My Ontario Road Trip - Part Three
Following My Passions

A month on the road and, as planned, the first segment of my Ontario trip has come to a close. I'm now back at home but, by mid-august, when Ontario's tourist season begins to wind down, I hope to venture out again - covering a different route.

This has been a month of wonderful new discoveries - about myself, people, and passions. I met some of the nicest people!

In Bobcaygeon, I met Barbara Puxley, a woman who has certainly identified her passion and found a way to run with it. Known locally as "Mother Osprey," Barbara founded the "Friends of the Osprey," an organization that has set the Kawarthas area apart as the largest osprey nesting grounds in North America.

Barbara took me under her wing (pun intended) and showed me, not only the location of, at least, a dozen osprey nests, but everything else she could think of that is interesting, free, or frugal in the Bobcaygeon area. She was even able to arrange a guided tour at the local museum - no small feat on a Monday when it is closed for the day.

The Boyd Museum, Bobcaygeon

Barbara (on the left) with our knowledgeable and charming museum tour guide.

Barbara and her husband are avid RVers themselves and members of the Escapees RV club that I recently joined. So, although we had never met before, they welcomed me to park in their driveway overnight, and even offered me hook-ups. Now THAT'S hospitality!

Gravenhurst is the birthplace of one of the most world-famous Canadians in history, Dr. Norman Bethune. Talk about a man who let nothing, even his own health, stop him from following his passion to help the poorest of the poor wherever he found them. Revered in Spain and China where he spent most of his medical career, Bethune is honoured in Gravenhurst by a National Historic site at the house where he was born, which stands in its original location.

 Bethune House

I was in the bedroom where Dr. Bethune was born and lived as a child.

Breast cancer survivors from all over the world participate annually (this is the third year) in the International Dragon Boat Races. This year Peterborough, Ontario hosted the event on Little Lake at Del Crary Park, where this particular frugal shunpiker arrived early Saturday afternoon, wondering why I couldn't find a parking spot.

Dragon Boat Races

I was innocently and completely unaware of what these races were about or of what I was about to witness.

When I saw all these middle-aged women, paddling literally "for their life," it dawned on me how much strength, endurance, and passion are interconnected. Perhaps, it is only by following our passions, commiting ourselves wholly, body and soul, that we can come to feel truly "alive and well."

But, of course, we can't all be world class paddlers, heal the poor, or mother the birds. We each dance to a different drum.

 Canoe drum

Speaking of different drums.... one of many unique, native-inspired pieces at Whetung Ojibwa Native Art Gallery. It's a big drum!

I also met a most interesting man. When I mentioned that I was doing a bit of research to publish a travel guide, he made me promise not to promote him or his wagon rides so, I can't tell you his name or where in Ontario I met up with him. To fully honour his wishes, he's not even in the photo.

If you live in the area, especially if you're a young person, you probably already know that all you have to do is ask, and you will be treated to a wagon ride.

 Free wagon rides

And forget about asking him how much it costs. This passionate horse and wagon master, a retired teacher, told me, " I do this purely for fun - I love to put a smile on people's faces. If there was money involved, it wouldn't be fun anymore."

Unusual for me, I was on a schedule that day, having promised my aunt I'd be at her place for dinner, so I was unable to take advantage of his kind offer to give me the grand "wagon tour" of the area. It's one of my few regrets of the trip.

Passions don't have to be charitable in nature. What if we could all make a living doing what we love?

 Gardens Plus Hosta House

Dawn, at Gardens Plus, in Donwood, (just east of Peterborough) says: " I'm just like many of you who are passionate about gardening. I like to add new varieties to my gardens, (only I am obsessed and out of control - ha, ha.) As a result, she has more than 200 varieties of hostas and even more day lilies planted all around her home. You can tour her gardens just for fun but, also, purchase any plant she has in a variety of sizes.

Working for someone else, even "the government" doesn't mean you cannot feel passionate about your work.The locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway are scenic, historic and interesting to see in action. They're also a free attraction so, of course, I stopped by many that happened to be on my route.

At every stop, I found the lockmasters (federal employees), to be extremely personable and pleasant - going way beyond the call of duty to answer my umpteen questions, not just about the locks but about other things to see and experience in the area.

