Sunday, December 12, 2021

A day out, and a Bayfield Mews update

A trail in the Pinery park

Today was a gorgeous day for this time of the year, Our earlier snow has melted, and in spite of some high winds recently it feels more like an extended fall than mid-Dec. 

A naturalist blogger we follow (Nature Nuggets) recently mentioned seeing many Tundra swans stopping over here and there during their southern migration, so we set out to see if we could find some in our area  today.

We drove south from our place to a spot we often go to Swan-watch in the spring. The swans are usually not so concentrated this time of year in that area, but we did see a few passing by: 


And a few on the ground, in the distance

This area is behind the Lambton Heritage Museum, which is on Hwy 21 almost across from the entrance to Pinery Provincial Park. 

When talking to a couple of locals, we (of course) found that we should have been there last week, when any water in the fields was chock-full of swans. Nice to see some anyway.

After the swan views we headed across the road to the Pinery for a little light hiking. The Pinery is still open and charging for day use, but we have an annual day-use pass (courtesy of our daughter for last Christmas) for all Ontario Provincial Parks so free for us.

Not far inside the Pinery we parked and took a trail we hadn't been on before. Just a nice trail through the woods, with a lookout stop partway around. Not sure how many steps led up to the lookout, but it felt like we had a workout:

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the long-awaited Mews Activity Center (officially the Hearthstone project) has finally gotten underway. Expected to be completed by mid(ish) 2022, good progress has been made in a fairly short time. Almost all of these pictures were taken from our living room window, so we have a front-row seat.

After initial excavation, pouring the concrete footings...

Then the forms arrived to support the new foundation walls:

After only a day for the concrete to cure somewhat, the wall forms were removed:


With 5 more days to allow the walls to more fully cure, backfilling started:

It was interesting to see this guy get up on that dirt pile

Very careful backfilling, as the concrete is still somewhat fragile here

A large trench was then dug to run water lines etc:


Then filling and levelling the interior base was started. This will support the concrete floor, poured after utilities etc are placed. The large excavator built a sand ramp to let the Bobcat get in to level out the interior area, as the big excavator scooped in the sand:

Lots of back-and-forth for the Bobcat

Many if not most people at the Mews are quite excited to see this long-awaited addition taking place.



Saturday, October 2, 2021

A short Fall trip to Algonquin Park


We had a short trip this past week, heading North to see some colour. We do enjoy a fall trip usually, and this one was special as my eye sight has suddenly improved. On Monday the week before, I had cataract surgery in both eyes. Wednesday morning this week was the second followup in London, and things are "Fantastic" according to the surgeon. So Wed afternoon we were on our way North.

With no particular destination in mind, we expected to end up in a campground in Algonquin. The daylight started to get away from us though, so we checked in to Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville. We were able to get electricity to run our little heater, as the nights are cool.

On the way there we started to see some good colour, around Bracebridge especially, so had hopes for tomorrow.

Our Arrowhead camp in the woods

In the morning we left in good time, getting on Hwy 60 towards Algonquin Park. The drive in and through the Park had some great colour. This looks like it will be an exceptionally good colour year up that way. There's good colour already, and lots of green left to turn. A heavy leaf canopy this year.

Along the Oxtongue River "Hogs Trough" area

The day was pretty bright through Algonquin. 

A curious Raven

Continuing out the East end of Algonquin, we decided to loop down through Haliburton and back up to Arrowhead Park for the night. 

A scenic lookout over the town of Haliburton

Lots of colour and more to come

We arrived back to Arrowhead Park about 4pm, expecting to stay there again with an electrical hookup because of the cool nights. Only to find that the power had been abruptly shut down in the park that day, and would be out for the whole month of October! There were several irate campers in line angrily waving their registrations for electric sites. 

