Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Of fish farms, Pow Wow's and big cities

So as I said in the post a little further down containing the Grotto video's, it's been quite a while since my last blogpost. I haven't been able to find the time or place to make a new post untill now, and quite a bit has happened since my last. That means this post could end up being pretty lengthy, so I hope you guys won't fall asleep half-way through ;-).

So last time I was supposed to meet up with George the day after he drove me to Little Current. But when I first called him in the morning it was evident I was not going to be able to meet his deadline because I had to go out of town for quite a bit. By foot it would take me a while, and hitching there depends on the kind of rides you're getting, so I wouldn't be able to make it with certainty. So we rescheduled my visit for the next day. I took it easy in town during the day, walking around and checking the internet at the local college for a while. Around 17:00 I walked out of town and set myself by the side of the road and started hitchhiking.
It didn't take long before I got picked up by a car in which were seated two native American gentlemen and a woman who took me down to the road I needed to follow to get to Sucker Creek.
After thanking them all and shaking their hands I got out, picked up my backpack and started walking down the road toward the coast where I would find campgrounds to spend the night. When I arrived nobody was present at the office and nobody picked up the phone, and so I sat at the office for a while.
As chance would have it, a car pulled in at one of the campground's cabins, and a man got out talking quite loudly on the phone. I recognized George's voice and decided to walk over. He was pleasantly surprised to see me there, and he invited me to come for a drink during the evening after he had finished his paperwork.
So I walked off to pitch my tent and returned a little bit later on, where I met Jeff, one of George's friends who had arrived in the meantime.
That evening we spent talking outside and drinking a few cold beers. Jeff left after a while but was to return the next day as a guest to visit the fishfarm, just as I was. He turned out to have worked on a fishfarm in the past, and I guess that this sparked his interested in seeing George's.

The next day I got up at 7:45 and ate some bread for breakfast, and by 8:25 I was standing at the nearby pier where I was supposed to meet up with Jeff and George's colleagues. The fish farm was on a seperate island out in the Georgian bay.
After a small delay we set off toward the farm, which took us about 45 minutes to get there. Along the way we met another ship heading to the same place, pushing a large cage with small fish in it, which were supposed to be thrown into one of the farm's cages where they would grow big before being harvested.
Now, those who know me know that I despise fish. The smell of it is usually enough to make me nauseous. Why I was going to a fishfarm I don't even know myself. I guess I felt I shouldn't let any opportunity unused, even if that meant being surrounded by stinking fish.
The smell turned out not to be as bad as I had expected it to be. The farm turned out to consist of several cages alongside a walkway. Each cage had thousands of fish in them. There was no way to miss if you decided to throw a spear at them. The entire farm was surrounded by a large amount of seagull's trying to find an easy meal. The biggest fish however were too big for them, and the smallest fish were protected by a net hanging over the cage. Jeff told me a bit about fishfarming and I spent the biggest part of the day walking around. There wasn't all that much to see and nothing to do so at the end I was becoming quite bored and I was pretty glad when the boat left to go back to the Manitoulin. Even so I would like to thank George for the experience. It was interesting to see, I just wouldn't have minded that much if I had been able to go back earlier.
The best part though was that one of George's colleague's told me there was a Pow Wow to start the next day at the Wikwemikong Reserve, and so naturally that became my next goal! I spent a second night on the campgrounds, and set out during the next morning. I still had not been able to find or contact the proprietors and so I simply left.

Early in the morning I walked back to the highway and hitchhiked back to Little Current. I got a ride from a native American called Josh who was around my own age. I had to backtrack because I had actually passed by the Wikwemikong Reserve on my first day on the Manitoulin, when George had given me a ride to Little Current.
It wasn't that far off so I again spent some time on the internet in town before moving on later on that day. The distances were short enough for me to take my time after all! Just outside of Little Current I got a ride from another Native who didnt tell me his name. It's quite easy getting rides on the island here because a lot of the natives do a lot of hitchhiking around. Many of them can't afford a car, so whenever they need to go somewhere they stick out their thumb. The reserves are tightly-knit communities where most people know eachother and so will often stop to help eachother out. I might be a stranger, but the concept of the hitchhiker doesn't receive the suspicion he or she might receive elsewhere.
This man turned out to go right past the Pow Wow grounds at Buzwah on his way to Wikwemikong, so that's where he dropped me off. I reshouldered my pack and walked to the Pow Wow grounds.