 One of many locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway

Perhaps it's because they only work half the year (at least, I presume that, since the locks are only open May to October) or because they're working outdoors, on the water, in a beautiful scenic part of Ontario. I'm not sure of the exact reason, but I saw nothing except extremely happy employees. ( I hope it's not because my taxes are paying them an extremely exorbitant wage. I don't think that can be it - I know too many miserable people who make tons of money.)

At the Sawer Creek Lock, south of Lakefield, I watched as two female lock workers operated heavy machinery to remove several layers of large beams, which lowered the dam to release more water. As the woman who was operating the machine told me: "It's fun - like playing with giant tinkertoys."

 Sawer Creek Lock

She likes her job. I like watching women operate heavy machinery.

Passions are so individual. How do you find your soul's passion? The secret, I think, is to follow whatever small instinctive urges present themselves in our daily lives. Try many, many different things, trust your instincts, and remain open to anything.

Do you see the white chair in the picture just above the falls?

Fenelon Falls

I know you see it now. Do you think it was there when I took the picture?

This is Fenelon Falls. I stood and admired the falls, took three different shots, from two different sides of the same river, and never noticed that white chair at all. It was only now, while I was looking through my pictures for this blog, that I noticed it for the first time.

I guess that's the second regret of the trip. I didn't ask how it got there. I'm sure, someone, (a fisherman?) followed some sort of inspiration. Was it one of the local "town characters?" If you've ever lived in a small town, you'll recognize that every town has them. Here in my small town, I realize that each one, is someone whose identity is defined by their passions.They're just so comfortable with themselves that they wear their passions on their sleeve for all to see.

Me - I've never been that transparent but I'd like to be more so. I do have many loves, obsessions, and passions. Over the past month I tried to soak up and enjoy whatever the trip offered.

Here's a sampling of things I enjoyed and, yes, maybe even passionately so, during the last week of this trip:

Lookout trailhead

Hiking - I can't resist a hike with the promise of a lookout or a waterfalls.

A Meromictic Lake

Natural Wonders - McGinnis lake, at Petroglyphs Provincial Park is very unique in that it is a meromictic lake, which means it is very deep and has distinct layers of water that never intermix. As a result, the deeper layer receives little or no oxygen and living organisms cannot survive but 10.000-year old pollen and algae can.

Natural Wonders - McGinnis lake, at Petroglyphs Provincial Park is very unique in that it is a meromictic lake, which means it is very deep and has distinct layers of water that never intermix. As a result, the deeper layer receives little or no oxygen and living organisms cannot survive but 10.000-year old pollen and algae can.

Healey Falls

Waterfalls - In case you haven't figured it out - I'm a sucker for them. This is Healey Falls - the rocks are as stunning as the falls!

Ferris Provincial Park

Provincial Parks - Especially those with unique features - like this suspension bridge over a gorge at Ferris Provincial Park.

Peterborough Gallery

Art and culture - So much amazing talent in the world and so much beauty created by human hands.

Mill at Lang Pioneer Village

History - Okay, I'm not actually passionate about history. I hated the subject in school, so the fact that I actually enjoy touring historic buildings and museums now, is worth mentioning.Is it a sign or maturity? Maybe, just a sign that I'm getting old?

Muskoka Cottage Brewery

Making History - I witnessed history in the making at this small Bracebridge brewery. They told me I was the first person on the plant tour to witness the filling of the first Dockers - a mini keg - a new product launch that I'm sure will be popular on the boat docks this summer. Okay, I admit it, I was probably as passionate about the beer samples as I was about witnessing the historical event.

From long before my time

Fun - I definitely need a chuckle and a little fun whenever I can find it. But get it straight, I'm laughing, not remembering these swimsuits. How old you you think I am? Actually...they do look slightly familiar.

Town festival

Free festivals and concerts - (Rain or shine) I love to luck into them when traveling.

Quiet times

Quiet moments for reflecting - Like oxygen - one of life's necessities.

In closing, I feel very lucky to be have discovered a way to travel without the cost that many presume is necessary.

I AM following my two passions - traveling and writing - and I feel truly blessed to have a life that allows this.

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