Monday, November 23, 2009

Chapleau Crown Game Preserve

Aug 3: We are known for our explorations. I saw the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve on the map and I wanted to go see it. It is the largest Crown Game Preserve in the world with 2,000,000 acres! We got into the town of Chapleau and knew we needed to get our room set up first, because in small towns hotel keepers put the "No Vacancy" sign out when they'r ready to go to bed. We got our hotel room, put gas in the tank and headed north to explore the preserve. The road was dirt, and we regularly passed beautiful ponds and lakes. We knew there was a lake at the end of the road 72 kilometers away. We got to to end of the road where there is a pretty lake and a campground. We finally saw moose after the sun went down, but they didn't cross the road. We came across one of the lakes as the moon was rising and I just had to see what I could do with the pretty scene:

I stayed out as long as I could playing with exposures. But the mosquitoes were fierce and it was getting late and we still had a long way to go to get back to the hotel.

And, sure enough, when we got back to town at a late hour, everything was closed up tight. It was good we had planned ahead and had a comfortable room. Sleeping in the car would have been no fun and there were really no other towns very close. It was a good day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grands Jardins Provincial Park

Aug 12 Parc national des Grands-Jardins has amazing mountains that are part of the Canadian shield. Jardin is French for garden. The park got its name because of the carpet of lichens and Nordic vegetation. We only got to sample the park and we were there late in the day when the sun was low in the sky. There was a long dirt road on the park brochure that looked worth exploring, but we knew we had limited time so we only went a short way before turning back.

Near our turnaround point, we came upon this lovely old log church.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

La Mauricie National Park

La Mauricie National Park is located northeast of Montreal in the Quebec province of Canada. While there are hiking trails and roads to explore the park, canoeing is probably the best way. There are 30 lakes to explore with portages between many of them. Canoes, rowboats, and kayaks can be rented at several places in the park. For those planning long trips with several portages, they have light weight canoes. I've gotten to do some canoe trips, and I found myself wishing that we had more time here to see the scenery from the water level.

The road led us up to this beautiful overlook. There are canoes on the water in the distance, but so far away they are little dots. We were lucky enough to be here late in the afternoon when the lighting was pretty good for photography.

We stopped at this lake and I went out on the dock - savoring the still, quiet water and the beaver that was swimming on the other side of the lake.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lake Superior's North Shore

Aug 2-3: For a long time I had been wanting to explore the Canadian side of Lake Superior. While we didn't have a lot of time on this trip, we made the most of what we had.

Since we first started visiting the Lake Superior area, I'd been hearing about Thunder Bay. It is a picturesque town the western end of the St. Laurence shipping lane. It overlooks the scenic Sibley Peninsula with the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. It is a nice sized town. We had a great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the bay in the old train station.

Near Terrace Bay is the lovely Aguasabon Gorge. There is also a waterfall, but the overlook didn't have a good vantage point for a good photo and it was getting close to dark so I had no time to check for a better one. The limits of doing a road trip with a hard deadline to be in Montreal for the convention are that you can't always be at the prettiest places at the right time of day hoping for "magic" lighting.

On the way to Pukaskwa National Park, we saw this merlin swooping over the marsh. Merlins catch their prey in flight. While much of their diet is small birds, they also eat insects such as dragonflies. This merlin was hunting over this marshy area and we suspected that the insects were his prey that day.

He did pause on this fence post to check us out giving us a good look see and a better chance to identify him.

We weren't at Pukaskwa National Park at the right time of day for spectacular photos either, but the rock formations leading down to the water make this a pretty place. It was one of several Canadian parks that I wished for a canoe to go out and explore it better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riding Mountain National Park

Back to the blogs about our Canada trip:

It was a rainy, cloudy day when we entered Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. Beautiful aspen forests surrounded us as we drove into the park. There were two bison enclosures and we were able to drive quite close.

I don't know why, but I always enjoy getting to see bison - they're big, strong, and a historic symbol of the open prairie.

The wildflowers were beautiful.

From the daisies to the pink clover - there were flowers everywhere.

These reminded me of domestic day lilies, but they were small:

This young bear poked his head out of the forest to check us out. A little later we got to watch him grub for worms deep in the forest.

We were treated with a rainbow at the end of the day! What more can one ask!