Miracles can happen – I actually got up early for a change in order to head out in good time. Brenda had made a great breakfast and we had a last-minute visit before she went off to work. Gathering up the rest of my things, I proceeded to load up Fury. These proceedings were closely supervised by Sophia, Ajax and Dakota (the dogs), who came and went from the house to the bike to make sure I knew what I was doing. The air was heavy and humid and growing warm already when I left a little after 8:00 a.m. However, the forecast was predicting overcast, but no rain. Not being completely convinced of this outcome, I compromised and wore my mesh riding pants for the heat, but my waterproof jacket in the event of rain to preserve my phone and ipod, just in case.
We cruised along nicely for an hour and a half to Huntsville. Riding along, I again observed the towering cliffs of fractured rock covered densely with trees that line the highway and wondered how the heck the whole thing doesn’t come crumbling down. I suppose they do, from time to time, as evidenced by the piles of rock at the base here and there. I hadn’t filled up with gas in North Bay, so when we arrived in Huntsville, it was time to stop. Huntsville has all the markings of a very prosperous small city of almost 20,000. The businesses appear to be serving a healthy tourism industry and they have a very pretty waterfront park with lots of eateries. The community is well-cared for with picturesque storefronts and flowers along the main street. Needing a break, I stopped at the Whimsical Bakery for a coffee. They also had mini pecan pies and since pecans are nuts, that qualifies as health food (protein), and so I had one. Just to be healthy. 😊 I drink a cup of coffee every day almost, but I’m no huge coffee fan, but the coffee at the Whimsical Bakery was really good!
Back on the road and headed to Algonquin Park, we passed a turnoff for “Allison Road”. But since they couldn’t be bothered to spell my name right (Alyson), I couldn’t be bothered to check it out! We also passed Park Lake, but they must have meant boats, because there was no place to park a bike to take a picture. So we cruised along for another hour or so. The rain spit on us here and there, but we scoffed at it and kept going (inwardly, of course, for it would never do to openly mock Mother Nature).
Stopped at the entrance to Algonquin Park with every intention of purchasing the day pass the signs kept telling me I needed. When I went into the building, there was a lineup and one person at the desk, explaining to each person in detail about the trails and museums, etc. I hopped back on Fury and we just kept riding. Not too much time passed before we were confronted with the Algonquin Art Centre. Hoping I wouldn’t get ticketed for not having a pass, I pulled in to take a look. The entrance grounds have a small tribute garden to Tom Thomson. He was an outdoorsman and artist who came to Algonquin Park to fish. Seeing the creative possibilities in the landscape, he began leading fellow artists around the park. This became so frequent, they became known as the “Algonquin Park School” of artists. In 1917, Tom’s capsized canoe was found by residents searching his favourite painting spots. A few days later, his body was found and death by drowning was confirmed. In 1920, the artists who had gone on expeditions with him were inspired to continue Tom’s passion for exploring and painting Canada’s wilderness. They renamed themselves the Group of Seven and became Canada’s most famous group of painters.
The gallery is beautiful with gorgeous works of art in various mediums. Some of my favourites were the metal welding pieces of different animals. The detail was incredible – I can’t imagine the patience that takes. I don’t even have the patience to hand-stitch a quilt! There were also several paintings I could have on my walls if I win the lottery sometime soon. The art centre is also situated on a very pretty lake called Found Lake and it is a treat for the eyes, so I took a picture that doesn’t even begin to convey the real thing.
Back on the highway, we rode by another very pretty spot with a bright yellow float plane. As I neared the driveway though, it said “authorized personnel only”. Fine then. I went across the road to the park and took the picture back. Not nearly as lovely as it could have been, so I have to confess it’s really just a spite picture of the plane.
For the last 40 kilometers or so, at the east end of Algonquin park, the construction began. And it was never ending. So when I saw the sign for the Logging Museum, I would have liked to have visited, but it was not very accessible and would have been a nightmare to try to get back on the road. Instead, we trolled along behind all the other traffic through the construction and were happy to be free of it.
