Big Chain Saw.
Big Polar Bear.
Big Minnesota sign.
Big Covered Bridge
1. Agawa Beach, Ontario.
Located in Lake Superior Provincial Park, right off Highway 17. Nice long sandy/pebbly beach. Not too crowded, even in peak season.
If you go there after Labor day it’s pretty much empty.
The water is cold early in the season, but it’s shallow and warms up nicely. Towards the end of August, I find it’s one of the nicest swimming beaches on the lake.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 9 out of 10
2. Gargantua Beach, Ontario.
To get here, you have to exit Highway 17 and drive on a gravel road for 15 km through the bush.
This is one of my favorite quiet areas, away from the crowds. It gives you a good sense of remote wilderness. Even in peak season, you might be lucky to see a couple of other hikers or kayakers here, and that’s it.
The beach is very rocky with big round pebbles, and not really good for swimming, though. The water is deep and cold. It almost looks too dangerous to go into the water here.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (due to lack of swimmability)
3. Old Womans’ Bay, Ontario.
Nice little cove, with sheer cliffs and sandy beach, just south of Wawa. Sea kayakers enjoy this area.
I always stop here because it’s right off the highway and it’s a quick photo op. The water is deep and cold, though. I once dunked my head here in May, but I don’t usually swim here.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 7 out of 10 (due to poor swimmability and close proximity to the highway).
4. Sandy Beach, Ontario.
Located a few km off Highway 17, just outside of Michipicoten.
This is one of my favorite beaches. It’s sandy and quiet. Even on a summer long weekend, you can have the place almost all to yourself. It’s a great place to come in the evening and relax and just listen to the lake. This is where I get my “Zen Like” moments.
This is a special part of Lake Superior. Just west of this beach is a long tract of roadless wilderness. For about ~ 150 km there’s nothing but pristine shoreline with no towns or cottages or road access. It happens to be the longest undeveloped freshwater shoreline in the world. This is what’s so special about Superior, compared to the other crowded Great Lakes further south.
The water is cold and gets deep quickly. I don’t bother swimming in June or July, but towards the end of August you can probably brave the water.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 10 out of 10
5. Pebble Beach, Ontario.
This beach is found just outside of Marathon, Ontario, which is a pulp and paper town on the north shore.
This is definitely NOT a swimming beach. It’s strewn with football-sized pebbles and piled high with driftwood logs.
You can hardly walk on the beach without risking a sprained ankle. The water is very cold, and gets deep very quickly. Again, this looks like it would be a dangerous place to swim.
But there’s a certain charm to this area. It’s wild and untamed. Outside the town, the shoreline is pretty remote, with no cottages or road access, just big tracts of wilderness on all sides. It’s one of those beaches that’s good for sitting and just contemplating the lake.
I love the polished round granite pebbles. I once photographed some rocks and turned it into my all-time favorite painting.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 8 out of 10
6, Neys Provincial Park, Ontario.
Located just west of Marathon, there are two parts to this beach. The first part is shallow and warm, next to all the campsites If the water is calm, it’s clear as champagne and very nice to swim in. However, if the wind picks up, the water quickly gets muddy and turns brown.
Here’s a photo of the beach on one of the rare calm days.
The best part of the shoreline can be found if you hike a kilometer east. The sandy beach disappears and the shoreline transforms into solid bedrock, polished smooth by water, wind and glaciers.
This is one of my favorite parts of Lake Superior. Rugged, untamed, and wild. This is the North Shore at its finest.
I can (and have) sat here for hours watching the waves, which can get spectacular on a windy day.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 10 out of 10
7. Grand Marais, Minnesota.
Furthermore, Highway 61 pretty much hugs most of the coast, so there is very little shoreline that’s more than 100 feet from noisy traffic. And most of the shoreline is privately owned. There is little public access. except for the occasional State park, boat launch or picnic area. But these are few and far between.
One exception is Grand Marais, which is one of the nicer areas. It’ s a quaint town with a big marina and a harbor, though it’s also somewhat touristy.