I stood near the grounds for a while looking around when I was approached by a young boy who later on turned out to be twelve. His name was Bradley, and his mother was helping with the organisation of the Pow Wow. I was able to pitch my tent a short distance but in full view of the Pow Wow, a short 100 metres away. After I had put up my tent I decided to go and see if I could help out with the last preparations for the next day, which is when the Pow Wow would start. I was a night early.
I walked up to a man who was shoveling dirt into holes in the ground to prevent from people tripping over them. I helped him out, but he wasn't very talkative. When we ran out of dirt he pointed me toward an older man who was standing nearby. His name was Ambrose and he was one of the elders with a lot of functions during the Pow Wow. He was going to the town of Wikwemikong to pick up chairs and tables, so I got into the truck with him. We were joined by Bon (I'm not entirely sure of the spelling of their names to be honest), a friendly and very talkative man who loved to crack jokes. We spent the rest of the evening fetching tables, chairs and an extra load of dirt. It was dark when we were finished, around 22:00, and Bon invited me to drop by his home in about half an hour. He lived close by and was preparing chili and scone's to sell during the Pow Wow. Obviously I took him up on the offer and a little bit later I met his girlfriend Lynn and we sat talking at the table untill 2:00 in the night. He informed me about life in the reserve and the meaning of some of the items in his house as well as the rituals that were performed during the Pow Wow.
Each morning at sunrise there was a ritual to greet the new day, which I unfortunately missed both times. I have a horrible time trying to get out of bed and both mornings I felt absolutely wasted still when the alarm set off, so I stayed in bed.

There was a special teepee as well, in which burned the ceremonial fire, that was supposed to keep burning all throughout the Pow Wow, and burn it did. Each night it was guarded by a few people who stayed in the teepee taking turns to sleep and watch over the fire. Bon had suggested for me to drop in on them on my way back to the tent, and out of respect I did. When it comes to ceremonies and stuff like that though I suffer from some serious social anxiety, and I stood outside of the teepee for quite a while untill I had gathered the courage to step inside, grab some of the specially prepared medicines, walk half a cirkel around the fire to face the east (which was the direction of the teepee opening), say a prayer of thanks and throw the medicine in the fire to burn and with the smoke take up my prayer to the sky.
It would have been so typical for me to be the only white person around and mess up so simple a ritual haha.

The next morning I crawled out of my tent and prepared to eat breakfast. Before I had even opened my bag of bread though I was called over by Ambrose and Bon to join the volunteers breakfast in the large tent nearby, and so I did. And what a breakfast it was! I had some really nice pancakes with maple syrup that morning. When I finished a woman walked up to me and introduced herself as Gail. She had a market-stall there and followed the Pow Wow Trail throughout the season. During the day I spent some time with her at her stall, as well as looking around with Bon and Lynn.
 After breakfast we still had to wait for a bit before the Pow Wow officially started at noon, so I returned to my tent and spent the rest of the morning writing and reading.
At 12:00 the Pow Wow started so I made sure to be there on time. It all started with a ceremony to honour the veterans of the reserve, those who had served their country in whatever war it had happened to be involved in. They got special medals and a document for their service. These were not official army citations though, but rather extended to them by a seperate organisation set up by a Native husband and wife who thought that veterans were not receiving enough credit, and thus stepped in to do something about it.
After the ceremony and the planting of various flags the Pow Wow started in earnest. The drum groups started pounding their drums and began singing, just as I expected they would sing haha.
I made a video of it, and it's best to just let you hear and see it. The dance performed here was a men's only traditional dance, regalia required (so no guys in jeans).

Their were various dances though. Women's traditional, men's traditional, a song dedicated to the children, and various 'inter-tribals' where everybody was invited to dance.

Some pictures below, the first one showing the starting ritual with flag and staff carriers up front.

The rest of the day and the next I spent walking around the market stalls and looking at the dances.
I even participated in two of them, but I was again so overcome with social anxiety I found it hard to keep the pace, so preoccupied was I with the idea of people watching me fuck up. But oh well, at least I went ahead and did it, and I can't regret that!

During the two days I spent at the Pow Wow I got to talking with Gail, and she turned out to be heading out to Ottawa after the Pow Wow here was done. Another Pow Wow was to start on thursday in the city. She kindly offered to take me along. Now, Ottawa is a looong drive from the Manitoulin Islands, so I could not pass up this opportunity. I accepted her offer. We were supposed to leave either that evening or the following day, and ended up leaving the day after the Pow Wow, on Monday. 
That night we spent sleeping in the ceremonial teepee. The Pow Wow being over, the fire had been put out but we rekindled it. It is a rare thing for people to sleep in the ceremonial teepee when there is no need for them to, and so it was quite the honour to be allowed to sleep in there! 

Me in front of the ceremonial teepee

Inside the teepee

Inside the teepee the following morning

The next morning I walked down the road to say goodbye to Bon and Lynn but could not find them, which made me a bit sad. Ambrose lived a bit further down the road and so I went there too to say goodbye. I knew that he would be at home because the night before he had offered to let me take a shower in the morning. Gail and me were about to leave though, so I decided to take the shower in Ottawa instead. 
I had a great time at the Pow Wow. Helping out got me a few new friends and respect of most of the people who volunteered to help, noticed because their treatment of me which obviously made me feel really good.

On the first day I missed dinner which was offered freely to me as a volunteer, and one of the people I had not talked to yet walked up to me inquiring if I had had dinner yet. His name was Randy. When I told him I hadn't had dinner yet he told me to come along, and he gave me money to buy a taco and a Coke (dinner had run out). At first I refused saying I had money to buy food, I couldn't take his, but he insisted. "I have seen you. You helped us when you got here. And food is free for those who have volunteered. So take it." 
On the second day Bon walked up to me and gave me a keychain with a little black moccasin attached as a reminder of my time at the Pow Wow and my newfound friends. He had some trouble pronouncing my name, so at first he simply introduced me as 'his new friend from Holland' but Ambrose came up with 'Annén', a word in Ojibway that means 'give me some' that sounded very much like my own name. And being a hitchhiker, Annén did seem pretty appropriate so that's how I was introduced to other people from there on out :-)

When Gail and I drove off it was around 10:00 in the morning. When we arrived in Ottawa it was 18:00!
But she was a very pleasant conversationist and so the time seemed to go by really fast, and I didn't have the feeling as if I had been sitting in a car for 8 hours at all. She helped me find a cheap place to stay at a place called the Ottawa Backpackers Inn, that charged me only 27$ for a night, while the nearest motel charged 160$. After that she left, because she still had another two hours to go before she was home.

In total I spent four nights in Ottawa. On the first day I walked around the city for a while, looking to buy a small laptop, which I obviously found. I had not been able to upload the Grotto video's if I hadn't. Fortunately it doesn't take up too much room in my backpack!
The second day I did a lot of configuring of the laptop as well as my laundry, but stayed in during the evening to watch a movie. On that same day I also called the sister of Leigh who lived in Ottawa. When she had heard about me staying with her sister she had offered to show me around Ottawa should my travels take me there, and so that is how I spent my third day. She took me through a big part of the city, showing me government buildings, museum's, a few parks, and this being thursday and thus the start of the Pow Wow in Ottawa, we made a visit there as well. We didn't stay very long but I did get a chance to talk to Gail again, which was nice. 
The next day Tracey, who had been showing me around town, was supposed to drive down to visit her sister, and she offered to take me along. Ottawa was pretty nice but I tired of the city pretty quickly, and I was anxious to get out.  So on the fourth day I got out of Ottawa, and drove down with her to the vicinity of Toronto, from where I started hitchhiking toward Barrie, my goal for the next couple of days.
On tuesday I have arranged for me to be picked up again in the vicinity of Toronto by Leigh and Tracey, to head back to Ottawa again (logical eh?) for Canada Day. I didnt feel like spending those days waiting in the big city.

So near to a big city it took me a while to get a ride, but after about 45 minutes to an hour I managed to get a ride from Matt, a young guy who took me to Port Perry.
From there I walked a bit further down the road to find a good hitching spot. I turned around to set down my pack and sat down on the protective railing, and looked in the direction I came from for oncoming cars.
When I turned my head to the other side, a car was already waiting for me. Where the hell did that one come from? It was as if it had appeared out of thin air, I had not noticed him at all. So obviously I ran like hell to get to him before he drove off, and thankfully the driver had gotten out of the car to open up the back hatch.
His name turned out to be George. He had stopped to pick me up because his son was a hitchhiker as well, and he had been traveling all over the world, and was still out there. So in a way George was building up good Karma for his son, while he also liked the prospect of having somebody to 'shoot the shit' with.
He was heading up north for a long weekend in a cabin with a friend and so still had a pretty long drive to go. He took me all the way to Orillia, which was about 95 kilometres further. He was a nice man and interesting to talk to.

In Orillia I had to walk for a while to get out of town. There was a split in the road ahead and so it was useless for me to start hitchhiking in my current position. I ended up at the split road, and followed the road going to Barrie across a bridge that spanned over a big highway below.
Thankfully there was a good spot on the other side of the bridge for cars to pull over. It didnt take long before a cab pulled over. The driver offered to take me along on his trip to Barrie for 3 dollars, and with the sun rapidly setting and the night darkening I accepted his offer. I didnt think I would get a ride any other way that late on the day. Hitchhikers by night are found to be even more suspicious than by day.
The driver didnt introduce himself but did talk quite a bit, telling me he had spent several years living in Holland. As a result he did understand Dutch, but after the years he had forgot how to speak it. He helped me to find a motel in Barrie, which is where I have been staying for the past two nights and the night to come. I will be moving on tomorrow.

My days here in Barrie were pretty uneventful. I walked around town for a bit, but spent most of my time overseeing my video uploads and watching movies on my laptop. I don't mind, because I like the downtime and I love watching movies. Netflix is a great solution as long as you have a consistent network connection!
Anyways, it's time to finish up this post because it's long enough as it is. I hope you guys enjoy reading my stories, and untill next time!

The Grotto video's: finally!

There is another post coming up soon in which I tell you about my adventures since I last reported in. It's been a while and it's about time I updated you guys on that! But first things first: I bought a laptop recently, and I have finally found the time and opportunity to upload the video's I made at the Grotto!
The post where I described my adventures at the Grotto can be found here!