Arriving at Barry’s Bay, it was time for another wee break. I went into the ice cream shop and had an ice cream cone, since I wasn’t ready for lunch, courtesy of the pecan pie. Since milk is also protein and ice cream is made from milk, I don’t really see the problem there. As a bonus, it was chocolate ice cream and chocolate comes from a bean, which is a vegetable. So really, I had veggies too. I’ve been so healthy today, I can’t stand it!
There were only two other people in the restaurant. Margaret and Frank were sitting at a table each absorbed in their own tablet, proof that the generational barrier for such behaviour has been broken! I passed Margaret on my way to the washroom and said I had noticed this and wondered if that’s what happens when you know longer have anything left to say to each other. We had a good giggle and a little chat. They are from North Carolina and staying at a nearby beach. She said they had 8 or 10 grandchildren there waiting for hamburger buns! Easy to see why they were having a quiet little break at the ice cream shop and restaurant!
My tour-guide-by-text, Phil, from the CTX700 bike forum had told me of the Janusz Zurakowski Park in Barry’s Bay. Zurakowski was a famous Polish Canadian test pilot from Barry’s Bay. He was at the forefront of aviation technology and is considered the greatest test pilot of his time. In 1952, he emigrated to Canada to join Avro aircraft. That same year, he broke the sound barrier with the first Canadian aircraft of that design. A remarkable man with a remarkable life, I encourage you to look him up and check out his story. If you are wandering through Barry’s Bay, the little corner park is very much worth the visit and it’s right on the main road – even I couldn’t miss it.
Another stop, courtesy of Phil, was just up the road a few minutes. The town of Wilno claims to be the Canada’s first Polish settlement. They have a really great little strip of land where they have brought in old buildings, reconstructed them and set up displays of how life was lived by these new immigrants. Really well done and well worth the stop for the “by-donation” museum. Clearly the town takes a great deal of pride in its heritage and the preservation of it.
Walking back towards the bike, it began to rain a bit and I could see the clouds darkening in the west. Travelling east, I thought we had best get going if we were going to outrun it to Madoc. Stopping only for gas at Eganville, I took the turnoff for Hwy 41 south to Madoc. For a rider, this is a beautiful stretch of highway – pretty, with winding curves for miles.
Not being too sure how far we had to go, but knowing it was something under 2 hours, we whistled along to make what time we could. I could smell the rain coming and just wanted to get as many miles behind me as I could before it hit. So we didn’t get to stop at Bon Echo and check out the petroglyphs. This disappointed me, because rain had prevented me from visiting the ones in Lake Superior Provincial Park earlier. However, on we went, and all of a sudden, just outside of Kaladar, the rain came down in buckets! It was at this point that I realized I had not closed a vent on my jacket and a startling rivulet of water ran up the inside of my arm, over my shoulder and down my chest. That’s what I call wicking!
For the first time, I was close to a location to stop, so I pulled into a gas station and waited it out. It came down pretty hard for about 30 minutes and then eased up, stopped and a bit of watery sun peered out. Seizing the opportunity, I suited back up and Fury, shiny from the rain, was ready to go. At this point, I knew we were only 40 kms from our end destination, so knew we could achieve it even if we did get rained on again. We got behind a slow truck that we couldn’t get around for quite some time. This became more than frustrating as I watched the behaviour of the clouds travelling faster than us. I can honestly say it is the first time on this trip that I've had a flicker of anxiety about what was coming. They were…..rolling…..like waves – big, voluminous clouds, rolling over themselves in our direction. I thought it could just as easily be hail as rain. With 20 kms to go, we finally got a passing lane. Pulled out past that truck and we booked it for Madoc. We didn’t quite make it this time, the rain hitting us hard about 7 kms out. It let up just about the time I arrived in Madoc so I was able to pull out my phone for directions to the motel. The good news is, that even though I was wet, it was warm enough out that I wasn’t that cold.
Peeling off my wet clothes and having a warm shower restored my inner thermostat and I’m definitely ready for bed tonight. Hoping for good weather tomorrow so I can check out some of the interesting things that crossed my path today!