There is no swimming beach to speak off. Just a lot of rocks.
The water, however, is amazingly crystal clear, and very deep. In theory, you can jump in if you wish.
I did, years ago, in June. All I remember was opening my eyes underwater and seeing green-blue, and thinking it was like being in a furnace. The water was so cold, it felt like my skin was burning.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 6 out of 10 (because it’s not really a beach).
8. Nameless Beach, Minnesota.
In my quest to find a decent Minnesota Beach, I kept stopping at the all the rest stops to see if I could find anything.
Here’s a typical one just outside the city of Duluth, which you can see in the background. This was right off the old Highway 61.
What a dud. There was almost no shoreline between the paved road and the water. Nothing but brown rocks with bits of twigs and wood and debris all over the place.
Furthermore, it was a windy day so the water was stirred up to a silty, dirty chocolate-milk brown. Nothing you’d want to go swimming in, unless you wanted your shorts to fill up with dirt and junk.
Junior Bear’s Rating: Pretty sad. 2 out of 10. (And it’s only getting a 2 because it’s Lake Superior)
9. Cornucopia Beach, Wisconsin.
Located on the Wisconsin Coast between Duluth and the Apostle Islands.
Again, this was an unimpressive beach. Nothing but a tiny strip of sand between the sand dunes and the water, where people were jam-packed. And once again, the wind had stirred up the water to a chocolate-milk brown. Nobody was actually swimming.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I saw the beach on a bad day, when the water was unusually high and stirred up.
Either way, based on what we’ve seen, Junior Bear rates this a 5 out of 10.
10. Eagle River, Michigan.
This beach is located on the western part of the Keewenaw Peninsula, which juts out ~60 miles right into the middle of the lake.
This beach was a delightful surprise, after the disappointment of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
It’s a nice white sandy shore, with clear blue water, that goes on for miles and MILES.
Granted, I was there on a weekday, but it was July 3rd, and I’d figured it would have been crowed for the American Holiday.
But there was hardly a soul there.
I didnt’ swim because the water was quit choppy, but I walked along forever, and the beach it just kept going and GOING.
Yes, there were houses along the shore, but they were mostly tucked in among the trees, and there’s plenty of access to the water.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is out of the way for most people, so isn’t very developed.
This is probably one of the few beaches where you can see deer tracks in the sand.
It’s comforting to know there are areas in the Lower 48 that are still unspoiled like this.
Junior Bear’s Rating: 10 out of 10.
11. Bete Grise, Michigan
Located on the opposite (eastern) side of the Keewenaw Peninsula, just south of Copper Harbor.
Beautiful sand. Shallow pristine water. When I arrived, I was surprised to see it so uncrowded, especially just before the July 4 holiday.
I was expecting this would be a perfect ten.
But it was NOT.
In fact, is the the WORST BEACH EVER.
The setting and water temperature were fine. The main problem, however, was the SAND FLIES.
The #$%*ing little bastards were EVERYWHERE.
Within seconds of coming out of the water, they’d swarm all over your ankles and legs, by the dozens, and start biting.
It was enough to literally make you run to the car screaming, even before drying off.
What a horror show. That’s probably why there were not people here.
Junior Bear’s Rating: ZERO out of 10.
12. Miners Beach, Michigan
Located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this is one of the top 5 most beautiful areas I’ve seen on Superior.
It was a stinking hot day and the water felt so good to jump into. I stayed in as long as I wanted without getting cold, though my American fellow beach-goers were somewhat less enthusiastic about jumping in.
I found the water had a nice turquoise color to it, that I hadn’t seen in any other parts of the lake. It almost looked Caribbean.
As an added bonus, there was Miners Castle, an interesting rock formation just down the road.
The entire coast in this area is spectacular. I guess this is why they made it a protected National Seashore. I definitely want to come back and explore this area some more.
