Campshaws Internationale

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? The summer has passed, with little camping for the Campshaws. But, it’s September, one of our favorite times of the year to head out. So, you’re going to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly in Campshaws Internationale. Yep, the Campsh@ck is in Canada – home of fabulous Provincial Parks, poutine, a beautiful capital city, and lots of other treats

To get to Canada, we started our journey in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, specifically Brimley State Park. Although it stormed, or threatened to every day, we still managed to do some typical UP stuff – eat smoked fish, watch a freighter pass through the Soo Locks, and quaff a beer or two. There’s lots of good cycling here, and many great views.

That’s in spite of being cheek to jowl with hundreds of other campers. I’m sorry to say that the more I camp in Michigan, the more I dislike our State Parks. The goal here seems to be maximim density, minimum genuine camping experience. It just isn’t good.

But the best, most interesting thing about being at Brimley at that time happened late at night on our second night in camp. John had gone in for the night, and I was feeding the campfire while trying to finish a book. It was overcast, and very dark in the campground as my fire faded away to embers near midnight. I looked up into the trees behind our site, and it was as if someone has strung hundreds of fuzzy, hazy green lights in the trees. Randomly. As far as I could tell, it was only the trees behind our campsite. I woke John, and made him come out to see this. When we shined a flashlight into the trees, the green lights vanished. Know what this is? Foxfire! It was amazing. I don’t have the ability on my camera to take a time exposure, so this is the best I could capture. There were three exceptionally bright spots low to the ground. I realize its not too impressive, but I wish that you all could actually have been there to see this. Makes me smile to think about it more than a week later. It looked like fairies had strung Christmas lights. It was such a disappointment not to be able to get a representative photo.

Of course, the next night I was all geared up to explore this further. I decided to find a few spots which were readily accessible, and put a twist tie around that branch, so that I could examine it in the daylight. Oh yeah, I had my Junior Scientist cap on! Sadly, we didn’t see them again, despite my staying up into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for it to happen. But, being able to experience it one time was thrilling.

If you never have the chance to travel Queen’s Highway 17 from Ste Sainte Marie to Ottawa, just do it. What a fantastically beautiful roadway. Rolling hills, waterways, wildflowers, AMD mosses/lichens of every color (green) imaginable pass by at speeds of 40-60mph. John drove, while I was on High Alert for moose along the roadside. It’s the kind of scenery where one would actually expect to see a few casual moose lolling about in the ponds. Roadside picnic areas are everywhere.

For the three days it took us to wander toward Ottawa, we loved every mile.

Our first night was spent at Chutes Provincial Park. Since our travel time was relatively short, we had time to enjoy a five mile hike along the old logging river. It was named Chutes, because the loggers actually had to build wooden chutes to get the logs down the twisting river – the twists and turns were too sharp to force the logs through the bends. This was the perfect way to begin our Canadian adventure.

Day 2 took us to Samuel Champlain Provincial Park. Have I mentioned that it has barely stopped raining since we left home at week ago? We arrived in a deluge, and stayed inside, and out of the muck as much as we could. This may be a lovely Park, but that determination will have to be made on a future visit. It was miserable.

On to Ottawa! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we are fans of visiting US state capitals, and exploring the amazing government buildings and public areas . Ottawa would be our first foreign Capitol, and it did not disappoint. Cantley Camping was our home for a couple of nights, and it was a good choice, despite being a few miles out of from town. We had an easy commute to the local bus station, and a great experience with public transportation into town. We got dropped off at Parliament Hill, the government hub. Wow!

Many of the buildings were undergoing exterior cleaning, but the disruption was minimal. We toured the Parliament, which was reconstructed after a fire destroyed everything but the library 100 years ago. Most of the areas were difficult to photograph with my phone camera, so I didn’t even try. But, the library, (not touched by the fire because iron doors separated it from the rest of Parliament), was jaw-dropping.

My apologies to Queen Victoria for cutting off her head. Queen Victoria was the Monarch who selected Ottawa to be the capital of Canada. Her official portrait displayed in Parliament is one that she disliked, because she felt that it made her left arm appear deformed. But, since she never actually visited Canada, it had hung with all the other Kings/Queen’s portraits there.

An amazing feature in Ottawa was the Rideau Waterway. A series of huge locks in Ottawa make the passage from Kingston to Ottawa possible. It’s over 125 miles long, constructed in 1832.

Ottawa is beautiful city, which we surely didn’t explore in just two days. I’ve already got places to visit mapped out for our next trip.

Getting to Montreal was a challenge. Endless road construction and detours, combined with our lack of ability to speak French made it a tense trip to Camping Amerique. Don’t be fooled by the greenery in the photos – these are seasonal camping sites. We were assigned a few square feet in a gravel parking lot, vitually on top of our neighbors. It was bad.

One of the main reasons we went to Montreal at this time was to see the Grand Prix (pro cycling race). Held on a hilly 7k circuit in the central city, it was exciting to watch. We had front row seats from every vantage point. These are Tier 2 pro cyclists – some will probably make it to the top tier of Tour de France racing. But these are top pro teams, and we had a blast watching them.

Our hearts were with the Cannondale team, which didn’t place well, but it was a blast, anyway. This is a whole level of cycling we hadn’t experienced. These are amazing athletes.

I had watched a video of two guys slurping noodles in Montreal Chinatown, and marked two restaurants I’d like to visit, so we found ourselves at Maxim. John is an excellent slurper, I’m less so. This simple, inexpensive food was probably the best we’ve had in a long time.

Omg, that was tasty! We each had a noodle bowl, and shared a scallion pancake. I want to make noodles like this guy!

