Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Pulled into the driveway just after midnight this morning after two straight 1100 km days.
You don't know discouraged until you look at the clock, its coming on dinner time and you've only put about 500 kilometres behind you.
We stumbled out of the van like POWS getting out of the hole after the camp has been liberated. Staggering, gaunt, hollow eyed, the stench of urine and feces and most of all desperate fear.
And that was just me.
Yesterday morning we piled into the van after a night spent in Berthierville and my eldest announced that the van smelled like underwear.
Since Thursday we've driven 3000 kilometres.
But we made it. And the amazing thing is that after this the 1700 km back is going to seem like a piece of cake.
Northern Ontario is one of those parts of Canada that should be seen. You have your standard Canadiana that everyone sees or knows about - Vancouver and the mountains, Banff and Jasper, the Stampede, West Edmonton Mall, the Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, PEI, the Cabot Trail, the Bay of Fundy, your great national parks, Ottawa.
You have the places that most folks make it to or experience - St. John's, Halifax, the endless Prairies, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan.
And then you have those that bubble underneath. Places that have to be seen to be believed but that are often overlooked due to distance or size or just pure anonymity. Cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton (a friend of mine has been across most of the country and rates Edmonton after Montreal and Toronto as his favourite town), the Gaspe, the outports and interior of Newfoundland, the Yukon, the Kootenays, the south shore of Nova Scotia, Acadian New Brunswick.
And Northern Ontario.
We were in Goulais for two days and when there you can see what those crazy settlers saw in it. Nestled on the shore of vast Superior, the cliffs of the rugged Highlands behind it, pine and spruce and the enormous sky. Its beautiful. From Goulais we rushed east along the north shore of Huron, over three hundred kilometres until Sudbury, the forests and rock cuts interspersed with some farmland and scrub where long gone homesteads once rose from the Shield and a dozen tiny towns, all but Blind River home to six hundred folks or less. In all but the smallest there is a war memorial and a chipstand. The next biggest would have an LCBO and then the largest would have a rink as well and more then one chipstand, of course. In many there are tiny museums that tell of the loggers and miners and farmers who arrived in the middle of nowhere two centuries ago, from Scotland and Ireland and Finland and Germany and all over Europe and the States, all to carve out a new life in the wilderness. And between the towns trading posts selling moccasins and Indian crafts and on the reserves the small stores advertising cheap smokes.
East of Sudbury its old French settlements and neat farms as the highway wends east past Verner and Warren and then Sturgeon Falls. More trading posts and more chipstands with fresh cut fries and sweet pickerel battered brown and poutine drowning in gravy and then great Nipissing extending into the distance south of the highway as you come into North Bay, perched on the northeast corner of the grand lake.
This is my country, of course, and so I am biased through and through, but a week spent wandering the forests and lakes and tiny towns uninterrupted in Northern Ontario is something each Canadian who wants to know their country should do. Even all of the nothing is truly something.
Now I have a ton of reading to do. I haven't the foggiest about the draft other then the Swede and the Brodziak trade.
Not sure about that move. A third and a fourth for Brodziak and a sixth is a decent return but on a club that was inexperienced and weak up the middle, on draws and on the PK trading a centreman who was over 51% on draws and was on the PK and had a couple of years under his belt strikes me as a bit odd especially when I read that his spot may now be Brule's to lose. I guess they plan on bringing in a centre who can play tough minutes, PK and win some draws because if not Horcoff will never come off the ice.
I liked Brodziak and its a shame to see him go. Remember two seasons ago when he and Glencross and Stortini had that nice run eating up the other clubs' dregs? And now both Glencross and he are gone, both to division rivals, both for reasonable dough and likely Brodziak, like Glencross, to take on a bigger role.
Oh well, we'll see, I guess. Not much has happened but its not just the Oilers who are running in place. Some small signings and a typical bold move from Sutter. Say what you will about the guy (and I think I'd be grumpy too after thirty years of answering inane questions from the likes of Terry Jones and Pierre Maguire) but he never leaves anything on the table - he is not afraid to go out there and try and improve his club.
In general though we're talking about the calm before the storm, I think. There will be some movement overnight and then tomorrow the madness.
Posted by Black Dog at 2:15 PM