After months of waiting, annoyance and frustration (to the point where I actually listed the bike on Kijiji due to lack of use), I finally had some time to go for a nice bike ride. Well I had to make the time myself by taking some vacation time but that is neither here nor there.
Last year I did a somewhat similar ride which I dubbed the Best Damn Biker from Calabogie to Kaladar ride which was inspired by watching the NFB film, The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar starring Kate Reid who starred in another fav movie of mine The Andromeda Strain, Chriss Wiggins and a young Margot Kidder (her first movie role was this film in fact). The movie can be seen here http://www.onf.ca/film/best_damn_fiddler_from_calabogie_to_kaladar/
Where last year the scenery in the film inspired me to visit this region, I needed no such inspiration this year, as I had already fallen in love with the area thanks to last year’s visit. It also helped that I enjoyed my stay at a B&B in Mt. St. Patrick immensely so knowing that I could stay at the same place again and count on great hospitality, I planned a ride back to this region but with some new stops.
Day 1, September 10, 2012
My journey was schedule to start on Monday, Sep 10 but the bike or rather the battery on the bike was acting up again causing the bike to intermittantly cut out and eventually lose power. Very scarily, it did this on the DVP and 401 and could have been a lot worse but I managed to nurse it to within a kilometre of the dealership in Markham (there are none in Toronto or Durham anymore) where I destroyed the battery and it would go no further.
I ended up waiting at Markham Power for about 3 hours which killed the day resulting in no chance to make Mt. St. Patrick in one shot so I rode home to Oakwood to try again the following day. I did get home just in time for supper…how convenient and mother had prepared lamb…how serendipidous.
Day 2, September 11, 2012
Left Oakwood with a mist and chill in the air (I love this time of year, the crispness of the morning makes you feel alive and wakes you up all the while knowing that in the afternoon you will ride and bask in the warm sunshine which is always smile inducing). Last time Peterborough was the jump-off point and it would be again but rather then heading NE via Bancroft and Hwy. 28, I went due E on Hwy. 7 via Warsaw eventually coming back to Kaladar. Having lived all my childhood years travelling up and down Hwy. 7, one gets quite bored of this route but though this area, it is actually not that bad, just busier than I’d like.
I did have some excitment on one stretch just before reaching Kaladar. I was coming around a corner and a guy was waving from his car in a gesture meant to slow opposing traffic down. Thinking he was warning me of a impending radar trap I slowed right down and made the corner and found two miniature horses galloping around the side the of the road and a transport truck already pulled over.
The driver of the truck was attempting to corral the horses back to a nearby animal farm from where they had escaped so I parked the machine and gave him a hand. It was fun chasing the horses around and getting them back to where they needed to go. I a msure I scared them with my helmet and dark visor.
The bugs were really bad this trip. Having had some very hot temps in Ontario which is not that normal this time of year the bugs were out in full force. So every so often I had to stop and clean the visor. I pulled in to a gas station at Hwy 7 & 41 which was my main north/south axis road this time around as it is unhighlighted on the map.
Hwy. 41 turned out to be a mild treat. According to the wiki file on this road it crosses through Mazinaw Country which is described as a rugged forest region. Rugged it was and sadly it did take me past one of the nicer provincial parks in Ontario so I am told…Bon Echo.
Riding this time of year must be done on the quick. The days are a bit shorter by sunlight and cut even shorter by temperature. As I another year older, bit by bit my heartiness at putting up with cold temps seems to drop so you really can’t get going in this part of the provice until 10:30 or so. So with that in the back of my mind, I didn’t stop for a hike where I normally would have it was earlier in the year. But I also find that this time of year, in this type of the country, the pull of the countryside and the the thrill of finding out what is around the next corner keeps in you in the saddle and plugging along.
