You scream, I scream

The Loop provides many opportunities for artsy photography, most of which we blow for one reason or another.  And when we do have the chance, usually the camera is no place around so we have to use phones.  We didn’t have the camera with us when walking around Britt but Dana still caught a couple of good ones.

img_4667The dog’s name is Buddy. As far as we know the geese are just geese.

Yesterday morning we were up at dawn, since we anticipated a lengthy search for a ginormous crowbar to use in extricating the boats from the slip into which they packed us.  Fortunately that proved unnecessary and we headed up the bay for Killarney.  Ontario, not Ireland.  As expected, the small craft channel we wanted to take still was closed to boats.  In fact, our marina in Britt was on some sort of evacuation watch.

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img_4670Sadly but safely we gave the Parry 33 fire wide berth.  We could see the massive smoke to the east, but no bears or blueberries or anything else.  Except for the huge fire, basically the morning was the same as cruising across the Chesapeake, without the crab pots.  That’s another great thing about this piece of Canada.  No crab pots.  Also no crabs, of course, but lots of pickerel so who cares.  Pickerel.  Yum.  Lots of Kawartha ice cream around these parts as well.

img_4573While under way, obviously we don’t eat pickerel or ice cream.  Mostly we eat crackers and cheese.  Triscuits are our favorites.  Up here, Triscuits are branded by Christie, not Nabisco.  Who knew?   Also, Bugles claim to be “Canada’s #1 finger hats.”

Fortunately, not all of the day was not spent on snack food trivia.  North of the fires we ducked behind some islands for a taste of the spectacular stuff being destroyed.

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Anyway, the trip in to Killarney had some awesome parts.

003a1695Killarney is a small burg in the middle of an even smaller channel.  That channel was gummed with stress-causing boats of various types and sizes, all of which wanted to dock and none of which cared that we wanted to dock.  The nerve of some people.  Somewhat foolishly in our humble opinion, all of the marinas use the same VHF channel, causing mass confusion that would’ve been funny if we hadn’t been in the midst of it.

The sunset last night, however, made it all worthwhile.  Life was good.

Then Dana’s phone jumped off the dock into 21 feet of 60° Canadian water.

We’ve seen fire, and we’ve seen rain

img_4720During the night the winds shifted direction, bringing in the smoke.  And as every high-school cheerleader knows, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.”  We woke up basically feeling like chain smokers.  But it also was raining.  Yucky start to the day.

On the positive side our two-headed dog let us sleep until 8:30, which is unheard of.  We rewarded them with a ride in Mini Pearl over to town for a long walk.  Don’t they look excited?  Killarney is a pretty big boating town for a pretty not-big town in general.  For a while they had a big movie screen right where we could’ve watched a movie from the boat if they hadn’t let the screen fall to pieces and still showed movies on it.  Still fun to walk around though, even in residual smoke.

img_4709During the walk, we stopped off at an ice cream shop for a picture of something bizarre we saw yesterday.  That’s right, Slim Jim equivalents made from KANGAROO.  What’s wrong with the world?  Many other obvious questions.  How is it legal to process kangaroo meat?  We haven’t seen any kangaroos in Canada, so somebody had to ship carcasses or already-processed meat across an ocean.  How is that economically feasible?  Most importantly, who the hell eats Kangaroo Slim Jim’s?  That’s like eating kittens.  We asked the teenager behind the counter if people really bought them.  Her completely non-responsive response was “They’re everywhere in Australia.  They’re like squirrels.”  Hold on there Missy.  That only raises more questions.  Like who the hell eats SQUIRREL Slim Jim’s?  What’s going on here?

Robin at Queen’s Cove Marina had insisted that we take a dinghy over to Covered Portage Cove.  We did, and despite the day’s grayness it was well worth it.

img_4710-1Afterwards we cruised back to town.  The hot spot for food is the fish place.  When a joint claims to be “world famous,” however, it creates certain expectations.  The fish was pretty good, but it seems unlikely that the indigenous peoples of Borneo, or Somalia, or other places on the State Department’s don’t travel list ever have heard of Harold’s.  Plus the fries (why do they call them chips anyway?  Chips are thin and crispy and delicious) were mushy.   Mushy fries = no good.