Junior Bear’s Rating: Sweet. 10 out of 10
Flying in and out of Kaby Lodge, this is what most of Northern Ontario looks like from the air:
Some days the weather was great:
Some days it wasn’t:
Here’s a photo of an adolsecent bald eagle (though not with the best of lighting).
Chipmunk falls. Not only a great place to stop for lunch, but also a good fishing spot.
The lake is teeming with walleye. On a typical day, I’d catch 25 ? 30? 40? (I dunno….literally DOZENS…I’d lose count!).
Most were in the 17-18 inch range. But this was my biggest one, at 22 inches:
Here’s a typical stringer for our shore lunch. We would eat shore lunch every day, and keep a few for the freezer for home.
Here is a typical shore lunch. Which I love.
Half the fun of staying at the lodge was playing with the two dogs, Jasper and Riser, who are obsessed with retrieving sticks, especially Jasper.
I like how Jasper is fixated on the stick.
This is considered perfectly normal behaviour for Duck Tollers.
The younger pup (Riser) would keep stealing the stick from Jasper. He was being a little shit, and he knew it. Jasper would then yap incessantly at him to give it back. This game went on and on…those dogs crack me up.
The lake has lots of pike too. People catch them well over 40 inches. I didn’t get any monsters like that this time. But I did get two respectable-sized ones, 29 inches and 30 inches.
Both fish were caught within 30 minutes of each other. It was one of my best afternoons.
This pike wasn’t huge, but I’ve never seen one with teeth as large as this, for a fish that size.
Not all of them were trophies, though. But still fun to catch.
I had a lot of fun. So did the Bear.
We will both be coming back.
Last week, I was at Acadia National Park in Maine, and found the shoreline quite similar to that of the northern Great Lakes.
Same blackened rocks. Same spruce trees. Even the cold damp weather was the same.
For all intents and purposes, this could have been Lake Superior.
I was thinking, maybe I could stare out at the huge expanse of water, and feel that same “Zen like” state of relaxation that I feel when I sit on the North Shore.
And it was beautiful….I admit. I tried to relax and let my mind go.
But I just couldn’t “feel it”. It felt claustrophobic.
Probably because of the dozen or so people I was sharing the beach with at the time, even though it was the off-season.
Or knowing that this is only a tiny pocket of wilderness, only a few miles across, right in the middle of the densely populated Atlantic seaboard.
Where every other square inch of shoreline is developed or inhabited by hotels, inns, summer cottages, tea rooms, antque stores and bed and breakfasts.
With big cities like Boston, Montreal, New York, are all within spitting distance.
Where there is rush hour traffic along the Coastal Highway all summer, as millions of tourists flock to the coast.
Where you only have to go a few miles to find the nearest fast-food joint, or T-shirt store, or Factory Outlet mall.
Where there are no moose, no wolves, no pristine trout streams.
No thousands of lakes, many of which never even see a fisherman for years.
No isolated roadless stretches of shoreline, no huge tracts unpopulated of Crown Land .
No sense of awe you get at being surrounded by a huge expanse of wilderness.
No feeling of being “up there”, away from it all.
So, yes, I’ll admit the Coast of Maine is beautiful, sitting on the edge of a big expanse of water.
And I’m glad to visit it.
But it’s just NOT quite the same.
Give me Lake Superior, any day.
It’s other claim to fame is the paper will, which apparently spilled a bunch of toxins in the Spanish River back in the 80s and killed off tons of fish. People still talk about it.
See this lake? It’s pretty big…you almost can’t see the other side.
This is Lake Manitou, which is located on Manitoulin Island, which itself is located in Lake Huron.
Which makes this lake the worlds largest freshwater lake, within a freshwater lake.
Which I think is pretty cool.
Here’s Lake Huron itself, on Providence Bay on Manitoulin Island. It was stinking hot…and the water was swimmable. Just barely.
This is Downtown Thessalon, on a Saturday night.
It just doesn’t get any better than this.