It took a solid 36 hours of constant uploading from a motel, but I managed it. So far the only thing that makes me miss my PC at home is public computers and internet connections... They are frustratingly bad.
Anyways, on to the video's! You had better enjoy them haha.

The first few video's are from the evening I first found the Grotto.
The first one I will show you is a short overview from the centre beach.

The second video is taken from the cliffs on the right of the beach.

And ofcourse I couldn't resist going for a swim during this beautiful sunset. The water was cold enough to make my feet numb after a few minutes! Nonetheless I dived, backflipped and jumped into the water several times!

The sun was going down quickly though so I didn't get a chance to further explore the cliffs that evening. So, I made up my mind to return the next day and to take the camera along for a swim!

In this first video I dove into the water from one of the big rocks protruding into the water from the beach, and I very nearly lost my camera haha. I had put it on my head with the appropriate band but the shock of hitting the water made it end up hanging around my neck very loosely. Needless to say I got pretty careful after that, especially during my cliff jumps where I held the camera in my hand most of the time.
After that first dive I swam past the beach and headed for the nearest cave in sight which can be seen from the beach and in one of the pictures on the Grotto blogpost.

After that I had to climb up from the that first cave to take a jump off of the cliff!

After these first few explorations I decided to go to the other side of the beach and explore the cliff-side on the right, where I ended up finding a cave without a proper bottom, allowing you to swim inside. I first saw the cave from upon the cliffs, but it was too high a jump and so I made my way back a bit and jumped from there.

Once back down again I checked to see if all my stuff was still present on the beach (more and more tourists were starting to arrive. I had hidden my stuff but still wanted to make sure). After that I walked back into the water and swam over to the cave.
Once inside there was a ledge I could climb up on. That cave seemed to be home to a couple of robinbirds who got very anxious about my presence, so I left soon after!

After having explored that cave I returned to the beach where I got to talking with a man and woman who were very reluctant to go for a swim. After they jumped in once they were content just staying on the beach.
The man however informed me about another cave nearby, which was past the cave visible on the left of the beach and around the corner of the cliff. So ofcourse I had to go find and explore that cave as well! And I'm glad I did because man, it was spectacular. This cave had it's own pool inside, and what's more: the pool had a passage leading underneath the cliffs and ending up at the other side in view of the beach!
I did not risk swimming underneath though, because I can't hold my breath that long and supposedly it was about 10 metres long. I didn't want to get stuck and drown, so I contented myself with climbing around in the cave and jumping into the pool instead!

The entrance of this cave also had an alternative route that led up along the cliff, allowing you a shortcut as long as you were willing to climb up through an unofficial and pretty cramped passage. I've done some spelunking a few years ago and even guided some people while doing that, so this did not bother me in the slightest and I made my way up through the hole.

That's pretty much all of the video's I shot (I've got one more I think but it doesn't show anything particularly interesting that isn't to be seen in the video's above). I hope you guys enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Made it to the Manitoulin Islands!

So I made it all the way to the Manitoulin Islands. I'm typing this from a community college in Little Current on the North side of the Island, and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share with you how I made it here.

Me in Little Current on the Manitoulin Islands

So, last time I wrote a post I was in Kincardine, where I stayed for two nights to avoid some bad weather.
The next day I set out and walked out of town in search of highway 21 which could take me further north, where I would have to refind highway 6 to take me all the way up to Tobermory.
Tobermory is the most northern point on the Bruce Peninsula, and the place from where the ferry to the islands departs.

After I found highway 21 I set myself up at the side of the road near an intersection with stoplights.
This would give drivers enough time to have a good look at me and see what a trustworthy fellow I am! ;-)
It didn't take very long before somebody pulled over. This someone turned out to be Derek, an older man with retirement that would go to Port Elgin later on in the day, but for now could take me as far as Tiverton, a little further on down the road. There he would turn off left to go home for a bit and get his wife and RV to make the trip to Port Elgin.
So he dropped me off at a T-section in town and drove off, promising me that if I was still looking for a ride by the time he came back he would pick me up again. I walked into town and decided to take my time, so I found a place to buy a coke and sat down in a nearby park to enjoy it.
There I got to talking with a local woman who was taking care of the park by planting flowers and pulling out weeds as a volunteer. I had a nice chat with her. After a while she was done and headed home though, so I picked up my pack again and walked a little further to stand by the highway again.
After 5 minutes Derek was back and pulled over in his RV! I introduced myself to his wife Sheila, and we drove off to Port Elgin where they dropped me off at a gas station. I took my pack out of the back and walked back onto the highway, now trying to get to Alvanley or Owen Sound, either of which would take me onto a good road.

It was a bit of a walk out of town from that gas station. I put down my pack again and stuck out my thumb. After a short wait I got picked up by Eric, a guy around my own age. When he found out that I was from Holland he got very excited and interested in me. He only took me about 8 km's farther down the road though so we didnt get to talk very much. When he dropped me off I was on the northern side of Southampton. There I sat down for a while to write some notes before sticking out my thumb once more.
Another short wait before I found myself in the car of Bob, a man who was 77 years of age! He was a very talkative man but I had to listen carefully considering he didnt talk all that loud. He had been in the army for 20 years and was a veteran of the Korean conflict and also did a tour in Egypt. After that he worked as a bouncer for a nightclub as well as at a local hydroplant. One of his biggest hobbies used to be skydiving. I don't think he had much to fear from me even at his old age. In his own words, he'd rather go out with a bang. So I suppose that even if I had turned out to be a serial killer with an axe it would have been all good haha. He dropped me off at highway #6 somewhere outside of Owen Sound.

From there I walked to the right side of the road and found another good place to hitch a ride from.
After about 20 minutes a second Derek stopped for me. He turned out to be a native American and he was very proud of this fact. He was a soft-spoken man with an appreciation for the simple things in life. He didn't want a big fancy car or a big fancy house, as long as the things he needed to have functioned well. A mindset that I can really appreciate. He dropped me off some 2 kilometers past Wiarton, to where the road split in two. Here followed about an hour of waiting with some very suspicious people eyeballing me from within their car, untill Jack came to my rescue.

Jack was a guy somewhere in his late twenties I think. He turned out to be a kayakker that competed internationally and did a lot of other extreme endurence sports as well. We had quite the talk about these things because I have some experience with these things too, though nowhere near his level.
Now this is what makes hitch-hiking great: after a pretty long drive (and having found out that I had missed the ferry in Tobermory for the day) he suggested to take me along to his families cottage in the vicinity for a while. Afterwards he could drop me off at a local campsite near Lake Cyprus.
This sounded like a great deal and so I took him up on the offer. So I found myself on a small landtongue surrounded by water in a beautiful and spacious cottage, where I met Jack's parents.
Jack's father it turned out, was Dutch by origin. He had moved to Canada when he was about six years old. After sitting for a little bit Jack asked me if I wanted to go for a short canoe trip, to which I ofcourse said yes. If you are on the road you should let no opportunity slide!
So we went out onto the incredibly clear water and paddled around for a bit while Jack told me some interesting things about the area. The bay we were in, for instance, was formed by an ancient glacier during the ice age, which had carved out the area as it slid past. Every year the land still continues to rise a little bit further like an ancient sponge that had been compressed under the weight of the glacier.
When we got back I was informed of the families plans to raise a stone at the road that was the entrance to their domain, on which they wished to engrave the name of the cottage. To do this they had wanted to build a tripod from which they could hoist a big rock into a vertical position. And so I found myself building a tripod! How strange the days of a hitch-hiker can be!

Me, Jack and his father at the tripod!

Unfortunately I didn't get to see if the plan actually worked or not as Jack had to move on almost right away. So I got back into the car and we drove off. I hope they manage to get their rock into position and their plan works!
We drove to the Lake Cyprus Campsite where it turned out that the office had already closed and would be closed the next day as well, and so I could stay on the campgrounds for free that night!
Such news is always excellent. Jack helped me find a suitable place near the lake itself and told me about a Grotto nearby: a set of caves excavated from the cliffs that looked out over Georgian Bay, with a white-pebbled beach between them. After we said goodbye he drove off and I hurried to set up my tent. I put on my swimming shorts and headed out to the lake to take a dive after a long hot day.
The water remained really clear even though I headed out into the lake quite far.

Lake Cyprus from behind the treeline

Another shot of Lake Cyprus
This was taken later on in the evening

After I had been swimming for a bit I decided to skip dinner and find the Grotto instead. It was supposed to be a 1,5 mile walk, so I put my hiking boots back on and set out. And man, am I glad I did!
When I found the road leading down to the Grotto bay the sun was already setting and was casting a brilliant orange light through the tree tops. As I stepped out of the woods and onto the cliff overlooking the pebbled beach my jaw literally dropped. My heart started racing. This was beauty like I can't recall ever having seen before. And I had it all to myself as well. There was nobody around. The best way is to just show you. I could not resist taking a swim here. It was too perfect not to.

This is from the right of the beach looking left

From the centre

This is to the right of the beach looking right
This was taken from the left of the bay
Gotta love the countdown function on the HD Hero 2

I had figured I would leave early the next day so I could catch the last ferry out of Tobermory at around 1:30, but having seen this beach I just could not resist coming back for a second time.
So the following day I returned, intent on diving in again and this time explore the cliffs to either side of the beach to find the actual caves that were said to be around here.

This was taken the next day. Just look at how clear this water is!

The bay by daylight
And I found several of them.
The most obvious one was right in sight from the beach, off to the left. Swimming around the bend on the left side revealed another small hamlet, this one having an even larger cave with it's own little pool. And the best feature: this pool had a passage that ran underneath the cliffs to the other side, where you could resurface in sight of the beach! If you look down in the pool you can see the light shining down from the other side of the cliffs. Off to the right side of the beach was another cave that was half-submerged but had a ledge I could climb up on. It seemed to be home to a pair of Robin-birds who flew in and out of the cave excitedly during my stay in it.

This cave can be seen from the beach, but this was taken from behind it

This was the cave around the bend, left of the beach. This one had the pool on the inside.

The cliffs were very climbable too, and though it is forbidden to jump off of them I couldn't resist doing just that on various occasions. The water was clear enough to see where I was landing and I had complete confidence in myself not to hurt myself, and so I not only swam past the bottom of the cliffs, I also explored the cliffs themselves and found some great jumping spots. Not all of them were high but man, were they exciting!

UPdate: the video's have been uploaded and can be found here:
The best part is that I have made video's of my explorations along the Grotto cliffs! But unfortunately they are too big to upload from a library or internet cafe, and there is no way for me to upload them right now. I might have to buy a small notebook or laptop if possible and if it's not too expensive, and I'll have to dedicate a post to those video's because they turned out quite nice. Thank god for the waterproof case!
When I had swum around for the better part of the morning I put my boots back on (which I had hidden beneath a pile of white rocks in a cavity along the cliff) and walked back to camp. I learned that it was only 14:00, and so I decided to try my luck on the road and see if I could make it to Tobermory that day so I knew for sure I wouldn't miss the ferry the next day. So I packed up my tent and started walking back to the highway which lay about 8 km's from the campgrounds. Fortunately I got a ride almost immediately outside of the campground gates from Scott and his wife who's name has unfortunately slipped my mind right now... Sorry about that! They took me all the way to Tobermory, where I settled into the same motel as them.
The next day I spent a few moments in the local library after I did my laundry, and I got onto the ferry in the afternoon.
It's called the Chi-Cheemaun, which in the native tongue means 'Big Canoe'! And it certainly is haha.

And yes, that's a group of Amish!

Me on deck. It was quite chilly out!

When the ship arrived at South Baymouth I tried looking for a motel, but both of them were ridiculously expensive. So I opted out of those and started looking for the road out of there.
I walked down it for a while and encountered another campsite but decided not to take it, in order to make the most of the day. It still wasn't all that late. So I continued hiking down the road untill I got picked up by George who was on his way to Little Current. I decided to go along all the way there instead of going to an Indian reserve more to the east, figuring it was a better place to start. There are several other Indian reserves on this island, and I'm not planning on leaving untill I've seen at least one of them. I got a motel in town for the night, and will get out of here later today to find Sucker Creek, where I will meet George again tomorrow, to visit a fish farm some distance away from the island. It's only half an hour or an hour's walk out of town so I made a lazy day of it so far. And ofcourse it gives me a nice opportunity to update the blog! I hope you guys enjoy it. I sure am :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Onward to the Manitoulin Islands

Time to check in again. Last time I wrote a post I was getting ready to leave the library in Jarvis. I promised to post some pictures, and so I'll put some of them in here even though they are related to the previous post.

Dean, Jane and me at Windmill Point Park. Dean is driving across the US and Canada on his bike!

After I got a new bread and ate dinner, I moved away from Jarvis and walked in the direction of Simcoe in order to find a place to sleep and get me on the way to my next destination. I found a road leading slightly away from the main highway and followed it up to a couple of farms, where I started looking for a place to pitch my tent. I ended up asking a man at a farm who was rather rude, but found a place to camp out.
That night it rained all through the night, and I woke up at 5:00 to the sound of the splattering of raindrops on my tent. I had wanted to move on early, but I wasn't going to get out of my tent in the rain, and so I ended up waiting untill about 8:00 where I noticed the rain had (at least temporarily) stopped and so I made use of that time to pack up my stuff and get back on the road.
After walking down the road for about an hour I got a ride from a man called Jay who owned his own roofing business. He was a very pleasant guy and ended up helping me to find the local library. But alas, it was a sunday and so the library was closed! I sat outside the library entrance for a while to eat my breakfast, and after that I went out to look for a WiFi network I could log onto to check some stuff. And as fate would have it, that was the moment I got tapped on the shoulder by Leigh, the woman that had given me a ride out of Toronto on the day I arrived in Canada! She had been on her way to church and very coincidentally she had parked her car on the other side of the library, where she usually never parked her car.
After a little chat I decided to join her during the church service even though I'm not religious at all, because I was curious as to how her church did things. (It was a Presbyterian church, which we do not have in Europe as far as I know. If we do, I've never seen one at least)

Me outside of Long Beach, as I moved on from Fort Erie.

I ended up spending the next five nights at her place again, where I met her husband and daughter again as well. These were great days, spent in relaxation and interesting daytrips. During those days I spent one walking around town, and during another I got shown around town by Leigh's daughter who showed me some interesting places, like a local hiking trail in the woods and who introduced me to some of her friends as well. On the day before I left again we made a trip to Long Point, which is a long narrow piece of land stretching out into Lake Erie, and it is famous for the amount of ships that have sunk all around it in the shallow waters. It had a very nice beach though, I wouldn't mind getting shipwrecked on it!
On the way back we also visited an old village from the 1700's that had been preserved, and was the location of many school trips. It was called the Backus Mill Heritage and Conservation Centre:
Really interesting stuff! The weather held out really nicely as well, which was a big plus: the weather had been kind of nasty the days before, with a lot of rain and some lightning as well.
But last friday it was time to move on. The weather was clearing up again, and was ideal for travel.
Again, I can't thank her and her family enough for all of their hospitality. I feel blessed to have met them.