Saint Bernadette supposedly was sick and found The Lord at Lourdes, or some such thing.  Maybe it’s all true.  We found a grotto—accessable only through a tick-infested trek—which claims to be something special related to Lourdes.  Who knows.

IMG_4730It’s pretty cool to watch all the planes with floats instead of wheels.  Where we come from, there are no seaplanes.  Here they’re everywhere.  Kind of like ticks.  One landed and taxied in front of us as we ate our world-famous Henry’s fish dinner on the dock.  Crazy awesome what you see up here.

We’re not exactly sure where we’re going to end up tomorrow, which isn’t at all unusual.  But somehow it all works out.

Never mess with Dudley Do-Right

By definition, any day that requires us to be underway at sunrise starts off as a bad day.  For two reasons, yesterday was one of those get-going-early days.  First, we had some open water to cross and the predictors of such things told us the wind would increase as the morning unfolded.  Second, we had no slip reservation in Little Current.  It’s take what you can get at the town docks, so we wanted to arrive early.  Things significantly picked up for us after an iced tea (homemade) and Mountain Dew (store-bought).

003a1732Little Current is on the east end of Manitoulin Island, which forms the southern border of the North Channel.  Our last three stops in Canada will be on the island.  The lighthouse is where you start worrying about the current.  Depending on the wind speed, direction, and duration, boaters can face 6-knot current in either direction.  Little current it’s not, and our docking confidence moves in inverse proportion to things that push us around.  We balked at the first slip assignment and landed on the face of a t-head.  Whew.

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img_4745The island is pretty big to be connected to the mainland by a single bridge, but that’s the set up.  The bridge swings for boats every hour and stays open for 15 minutes.  That means 25% of the time people in cars curse at boaters like us.  We timed it perfectly so didn’t have to wait.  Or curse at the cars.

Little Current marks the farthest point north on our Loop.  It’s all downhill from here, at least until we hook around Key West in 4 or 5 months.  For anyone who might wonder about these things, Coeyman’s on the Hudson River was our easternmost point on the Loop unless we get blown out further when we next reach the Atlantic coast.

img_4747Little Current also is yet another small sleepy town.  The place to eat apparently is Elliot’s.  The food indeed at Elliot’s was good (especially the chippers), but the best part may have been the chance to quote the great Walter “Gib” Gibson: “You can’t name the kid Elliot.  No.  Elliot’s a fat kid with glasses who eats paste.”  What a classic.  The Sure Thing is grossly underrated.

The chainsaw guys from some HGTV series were doing their thing.  We thought about asking them to make a huge mermaid we could slap on our bow, but nah.  The highlight of Little Current for us, however, was Barry.  Dude is 72 but was the best of the singers whose paths we have crossed so far.  Lots of good stuff.  Kristofferson, CCR, The Beatles, Cash.  He knew a few of the words to Rocky Top but not enough to play it.  Insert sad face emoji here.

The sky was a bit ominous this morning, but off we went since the winds were acceptable.

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img_4766The person who names waterfalls really should start thinking outside the very small box.  Turns out there are Bridal Veil Falls in California, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and about a dozen other places just in North America alone.  Geez, why not mix it up a little?  He or she probably names all of his or her dogs Spot.  The point of all that is that on our way to Gore Bay, we detoured over to Kagawong to visit yet another Bridal Veil Falls.  This one required a hike from the marina, which we thought the boys would enjoy but they possibly didn’t.  The bad news was that (1) the hike wasn’t difficult or long and (2) there was a parking lot at the top, both of which meant people easily could get there with their children and toys.  Grrr.

NOTICE TO CANADIANS:  We would like to be the only people at your scenic areas so that we can take photos without you in them.  Thank you.

Kagawong also is home to St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.  This church is notable because a tragically-fatal incident involving a local family and their Chris-Craft motor yacht sadly yielded the awesome church pulpit.  The church also is notable because when Doug was taking a close-up photo, he stepped on a snake.  A live, wriggling, crossing-the-sidewalk snake.

img_4776Remember the game wardens in the sneaky fishing boat?  Not the Mounties.  The Mounties don’t play around.  600 horsepower worth of outboard motors pushing a slippery boat that weighs about 10 pounds makes it likely you won’t outrun them.  And since we literally can’t outrun butterflies, we’ve been staying on the honorable side of life up here.

