Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

We spent an amazing couple of days on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. It's the piece of land that separates Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay to the north. This is some of the most spectacular landscape we have ever seen. There is a hiking trail that runs from the tip of the peninsula all the way to Niagra Falls, along the Niagra Escarpment. We've been on this trail a couple of times, visited the Bruce Peninsula National Park, and ridden our bikes to a nearby Provincial Park. The water in the Georgian Bay is crystal clear and has the most beautiful hues of azure and turquoise due to the limestone that makes up the Niagra Escarpment. We have found all kinds of amazing things: limestone caves, 1000 year old cedar trees, and oil shale full of 450 million year old fossils - real fossil fuel!

George suggested that I elaborate on my previous post, "The Fruits of Breakfast" to include the local food that we find and enjoy along our way. Sounds like a good idea to me, since we feel like we're eating our way across the continent. So I'll list those at the bottom of each post, like so:

Local foods we've eaten on the Bruce Peninsula:
Goat Dairy Farm in Arthur, Ontario. We sampled and bought their goat milk, chevre, hard cheese, goat jerky (it was delicious), pork sausage, and goat's milk soap.

For our one meal of eating out this week, we chose "fish and chips" in Tobermory while we were waiting on the ferry to Manitoulin Island. We asked some locals where to find the best fish and chips in town (since many places advertised this popular dish), and they led us to a great fish shack that claimed to have "the most eye-poppinest, jaw droppinest Whitefish and Fries in town". Indeed, it was delicious. While we were there, we inquired why all the little harbor towns we had visited had only sailboats and motor boats in the harbors; no fishing boats like I'm used to seeing in the New England harbors. The waitress told us that the Canadian Government had bought all the fishing rights about 10 years ago and signed a treaty with the Canadian Native Americans. Now the only people that could commercially fish the waters were the Native Americans. So the fish we were eating had been caught by and bought from the local Native Americans. I was amazed, America would never do something like that!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Fruits of Breakfast

I love Canada! We are staying in a campground near the Niagra River and this area is just loaded with orchards and vineyards. The air smells sweet with fruit. It makes me happy just to breathe. Strawberries, blueberries and sweet cherries are in season here right now, and there are millions of peaches ripening on the trees next to our campground. I love going through strawberry season again. When we were on the coast we were eating peaches every day, and I can’t wait to have a 2nd peach season again while we’re here! Here are a couple of photos of today's breakfast feast. Adalaya made her's in the patriotic fashion - red, white and blue with some crunch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Niagra or Bust!

We were feeling the need to get some miles behind us (after all we were still in Virginia), so after getting provisions in Front Royal, VA we zoomed north. Well, maybe we didn't zoom, but we went as fast as a big metal box on wheels can go on mountainous back roads, which is to say about 45 mph or less. So we meandered through West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania where we stopped for a few hours of fitful sleep beside a cemetery (not going to do that again). By sunrise we were in New York State. We figured we were in need of a good cultural experience, so we went into downtown Buffalo for some NY style pizza for lunch. Yum! And it just so happened that today’s special was cheese and broccoli pizza, Adalaya’s favorite!

After lunch we crossed over the Peace Bridge into Canada where our customs lady was very chatty and told us how to get to “the best hot springs ever” in Calgary. No wonder our customs line took forever to get through! We then took yet another beautifully scenic parkway, Niagra Parkway, which took us north from Lake Erie to Niagra Falls along the Niagra River. It is an amazingly beautiful and uncrowded drive, and there’s a bike path along the river as well. When we started to see a plume of mist in the air we knew we were getting close, so we parked the van and rode our bikes to the Falls. What an amazing place! I was expecting a dirty brown river and tourist traps everywhere, but the river is an amazing emerald color and the whole area is clean and beautiful and full of people from all over their world. And the Falls themselves are indescribable. A full rainbow with a faint double rainbow above it graced the falls in its plumes of spray.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Black Bears and Rattle Snakes!

After spending a sweltering two and a half weeks on the coast, we headed back to the hills to Shenandoah National Park in VA. Ahhh, it feels like home! Skyline Drive, the northern extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway, runs the length of the park, as does the Appalachian Trail. We drove, camped and hiked in this beautiful Appalachian Mountain chain for 3 days. It feels like such a sanctuary compared to the madness that abounds between here and the coast! A great place to celebrate the summer solstice.

Definitely the highlight of Shenandoah for us was one particular hike to a waterfall. On the way to the overlook, just as it was starting to sprinkle rain, we heard some crashing noises in the woods and saw a black bear! We were able to watch if for several minutes before it ambled away out of view. The rain had stopped by the time we got to the overlook, and George bounded atop of the rock wall built on the ledge. He heard the startling sound of a rattle, and there was a fat timber-rattler 3 feet from him. Luckily for George the snake slithered off in the opposite direction under the rock ledge. Since I had not thought to get my camera out for the earlier black bear sighting, we really wanted to get a photo of the rattlesnake. So George approached the ledge and held the camera out over the ledge (hoping to get the whole snake in view). Meanwhile, I was watching George and could see the head of the snake he was hoping to photograph. Then I saw another similarly shaped head peer out from another rocky ledge to the side of George. I alerted him that there seemed to be a whole family of timber-rattlers, and he felt sufficient in his photography. Here's the picture he risked his life for.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sailing on Father's Day

We are spending a great Father’s Day weekend sailing on the Yecamaco River in the Chesepeake Bay watershed with Daniel Laplume, a good friend of George’s from High School. He and his daughter took us sailing, and afterward we spent several hours in the Marina’s pool. Sailing and swimming – a great way to cool off and have fun for all!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Colonial Times in the Present

We have been immersed in Colonial times lately. After going to "The Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island we went to Jamestown, VA - the first colony that "stuck". Home of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas. We had an amazing ranger-led tour of the Jamestown Fort, and there was an archeological dig happening inside the fort-site. We were there at just the right time to hear the archeologist and students talk about all they had unearthed and discovered throughout the week. It inspired Adalaya and she now says that she wants to be "an archeologist instead of a scientist that works in a lab."
About 10 miles north of Jamestown is Williamsburg, where there is an entire colonial town propped with colonial merchants, farmers, politicians, slaves, etc. We saw Martha Washington and had coffee where Patrick Henry once did. And another 10 miles or so east is Yorktown, site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War. These three towns are all connected by the "Colonial Parkway", operated by the National Park Service.
And I want to say a special "Thank You!" to 4th Grade teacher, Mrs McKinney. Adalaya was able to tell me all kinds of details about the Lost Colony and the early colonial period which she learned over a year ago in 4th grade.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Biggest, Best, and First in NC

We have been learning a lot about NC while we've been on the coast. I had no idea how many claims-to-fame our state has. I know that Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi. It was also NC's first state park. And everyone knows that we were "First in Fight". We visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial where the first flight actually happened, and it's actually located in Kill Devil Hills, not Kitty Hawk. We got to fly kites where the Wright Brothers tested out their gliders and first aeroplane. We also visited Roanoke Island, location of "The Lost Colony" - the first Brittish Colony in America, although the colonists did not survive to tell their tale. And the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in North America at 208 ft. Not to mention venus flytraps! What a state!

NC Outer Banks

We've spent the last few days exploring the Outer Banks of NC. David Senseney has graciously hosted us in his house on Ocracoke for 3 nights - a great refuge to escape most of the bugs and heat, and be able to shower off the sweat, sand, and saltwater. He took us out to a nearly-deserted part of the beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore; the best place to "bare-butt body surf". We also went to Springer's Point Preserve on the Sound, reputed to be Blackbeard's favorite hang-out and near to where he was eventually beheaded. Aarrgh! And speaking of beheading, Adalaya has become an expert green-headed horse-fly killer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Burns in Beaufort

We were exploring Historic Beaufort, NC today and ran into a familiar person - or at least his gravesite. Otway Burns (namsake of Burnsville) is buried in an old graveyard in Beaufort, marked by the biggest (by far) tombstone in the graveyard.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First night

We're camping at Carolina Beach State Park (near Wilmington) for our first night on the road. We have a great campsite with a perfect hammock tree. We took an amazingly unmarked trail around and through a swamp where they have 5 species of insectivorous plants. We found 3 of them: sundews, venus flytraps, and yellow pitcher plants (the one in the photo has a cool yellow spider in it's cup that is specialized to live in the pitcher plants).

Here we go!

We're finally off on our long-anticipated trip. We spent last week at North Litchfield Beach with George's family. Coincidentally, some of my family was in Litchfield at the same time, so it was a great opportunity to spend time with everyone before saying goodbye. But we are ready to roll and we're headed north to the NC Outer Banks. It's our first official day on the road, and everything's great so far. We've adopted a few good sayings for our trip already, in keeping with our minimalist (even more than usual) lifestyle:

"If you can't eat it, you don't need it." But it was soon pointed out that humans also need to drink, so it was refined to "If you can't ingest it, don't request it!"