Subject: Bruce Peninsula
Hi all, I've been working on trying to think of something worthwhile
to tell you about my trip, and check in with you...Hope all is well...
It's been a little hard to codify my experiences into something worthwhile
to talk about. And computer time has been sporadic and brief. I think
I'm about to get this laptop WiFi thing worked out though thanks to
a suggestion made to me by a fellow traveler friend which will make
it easier to keep in touch. Also got an adapter so I can charge the
battery while I drive, and plug in the laptop when I'm stopped. Pretty
neat. Mostly I've been doing alot of thinking about my life, and what's
up with me, working through our divorce, leaving my home and Sammy,
wondering what the hell to do with the rest of my life etc. etc. etc.
Exploring my feelings which are huge and in a constant state of flux.
Have been getting used to living in my van again, and visiting friends
and sightseeing. Life becomes simpler living on the road, time is taken
up with such basic survival, and the time slips by, listening to the
van, wondering where to sleep that night, what is going to feel comfortable/fun/good/interesting
that day/moment, do I have enough water, this way or that way, just
trying to follow my heart, not that easy when the mind is in turmoil.
But it seems to be working out. And figuring out the basics moment
to moment is pretty good...you can drop alot of unecessary baggage,
and supposed obligations. Choices become less critical and more critical
and I can just go with what's there, it's a funny paradox. Things tend
to work out anyway. Control is impossible in a new world, only about
how I feel, how I perceive the present, which was probably always true
come to think of it. Recognizing how I participate in my own life....
Moments of peace, moments of happiness, precious, find their way in.
Will spare you the gory details here. Maybe another time. It's been
so long, and so much has gone on, that I will probably have to do a
catch up letter to fill in the beginning bits. Mostly I want to tell
you about my friends...and our experiences...they have been so kind
to me...then there's Philadelphia, and reconnection with friends I
haven't seen for a long time, and beautiful places, and artwork, and
museums, and architecture, and walks, and woods, the getting used to
solitude, getting lost........but maybe not. I can tell you that I
am fine, having some fun, working my way west, am braver, more relaxed
in general, practicing saying yes, and....well here's this....
Finally....an adventure. I came up to the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Canada. It's a small finger of land on the western shore of Lake Huron
on one side, and the Georgian bay on the other. Really wild, and pristine.
Decided to come here... well... 'cause I've wanted to for a long time,
and who knows when I'll be this close again. I had seen some pictures
a friend of a friend took when he came to the Bruce camping seven or
eight years ago. I was enchanted. Had planned to come when I was doing
shows in Michigan one summer, but my plan was to come two weeks after
911, and well you can imagine how difficult that would have been. I
have to tell you that I almost blew it off again, but I was so drawn
here....that little voice....you've always wanted to go there....you've
always wanted to go there.....
So I decided to come one night while in Ann Arbor, went shopping for
food the next morning, and off I went. And I'm so glad I did....this
treat, this favor. The Bruce Peninsula is drop dead gorgeous..You have
to come here! I've had my first long period of worry free days in a
pretty good while, you can't worry in a place so beautiful, not for
I haven't crossed a border in a long time, so I searched out my passport
(British) and my birth certificate, put 'em in my fanny pack, and started
to drive north. I was a bit worried because of restrictions I have
heard about unsavory types being denied entrance, and some of you know
that in some eyes I could be classified as unsavory. Well, as I approached
the border, I tried to be calm and savory. It didn't fly. That little
voice again...you're going to get stopped, you're going to get stopped.
Even though I knew it, I tried to fool myself into believing in my
innocence in the eyes of Canadian Immigration. I tried to pick the
fastest moving lane, and at the same time let the wheels of the van
move in the appropriate direction toward the most hassle free kiosk
at the border. We made it to the one that seemed to be moving the fastest...until
I got there...bet the people behind me were disappointed. The guy wasn't
surly, not quite, but definitely not friendly. He immediately got out
the yellow sheet of paper, and started asking me questions...and writing
things down...didn't smile once, even though I was. At one point he
asked me where I was headed. I said California, he said 'you're going
the wrong way'. Still didn't smile. I did....he was right of course,
and I thought he was trying to be funny. He wasn't... More and more
questions. Did I stop at Duty Free..no, did I have any weapons....I
have a kitchen knife...gonna kill anyone...no, I use it to slice bananas....,
how long was I planning to stay....four or five days..., was I going
to meet anyone there..no, why was I coming to Canada....camping,...When
was the last time you were in Canada....when I was ten or eleven......What
do you have in the van...camping stuff, clothes...., And more...I answered
each one honestly, and briefly....not my usual...when I get nervous,
I start to explain to much. I wasn't really nervous, 'cause I didn't
have anything to be nervous about, except getting into Canada. I had
left all contraband in Michigan, and even if they searched, they weren't
going to find anything. The guy didn't seem to believe a thing I said.
He ran my drivers license etc. wrote alot of shit down on the yellow
sheet of paper , seemed disappointed not to have been able to arrest
me right then, and sent me across about ten lanes of traffic to the
search zone, where I was greeted by a big guy who asked me to pull
into a space, get out of the van, unlock all the doors, take my money
with me and wait over there. I got my book, my water, and proceeded
to wait while six or seven folks swarmed into my van. I hoped they
didn't feel the need to look in the porta potty! One guy, the good
cop, reached in my fanny pack, and looked in my glasses case. He took
my drivers license again, and disappeared for awhile. He did smile
though. I was so grateful to have someone be nice. I was beginning
to feel like I was caught in a revolving door, and wondered briefly
if these guys strip searched, and if some of my ignoble past was catching
up with me, and I was going to be denied entry. This one guy kept saying
'cool' every time I answered one of his questions. I guess he was trying
to relate a little. Then they handed me the yellow paper, my drivers
license, and told me to go talk to Immigration. Go sit in the green
chairs, kinda like the group W bench from Alice's Restaurant . So I
did. I went in, and the Immigration guys, behind another set of doors,
were laughing and joking with some people, and sent them on their way.
I sat, and sat, and sat....I was waiting for someone to come and get
me. I didn't realize that I was supposed to just go in when they finished
with the last guys until good cop came and escorted me in, he noticed
I'd been sitting there a long time. Into immigration, and more and
more questions. The DL again, and another form of ID, and more questions.
What did I do for a living...did I bring anything in to sell.... I
was beginning to get testy...just a little, knowing this is not a good
idea. He didn't seem to believe anything I said either... nobody seemed
to want to believe that the only reason I was there was to look at
some beautiful country....then the big question...have you ever been
convicted of a crime. I have decided to say no to this question everytime....and
hope for the best. I said 'no' immediately, emphatically 'no'. He looked
at me, and said 'Wait here'. I thought 'shit, busted'. I don't know
where he went, if he went to talk to someone else, or if he was just
playing with my head...but he came back, and stamped me 'admitted',
somewhat begrudgingly I thought. Nobody said 'Welcome to Canada.' he
never smiled. I might add that during this time, I was the only one
pulled out of line, a huge long line of humanity coming into Canada...it
could make you paranoid, but I was in...Yay!
I headed to my first camping spot just up the coast...Canada's campgrounds
are the best I've ever seen...clean, lots of amenities, well marked
trails, lots of privacy. Really really nice, all the ones I went to.
And they ask for preferences instead of just slapping you in any old
spot. Do you want sun or shade? Radio free? That's pretty good, radio
free areas. I stayed on the lower Peninsula, and was greeted by some
beautiful black squirrels, dunes, blue blue water, and a hawk in the
tree about ten feet away the next morning while I ate breakfast. She
stayed a long time with me, hunting, waiting for something edible to
move, then moved on. She was beautiful. I walked the beach that morning,
virtually deserted, and sat and collected beautiful polished stones
and fossils in the sun. Beautiful smooth stones, some black chrystaline,
some white transluscent, some with pictures, some with fossils, some
that looked like bones... Ahhhh.....played with the stones, lay face
down, and looked at the landscape of pebbles, played with my wonderful
little camera, and got some really interesting pictures of the stones.
Like alot of them.
Left Pinery that afternoon making my way up the coast to MacGregor
Point. It's my middle name, I had to go there. The roads are really
good here, and flat, and have a sensible speed limit of about 50mph/80kph.
Nice ride, to another nice park. This one had porcupines, and some
very cheeky red squirrels. Two porcupines walked through my campsite,
and one on the trail. I didn't notice the one on the trail until he
spread his quills, but we passed amicably. The squirrels kept getting
in my van, and I was afraid I was going to relocate one or two, but
they're pretty smart, and quick. The porcupines in their quest for
salt have apparently started to chew gas and brake lines, but I didn't
have any trouble. I wondered just how one goes about convincing a porcupine
NOT to chew the brake or gas lines. We were just supposed to report
it to the rangers, and I wondered what the park guys would do....fix
the brakes? There were also warnings for black bears, I would have
like to see one of those, but no such luck. We were notified that the
best thing to do if approached, or if you run across one, is make alot
of noise...beat pots and pans etc. I don't carry mine with me when
I walk, and wondered if noise is really the way to go, or if we could
just come to some quieter agreement... A nice walk, a beautiful sunset,
and bigger rocks. Really nice rocks. I have noticed that where there
are rocks, people build cairns. They pile stones up, and make sculpture.