Here’s Wawa (two hours North of the Soo). I’ve blogged about it before. This is an aerial view from the bush plane that returned me back from my fishing trip.
Just outside of Wawa is this old ski hill.
It boggles my mind…no matter how remote, or how small a town is…you can always find some kind of ski hill of some sort. Seems this was the thing to do in the 60′s and 70′s.
But now, as course, as you can see from the trees, it’s long since been abandoned. A sign of prosperous times long since past.
Next, is the town of Dubreuville. This is your proverbial company town, named after the lumber company which founded it. It’s on the end of a 30-km dead-end road, Northeast of Lake Superior.
I wasn’t really excited about being here. I just went to say I’d been. Another place to tick off on the map.
I must admit, I’m a bit biased against the town. They’re located south of the fishing lodge I like to go to, which is in a protected wilderness area. But the Dubreuvillers apparently want to change that, and gain access to the lake with ATV trails and such. They’ve been feuding with the lodges and the provincial government for years.
I have no sympathy for Dubreuville. There are hundreds of miles of trails, and hundreds of other lakes in the area. If they’ve already spoiled those areas with over-hunting and over-fishing, that’s their problem. Don’t ruin the few remaining unspoiled areas. Leave them alone, I say.
Anyway, the town isn’t doing that great. The only industry is the sawmill, which recently shut down because of lack of a lumber supply.
You can already see the signs of decay (empty apartments, etc.). This might become another ghost town, if things don’t pick up.
I’ve also blogged about White River before, which is the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. Junior Bear and I always stop and pay our respects at the Pooh statue.
White River is basically a railway town in the bush Northeast of Superior. And it, too, has seen better days.
I wonder what it was like when this hotel was still running, or the S_andoni Bros. department store was still open?
Though I hear the town is starting to take off again. They just got a contract for some air service to some fishing lodges, which means more people will be staying in the hotels there. Tourism in the area is starting to grow. I wish them well.
Here’s the Michipicoten First Nation village, on the Northeast shore of Lake Superior, just outside of Wawa.
I like the bilingual signs…there were a whole bunch of the on the road, welcoming tourists. It felt friendly.
At the end of the the village, there is a picnic/camping area right by Superior. The signs indicate this as a “sacred place”.
Given the wilderness setting and the beauty of the place, I have to agree.
Highway 101 crosses the Northeastern part of Ontario.
This is typical, when driving through Northern Ontario. All you see are …trees, trees, trees….
And more trees…trees…trees.
(Just be careful not to hit a moose along the way!)
And then every hundred kilometers of so, you come across a town, like Foleyet (pop. ~ 200).
The is another railway town, in the middle of the bush.
Downtown Foleyet, on Labour Day Monday:
(Not exactly a prime cottage country/tourist area).
I wonder how long ago this burger/fries restaurant was open?
After hours of driving through the bush, I finally hit my first “Big City”: the town of Timmins (pop. 43,000).
It was a novelty to see a “real city”, with multiple traffic lights, a water tower, and “high-rise” buildings greater than four storeys.
Timmins’ claim to fame (aside from being the birthplace of Shania Twain) is it’s gold mining, which is still on-going.
You can also see old derelicts too… This is a boom-and-bust town.
Point of trivia: the Arctic Watershed lies mostly in Canada, but it also includes parts of the States (mainly Northern Minnesota and North Dakota).
Aside from being of geological interest, the watershed has had historic significance, in delineating boundaries for the fur-trading industry…
I always feel sad heading south of the watershead, because it means I’m leaving the “North” and my vacation is ending and soon I’ll be home.
Even though home is still hundreds of km away and I won’t be getting in till midnight!…
The first critter to greet me when I got off the plane was the resident Duck-Toller, who invited me to play with her…um…tree.
If you know anything about Duck-Tollers, this is considered perfectly normal bhaviour.
While on the water, I saw a lot of loons. Beautiful birds, but not that uncommon.
Every Lake in Ontario has to have its resident loon. It’s a Provincial By-Law.
