St. Lazure, QC (Sep 04/19) – The drive from the ‘Soo’ in search of a suitable overnight was somewhat ‘dull’, as this part of the highway (which runs north of Lake Erie) is void of any… points of interest. It would seem whereas, the Lake Superior section had plenty of unrestricted rest areas, the Lake Erie portion was opposite. So finding a ‘welcoming’ candidate to overnight was difficult. Eventually settling on an unremarkable alcove off the highway (near Blind River, ON) …where hikers park.
click on pic to enlarge – right/left arrow to scroll thru the gallery
Driving east brings Manitoulin Island situated to the south in the North Channel of Lake Erie, a place not only where the famous moccasins are created (Manitou), but where numerous Woodland’s Style Ojibwe First Nation artist originated (Jacobson, Morriseau to name a few; which brightly adorn the walls of N&J’s Whistler residence).
While exiting the island, Hobbes suffered a brake loss (soft pedal), thankfully on a relatively flat road in Espanola, ON. Frantic heartbeats and ‘few choice words’ for a few moments trying to come to a complete stop in traffic, a parking lot appeared and provided safety to investigate. No brake fluid loss, no obvious mechanical malady visible, still had about 25% braking left! Needing to get help somewhere else, all eyes on the road, hyper alert and vigilant with fingers crossed Hobbes continues on… albeit with much heightened caution.
Using the ‘VanAlert’ app (where Westfalia people meet to assist each other), within minutes of the SOS posting…. Roger from Sudbury ON responded and graciously offered his driveway as a respite & repair location… so off to Sudbury (about 1 hour to the east) to meet a new found friend. Breakdowns offer new opportunities and other doors open when adventure takes one on a sidestep. From the highway it is just a huge industrial area (one of the world’s largest smelters), but once inside it is quite a nice vibrant town with a colourful situation occurring at a massive condo development…. in the heat of a public dispute with the city, the developer decided to repaint the building and wow what an attraction!!!
Roger & J bled the air out of the brake lines as best they could and managed to talk ‘Westfalias’ for half the day! After sharing a beer and a fair bit of tinkering… the brakes experiencing slight improvement, just enough to get to a VW shop highly recommended by Roger in Almonte, ON (about 3 hours away and just west of Ottawa). Hobbes set off again….
Traveling at night to avoid heavy traffic and now realizing the brake lights do not work, N&J had enough and stopped at a perfect rest stop near Mattawa, ON. Located near a beautiful lake, under the brilliant stars, the hazy Milky Way above & the loons serenading… a peaceful night after a stressful day.
An early start next morning, meandering slowly through communities along the Ottawa river, lovely views, lakes, & sunshine. Traveling through Petawawa (site of Canada’s military), Pembroke & Chalk River (where nuclear science was pioneered in Canada)…. up to recently this is where medical nuclear materials & technology have been produced for worldwide distribution. Nothing glowing and no alternative life forces (aliens) to be seen…. Hobbes carries on.
The drive flattens out to the Ottawa Valley, farms dot the landscape, golden fields of wheat & hay abound. Arriving at Eurotek Motors in Almonte late morning, Ryan the owner was able to fit Hobbes into his very busy afternoon schedule. The fix was a new master brake cylinder; after 31 years of use it is expected that some parts will break down.
While waiting for the repair, and after being chased by one very angry relentlessly attacking ‘bumble bee’, not happy having this trio enjoy his green space….. N&J (Jesse in his new go-kart) set off to explore the town. Jesse’s first experience browsing the Almonte village shops, ended up at a quaint pub on the river called interestingly enough the “Barley MOW”, it was here that Jesse experienced his first beer (no not really!!!), but he joined N&J for lunch. The bar patrons extending their laughter to one another over the fact that there was a cat in the bar and thus renaming their local hang-out to the Barley Meow! Making fast friends with his charming personality, one particular patron was interested in Jesse’s well-being and offered to extend healing hands over Jesse. Rhonda “Mountainspirit” read Jesse’s energy, cleared his pathway, and after this incredible moment of two spirits meshing…. Jesse reached up and with both paws high-fives his new friend, not once but twice! …Jesse leaving his footprint wherever he can!
Synchronicities of life and being such a small universe, worlds collide once again… many days before, N was in contact with another Westfalia person (Leslie) regarding the opportunity to camp on their driveway in the Ottawa area (Smith Falls).
Turned out Leslie knows Roger in Sudbury, as well as Ryan (eurotek) in Almonte all through the same Westfalia connection. If that wasn’t enough, to top that, Leslie is in management at Canopy Growth (Tweed), a cannabis company that N has been researching for over 5 years, N&J were savvy enough to invest in in the initial phases of development… getting invited for a tour of the headquarters in Smith Falls was a significant event!
Canopy Growth took over the manufacturing complex previously occupied by Hershey Chocolates, after they abandoned & ran for the USA. This of course remedied a huge employment deficit, creating over 2,000 well paid full time jobs (in a town with only 9800 people).
Hardly able to contain their excitement N&J listened intently to “Andrew the tour guide” share the company’s achievements and milestones to date. From seeds to mother plants, and flowering beauties each one meticulously groomed by professional “weed-ologists” under bright lights set to perfect grow standards.
Opposite of this bird’s eye view of the pot plants, look right and just below is the newly crafted stainless steel chocolate manufacturing facility. Expert chocolatiers combining the fine art and science for the perfect chocolate, busy readying this vast space in anticipation of mid-October legalization of cannabis edibles.
The last two days had been a roller coaster of emotions, at least it ended on a ….