After having said goodbye for a second time I walked off to highway 24, intent on following it to Guelph, where I would hop over onto highway 6 which I could follow all the way up to the ferry at Tobermory, that would take me to the Manitoulin Islands.
After about 45 minutes of trying to get a ride, I got one from Jake, a man of 60 years old. Immediately the plans got changed a little bit: he offered to take me to the area of Hamilton, which would put me on the highway #6 as well, just a little bit further to the east. Not wanting to press my luck of a ride that could take me that far, I accepted. We had a pleasant drive even though he wasn't that talkative. But he liked rock and metal and he turned the radio up quite a bit, which I didn't mind at all.
He dropped me off at an intersection and took off again. He went quite a bit out of his way to get me there, because he 'wasn't in a hurry'. I sat down looking at my map for a little while before walking in the direction of Hamilton East, which would take me to the #6.

After finding a suitable spot to hitch a ride out of across the road from a Tim Horton's, I resumed trying to get a ride. After about 10 minutes two guys in a working van sitting on the parking space of the Tim Horton's  called me over, so I quickly crossed the road. It turned out they weren't heading in my direction, and thanking them for the trouble I walked off to get a drink. After a couple of metres I got called back. Apparently they had reached consensus and decided to just take me out to where I wanted to go, which was a nice surprise. The driver (a dark-skinned guy who turned out to be 21) didn't seem to trust me very much, as after I took them up on their offer he told me to 'not touch anything'. I got in the back of the van amidst all of their construction tools and had a nice chat with the guy in the passenger seat. He was named after the Kayman Islands and I suppose was either Mexican or of Indian descent, I'm not sure. He was 19 years old. The driver's name I can't recall as he didn't speak loud enough for me to be able to understand him. They drove me to highway 6, and dropped me off at a gas station. I was glad to get out of the van, because I had to kneel down between the tools that lay all over the place. It wasn't a comfortable position.

Arrival in Cayuga.

Next to the gas station was another Tim Horton's (these things are everywhere!), where I decided to sit down for a while and drink a Coke. After a little break I got back up again and crossed the road at the intersection twice to get to the right side of the highway, where I found a car already waiting for me!
At first I thought the car had broken down and so I walked up to him at a normal pace. It turned out that the driver had seen me sitting while I was drinking my Coke and figured I was hitchhiking, and had decided to wait for me to offer me a ride. The man turned out to be a photographer, mainly doing regular shoots and photographs in order to save up to go on a trip devoted to take the pictures he wanted to do.
Unfortunately I forgot his name. (I really need to work on remembering names!) He dropped me off at the entrance of Guelph at first, but then decided he would take me a little way around Guelph on the new highway instead (the old highway 6 takes you straight through Guelph and is quite a walk, while the new one takes you around the town and was easier to hitchhike out of). He dropped me off at an off-ramp that was still attached to the main highway 401, on which it is illegal to hitchhike, so I made sure to walk down the off-ramp quickly and find a new comfortable spot to hitchhike from.

After a short period I got another ride in a nice white car, who took me just a few minutes further near the centre of Guelph, which I didnt mind because it took me away from that off-ramp. There I got dropped off at another gas station that was within the town borders, and so I looked for a nice quiet place to call home from. After having talked to my mom I went back out onto the road. I again had to wait for just a moment before my next ride came along. And this time I got picked up by a courageous woman somewhere around my own age. Her name was Klarisa, and she took me to the far edge of Guelph (which was a little while out of her way, but she wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere she said). She gave me her phonenumber in case I should 'starve and die' somewhere.
From the location she dropped me off at it was just a five minute walk till the sidewalk dropped off and I was back on the gravelly side of the highway where it was easiest for cars to pull over. It was about 17:00 but I decided to push on and to eat dinner later. After another 15 minutes of waiting a car passed me on the other side of the road, an elderly woman hanging out of the window of the driver position and yelling something at me. What exactly she yelled I do not know, I figured it had to either be 'wait there, I'm turning around!'  or 'Get off the road you damn dirty vagrant!'
At any rate, I didnt get to find out if she had actually meant to turn around to pick me up, because right after a car stopped to pick me up. In it was Bob, an older man who I think had some kind of nerve problem because he was making uncontrolled movements with his entire body all the time. It didn't stop him from driving well, but I did notice it took him a bit of effort to shake hands. He was a nice guy and we had a nice chat as he drove me to Fergus, which took me further than I had expected to go on a single day.
In Fergus we said goodbye, and I looked for a place to get a bite to eat after which I moved on again. The sun was now going down, but I decided to keep trying my luck.

