Monday, August 29, 2016

Hardy Lake Muskoka - A Walk in the Woods

Only 1.5 hours from Toronto is a beautiful 250 acre pristine lake with no cottages and no boats, surrounded by a beautiful forest.  Serene, peaceful, quiet are just a few words to say about this lake, although I gather I was quite chatty as my husband and I walked 1/2 way around the lake.  Jim and I quite regularly walk the golf course, hit the ball walk, hit the ball walk, today he had to change his flow to take a picture walk, take a picture walk.  And stop and help Lynne over trees, over little creeks, along the side of rock faces.

Image result for hardy lake provincial park

Surrounding the lake are marshes full of wildlife, which I think my chatting might have scared off.  I was also practicing my moose calls, no luck.  Will have to try and perfect it.  I am determined to see a moose, somewhere, anywhere :).

 It is amazing to see the way trees and vegetation cope in a forest.  Roots growing over rocks, bending branches stretching to catch the sunlight.  Trees fall and are returned to nature with the help of the bugs and weather.  The ones that land in the water become wonderful homes for fish to lay their eggs and enjoy some tasty meals from the vegetation and bugs that grow on them.

 That little knob on the tree above looks like a beaver head :)

 An amazing balancing act, looks like it would make a great teepee.

 We saw a few beaver dams, but no tree damage, maybe there are enough trees falling down naturally they don't need to cut their own.

I took a picture of a similar rock on Hardy Lake in October of 2010 on a walk with my girlfriends.  The colourful maple in full dress behind it and the reflections in the water made for a breathtaking picture moment.

 For a wee bit of a grey day, the reflections were amazing.  And to think this wonderful spot is so close.  A word of advice don't try and get near it Thanksgiving Weekend, there are cars parked everywhere and wall to wall people enjoying this beautiful piece of Ontario.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lighthouses of the Maritimes

Is there anyone who doesn't have a fascination with Lighthouses, their history, their tragedies, the wild coasts that they protect.  The sailors and fishermen that relied on the Lighthouse Keeper keeping that candle lit no matter the weather to bring them back safely to their waiting families.  These are a few of my favourites through the Maritimes.  I gather just a drop in the bucket.

Cape Enrage Lighthouse, New Brunswick

This lighthouse is the oldest one on the New Brunswick mainland, dating back to 1838.  Automation of the lighthouse didn't start until 1980.  Located in the upper area of the Bay of Fundy near the Hopewell Rocks and the entrance to Moncton, it is a wonderful place for watching the tides.  There is an automated fog horn sitting by the lighthouse.  This would be the last place you would want to be if the fog rolled in, no warning, it just starts blowing.  The view is amazing looking all the way down the Bay of Fundy and now has zip lining, kayaking, and rock climbing, oh to be 20 years younger.  Bonus for me was the 5 star restaurant looking over the bay, with a great wine list. Cape Enrage Lighthouse

St. Martins, New Brunswick

This lighthouse was built in 1983, it was rebuilt here after the original burned down.  The original lantern room is displayed here.  You can climb up 2 very steep sets of stairs to get a 360 degree view of the town of St. Martins.   If you like covered bridges you can actually see 2 here with the lighthouse in the middle of them.  And a lovely view of the sea caves surrounding the coast, carved out by the tides over the years.  A beautiful little town.

Parrsboro, Nova Scotia 

Parrsboro is a great place to start the drive up the Fundy side of Nova Scotia.  This lighthouse was originally erected in 1852 at the entrance to a beautiful harbour.  After it collapsed a new one was erected in 1980.  There were lighthouse keepers working to keep sailors and fishermen safe until 1987 when it was fully automated.  

Five Islands, Colchester, Nova Scotia

Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg and Pinnacle make up the 5 islands in this chain in the Minas Basin.  The lighthouse is considered a pepperpot style and was built in 1914, it has been moved 3 times (1952, 1957 and 1996) because of erosion from the wear and tear of the tides and storms.  In 2008 it has hopefully been moved for the last time.   After being decommissioned in 1993 it is now part of one of Nova Scotia's newest provincial parks.  

Woods Island, PEI

Built in 1876 it is one of the last 2 lighthouses where the light keeper and his family lived right in the lighthouse.  In 1958 electricity was added to the building and it became fully automated in 1989.  Now it is a museum and interpretive centre, a great place for the family to visit.  

North Cape PEI

The North Cape is one of the longest and dangerous rock reefs in North America as noted by Jacques Cartier in 1534.  After lots of controversy the lighthouse was finally approved in 1865 and started working in 1866.  It was automated in 1962 and it's last lighthouse keeper retired in 1967.  What a welcome beacon it must have been to the many travellers looking for the entrance to Canada.

