Saturday, July 18, 2009

French River, Ontario Canada

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Woke up in the parking lot of the French River provincial park in Ontario. We walked up to the visitors center and took a look at the exhibition artifacts. Carol went in while I stayed outside with Nicky. Most the contents had to do with early missionaries, trappers, river life, and Indians. There was, however, an interesting trail down to the rapids. After a short hike, about a mile we found ourselves in front of a gorgous set of wild rapids. The layout of the French River is such that it has never been dammed so the wildness of the scene is intact. The only way to pass the rapids was to portage. Although the trail is being reclaimed by nature, parts of the way are still evident.
On the return leg, we noticed a narrow suspension bridge spanning the gorge below the visitor center. Taking that trail we came to the worlds longest and most expensive privately built snowmobile bridge. Yeah that's right! Seems the Canadians are most passionate about their snowmobiles and cringe at the thought of having their route shortened. The solution, of course, was to build this very attractive bridge to link their trail. In summer it is used as a foot bridge for tourists to gawk at the hardy folk who are either canoeing, kayacking or running the rapids. The donation box at the foot of the bridge was, I thought, a little tacky.

So it goes. We hopped back into the van and motored on to Bass Lake, just outside of Orillia, and our long awaited reunion with Vince and to meet Christie. Vince and I go way back. We met in Heidelberg, Germany in the spring of 1972, but I'd never met Christie. She and Vince have been together for the last seven years but due to a variety of factors, we were perfect strangers. Vince is one of those rare friends that regardless of the span of time between our last visit, we immediately fall back into our old rhythms and banter as if we had last parted hours ago rather than years. So it came as no surprise that both Carol and I soon felt the same way about Christie. She welcomed us with hearty hugs and a splendid hot meal. Vince had made the campground reservations weeks in advance so we had adjacent spots. Soon we were joined by Jerry and Sandy, two of the festivals' primary organizers. The wine flowed and the laughter rang out through the night. It was great to finally reach this destination, and to be among friends and catch up on each other's lives.

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