In campgrounds and parks, the moose are used to people and you can get really close.
But here, in the real bush, they’re skittish and you’re lucky to come within a few hundred meters of them.
The photo doesn’t do this justice, but this among the biggest moose I had ever seen. I estimate his antler rack spanned~ 6 feet.
Next, is a bald-eagle-critter.
It’s not often you get this close to one in Ontario. I tried to throw him a fish, but he didn’t take it.
This Bear-Critter made a regular appearance at the dump every night at ~ 8:00 PM, when they threw the garbage out. He reluctantly tolerated our presence, as long as we kept our distance.
And seeing how he considerably outweighed me, I did.
Let’s not forget the fish-critters, like this small Northern Pike.
Normally, I wouldn’t be excited about a pike this small, except that I had caught him right off the dock, after supper.
It gives you an indication of how good the fishing is on this lake, if you can catch them like this without really trying.
Here’s a more decent pike-critter. Not a trophy, but still respectable, by any books. It was 30 inches…and I’m guessing ~ 7-10 lbs.
Here’s a close-up of its toothy maw. If I were to title this photograph, I’d call it “The Last Thing a Minnow Ever Sees”.
Of course, we also caught walleye, which are nice-looking fish, viewed from the side…
…but when viewed head-on, GAWD, they’re UGLY!
Also of note, is that these toothy critters have razor-sharp gills which can slice you like a knife, if you pick them up the wrong way.
Of course, I had the last laugh, though.
It’s called “SHORE LUNCH”.
I’ve driven around Lake Superior before, but I haven’t seen the South Shore very much. Only in bits and pieces, and often at night.
This year I decided to finally take the time and drive and see the whole thing. And in daylight.
Approaching from the East, here’s the North Shore of Lake Huron, at Blind River.
Here’s a glimpse of shoreline in Lake Superior Provincial Park, just North of the Soo.
These are Indian pictographs at Agawa Rocks. They’re hundreds of years old, if not a thousand.
Those are the only two pictographs I managed to see because they’re located at the base of a slippery cliff, right at the waters’ edge. You have to hold onto chains so you don’t fall in, and it was a bit treacherous that day.
Further along in the park is Gargantua Beach. It’s 15 km from the highway, via a twisting gravel road through the bush.
There are no cottages or campgrounds here. I had the whole place to myself and experience my “Moment of Zen”.
Superior’s shorelines in Ontario are often unspoiled like this. That’s why I keep coming back.
One of my favorite beaches is Sandy Beach, just outside of Wawa. Again, I had the entire place to myself. Even on labor day weekend, you might only see a dozen or so people here.
It was too cold to swim at this date in late June. Though the water temp becomes reasonable at the end of August.
Next, is the Bear having a pensive moment at Neys Provincial Park, near the town of Marathon.
In the 1940′s, this place was so remote, they used it as a German POW camp in WWII.
I imagine that camp would have been pretty escape-proof camp, back then. With only one train to get in and out, and surrounded by hundreds of miles of bush and black flies.
In the 700 km trek between Sault-Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, there are about 7 towns/villages of any significance, totalling about 12,000 people.
Schreiber is one of them, with a population of 900. It’s basically a railway town.
Notice the scrubby black spruce trees everywhere. That’s because this is the boreal forest.
It has a very northern feel: you dont’ see any pine trees or maples. The only hardwoods are birch and popular.
Just a bit further down the road is Rossport. This is more of a village, without even a grocery store or gas station. It appears to have a small artist colony of some sort.
I took a side-trip and went North of Superior to the town of Beardmore. Apparently its claim to fame is a giant 40-foot snowman.
Notice the Bear in the “BEAR” part.
Of course I had to take the detour to see Lake Nipigon, for the first time.
This is a pretty serious lake. About 60 km x 100 km, it’s almost like Great Lake itself.
Lunch was a cardiac burger at the Nipigon Drive-In. It was awesome.
Too bad it’s a 2-day drive from where I live. Otherwise I’d eat there more often.