Indian Head Lighthouse, Lower Bedeque, PEI

The lighthouses first keeper started in 1881, they used to row over every evening, spend the night and row back in the morning.  The pier was built out and then the lovely octagonal lighthouse built on top of it.  It is still a working fully automated lighthouse. If you visit at low tide, you can walk all the way out to it on the ocean floor.   

New London Lighthouse, PEI

This lighthouse was built in 1876 and demanned in 1960.  One of the few lighthouses that had a female keeper from 1943 to 1956.  One of my favourite lighthouses mainly because of where it is, right by the French River with it's beautiful harbour and colourful huts, with an amazing beach which makes you feel like your footprints are the only ones on it.  

"Following the death of her husband Claude, in 1943, Maisie Adams took on his role as keeper until 1955. She had been tending the light since his appointment in 1940. They had three children: Robert, Gertrude and Mary. She earned $13.60 a month when she started. This had increased to $49. when she resigned in 1956. She died on October 27, 2000 at the age of 87. " New London Lighthouse

East Point PEI

Built in 1866, this lighthouse serves the marine traffic using the Canso Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the 2 currents meet.  The day we were there the waves were crashing into each other on a perfect diagonal line from the point out to sea.  
"On September 12th, 1882, the 1,137 ton British warship, HMS Phoenix ran upon a reef off East Point. Although the blame was put on the “negligent navigation” of the Phoenix, many believed that the location of the lighthouse was the real cause of the misfortune. Charts showed the Lighthouse on a point, while, in fact, the Lighthouse had been built approximately half a mile inland. As a result, in 1885 the Lighthouse and keeper’s cottage were moved 1600 feet east, to within 200 feet of the edge of the point." East Point Lighthouse 

Souris, PEI

The Souris East Lighthouse still guides ferries between Souris and the Magdalen Islands.  It also has telecommunicatons equipment which directs air and sea traffic in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Constructed in 1880 it was manned until 1991 when the last keeper retired. 
 "Souris has the only complete weight system. The keeper had to climb the tower every 3 hours and 15 minutes to rewind the mechanism which rotated the light."  

There are 63 lighthouses on PEI alone, looks like I will be making a few more trips out to the Williams.  Get ready for more roadtrips MJ.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

PEI - a place to re energize yourself

PEI - their motto should be "As Far As the Eye Can See".  Look to the left and there are fields of hay or potatoes as far as the eye can see, look forward and there is the ocean as far as the eye can see, look to the right and there are the famous red cliffs as far as the eye can see.  Large vistas are everywhere, unless you are on the shore you feel at times like you can see from one side of the island to the other.

Today we set off for a new beach, I can't believe there is a beach I haven't been on, but I gather there are enough I'll have to come back next year too.  Big blue sky, gentle ocean and we are on our way to Covehead Harbour and Brackley/Dalvay Beach National Park.  So much quieter than Cavendish and the water was amazing.  Lots of Dunes and a lovely lighthouse, what more could we ask for.  Out came the cameras, off came the shoes and we were ready for some walking and picture taking and maybe a little splashing in the water.  This might be the best year yet for warm and clear ocean water.  It was almost impossible to keep your feet on the sand.  :)

The Covehead Lighthouse has a tribute to the many lives that were lost during the Gale of 1851.  The gale hit up and down the eastern coast of Canada and the US.  As I was reading it out loud to MJ, I could picture Gordon Lightfoot doing a song about it.

The Gale of 1851
"The forenoon had been particularly balmy. Schooners had sailed into the shallow waters in search of Mackerel and Cod, but darkness found the vessels trapped in the stillness close to land. There was no breeze to carry them offshore. That evening a strong wind blew from the northeast. By midnight it had raged into a powerful gale.
For several days the wind and waves gathered strength. On the morning of the fourth day, the sea subsided. Battered ships were strewn along the north shore. Bodies of sailors and fishermen were entangled amongst the wreckage.
Many men were buried here in Prince Edward Island. Their graves are a silent reminder of the changing moods of the sea."

It always amazes me how with this large beach, people park their cars in the parking lot, walk through the pathway and plop down their stuff, all you have to do is turn a corner and there's no one.

As you can see I loved this lighthouse, it helped having the big blue sky and white dunes surrounding it.

MJ and I tend to get turned around at least once a little trip, the nice thing is you are never lost and your turnaround is never for long.  And sometimes you come across some cute/novel picture moments.

Driving up to the golfer, we thought we must be near a course and this was a crossing from one hole to the other, Nope, just a mailbox.  :)

This corner had a group of sunflowers, dancing in the breeze for us.

This is the view from Walrus by the Sea, the Williams beautiful home away from home, where we have been lucky enough to spend the last couple of years relaxing and getting away from the hustle and bustle of Ontario.  It is such a different life.

Thanks Andy and MJ for another great vacation.  Feeling very relaxed and sad to be going home.  Pretty sure after romping in the waves today I will be bringing some red sand back with me.