Canadian Odyssey — Part One

August was a blur. That’s what I intended.

I-90 from the Angola Travel Plaza in New York State

I-90 as seen from the walkway of the Angola Travel Plaza in New York State

Most of it was spent rambling around Ontario. This time of year I typically drive up to Canada twice — once for a family fishing trip on Lake Nipissing and a few weeks later for a canoe trip to Algonquin Provincial Park.

This year, the trips were scheduled closer together. One pretty much segued into the other, so I drove up separately and stayed in Canada — doing a little exploring between trips. After the Algonquin trip, I took a detour and returned to Ohio by way of Pelee Island.

Normally I ride with my father and brother on the Lake Nipissing trip and with my friends, Ken and Steve, on the canoe trip. In both cases, there’s never time to stop and explore along the way. I took advantage of this year’s convoluted itinerary and did some spurnpiking along the way. (“Spurnpiking” refers to the practice of exploring via back roads.)

I took two days to get to Lake Nipissing, planning to camp somewhere along the way. An hour or so north of Toronto I needed to get my bearings, so I pulled into a plaza — featuring a Tim Hortons eatery, of course.

You’ve gotta love a park where they respect snakes.

You’ve gotta love a park where they respect snakes.

In Canada, they have what I call “socialized dining.” You can eat anywhere you like, as long as it’s Tim Hortons. The food is mediocre and the service is slow (mostly because of the business model, which is harder to figure out than Canadian politics). However, Tim Hortons has the best damn coffee in North America. If you’re going to go for a long drive in central Ontario, I’d highly recommend Tim Hortons coffee and the amazing mix of music on 104.1 FM in Simcoe.

I checked the map at Tim Hortons near Barrie and decided to camp at Killbear Provincial Park on the Georgian Bay. I knew I’d made the right choice when I pulled into the park and saw a sign advising motorists to brake for snakes.

More on snakes and Killbear Provincial Park in Canadian Odyssey – Part Two.