I see them everywhere. There weren't any where I watched the sun drop
on this little spit off rocky coast, so I built some. It was really
nice to chose the stones, and balance them, like making card houses.
These stones were so rounded and smooth that I cheated a little, and
used small small pebbles as shims on a couple of them, I wonder if
that's o.k. If a true rock stacker just finds the right rock, and the
right balance. I tried to hide them so they wouldn't disturb the symmetry,
and was happy with what I built. It's the first art work I've made
in a long time. I have pictures!
Then on to the very tip of the peninsula. It is an 'Oh my God' place.
Oh my God, how beautiful. So very very quiet, and so very very beautiful.
I hiked part of the Bruce trail, the water is sublimly blue and clear,
the coast ruggedly, serenely rocky, pretty much white in stark contrast
to the blue water and the dark green foliage. Mostly dolomite, layered
like uneven bricks, with big shelves of rock that fall off into the
water, and turn rusty orange from algae I'm guessing, and create more
layers of color in contrast to the water. The beaches were mostly smooth
white stones about the size of soft balls and bigger. They make a pretty
sound when you walk on them, musical. Just magnificent. The villages
quaint, and the Canadians are pretty nice, I've thought about moving
here. They don't have many guns.
I took a touristy ferry ride out to see some shipwrecks, (not all
that interesting), and on to Flowerpot Island. I love to ride the ferry's,
and have ridden two or three others as I came north along the east
coast. Haven't found any as good as to the San Juans, but this one
was nice. Flowerpots are rock formations, freestanding columns of layered
stones. Reminded me of the structures at Chaco canyon, but these aren't
man made. They stand alone on these rocky shores, like the cairns that
people make. This beach was littered with the sculptures made by the
visitors here. I took lots of pictures, not wanting to neglect anyone's
work. The flowerpots are pretty tall, at least three stories, and the
occasional brave tree clings to the side. The cliffs have holes in
them with pillars dividing the holes in layers going back in as the
holes get deeper. It's what's holding the ledges up, and eventually
they will fall, and this landscape will continue to change.
I had a great time walking, and didn't take the trail, but climbed
up and down on the rocks, I wish I'd worn my boots, it would have been
easier, but I love the way my feet form and curl to the rocks as I
walk. Heck, the Indians did it in moccacsins, I should be able to do
it in sneakers, but my feet were sore the next day. I was quite proud
of my rockiness, and love to let my feet fly from stone to stone when
they can. It's best to just keep moving, and I enjoyed not really thinking
much about where my feet were going. I think it's called spotting in
the rock world, your eyes and feet pick the next step simultaneously,
and you can really fly across some rocks. There were only three people
on the island that day including myself...really nice.
I couldn't remember when I had to be back to get picked up by the
ferry, and didn't want to be late....I had a really nice walk, and
was headed back, gonna skip a turn off because of the time. I'm a pretty
good walker, and usually do the trails in less time than they say,
but couldn't remember whether it was 4:00 or 4:30 that I had to be
back, and didn't want to be late. But there was that voice again...and
I hate to miss something interesting. So I headed to the marl beds,
after hiking the center of the island. The marl beds were boring, but
there was that coast in front of me....I looked at the map, and decided
to take the coast back to the dock. It was great, and I was flying.
Having a great time, and admiring my rock skill again..o.k. o.k...it's
just that I rarely get this chance, being a flatlander, and am surprised
at how naturally it comes to me. So I'm having this great time, and.......and.....and
I almost leapt on this SNAKE!!!!! Just curled up sort of resting in
the rocks. Shit...Whoa...snake! I remembered something about protected
rattlers. Backed up. The snake didn't move...maybe it didn't see hear
or smell me. Shit, big snake. Got out my camera, zoomed in, I wanted
a picture of this snake. It moved a little...I think...Got two pictures,
didn't see a rattle, couldn't see it's head. Gave it a wide berth...
I was already breathing hard from the leaping, now I'm breathing hard
'cause I'm scared. I'm worried about where I put my feet, and I'm worried
about where I put my hands....I wish I had my boots on...I have to
be more aware...snakes...I even like snakes, but I like to know where
we both are. It really disturbed my rhythm, and my confidence. I became
a little off balance, not a good thing when one is leaping around on
rocks. The terrain was getting rougher, and I was going slower, and
time was marching on. I wondered if the ferry would leave me there
if I was awfully late...I wondered if they would send an embarassing
search party...I wondered alot of stupid stuff, and I worried, and
tried to hurry. I kept telling myself that the dock was just around
the next turn, but...it wasn't.... for awhile....I had to climb over
some fallen trees, at an awkward height. They were stripped of bark,
but had remnants of branches and I didn't want to crawl under them,
so I went over the top. I slipped on one, and managed to scrape both
arms....now I'm sweaty, bleeding, tired, sore, scared, and worried.