I did stop in Denbigh just off of Bridge St. in the heart of the Addington Highlands for lunch and a quiet respite beside Denbigh Lake. Times like that made me wish I still smoked because I used to love having one at these moments in trips past. Anyway it was nice to quietly reflect for an hour, get the blood out of my ass and enjoy being on the road again. I MISSED THIS I was sceaming in my head across the lake!!
Lakes were important this trip. If you google map this area and zoom out just enough, you will see that this area, known as the Land of Lakes in Ontario is dotted with hundreds if not thousands of lakes. Hwy. 41 is at the western edge of this area but even still, provided much beauty to see. Knowing that it was only going to get even more intense on the backside of the trip made it that much better.
The days journey concluded once I left 41 on to 132 then on the Flat Rd. towards Mount St. Patrick. Having arrived at the B&B at around 3:30 with no one home for a few hours (Mich & Dave were out golfing) I took the time to go for a walk.
I love this part of the province and fell in love with the old wooden log houses and barns that dot the landscape the last time I was here. With the Shield peeking through the thin earth you could tell that life here, like it was in the film, was a hard life.
If you were a farmer here, it wasn’t for agriculture to be sure. It really hit home when I visited the local Catholic cemetary where you saw a number of tombstones spanning the decades with a very finite number or surnames from Ireland and Eastern Europe. These people came, didn’t get discouraged and stuck it out. It is certainly the most inspiring areas of Ontario that I have come across from a people point of view and I found myself falling further in love with it this time around.
I did a good 1 hour hike up Holy Well Rd. and passed some spookey empty houses and took some good pics that could easly go on the Ontario Ghost Town site.
Upon getting back to the B&B I settled in to my autobiography of Isaac Brock for an hour when the Scharffs returned. They started preparing dinner to which bless her heart, Mich invited me to join them and we had a good time catching up. It was nice to see them in such good spirits.
Dave gave me some more history of the area and promised next time I was up, to take me on his new ATV up the mountain for some spectaclar views of the countryside and a house that a millionaire had built on the mountain that was apparently the talk of the town. I am looking forward to that next year.
Day 3, September 12, 2012
After a hearty breakfast of bacon and Michelines awesome quiche, I hit the road following Daves suggestion of taking Scotch Bush Rd. up through Balaclava and alter on to Hyndford and Eganville to what I thought would be a local tourist trap that would rob me of my good money and sense but that turned out to be very interesting, the Bonnechere Caves.
I got there for the first tour and for a while looked like I would have the whole place to myself but then a van load of German tourists showed up. They were nice though. Anyway these caves were discovered by some fella after seeing them on an old logging map and he decided to build a tourist business around them and the interesting fossils found in the local area. The tour was an hour, cost $16 and was pretty interesting.
Todays primary goal was to get to Petawawa to the army base/museum there. My friend Tim also had some family from this way so i was looking forward to seeing the town based on his description of it. The museum was not staffed so I walked through the place for free and unaccosted. It was sort of interesting but was not as good as I had hoped. Outside they had a bunch of old vehicle relics but even this was not very engaging. I soon left Petawawa for Pembroke.
Pembroke, if I never stop there again, I shant shed a tear. Would should be a nice little town situated on the Ottawa River turned out to be an experience in trailer trash. Then again, never eat at Tim Horton’s in little towns I guess. I didn’t bother to walk around town at all, I decided to continue the ride.
My original plan was to ride County’s 12 & 50 through Westneath, La Passe and on to Arnprior to get to Ottawa but I called an audible and crossed over to Quebec, the first time the CBF and I had been in this province.
I was glad I did. Even though the 148 divided in to a multi-lane highway from time to time, most of it was two lane road passing through towns with covered bridges, good farmland and the occasion view of the Ottawa. Good hills and curves occasionally too.
After an enjoyable ride in Quebec I crossed over at Gatineau in to Ottawa. I was hoping to get to the War Museum but it was getting late and I still had 40min in front of me to get to my next B&B in Kemptville so I decided to hit the museum the following day.
Day 4, September 13, 2012