Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

So, as I said a few posts ago, I’ve been thinking about fishing, having bought a new rod and reel.  With the weather getting warmer, I’ve been looking forward to using my flexible time to hit the road and maybe go up to my favorite Crown Land site to do some fishing.

I figured that I should check out the fishing license requirements, so I went on line and was surprised to find that between the new “Outdoor Card” and the actual fishing license, I’d probably have to pay around $35 to be allowed to go fishing in Ontario.  The idea of grabbing a pole and heading out into the bush is tightly monitored by regulations, and you have to pay the government for the privilege.  Not only that, but when looking at the regulations for when fishing is allowed for certain fish, I found a book with two dozen fishing zones each have a dozen pages of regulation telling you when you can fish for a particular species, how big it has to be and how many you are allowed to catch.  The regulation vary over zones, and each zone has half a dozen pages of exceptions where the regulations are stipulated by a particular lake or river.  Thankfully they don’t require you to take a course, but careful study of the document (and probably keeping the document with you when you go on a trip) is really necessary if you’re going to do it by the book.  The regulations depending on species, location and time of year combine to make thousands of possible variations.

I’ve been in love with the outdoors for over 40 years.  I’ve probably spent close to a thousand days camping, hiking or canoeing.  I’ve introduced hundreds of youth to natural beauty and outdoor skills.  In all those years for some reason I never involved myself in fishing or hunting.  Now that things are winding down and I have more time for myself I have begun educating myself in those areas, and I’m beginning to realize why I never bothered with them before.

If I were to purchase a gun for hunting purposes, aside from the hundreds of dollars in courses and licenses to just purchase a firearm, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the regulations are even more complex and stringent for hunting.  Not to mention the fact that you need at least one hunting course (and in many cases more than one) to hunt, plus tags for the animal you may be hunting.  Even after going through all of that, for some species you still have to be part of a lottery system, and you may not receive permission to hunt at all.  The cost for many people would be outside their means.

If you purchased a .22 rifle and just wanted to shoot at targets, there’s no easy way to do that either.  Most municipalities have by-laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms within their boundaries.  If you go beyond municipalities into Crown Land for example, then you can be stopped at any time and charged if you have a firearm that is not permitted for hunting anything that is in season.  The assumption is that if you are carrying a firearm and not properly licensed for hunting, you’re poaching.  So taking a few targets out into the middle of nowhere and practicing your shooting, or calibrating your gun, is not an option.  Doing it on your own property in almost all cases is not an option.

The only real option is to join a gun club, which often costs you about $500 – $700 a year plus the initial membership levy.  And once again, you’re not guaranteed to be accepted.  If they have a high membership in a particular year, or just don’t like you, they don’t have to accept you.

So I thought I’d take my bow and arrow out to practice a little archery.  After seeing The Hunger Games, using a bow in a survival situation (and I am a survival instructor) may be the way to go.  However, being caught in the bush with a bow is the same as being caught with a gun.  They assume you’re poaching and so you can be fined.  At least there is no law (yet) saying that I can’t set up an archery target in the back yard of my own property, -well, unless you are in some suburban communities, which do have regulations against that.

So, in despair I decided to take my camera and go for a hike.  At least you don’t need licenses and courses in order to take pictures.  I’ve always wanted to do a photo study of the Bruce Peninsula part of the Bruce Trail.  Some of the scenery on the east coast of the peninsula is spectacular.  The problem is that the whole area has been designated as a National Park, so now I’m not allowed to legally camp anywhere other than the crowded public camgrounds.  I tried that last Fall and was disgusted when, on Fri. night, an army of drunk high school and college students invaded, staying up and partying loudly all night.  Years ago you could hike the Bruce Trail and camp where you wished as you ambled along its length.  Now you have to register for specific campsites in advance either on line or by going out of your way to a special office in Tobermory.  These campsites are spaced at long intervals, meaning that you can’t take your time in between.

Hell, maybe I’ll just stay home and watch TV.



