I may not be the first person to photograph these 800-year-old Indian Ruins with their Teddy Bear.
But I don’t suspect there have been too many others before me who did.
A while ago, I wrote about how Junior Bear has been from Coast to Coast to Coast.
He’s also been at the highest and lowest places in North America. (At least, the places you can get to by car).
Twice, actually. Here are photos from both trips.
The high point is Mount Evans, Colorado, at 14240 feet.
Normally, getting to 14,000 feet without an airplane involves investing a big chunk of time and physical exertion to hike there. While also making sure you have enough food, water, proper clothing and survival gear.
But on Mount Evans, you can leisurely drive to the top in your Honda Civic. Wearing shorts and flip-flops. For crying out loud.
Why on God’s Earth would they build a road there?
Probably because they could.
Only in America.
(But of course, I still had to drive it!)
The Low Point is Death Valley. At 240 feet below sea level.
Like Mt. Evans, there’s nary a tree to be seen. But for different reasons.
The temperature might have something to do with it…
You know when you’re cooking something in your kitchen, and you open the oven door, and there’s a sudden blast of hot dry air in your face?
Death Valley’s like that.
Except it’s not a one-time blast of hot air. It’s continuous.
Lucky, my Honda Civic sat this one out, this time.
My friend was nice enough to lend me his air-conditioned truck.
Otherwise, the Bear would have melted.
The Bear’s been to all three coasts of North America.
First, there’s the Atlantic. (In this case, Ogunquit Beach, Maine). I like to drive there every couple of years or so.
There, there’s the Pacific (just outside San Francisco). This was from a bigger road trip I did in 2001.
Then, as part of the same road trip, I wanted to hit the Arctic Coast. That took a bit more more effort, because you can’t drive there.
Then it was a one hour plane ride to Tuktoyaktuk. But we reached the Arctic Ocean.
Of course, I had to take a dip (for some reason, I always do this in frigid water.)
But actually, it wasn’t as cold as some other swims I’ve taken.
This is a first for me.
I always take photos of the Bear during my travels, but I don’t believe he’s ever been in any photos around my house.
But it’s looking nice an Christmassy outside. (Yes! I said the dreaded C-Word…sue me!) And couldn’t resist taking a photo of Junior Bear Bear on top of my Christmas Polar Bear.
The Polar Bear was a house-warming gift from my siblings when I moved into this house. I had to wait 6 months to use him.
But once the Polar Bear is up, he stays up, all winter. (And, er…well into June, if last year was any indication.)
Though you can see, I’ve already have to dig around him, so he wont’ get buried. (Last year, he was, and he just looked like a glowing lump of snow.) This year, I vow to not let that happen.
The photo doesn’t show it, but it’s quite nippy outside. Going down to minus 25C overnight (that’s minus 13 F for my friends South of the Border). Not totally unheard of for this time of year, but still, that’s quite cold for Mid-December.
Hmmm. Might be a “green wax” ski day tomorrow.
Anyway, both bears seem to be enjoying it.
A few years ago, I was hiking in Arches National Park. After several hours of trudging through the desert, I had finally arrived at my destination, and I wanted to stop and admire the view.
Another middle-aged couple happened to be there: a woman posing, while her husband snapped photos. They appeared to be German. (Europeans really love the American Southwest, a big chunk of the tourists in Utah are either French or German).
As I walked to admire the view, I heard the man abruptly tell me in his thick accent:
“Pleez do not valk there, ve are taking peek-chahs.”
The dude was basically monopolizing the entire scenic lookout, and apparently no one was allowed to walk there until he was done taking photos.
Normally, I wouldn’t mind, and would gladly have walked around…IF someone would have asked me nicely. But Herr Gunther didn’t so much as ask me, but ORDERED ME.
What a dink, I thought. Oh well…
Then another couple came by, somewhat younger, in their 30′s.
“Pleez do not valk there….”, Gunther ordered, again.
At which, the younger gentleman (let’s call him Hans) answered back, in the same German accent:
“Vell, you sir, can GO TO HELL!”
I was shocked, but delighted to hear this. (I wish I had had the fortitude to tell Gunther off!)
“Vell, I am taking peek-chahs, you do not stand in front of my photos”, Gunther answered.
