08 July – After waiting in Owens Sound until the rain stopped, we took the scenic route around Georgian Bluffs, but only got small glimpses of Lake Huron as most of the land between the lake and the road was covered in rather splendid homes with lakefront moorings and substantial numbers of pine trees. The road climbed up slightly to an overlook at Colpoys Bay where we decided to stay for the night as the wind and rain had increased. We were afforded good views across the bay to the Niagara escarpment.
09 July – Had to move along fairly promptly this morning as the lawn mowers arrived (they did that to us the previous morning as well). Stopped off in Wiarton for morning coffee and a walk through the main street before heading up to Lions Head. This is in a pretty little bay with a small marina and beach. The marina let us fill up our fresh water tanks, then we did a small walk on the Bruce Trail – this trail extends from Niagara Falls to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula through all sorts of terrain. We only had about 40km to get to Tobermory, so puttered up there stopping first at a picnic area to suss out if we could stay overnight then onto Dorcas Bay and the Singing Sands for a walk around their small fen. The fen had some interesting native plants including a tiny pitcher plant. Down into Tobermory to make a reservation for the ferry in a couple of days – just as well as they have limited space for over height and wide vehicles like us. Back to the picnic spot where we hope we won’t get bothered. This spot is in the Bruce Peninsula National Park and has several things to beware of – rattlesnakes, bears, poison ivy and wild parsnip; even though it hardly seems the type of territory that you would see the first two, they did have bear proof rubbish bins.
10 July – No visitors overnight and a lovely sunny start to the day. Ventured back into Tobermory for a walk around the Little Tub basin – a dinky little harbour with quite a few tourist boats and sumptuous local craft moored. The water in the lakes is amazingly clear and clean. Sampled the local coffee while watching the ferry load and take off over to Manitoulin.
Decided that we would walk to Big Tub bay and the lighthouse there and have lunch at the pub – took us about an hour only to find that the pub didn’t open until 4pm. The young woman in the pub took pity on us and offered to run us back into town which was a lovely gesture and most welcome.
Made for a fish and chip restaurant for our rather late lunch, which was made even later because they forgot about serving us after taking the order. Back to Wanda and then on to the National Park Visitors Centre – decided to buy an annual pass as it will encourage us to stop at more sites just to make sure we get our money’s worth. One more stop on our way back – at Cyprus Lake for a little wander around the lake side. Pretty lake with trees right down to the lake’s edge.
11 July – Another uneventful night at the picnic area. Back into Tobermory to queue up for the ferry. It takes around 170 vehicles but only the centre lane is suitable for high vehicles – that is because the cars go on sling type carriageways two high on the outer edges. We were first in our line and were made to park right at the stern just where it lifts up to let out the vehicles – a bit unnerving when it came to get off as it opened out before we docked and there was only a chain between us and the water. The journey was only 1 3/4 hours. It was really pretty as it sailed past many small islands with cute lighthouses.
Upon reaching Manatoulin Island we disembarked and made our way through many country roads – first through Mindemoya and then down somewhere in the boondocks where we thought we might find a place to park but the road petered out. On the way back stopped at Perivale Gallery – a really lively gallery with many local artworks. It only opens for a few months in the summer selling the artwork on consignment – items go back to the artists in the winter and they start all over again with a different set of artists’ work the next year. Headed back down towards Providence Bay and out into the country again – finding somewhere was proving to be quite a challenge. Eventually settled on a cleared patch of land that didn’t look like anyone owned – come dinner time we were put straight! A banged up old ute came and parked in front of us and a friendly but rather scruffy gentleman came to tell us we were camped on his land. We asked if he would mind if we stayed overnight and he was OK with that so long as we didn’t leave any rubbish.
13 July – Back into Providence Bay in the morning and we actually found a spot down by the water which would have been perfect – c’est la vie! Not much happening there so it was back to Mindemoya for a look at their farmers market – mainly crafts but did buy some cheap books and local marmalade. Headed north to Little Current and stopped there for another market and a walk around the harbour basin. What a neat little town – the inner harbour was really protected and entry into it was only possible when the swing bridge opened every hour. Managed to get some farmer’s produce although it is still a little early for a lot of veges. Hit the mainland and headed north towards Espanola and then east to Sudbury where Walmart and wifi were awaiting us. As soon as we crossed onto the mainland it got noticeably rockier, with the Niagara Escarpment limestone replaced by granite of the pre-Cambrian Shield and in places could have been Norway, with lots of little lakes, fringed with rocks and trees.