Larkwhistle Garden

Posted: July 11, 2011 in My Photos, Travel

About 25 years ago, on one of my major hikes on the Bruce Trail, I hiked past Larkwhistle Garden.  At the time, m;y major concern was water as it was blazing hot and I’d run out of water.  This part of the trail runs inland from the coast, so there is no natural water source.  We were forced to go to private homes and beg for water, usually choosing the youngest and most innocent looking member of the group to accomplish this.  That summer was particularly brutal and there had been a drought, so we actually found many homes where the well had run dry.

Larkwhistle Garden was our salvation.  Requiring a healthy supply of water to maintain the garden, they had a deep well and were able to fill our canteens.  We didn’t really have a good look at the garden itself, but I always remembered it and returned there on my recent visit to the Bruce.

Located on a back road that few must drive on, the only notable traffic would likely be the Bruce Trail hikers.  And even that might be sparse, as I doubt that this is a stretch of the trail which is well traveled.  And yet, this seems to be a famous garden with many references in guide books and on the Internet.  There is even a YouTube slide show.  The garden is a masterpiece of variety and colour.  My main goal there, not being much of a gardener, was to use my macro lens.  Here are some of the results:

I remember years ago sitting on the top of a cliff at the north end of George Lake, gazing down on the Killarney family campground.  I was stunned to see a haze of dark gray smoke hovering over the sites like some  kind of impending doom.  A hundred or so campfires will do that.  I reflected on the futility of  camping areas like that.  You flee the city to find solitude and find yourself packed into a strip of land no bigger than your driveway, sharing borders with at least four other families within 20 metres.

This past week I took the trailer out for an spin and decided to go up to the Tobermory area for a few days.  My goals were to get in some hiking and concentrate on some photo time.  I chose to stay at the Cyprus Lake Campground because it was central to the area I wanted to explore, and it was cheap.  No water or electricity.  No showers.  No Wi-Fi.  It has some nice hiking trails, a fine lake and swimming area, and of course the grottoes on the Georgian Bay coastline, where I got some great sunset photos (to be shared later today after I’ve tweaked them).

I should have known better.  Seldom have I stayed in a family campground when some self centred morons haven’t kept me up all night  with their loud partying, -in spite of the signs and the presence of a “campground host”.  It has been such a dependable event, that I’ve even packed a special box in which can be found a few items to let my unruly neighbours know exactly how I feel about them.  Unfortunately, said box got left at home by mistake.

On the Wed. night things were reasonable and I had no complaints.  On Thursday night I expected the same.  The campground was only about 25% full, but there was one particular site who were obnoxious beyond belief, yelling an screaming, making animal calls, and even playing with their car alarm.  This went on until about 2:45 a.m. when it abruptly stopped.  I feared that they might have been murdered by their more immediate neighbours, chiefly because that’s what I had been laying and thinking about doing, myself.

But on Friday night came the flood.  I took a nap from about 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  and when I woke up, the campground was 100% full.  In over 100 campsites people were unpacking.  Walking down the road I’d hear snippets of conversation.  “Blah, blah, blah, beer, blah blah, blah, beer.”  (Not exaggerating here.  the kind of beer, how to keep it cold and whether there was enough was clearly a notable and prominent topic of conversation.) The fires lit.  The radios went on.  The dogs started barking at each other (followed quickly by the owner yelling at the dog and causing five times the original noise).  The language they spoke seemed to centre around the creative use of half a dozen expletives.  Taking a walk by the lake to see the awesome starry sky, I had to be careful not to interrupt the young-uns in their various stages of passion.  Before long the area resembled more a rock festival than a National Park.  It looked and felt like a transposed field party.  I’ve felt more solitude when I’ve overnighted in a WalMart parking lot.

And as listened to the din of the campground, just beyond it you could hear the distant howling of wolves.  I’m sure they heard the clamor of the people.  I doubt if many of the people heard them.  Their howling had a desperation to it, as if they needed to assert their ownership of this wilderness.