When campground security arrived, complete with bulletproof vest (!) we decided to head elsewhere. Bass Lake Provincial Park is near Barrie and on the way home, so we headed there. The office was closed by then and we were greeted with the printed announcement that reservations were now required for all sites, all the time. Even if we reserved online right there, we wouldn't get a confirmation until the next day, so "no room at the Inn" for us.

Well, there is a KOA on down the road a ways, so try there. They were still open, and we could get a basic site with electricity. When they finally disclosed it would be $76 for the night though, we thanked them and left. We haven't stayed at a KOA for many years, and it looks like it will be many more years before we do again.

At this point it was getting pretty dark.  We were only about 2 1/2 hrs from home though, so decided to stress-test the new eyes and head for home, with Cathie being the backup if I had problems. So away we went, setting a route to avoid the construction detours we encountered on the way north around Wingham.

All went well. Traffic calmed right down, and was not heavy on the less-travelled ways we took. It was a nice clear night, and we made it home safely with no drama. 

The new eyes worked well, better at night than before. Now it's time to put the van away for the winter (after the oil change service next week) and we'll have another trip to remember.

Approximate routes:







Friday, September 10, 2021

Home from PEI after a great trip

Approaching the PEI bridge to New Brunswick

Remnants from the Ida storm gave us, and a lot of other people on PEI, a few wet windy days, unfortunately spoiling the Labour Day holiday weekend for a lot of people. Luckily for us retirees, every weekend is a long weekend.

On Thursday afternoon Ida dropped record rainfalls on PEI. One of the heaviest areas was where we had recently been camped in Cavendish on the North Shore National Park. We were sure glad to be under cover at Cathie's sister's place in town!

Full (normally dry) ditch in foreground, road in the background, from N&P's porch

After Thursday and Friday the weekend continued with light rains off and on. We had some good family times until starting for home on Tuesday.

Covid screening still active upon PEI entry

Over the Bridge to New Brunswick, Adieu PEI

A stop at a much older bridge at Hartland NB

It's almost 1/4 mile long, over the St John river


We had arranged to camp with my cousin Alan and his wife Ruth in a campground in Riviere Du Loup Quebec. They are on their way on a trip around the Gaspe peninsula, and we were able to coordinate an overnight visit during our respective travels:

Alan and Ruth's truck camper

The park had one nice spot for a view out over the St Lawrence river:


Our travels on Wednesday had mostly good weather, with a few showers interspersed. Our target was Perth Ontario, for a visit and overnight stay with my sister Beth and her husband Sandy. We made it, with (as usual) some traffic issues getting around Montreal. Rain, construction and heavy traffic (yes, on a Wednesday morning about 11 am) gave us a few scary moments, but we made it through ok. No pictures of that though, just an earlier one along the way:

A nice partial rainbow

Once through Quebec we stopped in Lancaster Ont as usual, to fuel up the van and ourselves. Then we continued with a much nicer drive through rural eastern Ontario to Perth.

Along the way we saw a sign for a Hill 70 Memorial, so we stopped to have a look.  Hill 70 was the site of a WW1 battle between Canadian and German troops. There is a newer memorial at the battle site in France, and also this one , here in the little town of Mountain Ont, a very tasteful memorial in a 22 acre town park:

We also stopped at the Upper Nicholson Lock on the Rideau canal, a very pleasant spot for a visit on a nice (now) sunny day:

We've become more interested in canals recently due to watching several Youtube videos on Narrowboats, a very nice antidote to most of the news these days. If you're at all interested in something like slow-paced RVing on the water, just do a Youtube search for "narrowboats", you're sure to find something you like.

We did make it ok to my sister's place for our short visit. Beth is currently laid up with a broken kneecap (ouch!) but is getting around well on only one crutch now.

We decided to avoid Toronto for the final stage home, so took a northern route (the Day 3 map below). It took a bit longer, but we were glad to skip the usual Toronto 401 zoo, and very relieved (and tired) to be home. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip as usual, visiting far-flung relatives has been made extra special these days.

Homeward bound, Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3: