Big Great Lakes Loop

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Where were you when I came through MN?

    Jamie
    #61
  2. Cliff-77

    Cliff-77 Lost Adventurer

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    :lurk I'm in,keep it coming,gonna do this Great Lake thing too,hope this coming summer,did Alaska this year.
    #62
  3. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    I was stuck at work...really unlucky timing.
    #63
  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Lorinne is an old friend I met in 2000. She used to live in Memphis and date my roommate. They'd long ago broken up, but she and I stayed in contact. She married and moved to New York a few years ago.

    Though they live almost right in downtown Jamestown, she and her husband have close to a full acre of land. Lorinne has taken the time to clear what used to be just wild growth.

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    Lorinne and I met her mom and her sister for lunch.

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    Lorinne's husband makes tie-dye shirts, which you can see her wearing above on the left, then her mom, and her sister is sitting next to me.

    If you're ever in Jamestown, the Coffee Cup is the place to eat. Lunch special was some sort of cheese soup, which was unbelievably good, and the sandwiches and fries were perfect.

    Lorinne is an architect who specializes in re-utlizing older buildings. She does her work in a former dentist office in the Pintagro Building downtown. Her landlord is also a client.

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    Back at her house, I took a little break in her manicured back lawn.

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    But then I had to get on the road. My friends in Toronto were expecting me. The border crossing (once I was to the front of the line) took less than a minute and I didn't even take off my helmet. I got a mint as a welcome gift.

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    And then heavy traffic through the city until I got to Donnaleen's house.

    Now, a little backstory. In 2010 Tiffany Coates (yeah, that Tiffany) came through Memphis and had a bit of trouble, so I helped her get back on the road. With her was a long-time family friend, Donnaleen. I spent several days with Tiffany and Donnaleen as we rode down the Natchez Trace Parkway, even riding with Donnaleen for a while on Tiffany's bike. This picture is from that trip in 2010.

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    Donnaleen told me that if I were ever in the Toronto area that I had to stop by. So here I was, two years later, on the way. When I arrived I met Donnaleen's husband, Peter. After asking if I'd like a beer, he asked, "Do you like steak?" And shortly had the grill fired up.

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    We ate a late dinner, which was perhaps the best meal of the entire trip.

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    And then finished with a glass of Scotch afterward.

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    Laphroaig is known for it's particularly strong flavor. It served a perfect ending to a wonderful day.

    Jamie
    #64
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    We all slept in. I was surprised that when I got up after 9am that the house was still quiet. I made a quick walk up to a nearby grocery store and then loaded up the bike to head out. A quick group shot.

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    My next destination was not far away, in what they call cottage country of Kawartha Lakes. If you recall my ride report from last year, I met a couple of Canadian guys while in Big Bend National Park. This picture from last year when I met them.

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    Brian, on the right, had invited me paddling if I ever wanted. I called him up a couple months ago and asked if he were serious because I was making plans to come to Canada. He repeated his invitation and now I was on the way.

    Not sure if this'd be legal in the US.

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    Stopped by a small beach for a break. Canadians sure like to swim.

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    I pulled up into Brian's yard. I saw his motorcycle by the shed, but no sign of anyone there. A moment later, this old Jeep came up behind me.

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    Brian was driving and greeted me. "Grab your swimming trunks, sleeping bag, and a tooth brush and come on" were the first words out of his mouth. Uh, what? Where are we going?

    I quickly changed out of my riding gear and grabbed some gear. Brian drove me down to his houseboat where Ken was waiting.

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    Within minutes we were cruising up the lake.

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    And shortly after that anchored, swimming, and with a beer. No kidding. This picture was taken about 40 minutes after I arrived.

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    We sat on the roof for a short while to relax.

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    And then dinner.

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    Ken prepared burgers with all the fixings and Brian brought the cheap wine. Notice my duct-taped wine glass.

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    After dinner there was much drinking and sharing stories.

    Jamie
    #65
  6. RAGBrian

    RAGBrian jonesing for a ride

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    Ah, good to see the story of this trip being told! You have given me some places to visit. I saw the New River Gorge bridge back in '79. The general store you took a picture of-I drove past it on one of my 'off work' days earlier this year! Looking forward to the rest of the story...

    phat fingered on my phone with Tapatalk
    #66
  7. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I slept pretty good for once. Must have been all the alcohol. Plus, the body aches and sore throat were no longer on my mind. When we awoke, more swimming.

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    And then Brian piloted us back to shore.

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    Back at the house we packed up the bikes.

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    But in the meantime, I had a little time to poke around Brian's property. He's an avid paddler and restores old canoes.

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    And he collects old bikes and outboard motors.

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    Not a very good photo, but this is Brian's prized possession. It's a mostly-complete outboard from the early 20th century.

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    The dark grey part is the cylinder, and below that in light grey is the crank case. The gearing (though not assembled here) is exposed.

    And of course that old Jeep.

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    We headed out to Brian's cabin--or cottage as they say in Canada--and stopped by the Kirkfield Lift Lock.

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    The lock is one of two lift locks in Canada. This one was completed in 1907. The structure is difficult to photograph in its entirety.

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    There are two giant tubs which work in conjuction to form a 49-foot lift (or drop) along the Trent-Severn Waterway. Here you can see the giant hydraulic lift under the bathtub.

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    Next we stopped at what Brian called the "car wash."

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    So called because as Brian explained, guys would drive their cars down into the stream to wash it. He also pointed out that it made for a good trick to drive down the road, then swerve off at the last moment and blow through creek.

    Ken waits to see if I'll ride through.

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    After a moment of hesitation, I decided to ride through it. Brian videotapes everything, and if I can ever talk him into sending me the video, I'll post it. It was a hairy ride through the slippery creek.

    Our next stop was the theatre in Minden. Brian and Ken wanted to see Spiderman.

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    At first I thought it was odd, but when we arrived, I began to understand. First, the cinema is located in the woods. The parking spread out on gravel lots.

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    This world-famous cinema is unlike any other theatre you've ever been to. Inside is perhaps the largest collection of movie and theatre memorabilia anywhere. Hundreds (or thousands?) of old movie projectors are on display.

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    Many have handwritten signs saying things like, "Found in theatre in Omaha, Nebraska, 1976." There are also movie props and collectibles from the past century. Each of the five theatres is themed and films are shown using 50s era projectors.

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    The theatre was being threatened by closure because of the shift to digital format but latest news on the website is that it will remain open.

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    Plus, the movie only cost six bucks! It's really an amazing place.

    Next we stopped at the Beer Store in town, which displays a giant mural with all kinds of crazy scenes.

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    And then lunch.

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    After lunch we headed toward Brian's cabin and stopped by the Minden Wild Water Preserve.

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    It was getting late when we made it to Brian's cabin.

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    More beer and joking around until late.

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    Jamie
    #67
  8. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Great trip!
    When I did a Superior loop, I really missed a lot. That, and I blew by everything.
    Really nice you take the time to see and experience the sights..:clap
    #68
  9. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Hey Brian,

    Not much to see at the General Store... looked pretty touristy inside. The guy behind the counter was texting the whole time I paid. He never said a word to me. Cool from the outside, nothing to see inside.

    As for the Bridge in '79! That was the heyday! I would have liked to been there. Did you make it down into Thurmond then?

    Jamie
    #69
  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    One of the draws of this trip was that Brian had promised a paddling trip. We had discussed kayaking on Lake Huron, or maybe do an overnight trip on some local lakes. Given my schedule, we decided to paddle the chain of lakes near Brian's cabin and make a day of it. Brian suggested we motor across the big lakes and paddle the streams and smaller lakes.

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    After crossing the first lake, we paddled the stream connecting to the next lake.

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    And then a portage, or portAGE as the Canadians say it.

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    Our put-in on the other side.

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    We paddled by this small island where a group was camping. One of the guys called out as we passed that we had great paddling technique. It was refreshing paddling with an experienced paddler.

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    Another portage.

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    We stopped by a small (unoccuppied) trapper's cabin.

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    And Brian was fascinated by this giant root ball.

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    The water was super-clear.

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    Another portage, and swimming.

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    We had fun swimming into the current behind the dam and getting swept downstream.

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    And then back to paddling.

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    I made Brian portage the canoe. Probably because he pronounced it wrong.

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    And a stop for lunch.

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    Brian's engine mount broke and he made an elaborate fix (Did you know all Canadian vessels [even canoes] are required to carry, among other things, 50 feet of buoyant rope?). All for naught, as it turned out the engine was out of gas, too.

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    And then, of course, more swimming.

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    We paddled back and Ken was cooking up heaping plates of spaghetti.

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    After dinner we sat out on the deck for the late sunset, around 9pm.

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    And then a while around the fire.

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    Jamie
    #70
  11. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    Great stuff Jamie. Your reports are always very cool to read. Good meeting you on the road. If ever in Texas, you have a place to stay. Beer & BBQ provided also... Keep traveling.
    #71
  12. newhoco

    newhoco stromnambulator

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    Great report !
    I love the long rides too , but just buzz along in my own world of road and weather , and don't generally meet the cool people you do , or see the neat stuff , unless i can convince myself to do a u-turn after I've whizzed past . Hell , I don't even take a camera ... I think I could learn a lot from you .
    Alex
    #72
  13. 1955BIKER

    1955BIKER Adventurer

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    Looks like some great weather up north.
    #73
  14. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    You don't see all the pictures I didn't take. I blow by a lot of stuff, too. :cry

    I try to be mindful to stop for photos and I wish I were more extroverted. But in both cases, it does take a lot of effort to remind myself to talk to people or pull out my camera. ADVrider and the Tent Space had a lot to do with the folks I met along the way. Many of the people I "met" on this trip were people with whom I made contact through this site.

    Thanks Donovan. Thanks to your wife, too. I'm glad I stopped to visit. (Your chapter is coming up, soon.)

    You're not kidding! Loved it. When I got home, everyone told me I'd missed the hot July weather in Memphis. :lol3

    I appreciate the comments. I check the thread every day to see if anyone had any questions or nice things to say.

    Jamie
    #74
  15. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    We packed up the bikes in the morning.

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    Brian led us along a cottage road with miles of whoops. We ended up in Gravenhurst, current home of the oldest operating Steamboat in the western hemisphere, the RMS Segwun, built in either 1887 or 1925, depending on how you look at it.

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    There is a tiny gift shop/museum nearby where I bought and sent a couple of postcards. The boat does periodic cruises, but we just looked at it from the outside. Up the road we stopped at Port Carling for a quick break. Everyone was out for the weekend.

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    And then on toward Sudbury.

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    When I was planning out this trip, I envisioned vast desolate stretches of road I would encounter in Canada, but that's not what I'd found so far. In fact, most of the roads we were on were fast, busy four-lanes, and even the smaller country roads seemed to be excessively trafficked. When I commented to Ken and Brian, they shrugged and said that there weren't many roads in this part of the country, and being high season, practically everyone in Canada was passing through. I made an ill-advised suggestion we stop at a road-side stand.

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    This is, what they call up here, a chip truck. Looked like a neat place to stop for a break and grab an inexpensive lunch. I was shocked at the prices: as much as a decent restaurant. Ken's fish plate ran more than $15 and my burger and fries (without drink) was $11. Brian declined to eat in deference to saving his dollars until later. The food was good though, I have to admit that. The three of us had a discussion about Canadian pricing.

    We stopped at a roadside rest area which housed a very cool canoe museum.

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    And this bridge and hiking/snowmobile trail out back. I like bridges.

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    I talked the guys into hunting a geocache with me nearby. They were justifiably unimpressed. Not much to see at the cache site.

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    Brian led us to Massey, Ontario to Chutes Provincial Park. We set up camp.

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    And then, surprise, swimimng!

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    This was, I have to admit, a pretty awesome swimming hole, with a waterfall flowing in on one end.

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    And looking down back the other way toward the swimming hole.

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    Around dinner we had a discussion about the cost of our campsite. The site itself costs $37, and we were charged an extra $12 for exceeding the vehicle limit of two. Ken grumbled about how it's "no wonder everyone goes to the States for vacation" and dropped a harsh letter into the suggestion box.