Dinner with Second Wave at Bouy’s after sitting in the big red chair.*  On the way, we spotted two deer in a yard.  Mares may eat oats, and little lambs may eat ivy (and a kid’ll eat ivy too), but does eat crabapples.

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*Canada trivia time!  Up here they’re Muskoka chairs, even though most knowledgeable folks seem to agree that years ago a dude in the Adirondack Mountains designed them.

Au revoir Ontarians

img_4793Yesterday we dropped down into Meldrum Bay, our last stop in what has been a great trip through Ontario.  Except for the lockmaster at TSW Lock 42.  And the flies.  And the spiders.  And the fire.  And the spotty WiFi.  And a very small minority of Canadien boaters.  And the goose poop.  About everything else was fantastic, although a full 50% of us found butter tarts to be disappointingly disgusting.

Meldrum img_4792Bay is about as far west as one can go by car on Manitoulin Island and still be on a road.  If the road here was in Monopoly, it would be Mediterranean Avenue and houses would cost $50.  Mostly it’s a campground.  There’s a store with what supposedly is an LCBO, of course, because there’s always an LCBO even if the shelves are empty.  The store in winter, however, basically is Millie’s Haberdashery.

img_4795In fairness, there also is a small inn where we had dinner.  The food absolutely was delicious.  To honor the end of our roughly 540 nm trip through Canada, we even dressed up for the occasion.  That meant Dana looked very nice in a skirt she received for her birthday, and Doug wore his same shorts and flip flops, albeit with a polo shirt.  That’s as fancy as we get while living on a boat.

Did we mention spiders?  Much like Job from the Land of Uz, our patience has been tested by the hardships confronting us in the form of zillions of them covering Misty Pearl like a bridal veil.  (See what we did there?)  Spider droppings leave small black dots that resist cleaning.  When you smush a spider, it leaves more black dots that resist cleaning.  Since there wasn’t much else to do in Meldrum Bay, we cleaned off spider crap and guts.

14E9CABD-F15B-4080-B607-6752A66141E0Day 2 saw the small docks fill up with Looper boats.  Misty Pearl.  Cavara.  Compass Rose.  Mar-Kat.  Miss Norma.  Corkscrew.  Recess.  Oar Knot.  Second Wave.  The last 4 are Mainship Trawlers.  It was like a Mainship mini-rendezvous.  We all hoped to meet up on the shore, but then the rain hit and everyone lost interest in going outside.

The plan is to be in the good old US of A tomorrow.  Drummond Island, Michigan.  If the weather forecast still sucks when we get up, however, we may get to enjoy Meldrum Bay one more day.  If that happens, the blog post will be exceedingly brief.

Back where Miller Lite is domestic

After yesterday’s blog post was out the door, the rain stopped and the wind stopped.  In other word, droning weather.  The Canadians are a bit more strict when it comes to drones so for the most part our video has been limited to iPhones.  But here’s a bit of Meldrum Bay at dusk:

While not perfect this morning, it was good enough to exit the North Channel.  Loopers were off in a stream.  “Vroom.  Like rats out of the aqueduct.”

At 9:51 a.m. and roughly a mile east of Drummond Island, we passed back into U.S. waters.  (Verizon, however, waited a while before taking us off the uninspired Canadian coverage.)  Later we returned the Looper burgee to its appropriate spot.

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img_4803Incidentally, we were wrong about Little Current being our farthest point north.  That actually came when we turned the corner at the top of Drummond Island on our way to Drummond Island Yacht Haven, which is solidly functional but maybe not as posh as it sounds.  What the place lacks in style, however, it makes up for with blazing internet.  One of us spent the entire rainy and cold afternoon binge-watching the third season of Last Chance U on Netflix.  Hopefully that Emmit Gooden kid can ease up on the personal fouls now that he’s a Volunteer.

The other one of us just is happy to have a new phone.