Here’s downtown Nipigon itself, population 1,700.
I notice every town in Northern Ontario has an old hotel which is always shut down. Apparently a relic from the older railway days, before mom-and-pop motels took over. Seems downtown hotels just don’t do well anymore in the north.
Here’s a scene just outside Thunder Bay. It was rush-hour and there was traffic. I wasn’t in the mood to go see the town itself.
Crossing into Minnesota: I always like road signs shaped like the place they’re in.
I found the shoreline in Minnesota disappointing, though. Sure, it’s a beautiful lake. But public parks and beaches were few and far between. Most of the waterfront was taken up by either private property or by Highway 61.
Here’s Duluth, taken from my car. As it was a big city, I was in no mood to stop and kept on driving. This was the furthest point West of my trip.
At least we got back to sandy beaches and trees in Wisconsin, near the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. It was quite scenic, but somewhat busy,with sailboats and lots of marinas.
There wasn’t a decent state sign to take a photo of the Bear with in Wisconsin, but at least I got one of him entering Michigan.
The first thing I noticed with the Upper Peninsula was the population density. Here’s the town of Ironwood, population ~ 6000. Seems there was one town after another, like this, every 10-20 km.
The U.P. is said to be empty, but I found this part of Lake Superior surprisingly crowded, compared to the Canadian side.
Two things fascinate me on my road trips: One is photos of large things. Another is finding ski hills in the middle of nowhere.
Here, near the town of Wakefield, I found BOTH.
It amazes me that someone went through a lot of trouble to build this. Look at the craftsmanship that went into the skier. A sculpture for the ages, this will be.
The ski hill itself was interesting. You don’t see too many old metal double-chairlifts like these anymore. They date back 30-40 years.
I was pretty impressed with the Porcupine Mountains. Here is nearly 60,000 acres of virgin forest, one of the largest remaining tracts of old-grown hardwood left in North America.
This place is large enough to have wolves and moose. It’s nice to see the state of Michigan had the foresight to preserve this area.
I managed to get a swim in there, too. The beach was rocky..but the water temperature was do-able.
There is s definite southern feel to Superior along this part of the U.P, with the sandy beaches and hardwood trees. The forest is totally different here. Gone is the boreal forest from the North Shore, and its scraggly black spruce. It’s amazing just 2-3 degrees of latitude can do.
Next on my agenda was to drive up the Keweenaw peninsula, which is a ~100 km long strip of land that juts right out into the middle of the lake.
One of the first towns I came across was Houghton and Hancock, across the river. These were surprisingly big towns, with a combined population of ~ 12,000. This alone is more people than the entire population between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay on the north shore.
Point of trivia: It’s less distance to drive from Detroit to Washington, DC, than it is to drive from Detroit to Houghton. (This gives you a good idea of how far off the beaten path the U.P. is!)
At one time, copper mining was really huge in the Keweenaw peninsula. But the industry peaked decades ago. What remains are a lot of ghost-towns and abandoned mines, reminders of boom-years that have long since passed.
The economy is definitely not doing well here. I came across one town after another, with closed-down stores and abandoned gas stations. The town of Calumet seemed to be hanging on, though.
Everything was made of red brick, even the church, which you don’t see too often.
Here’s the beach near Eagle Harbor. This was on Saturday, July 9th. Peak tourist season, and the place was absolutely deserted, which I kinda liked. (Though I suspect hotel and restaurant owners didn’t!) The locals assured me that business will pick up in August.
Here’s as close as I go to the tip of the peninsula in Copper Harbor. Of course, you had to pay money to enter the State Park to see the lighthouse up close, and I wasn’t going to do that.
It was actually downright COLD that day. The local bookstore had the wood stove going. This did NOT feel like July.
Heading south again, there was a nice beach at Bete Grise. But again, too cold and damp to swim.
And of course, there was a SKI HILL! And a pretty decent sized one, too. (Boggles my mind the places where they build these things!)