We spent time just wandering around, enjoying the sights of a big city. Once again (and we knew in advance), we didn’t budget enough time to really explore. The Basilica Notre Dame was awe-inspiring. We were a bit chagrined to realize (upon exiting), that we had entered unofficially from a side street, and had not paid the admittance fee. Oops.

(I apologize for the unedited photos). We have had little or no internet since we left home, and I’ve often uploaded photos when we found a bit of WiFi). Using the WordPress app instead of my laptop is cumbersome for me, so things might look a bit haphazard.

We’re back in the States now for two weeks, then heading to Quebec City, and on to the Bay of Fundy. Not sure if we’re going to go to PEI and Nova Scotia, or leave that for another trip. Perhaps part of that decision will be weather-driven. We are soggy and a bit mildewed around the edges after endless day nof rain. We get a snippet of sunshine, followed by a deluge.

Camping is more fun in good weather than bad. That’s Rule #1.

More to follow…

16 thoughts on “Campshaws Internationale

  1. Hi Judy! I have a cooking question for you. Usually I see pictures of a cast iron pot in the fire. Looks yummy. I gave one of those pots but inherited it… I haven’t a clue where to start with it. Do you have any advice or a cookbook or blog that got you started?
    Thanks
    Marie

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    • Hi Marie. Really, I don’t have any advice for you on this subject. I would Google Dutch Oven Cooking, and go from there. We do have one cookbook at home, which I’ll get to you when we return, but it’s kind of worthless, I’m home.

      Our camping pals have a large Dutch Oven contingent, so I’ll query them for info. Will get back to you.

      Are you headed back to CA to camp host this winter? We won’t be home until Halloween.

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      • Thank you. Any direction would be wonderful.
        Yes. We are headed to CA this year again. We moved up to a truck camper. Last year we did a tent.
        I’m searching for great spots to hike or events to see different on the way out again this year. I always start with your blog. 👍
        Have some great travels and I’ll be following.

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      • Thanks, Marie. I put out feelers for Dutch Oven cooking info. I’ll get back to you.

        We will be in Michigan this winter – long story. Hope to hit the road in March for a spring trip, taking us thru May. We’ll see what happens. It’s been a while since I had to shovel any serious quantity of snow😊

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  2. If you loved that Firefox you will be blown away by our Northern Lights here in Alaska, and as icing on that cake of light the camping ‘can’ be quite a solitary experience.

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    • You must still be in recuperation mode after your busy summer, Sandi (happy birthday, too). I don’t think we will make it over your way this trip, but let’s plan something for next year. Miss you and John.

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  3. Gorgeous photos Judy! Basilica looks amazing. What is that Foxfire? Is it a plant? Very cool! John looks like a champion slurper! Keep the pics coming!

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    • Hey Deb! You would have loved the foxfire. It’s caused by a decaying fungus – check out the link in the blog – there are some pretty amazing photos. Honestly, it was like a fairy Christmas.

      I told John I would even consider going to Mass, just to hear that huge pipe organ, and to have time to absorb the beauty of the cathedral. It would have been nice to take a tour, and learn some of the details. You could go every day for a month, and still find new things there, I’m convinced.

      It’s been hard to post photos, since we really haven’t had any signal since leaving home. But, for this campsite in NY, it’s here, and it’s fast! Yay for the internet, text, and all that stuff.

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  4. The foxfire is pretty cool, isn’t it? It takes exactly the right weather conditions on a very dark night, I’ve only seen it twice.

    I’ve never camped in a Michigan state park unless it was the only option available, such as in the Porkies. Too many people in too small of a space for me, give me a rustic state forest campground any time.

    I liked the photos that you shot of the very impressive buildings that you toured, I’ll never see them in person though. I’d like to, but there are too many natural features to see close by that would take up all my time.

    Some one that I went to high school with took the canal all the way from Kingston to Ottawa, in a boat of course, and blogged about the trip. Very impressive views along the way. Thanks for the reminder about that.

    Camping in the rain didn’t used to bother me as much as it does these days, must be a sign of old age setting in. But, I do know how miserable it can be to be wet all the time and never dry out fully.

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    • Hi Jerry. The foxfire took me by surprise – I had never even heard of it. And there were probably 150 blobs of it. I wanted to wake up everyone in the campground to come see it, but (wisely) did not. Hope I see it again somewhere, but I realize it will be just chance if I do.

      Since leaving Canada, we’ve camped in two NY State Parks. We have a gigantic space, and are well separated from our neighbors. Both are rustic (no electricity/water), which appeals to us. They are what camping should be – I just don’t get Michigan State Parks. We need a Camping Commission to put together a plan to take back the parks for campers. Seriously. Like you, we never camp in MI State Park, unless we don’t have other choices.

      I do love architecture, and some of the ornate old government buildings and churches have a special appeal for me. The trick is to spend enough time in one place to see it all. Inside and out!

      While we were at the Rideau Canal, we talked with a woman on a boat going through the locks. There must be seven or eight of them coming down into Ottawa – they had started a few hours before we saw them, and still had at least two or three to go. It’s not for someone in a hurry!

      Take care. Thanks for your thoughts, Jerry.

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      • Part of the reason Michigan State Parks are the way that they are is that until the law creating the recreational passport went into effect, the park system was used to other parts of the government, while the parks weren’t maintained. Hopefully, there will be improvements since money spent on the parks now stays in the park system, but they will be slow in coming, and I probably won’t live long enough to see any major improvements.

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      • There’s a hopeless amount of catching up to be done. Agree that you and I probably won’t be around to see many big improvements. I hear some nice improvements were made at Wilderness SP, but I know it involved adding electric sites. That’s not high on my list!

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