travelogue2 Home

Date: 26-10-04
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 long.

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 was installed.

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 unknown....

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

Robin

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...

 

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Bannock Bread

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 baggie.

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 good.....enjoy.

 

 

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