Okay…now this is just GAY.
It was strange to see a huge abandoned smoke stack still standing just outside of the town. Probably from an old copper smelter.
It didn’t look perfectly vertical. I reckon it’ll probably fall over one of these days.
A few hours later, I hit the town of Marquette. (Another major metropolis, by Norther Ontario standards!) The weather went from cold and damp to stinking hot in only a couple of hours of driving. Summer was back.
The next day was a scorcher…hot and humid, and stagnant. The lake was like glass. So I put my canoe in it, and I paddled Superior for the first time. This was at a beach along Picture Rocks National Lakeshore, another pristine area that is nicely preserved.
The water was so amazingly clear, you could see all kinds of rocks and fish, right to the bottom.
Of course, I could have taken the main highway back to the Soo, but I did one last side-trip, and ended up on some logging road, east of Grand-Marais Michigan. It was one of the few highways I found in Michigan that was unpaved.
There was a sand-bar and you could wade out hundreds of meters, and only go up to your knees. The water was incredibly warm..the warmest I’d ever seen the lake.
Finally, I was back at the Soo, crossing over to the Canadian side.
I considered that end of my road-trip.
Home was still hundreds of km away.
But as far as I was concerned, the best part was already over.
Here’s a simple Northern Ontario scene, just the lake, trees and sky. The kind I’ve done time and time again.
But I like painting these scenes. I just love the scraggly black spruce trees of the boreal forest. It reminds me that I’m “up there”, far away from the big cities and shopping malls. And that the fish will soon be biting.
The painting was not so simple, though. Decievingly difficult, actually.
The sky wasnt’ too bad. But the reflection in the water were tricky. The ripples in the foreground made hard edges, which is difficult to capture on watercolor without making the painting look harsh.
I tried to paint the ripples on, but it was on the verge of looking like crap. Then my art teacher suggested a trick:
Instead of adding pigment to make the water ripples, take it away. Lift the paint off with a brush, and leave a few white areas. But not too many.
It worked. I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out.
And it helped salvage the painting.
Whenever I fly, I like to take photos out the window, and try to find out exactly where I am.
My most recent flight started out cloudy.
Somewhere over Northern Ontario, the clouds finally broke, and I saw this lake.
It kind of looked familiar. Then I realized it’s Kaby Lake, where I had spent several fishing vacations. I recognized many of the islands and bays and my favorite fishing spots for walleye and pike.
Kaby Lake is in the Algoma district, North of Superior. This is fairly remote country, and this is a “fly in” lake.
Shortly after, I saw White lake, directly below me.
White Lake is located off the TransCanada Highway, between White River and Marathon.
Furuther along, at first I thought this was a river. Then I realized it’s Long Lake, located Northeast of Thunder Bay.
Long Lake is about 100 kilometers long. The little island on the left side of the lake is a good frame of reference for the map.
Northeast of Thunder Bay, Lake Nipigon is quite large. Approximately 60 km x 80 km in size, it’s amazing that most of it fits within the airplane window.
Right smack in the middle of the lake I saw there tracks going between islands.
I have no idea what these are. They seem a bit remote to be snow-mobile tracks. (And why would snowmobile not go in a straight line?).
Maybe it’s critters (wolves, or moose?) Either way, whoever made these tracks put a lot of work into making them, to be visible from 38,000 feet.
Further along, this is a farm somewhere over Manitoba.
I can’t imagine a more God-Forsaken place to live in January…
…except maybe THIS place (somewhere in Saskatchewan).
If that doesn’t look cold, I dont’ know what does.
Landing in Calgary, the table-top flatness of the prairies was quite prominent.
Of course, the most scenic part of the flight (over the Rocky Mountains) it was cloudy.
Every time I fly over the Rockies, it’s cloudy. Every time.
Though the clouds broke long enough to allow me to see SilverStar Ski Resort near Kelowna.
If you zoom in, you can see some of the chairlift towers and snow fences, if you know where to look.