Remembered that I had to stay calm, and kept moving.. I made it ten
minutes ahead of time, 4:20. Got to rest, and breathe, and regain my
composure before the boat got there. Jesus was that fun. I asked the
ferry guy about the snake...showed him the picture...he said it was
a garter snake.......biggest one I've ever seen....I'm saving the picture...I
don't know if I believe him....gonna look it up myself. This snake
wasn't striped like I think garter, or garden snakes are, longitudinal
stripes. It was mottled brown blotches with lighter spaces between.
I'm attaching a picture if anyone recognizes it, please let me know.
If you zoom it, I think the head is is the shadow at the bottom, and
you can see the patterns.
I treated myself to a really nice dinner that night, a steak, and
grilled zuchinni's, which beat the hell out of this really tasteless
tofu couscous thing I made the night before, and get this campers....I
made bread. I got a recipe for 'bannock' bread from the camp paper,
and it was so easy and good. You make a really simple dough, pat it
out, cut it in strips, and wrap it around a stick and bake it on the
fire like marshmallows. Who'd a thought. You could make cinnamon bread
if you had cinnamon. Burnt some, dropped some, had bark from the sticks
in some, but it was so good...soy margarine and honey. Wow. The fire
was a gift from the previous campers...they left a really nice pile
of wood, and I had enough for two nights. I had forgotten what a good
fire maker I am...I can get a fire going in the rain, or at least a
steady drizzle. I made a big ass fire and it was most pleasant to have
the company and the warmth....I learned that if you want kindling,
and there's some birch bark around, that this is the best stuff I have
ever seen for getting a fire going. I didn't harvest it, but the previous
campers did I guess...there was a piece of it with the wood. I threw
it in the fire after I got it going to get rid of the evidence. I didn't
want anyone to see this bark, and believe that I had gotten it from
the park...It went up better than lighter pine...burned and burned
for a long time, and really hot...I have to confess to stripping some
from a fallen tree behind my campsite the next night. I had used the
kindling the previous night, and don't have an ax...sorry.
Hiking again the next day on the Bruce Trail. I wanted to see the
place I believed I had seen in the pictures years before. I took my
bathing suit just in case I got brave enough to swim. I had checked
it out the day before kind of late, and gotten in the middle of a group
of very noisy people, and I wanted privacy. I really like to stay in
the parks on the weekdays, and avoid the weekends...so it's Monday,
almost everyone is gone, and I got an early start. You can see this
cave from the cliff, but to get to it you have to lower yourself down
a hole, squat/crawl along a little ledge, and drop down over some big
rocks to get there. Someone had shown me the hole the day before...So
I climb down and, shit, it's this big cave with a deep pool of water,
and an under water passage to the outside where the light shines through
making the' blue hole'. It was glorious...just fucking glorious. Ledges
to sit on all around, and deep cold cold water. I had to swim. I changed
in the cave, and started the long slow process of getting in the water.
It was really really cold, so cold, that it felt hot at first. Really
cold. Little minnows were my companions. I finally got in up to my
crotch,threw some water on my shoulders and dove in..Whew...really
cold, but oh so nice. So very very nice. Shit that water was cold.
I felt so brave swimming in a cave all by myself, it was magical. Now
that I was wet, cold, and about ten years old, I had to swim outside
too..in that gorgeous blue water...where there was some sun as well.
And more rocks, in the water rocks, rocks to sit in the sun on, and
rocks to dive off of and swim beyond the little inlet into the big
big water. Big clear blue cold water, I couldn't tell how deep it was,
but I could see big rocks below the surface I couldn't dive to.. pretty
deep. Sat in the sun for awhile on a rock, and went back into the cave....I
wanted to swim through the hole, but didn't know how far it was to
the other side, so I took a regrettable pass, I stared at it for a
long time, but couldn't...probably wise, from where I was standing
it looked doable, but.....I needed more information before I did that.
It could have been ten feet, or it could have been thirty....I couldn't
tell, water visions are deceiving.....I had to get warm now because
the cold was really getting inside, and I was shivering. It was all
so very worth it...I felt so.....so....so.....
