Jim & June's Odyssey 090507
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
57Trip End Ongoing
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We barely got settled in our campground when our grand-daughter Tiffany and her mother Denise arrived to spend the night in our motorhome. The next day we all drove to London, Ontario to help Tiffany move from her university of Western Ontario residence to her own house. After re-assembling her furniture, we all went to Jim & Sue Vanderhoeven's for a visit. John & Helen Cantos met us there also. The two couples had just returned from a trip to the Bahamas with Tom and Denise so we discussed our trips but eventually they reminisced and generally made fun of each other. We really had a fun evening and lots of laughs!
Our motorhome was still parked in Niagara Falls so we decided to return there via the scenic route along the north shore of Lake Erie from Port Stanley to Port Colborne. The 200km drive took us over 8 hours. We stopped at every scenic view and historical marker along the way and even had enough time for a lunch at a lakeside diner. The weather was warm and sunny so we had a very slow pleasant trip following a road with lots of curves and 50ft undulations along its entirety. The shoreline alternates from sand beach, gravel and solid slippery rock
Every little town was built at the mouth of a river or creek that emptied into Lake Erie. Those rivers were widened and deepened to create a marina and levees were constructed into the lake to ensure that the sifting shore sand will not plug off the entrance. The best place to fish for perch, bass, bluegill, pike, carp, trout and bullhead is off the end of those levees, next to the 30ft tall lighthouse.
· Port Stanley - A scenic coastal town with a very nice marina, railway museum, rustic downtown, mural clad buildings and its own cantilever lift bridge.
· Long Point, Ont - The longest peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie where the beaches have lots of sand that blows towards the houses. Residents have attempted to block the sand from blasting their homes by installing high plywood fences or snow fence slats. This has only worsened the situation by creating sand-drifts as high as the fence and long enough to pile up against the houses. There are banks of sand along the walkways and beside doorways just so's they can open them. Even flowers get buried in the swirl.
· Port Burwell - It hosts the oldest lighthouse on Lake Erie. This town is also a major stop for the Monarch butterfly because of the abundance of milkweed that the newly hatched butterfly's use as a food and a chemical defense against predators. They also have a small maritime museum.
· Turkey Point - This town has probably the largest harbor along the shoreline. There were several tugs, larger boats and some barges. It turns into quite a touristy place in the summer with all of the ice cream stands, taco shops and souvenir spots just opening up.
· Nanticoke Generating Station - It is the largest coal-fired power plant in North America, delivering up to 4096 MW of power into the southern Ontario power grid (enough for 2.5 million households). It was scheduled for decommission in early 2009 but this has been delayed until new nuclear power plants are built.
· Stelco's Lake Erie Works - In 2007, United States Steel bought this massive facility but shut it down a year later because its main operation focuses were on making steel for the automotive sector. Now, a skeleton crew performs minuscule production.
Things we Observed:
· There are absolutely no tourist facilities from Hamilton to London.
· Semi trucks have 9 axels, gravel trucks with 4 axels (but they're not tridems), concrete trucks with auger systems slung over the front of the cab (similar to hydro-vac units).
· Dandelions - They're everywhere and nobody can spray for them because it's the law. Anybody living within a watershed of the great lakes cannot use pesticides. Entire fields are completely yellow.
· Windmills - Surprisingly, there are a lot of them. Near Sand Hills, Ont - PowerGen Corp built 66, each is 255ft high with a 120ft blade and produces 1.5 megawatts. Overall they provide electricity to 24,000 households.
· Tobacco farming in Ontario is finished, there are no farms left. All of the magnificent drying barns are in disrepair and most of the ventilation equipment is rusting out. They've switched to corn, ginseng, fruit orchards, wineries, vegetable farms, hay....
· Elk Farms - The velveted horns are about ½ grown and the animals are losing their winter coats.
· The wind is strong enough to turn the windmills but the water on lake Erie is fairly calm - an unexplainable phenomenon.
Things we Learned:
· Asparagus is harvested one stalk at a time with a banana knife. We talked to a group of Jamaicans???? (dressed in parkas, touques and insulated gloves - it was 23C) and they explained that harvesting is performed daily from May-Aug.
· Several Historic Markers are quite humorous. Although difficult to locate, the markers state things like:
1) A fort was going to be built here but the lumber didn't show up so the project was cancelled.
2) A battle was anticipated at this location - but the soldiers didn't show up.
3) A ship sank here......No, maybe it sank over there BUT the marker is here because the people that funded its erection live here.
4) A new fort was being constructed here but a new general cancelled it. The marker goes on to say that if you look hard enough, the cornerstones may be visible.....there are stones all over?!