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ReportsMonday, 30 June 2003
Thunder Bay --> somewhere on Shoal Lake, Ontario, Canada It was thanks to a Greyhound bus ticket that my hostess Lynn Smith bought for me yesterday that I got myself to Kenora without any hassles. She dropped me off at the bus stop at 8.30 in the morning, gave me some lunch in a bag and we said goodbye. I thanked her for the two nights stay at her place in Thunder Bay, though!
It is thanks to those hosts in the Sudbury, Espanola, Sault Ste. Marie, Marathon and Thunder Bay, that I took this route along the big lakes. It could have been possible that if one of them had cancelled out on a place to stay for me, the distance from one place to another would have been too big, and I would have been the spoiled chicken that would have hopped on the train from Sudbury to Winnipeg. And just skip beautiful northern Ontario.
I am glad that I finally didn't have to chicken out.
It was only a six-and-a-half hour trip to Kenora with the bus, where I crossed a time zone and gained another hour on this day.
I don't encourage anybody to get on the bus for six hours through this rugged area, unless you have to get to somewhere important. My importance is that I have to get my butt to Vancouver within the coming month.
My next hosts live in Winnipeg, but I didn't have to get all the way to Winnipeg today. I am that fortunately that the people that invited me over at their house in Winnipeg were celebrating a little vacation. At their cottage. On an island in the middle of a big lake.
So I met up with Claire Maxwell and Grant Platts and their 11-year-old son Duncan when the bus dropped me off in touristy Kenora. I quickly understand this was a tourist town, because I normally don't see that many American license plates around a town.
The small city of Kenora used to be known as Rat Portage, until a flour company refused to build a mill here, arguing that the word "rat" on their sacks wouldn't do much for sales. So then you change the name of your town! Grant told me that the name Kenora is a collection of different town names around here and together it became KeNoRa – and that sound pretty native eh?
Kenora lays on the Lake of Woods, one of the most famous sport fishing spots in North America. But that was not the lake we were driving at.
Claire is a vice-principle at a school in Winnipeg and from the coming school year on she will be principle. "I am looking forward to it, but now I have six weeks vacation!" Grant is a managing director "at the mental health clinic in Winnipeg," as he said so. "I have to make sure we have enough beds and all that."
I just had to ask him if he would have a bed for me. "Nope, you are too sane for that." Darn!
"We built our own cottage," Claire told me in the car, "it took us about ten years. We bought the lot on a little island in Shoal Lake, built a dock, cleaned the area and started building. Of course with a lot of help of friends."
We drove some twenty minutes down the road from Kenora, then got on a lone and windy road towards a cottage in the middle of nowhere. I had already lost all my sense of direction. The scenery was a dense green forest surrounding the road.
"My parents live here," Claire told me. We got my stuff out of the car and after a quick meeting with Claire's parents, we moved down to the dock and got into the boat. Some ten minutes of cruising over Shoal Lake, the lake with over one thousand islands (!) we arrived to my place to stay for tonight.
I was impressed. Who wouldn't? They build a lovely wooden cottage right here on this small island. "We only have a few neighbours," Grant said. "But there is nobody living on the other islands."
I was already enjoying the view from here.
I was given one of the many beds on the second floor of the cottage ("We have many friends using our cottage too") and joined the family on the dock to enjoy the sunny weather.
Of course, I had to go for a jump in the water, right from the dock and take pleasure in a swim around. This was great!
Duncan told me where the best fishing spot was, around the dock, and within a few minutes I already had two victims. And Duncan also let me use his little air-filled engine boat to pay a visit to a small island in the lake.
This place was magical!
For dinner Grant threw some chicken on the barbeque and prepared a stir fry meal. After dinner we went for another boat ride (on the big boat) to tour around some cousins and nieces of my hosts, who were staying at her parents place. Hey, Grant even let me be the captain behind the wheel as we cruised around!
It was amazing! And I loved watching the pelicans on the small rocky islands. Those creatures are fantastic.
The night ended with me showing my Canada-movies to Claire and Grant as they had not seen them yet and as there was no further entertainment on the island.
Duncan watched The Flintstones on video when I settled behind my laptop and Claire and Grant were reading peaceful on the couches.
Good night little island in Shoal Lake!