“You do not OWN zee National Park! Ziss is Public Land!”, Hans man replied. Then he pointed to me:
“…undt you do NOT tell ziss Gentleman vere he can valk and vere he can’t valk, he has as much right to be here as YOU DO!”.
“Yah, but you do not interput my photos!”
“Vell, then you WAIT, until other people have gone!”
This exchange went on for several minutes, and kept escalating. (I suspect NATO was soon going to declare DEF-CON IV. )
Finally, Gunther’s beady little eyes bulged with rage, and he started to yell “You….F*#$ OFF”
“No…YOU F@#% OFF!”
At this point, I think the two men were going to come to blows. The women stood by, alarmed.
I think young Hans would have easily taken down Gunther, and Gunther knew this.
Puffing his cheeks, he sarcastically yelled out “Yah…Yah…Ziss is very NICE. VERY GOOT! YAH!”, and stomped off with rage.
(Looking back, I wonder why they argued in English..was this for my benefit, perhaps?)
Anyway, after the dust settled, Hans apologized to me.
He said he was sorry I had to see that, but he was sick and tired of seeing his fellow countrymen boss around other tourists like they owned the place. People like Gunther helped perpetuate the bad German stereotype, he explained. We’re not all like that, most of us are nice.
And he was. We ended up chatting for a good 45 minutes, long after Gunther had stormed off. These were kind folks. I spoke mostly with Hans, as his girlfriend’s English wasn’t very good.
Then it was time for my mandatory Bear Photo. I took Junior out the knapsack, and posed him in front of the sandstone arch, and took a photo.
Of course, I had to explain my whole Bear-Photo ritual to these strangers. Hans thought this was awesome! He and his girlfriend laughed and smiled. (Junior Bear often has this affect on people).
Looking at me, she then shyly whispered something into Hans’ ear.
“My girlfriend vants to know if she can also have a peek-chah vit the BEAH!”
“Of course!” I agreed.
And she seemed genuinely delighted as she posed with Junior. I had made her day.
More shy whispering, and Hans informed me that now she ALSO wanted to get a Bear of her own.
(Yes! Looks like I’ve made another convert!)
Then it was time to part our ways, and we said goodbye.
All in all, it was a good afternoon. I made some temporary friends, had a great hike, and somewhere in a photo album thousand of miles across the Atlantic, Junior’s posing with a nice blonde woman.
There’s a Paris, Ontario. There’s a London, Ontario.
But who would have thought there’s a POLAND, Ontario?
Not much of a place, either. One church, about six houses. No gas station, no convenience store…nothin’! It makes Wawa look like a bustling metropolis.
Why this village even merits it’s own road sign, I have no idea. I don’t even know the history of this place, You can’t even find anything on Wikipedia.
Has anyone ever heard of this town besides me?
Anyone want to guess where this is?
(Hint: It’s not too far from Plevna and Flower Station!)
Of course, the one place in Wawa where you have to stop is by the Big Goose.
Though there are actually THREE Big Gooses (geese) in Wawa. (Which I consider a disproportionate amount for a town of 3000-4000.)
One of the geese is a 10 foot replica over a motel entrance. Another larger one (about 15 feet) is next to a trading post.
But the BIGGEST goose of all is right at the exit, near the Trans Canada Highway turn-off.
(By the way, can you spot the Bear?).
This marks the spot where the final stretch of the Trans Canada Highway was completed, in 1960.
Think about that for a second. The U.S. and Russia were already working at putting men in space. Yet in Canada, we hadn’t even completed a road across the top of Lake Superior. Almost within my lifetime, you couldn’t drive across Ontario. Even today, there’s a four lane Interstate that takes you to the Soo, but as soon as you cross the bridge to Canada, it’s still mostly single lane.
That just goes to show you how wild and remote Northern Ontario was (and parts still are…). Which is why I go fishing here.
If you go beyond Wawa, the road pulls away from the Lake, and the scenery becomes somewhat less interesting.
Though you can see the trees start to change. Within 10-15 miles, there are no longer any pine trees or maples, it’s just black spruce and white birch. The eco-region has sharply transitioned from Mixed Forest to Boreal Forest.
After about a fifty miles of bush, you’ll arrive at the bustling Metropolis of White River (population 841). Not much there, really. A few hotels, and a railway station.
But the one claim to fame for this town is it’s the Birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. They have a park there commemorating it.
Plus, the Bear’s a big fan of Winnie, and asked to have his photo taken with him.