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We returned to Bay Wolf at Shinning Tree, ON for our 5th visit in 6 years.  We were looking forward to seeing our Canadian friends, who we met again last year, the Kovac’s and the Phinney’s.  As we pulled into camp Al & Wendy  Craigie, camp owners, along with their beautiful dog Bella, came out to greet us and show us what was added to our cabin.  Wendy was aware of Dottie’s situation and had thoughtfully “encouraged” Al to add some railings up to the cabin, which we were very pleased to have.  Again this showed that they are all about making the customer comfortable.  Al also helped unload the car with us and installed a convenience item we had brought along for Dottie.  We can’t say enough about how well we’ve been treated over the years by them.  They are very special people and we call them friends.

The first thing we have to share with you is a weather report.  In all of the 60+ years we’ve gone to Canada we can’t recall a time in September that we didn’t have to put on a jacket or a rain suit!  Total high pressure with temps in the 70’s-low 80’s during daytime and a pleasant mid-fifties at night . . . . the entire week! Of course that meant that the “skeeters” were still around but they generally were only noticeable in the evening as the breeze died down.

Dottie enjoyed sitting in the sun while doing her hand exercises and then showing off her muscles upon completion.  Note the hand rails that Al created for us.

Diane, Dottie and Tracy enjoying a snack time together.  God bless Diane.  She provided and cooked all of the evening meals.  We had tried to get her to let us bring a smoked turkey, smoked chicken breasts and a Smithfield ham but she gave us some cock and bull story about Tracy’s diet needs, which we fell for.  The meals were terrific.  No one got thinner this week.  Diane, you are wonderful.

We had exchanged emails with Tracy during the winter telling her that we were determined to make a new portage to one of the many lakes that Al has placed boats on.  We decided we would go to Granite Lake, a long narrow lake known for better Pike.  We had decided that whatever was needed we would make that 700 yard portage trail and would likely need to make 2 trips because of the gear and then needing to carry the motor.  Frankly it wasn’t something that I was real excited about doing, but the new lake carried the excitement.  Tracy then announced that Chris, her husband, would drive us over to get semi-near the lake in his 4-wheel truck and. . . he would carry the motor.  A new hero was born!  He was indeed the winner of the “Good Guy of the Week” award.  You see Chris is a heck of an outdoorsman.  He just doesn’t care about fishing.  Here he is, having installed a hammock, (Tracy is testing)  which he stayed in reading a book and enjoying some fresh brewed tea, while Tracy and I spent the day fishing.  

When we returned from fishing Chris reported that he had heard crashing and huffing in the woods, sounds that he attributed to a Moose.  We had seen fresh Moose tracks in the mud along the portage trail to the lake.  On the drive back to camp we did indeed come upon a cow Moose trotting along ahead of us until she realized she was being followed and did a quick step into the woods to disappear.

While we always had a camera nearby we just didn’t always think to take photos.  However here is Tracy catching the first fish of the day at Granite, a nice Smallmouth Bass.  We caught some Pike, though none of notable size.  The fish of the day was a Walleye of around 3-lbs. And it would have made good table fare if the clown driving the boat would have realized it was a Walleye before he was successful in shaking it off thinking it was a Pike.  Too late!  What an idiot!  Comments were made several times back at camp about this.  In fact most all of the camp was informed.

One morning we were out on West Shinning Tree Lake and as was our custom we were noticing various aspects of the nature of the lake.  We came upon some red lichen patches that we had never seen before.  In all the years we spent in Canada we had only seen the gray and the pale green lichens.  It was just a little something that we found interesting.

Upon our arrival the first day, Dottie and I were having a bit of sun and enjoying a cold beverage.  We had brought along some Cabela’s honey roasted peanuts, which we both really enjoy.  I had placed some on the table and had covered them with my hand to keep some bugs away as Dottie and I talked.  I was suddenly made aware that my fingers were being pried apart by some tiny paws with claws in a very aggressive manner.  Someone at the camp during the summer had obviously been enticing this beast to come up and help himself.  As you can tell from the photo on the right, he wasn’t satisfied with just having a peanut.  He stuffed everyone of the nuts on the table into his mouth before taking off to stash all of them away.  Cheeky little bugger.

Tracy & Chris had towed a trailer with an ATV & a dirt bike aboard.  They are both very interested in off-road activities.  Here is Tracy dressed out in her safety gear for her dirt biking.  They are both out of the ordinary outdoor folks.  They told us many tales of their new cabin in eastern Ontario and all of the critters they encounter.  They spent the last day exploring some of the many trails in the area.  Upon their return they announced they would be coming back next year later in September to just ride the trails and do some Grouse hunting.  The Grouse season began the day we departed and they took a couple of hours before departing to harvest several for their dining pleasure later.

Dog gone it.  We just realized that we didn’t grab a picture of Steve this year.  You’ll have to go back to our Canada 2016 page to see him.  He hasn’t gotten any prettier we can tell you that.  We did enjoy our time with Steve and we went out one day together to establish that neither one of us could catch a fish that day.  Here is a picture he took of Tracy and I leaving in shirtsleeves one morning.  The other is a picture he sent us from last year showing a bit of the beauty of the area.

It was a wonderful week for all of the reasons that we’ve shown above.  It was a week born of concern that Dottie had been reluctant to enter into.  But as she always does, she had a good time and told us upon our return that she was glad she went.  It was so good seeing Al & Wendy, Steve & Diane and Tracy & Chris.  Some good times and fine memories and we thank them for all they contributed to making it so.  

As we compose this page and look at these photos and also look back at photos of past years, it becomes bitter sweet.  As we say some times, “Everything has a beginning and an ending”.  This could possibly be our final trip to Canada.  It was 65 years ago that we made our first border crossing as a boy of 12 filled with the wonderment and excitement of seeing such beauty of nature unfold with my Dad as we paddled the Boundary Waters.  Through the years we have had the opportunity to include our family, and many of our friends in making our memories of this special land.  Most importantly we have been blessed to have had the most special memories while being with our very best friend of 49 years, Dottie. She has been and always will be, the best.  Thank you for allowing me to share these years and experiences with you.  So many, so fine.

In case you read last year’s story, you may be wondering if we stopped in St. Catharines, ON and had the greatest pizza again.  We sure as heck did!  And it still is the best.  If you are in St. Catharines be sure and stop at Coppola’s.  The menu is totally in Italian, but just order the sausage & pepperoni pizza with the peppers and your tongue will throw a party for your face.