At the edge of Fergus I ran into a police car that sat off the side of the road. The officer called out to me and so I walked up to him for a chat. He seemed very enthusiastic and supportive of my journey as he asked if I was hitchhiking and suggested I would further try my luck. His father was a Frisian he told me, and had lived in Leeuwarden. It's a small world after all! It's a funny thing though, because one can see Dutch names throughout the area, and at one point I actually encountered a house that had a miniature windmill in the garden that waved a Frisian flag. Funny stuff.
I was told that there weren't any motels further down the road that he could think of untill I would reach Owen Sound, which was only an hours drive away from the ferry. I didn't think I would make it that far considering the time of day, but decided to try my luck anyway. If I did not succeed in getting a ride down there this evening, I would still have made really good progress that day and I would be satisfied finding a motel in town. However my luck held out, as soon after I got a ride from a man called Justin who could take me to Kincardine, which was not on highway 6 but lay adjacent to highway 21 which also went up North, and on top of that had a motel as well.  Even so I would probably not have been able to resist getting a ride from him, as he was driving a really nice-looking Camaro! I was hitchhiking in style now!
We sat talking in the car for about an hour or a bit longer, after which we had reached our destination and he dropped me off at a motel in Kincardine, which is where I still am. As I woke up this morning it was still raining and looking at the forecast I saw there were some lightning storms planned as well, so I booked the room for a second night, and I managed to borrow a laptop to write this post! I will hopefully be moving on tomorrow.

Hitchhiking in style!

And as a small bonus, I managed to upload another two video's. One of them shows the Niagara Falls by night, and the other shows me doing some cooking at Windmill Point Park.

The falls by night

Camp Life

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To continue...

So I've found another libary again, so time to fill you guys in on what happened after my latest blogpost.
I managed to sort of fix my creditcard, in the sense that I now have a working PIN code, but still a creditcard that somehow does not allow me to enter the PIN code and it simply blocks when I try to use it.
Fun times. Still unsure of how to fix this, and the helpdesk is completely clueless as well.
Thankfully I am able to get some money every now and then from some locations, so I'm not starving yet.

In all, I spent about 4 nights at Windmill Point Park, which was really nice. I made some new friends there.
On my last night I got invited to sit at a campfire, which I did, and had a lot of fun, and as such was invited to breakfast in the morning as well.
I met a fellow traveler from Florida who was riding his bike across the US and Canada, which was really cool as well!

After breakfast my new friend drove me out to Long Beach, from where I started walking because it was still early in the day. I walked quite a while untill I got a short ride from a man and a woman driving a business van, delivering flowers I think. I'm not sure, because that's how short the ride was! But it was still appreciated, ofcourse.
After that I walked for a bit longer, and after an hour or so I got picked up by a woman somewhere in her thirties or forties. She surprised herself so much by stopping for me, that she scrambled to find something to defend herself with. So when I reached the door of the cabin of her car, she was sitting there with a pen in her hand, for the lack of anything better! She was nice though and we had a nice conversation, and after a little while she put the pen away. She drove me up to Dunnville, where I sat around for a little while before booking a motel for the night.
I was pretty sunburned though, so the day after I decided to stay for a second night to stay out of the sun for a little while longer. I walked to town quickly and bought a nifty new hat!

After my second night at the motel I decided I would walk to my next destination, Cayuga.
It looked doable, as it was about 22 km, and so I set out at around 11:30. All I can say is, my god, cheers to Alan Booth for walking across the entire length of Japan haha.
I was pretty tired by the time I entered Cayuga and didn't care enough to find a place to cook a meal, so I bought some fries at a stand. After that I started looking for some Wi-Fi, and ended up sitting at a parking lot.
No sooner than I sat down, I was approached by an elderly couple in a big car. They were picking up their granddaughter, and decided to inquire what I was up to as they had seen me walking down Road 17 earlier in the day. After a bit of talking they invited me into their car, so they could drive me to a motel toward Jarvis.
I booked a night at the first motel we came across. When I got my backpack out of the back of their car, the woman reached out to me and gave me a couple of energy bars and a bottle of water.
What Salman (from Digihitch) said is true: the road will provide. I didnt know where to find a place to sleep before they came along.
I ended up staying a second night here as well, due to the rainclouds that had moved in on me the next day. It rained all day, and with a shitty internet connection I got bored to tears. So today I moved out again, despite still being very cloudy, and walked all the way to Jarvis. I had a hard time getting rides here.

One funny story though: along the way I encountered a blond dog who kept following me. I was about a kilometer or two away from it's home and it was still tailing me! So I ended up walking that distance back again to bring the dog home. It nearly got hit by a car along the way too!
When I brought it back nobody seemed to be home so I wrote the owners a note and left it in their mailbox.

That's enough for today, as I have only two minutes left on this computer before the library closes.
I will post some pictures later on! Bye for now!