14 July – A very quiet night passed at Walmart. Target for today was a boondocker couple near North Bay at Callander on the eastern shore of Lake Nipissing, but we did manage to make a detour on the way. I happened to notice that we were going to go near Lavigne – Suzi had told us that the Norton Club secretary for Canada had a pub there so we headed there and found the pub together with Judy and Guy both in attendance. Passed a pleasant hour or so whilst having pub lunch and sampling the local brew before moving on. There is not much in the way of population in these rural settlements but the pub is a real drawcard as they have live music nights throughout the summer. Our boondockers Janis and Lorence have a neat property on 26 acres of forest with trails and gardens. They have a nearly identical RV (MIRV – Merve) on the outside but with a little different layout to Wanda inside. Must hope little rv’s don’t appear overnight from being parked together.
You wouldn’t believe the stacks of firewood they have out the back – they use wood for winter heating, not propane which was really common in the States, and with winters lasting for quite a few months I could imagine that you would go through some wood. Spent an interesting evening with Janis and Lorence learning about the region and getting some good pointers for our trip further east. Surprised a skunk as we were heading back out to Wanda for the night – but it turns out that was a good thing as it ran away instead of possibly spraying the region which can makes things very unpleasant for a very long time, especially if it comes in contact with your vehicle – the smell can last for up to a year.
15 July – After a lovely quiet night we headed out towards North Bay again armed with a list of useful addresses of essential places we needed – first the dump station, next Hairdressing College to get a haircut (couldn’t get in straight away so went back later in the afternoon), Walmart carpark to get internet sorted then our propane got filled a little further up the road. Next it was back to North Bay’s waterfront to have a look at their really neat old fashioned carousels. I even got a ride on one after taking a whole heap of photos. The animals on the first one were all Canadian native animals and the second were all horses. The figures for them all had been created by artists in the region and some were even from wood taken from our host’s forest. The driving mechanism for the carousel with the horses dated from 1908 but the horses were just recently made.
Walked into the town centre for a nice lunch then it was back off to the College to get shorn for the princely sum of $8.25.
Left North Bay and headed back to Callander to the local laundromat to get the washing sorted, before finally heading back to our hosts. They have two lovely grandsons aged 7 and 3 staying with them so it was good to catch up on their day.
16 July – Time to move on again. First stop a call on a Norton owner in Callander for a quick cuppa and reconnoitre of his sheds which revealed a few little treasures – Indian, Norton, Ariel, Triumph, Harley motorbikes, a spiffy yellow Corvette and an Austin A40. Rain set in again for a while as we headed eastwards to our stop for the night at Walmart in Pembroke along roads lines with pine forest.
17 July – Another quiet enough night and only 100km’s to travel made for a leisurely day. Our destination was the capital – Ottawa and boondockers only a few miles from the city centre, but stopped off at the Air Museum for the afternoon before making our way there. Didn’t have a good map of Ottawa and Sally did not do a very good job of getting us around the city, so it was quite torturous getting through the traffic. Our hosts are in a nice quiet street with a lovely home and verdant vege garden. They updated us on the local sights and made sure that we were comfortably settled.
18 July – Wanda was left to her own devices today as we headed into the big smoke via public transport. What a well organised city – dedicated bus lanes go for quite a few miles making it a very quick trip into the centre. We got lucky as we arrived just in time for the colourful ‘changing of the guard’ ceremony held out in front of their Parliament buildings.
With the show over we headed down to the local market – a mini version of Melbourne’s market but lots of well displayed local produce.
Back to Parliament buildings for a 45 minute tour of the inner workings – the current building was built from 1916-1920 following a fire which destroyed the original limestone Gothic style building (except for the library) and is quite ornate inside and out with room decoration in Revivalist style. Canada has a bi-cameral government system with a Commons and a Senate chamber.
That done we headed down to the riverside and spent a while watching some boats coming through the locks on the Rideau Canal – about 8 locks in succession which take an hour to come down and one 1/2 hours to go up. The locks can accommodate four reasonable size launches/yachts at a time. Walked a little further around the river before making our way back into the hustle and bustle of city life. Managed to easily find our bus stop and after a short wait were headed back to the peace and quiet of our hosts’ garden.