for Salisbury University (Maryland) by attending SU s canoe adventure in Algonquin Park way up North in Ontario — the idea was to offer orientation during a wilderness trip, as an alternative to the classroom. During the summer of 1983, a handful of Salisbury University faculty and administrators ventured to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, with a group of incoming freshman to canoe, camp and contemplate the four years of college life that lay ahead. The program is still in place & has expanded to include many other adventurous locations.

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