I’m not Dead.

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Pedagogy & Education, Travel

Sorry for the long lapse in posts.  I spent the weekend and a good part of last week preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Ready For Action

Costa Rica Pictures

Posted: March 14, 2011 in My Photos, Travel

I have posted a web gallery containing a selection of the best pics from my recent expedition to Costa Rica.  Hope you enjoy them.


Costa Rica #2

Posted: March 4, 2011 in My Photos, Travel

I’m finally home but really only have two days before heading out again for the weekend.  I’m hoping that my life will resume at some level of normalcy starting next Monday.

In the meantime, let me give a few more impressions of my visit to Costa Rica.  I can’t stress enough the ways that I was impressed by the country ad people.  There was a positive glow throughout my entire stay, eminating from a population that was cooperative and friendly.  It was as if someone had convinced an entire country that they had a personal stake in projecting a friendly, warm feeling.

An example of this was when we finished a difficult hike to a waterfall at one of the National Parks.  As we came in, it started raining and we got a bit wet, although the temperature was still comfortable.  We headed for a small roofed snack bar and ordered some cervezas for refreshment.  Imperial Beer in Costa Rica is good quality and cheaper than soft drinks or bottled water.  The owner came out to greet that large group of foreigners and about ten minutes later appeared with a huge pineapple platter simply as a courtesy.  He stayed and joked with us for a while, then went back to his business.  The gesture was simply one of good will and friendship.  We encountered similar displays almost everywhere that we went.  These people know how to make you feel welcome and your business appreciated.

They are also very proud of their country’s accomplishments.  One guide proudly told us that a recent emphasis on education has resulted in a 98% literacy rate.  He also spoke of the country’s “socialized medicine” that insures all people get needed medical attention.  Costa Rica is not a communist country, but would probably be regarded as a social democracy, with a majority of people taking their duyt to vote very seriously.

Investment in social programs and in the infrastructure necessary to support the country’s booming tourism industry is possible because of one very important decision.  Costa Rica has not had an army since 1948.  The money that many countries pour into military budgets is available for government projects aimed at helping and supporting their population.  There is a strong local police force and other federal law enforcement, but no military.  We’ve seen the result of that decision before.  After WW2, both Germany and Japan were forbidden to maintain an army.  This resulted in freed up funds that made these two countries the most profitable economies in the latter part of the 1900’s.  Costa Rica seems to benefiting the same way from this wise decision.

I would recommend this country as a destination for vacations.  The only drawback is that the weather in the mountain regions is unpredictable.  As we were told many times, “This is a rain forest, you know.”  There is a dry and wet season, but we were in the interior during the “dry” season and got quite a few days of downpour.  The interior valley where San Jose is located and the coastal beach areas are a little more predictable.  It is the kind of travel location that I would look forward to revisiting.

Costa Rica #1

Posted: February 25, 2011 in My Photos, Travel

One of the things that impresses me the most around here is the cooperation of all the people and the pride that they all take in their country and their jobs.  They truly understand the importance of a positive impression to the tourism industry and go out of their way to be thorough and courteous.  This is a lesson that could be learned by many other places I’ve traveled.

One thing less impressive is the on again, off again Internet.  But here I finally am, after several attempts.  Maybe this time I’ll get the whole post up before being cut off.

Here is my humble abode, from which I have a view of the Arenal volcano, complete with smoke streaming from the top.

Of course, we are spending most of our days photographing the attractions here, including the plants, monkeys, sloths and a variety of exotic wildlife.

Days have been full of hikes which, though not that long, have gone over rugged terrain.  Yesterday’s hike to the waterfall was pretty tiring, but the result was well worth the effort.

Lots of blog thoughts have gone through my head, but between the hectic schedule and the relative difficulty accessing the Internet, the opportunity to make more thoughtful posts just haven’t been available.  I’ll have lots of thoughts to share when I get home.