    Jamie
    #75
  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I made quick work of packing up, and the guys were soon up packing up their own things.

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    They wanted to go swimming (again!), and I opted to hike the loop trail I'd seen in the park. The trail goes up along the creek which feeds the swimming hole.

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    There are frequent waterfalls and cascades along the trail.

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    When I returned, Ken and Brian were waiting for me. They had decided not to go swimming.

    Brian and I wanted to see the small town museum nearby. $3 entry. Ken decided to wait outside. He's not much of a museum guy.

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    Inside was a hodgepodge of local artifacts.

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    I proposed another geocache search up the road, but neither Ken nor Brian were interested. We agreed to meet farther ahead where they were planning to stop to meet a friend. The geocache was hidden along a small access road which parallelled a massive wooden pipeline. I tried to determine what the pipeline was for, but I have no idea. I'm fairly sure it transports water, but to where? From where? Why?

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    At least I think that's where it was hidden. I never did find the cache. I tried to make a shortcut on a primitive road and ran into missing bridge.

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    I struggled to traverse the rough trail and had to turn back. Brian and Ken would probably not have been too impressed, so I was a bit relieved that I didn't lead them here.

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    I caught up with them at Mississaugi park about an hour later.

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    Brian is a former provincial park employee and knew a couple of the workers here, Mitch and Tamara.

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    See the police tape behind us? They day before, a severed human foot had been found floating in the lake and the police were doing a search to find the rest of the remains. I learned a few days later that they did find a body in the lake, but as far as I know, it has yet to be identified: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2012/07/18/body-yet-to-be-identified

    And then this bizarre coincidence. I was reading a friend's Facebook the next day, and he mentioned the severed foot.

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    Turns out, he and I were making opposite direction loops up through Ontario and had no idea of each other's plans. It's pretty likely that we passed each other on the road. Matt also commented on the criminal cost of Canadian campgrounds.

    After the park, I headed toward Chapleau while Brian and Ken were planning to see a friend in Elliot Lake. We'd all had a great time riding together, and we shook hands and went opposite directions.

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    It was here where I finally found the remote wilderness I'd been waiting to see.

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    I headed west on 546 and then north on 129. "Highway 129 is one of the most isolated in Ontario and among the least-used of the King's Highways," according to Wikipedia. The road surface varied from very good to gravelly.

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    And then just before Chapleau, the continental divide.

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    I arrived at Rick and Tuija's house in Chapleau, who I contacted through the Tent Space map, just in time for dinner and then an after dinner drink. Looks like they were anticipating my arrival.

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    Before bed, Rick showed me how to take a proper Finnish bath in the sauna. Hint: it involves cold beer and hot steam. Felt absolutely wonderful.

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    Jamie
    #76
  17. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    Holy cow, Minden!
    Nice to see familiar country in your report. That canoe trip you took was part of a route my girlfriend (now wife) and
    I took 24 years ago.

    It's not often anybody makes Haliburton part of a Lakes Loop. Good stuff!
    #77
  18. Groovemaster

    Groovemaster Adventurer

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    I did a Windsor Ontario through the U.P. Michigan, Winnipeg, round the top loop back to Windsor and have to agree on the Provincial Park costs. Only stayed at one (Lake Superior Provincial Park) it was cheaper to stay at KOA, or other private ones that had more amenities. Nice report.
    #78
  19. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Did you go to the theatre?

    Fortunately, I split it three ways with the other two guys. Nonetheless, it was the only time I utilized the pleasant provincial park campgrounds. And they were quite busy when we were there, so I guess people are willing to pay. Not me, though.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jamie
    #79
  20. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    I spent summers as a kid on the lake South of Minden so we went to the Beaver Theatre in town.
    That place would have been closed when you were there I think.

    We used to run up the river in our boats and tie up across the street from the Beer Store.

    Did you go to the Rockliff? That was the landmark. T-shirts from that place were all over the world (my sister saw one in Europe)
    kinda like Eskimo Joe's.
    #80