Time to go, and hoping to see it again sometime...I wanted to make
it most of the way back down the peninsula that day. I had decided
to stay another day because......I had been playing with my camera
a couple of nights ago...A friend of mine had advised me to push all
the buttons until I knew my options. And I was doing that...and it
was fun....you can push all the buttons, then you can push combinations
of buttons, and you can hold buttons down, and you get alot of options.
I had spent that first day on the beach taking pictures of the pebbles...and
the next night...I discovered the zoom feature on the stored pictures.
You can zoom in on them, and fragment them, and divide them, and one
picture becomes a multitude of possibilities. I was gasping at the
images, how they changed, and how these little pebbles became sculptures
of light and dark and texture and color, and how each one was so beautiful.
I had kept some pictures of my friends and some other stuff to look
at occasionally, and I started to enlarge them in sections and look
at them, portions of them, these pictures, and I had a million pictures,
each one becoming more and more, I was having ideas about sculpture,
and painting, and was so entirely delighted with this tool....then,
I discovered the 'Format' button....I was trying to figure out how
to capture a piece of a picture that I really liked, and somehow 'Format'
came up...so I thought 'format'. That must be it...and I pushed this
miserable little button...and erased all my pictures....all of them...like
in a heartbeat. Live and learn....all my wonderful little camera would
give me was 'no images, no sound' I couldn't believe it...I kept pushing
the buttons and all I got was 'no images, no sound'. Period, end of
story....Most of them were stored on my laptop, but all the pebble
pictures were gone. So...I went back to that park and took some more
wonderful pebble pictures to play with, lay in the sun again, and managed
to get a really nice collection of beach art...people write, and draw,
and sculpt, confess their loves, stick feathers in the sand that look
like sundials or the beach trying to sprout wings, and make things
with the stones. It was great...so I have about a million more pictures
to play with. And I know what 'Format' means.
Headed for the border that afternoon. And the border guy didn't even
ask me for my I.D., he asked me where I was born, did I buy any alcohol
or meat products (curious, BSE?), smiled and said 'Welcome home'. It
was the first time I have been glad to be an American since the Resident
I stopped in Pontiac to visit friends on the way home. Jason and April,
I haven't seen them for six years I think. Glassblowers of the highest
order. They had completed their state of the art studio, and were working
on some pieces when I arived. These guys both used to be clay people,
and switched to glass early on. Their gardens had grown, and so had
their work....alot...Jason's bigger, like really big...and even more
elaborate...he does beautiful work, mostly vessel forms of some kind,
sculptural vessels, and is really pushing the edges of his ability,
and the material, like there are no edges. And April...doing corporate
work, installations, beautiful sculptures, very conceptual, piling
up elongated, corrugated, twisted ribbons of different colored glass.
Some looked like gardens.... growing glass forms, and she had done
four separate pieces representing the four elements to set in niches
is a conference room, big niches. Their pieces are alive, like still
photographs that have captured a moment in time. Their work has grown,
and they have grown so much also...gotten married, and seemed much
more relaxed and calm than I remember. Jason also has an Optio s4i,
and had discovered the Format button as well. We commiserated about
out lost pictures, and he showed me yet more features of this amazing
toy, taught me how to use the macro. He kept telling me to read the
manual...ha...funny.... It was so good to see them. All my friends
have been so good to me....thank you my friends.
Heading west soon...leaving my friends in the east to the much more
Thanks for reading this, and for taking some of this trip with me...I
hope you had as much fun as I did. I have been thinking of you all,
and much of my experience has been shared with you in my mind and in
my heart as I go along...hoping you are all well and happy.
Heartfelt thoughts of peace and love to you all
p.s. Someone told me that these picture files are to big, and can
crash your computer or something...I've tried to find out, someone
else said not...will you let me know if these files are inappropriate
to e-mail, and I'll try to figure it out...
1 cup flour..I used whole wheat
2 tsp of baking powder
1 tbs of butter, margarine, or probably olive oil would work, just
use a little less milk or water.
1/2 cup of milk or water
combine all ingredients in a bowl hopefully with a fork. If you're
backpacking and don't have all the amenities of living in your van,
and have some access to these ingredients, you could mix the stuff
together except for the liquid, and keep it in a baggie for maybe 2
days before you cooked it.
add the liquid, I think milk would be best,dried milk would work if
you don't have access to milk.
stir until most of the lumps are out, or squish it around in your
Pat it out on a lightly floured board with floured fingers(bring a
little extra flour for this part), maybe 1/2 inch thick (unread newspaper
is really clean, and would probably work if you didn't have a board)
Cut it into 1 inch strips, wrap it around a stick in a sort of slightly
overlapping spiral, and hold it over the fire.
Takes about ten minutes to cook! Honey, molasses, p'nut butter....plain...pretty