Posted tagged ‘moose’

Moose Recon: Mission Accomplished.

April 28, 2013

This is a good time to go moose-spotting.

Especially in the highways near Provincial Parks.

The critters are attracted to the leftover salt on the roads from the winter.

So, at least once a year,  in April, I do a mini-road trip and bring my camera along, and try to find some moose.

It never fails.

I always find at least one.

Like I did today.

So I’m happy to report:  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

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As a bonus, I try to include Junior Bear into a photo as well.

And that mission too, was accomplished.

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A New England Road Trip with The Bear

April 14, 2012

Not much going on last Easter long weekend.    Too late for skiing, and too early for fishing.   So I decided to take a 2400 km road trip through the Maritimes and New England.

Here’s Junior Bear in St. Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, near the Quebec/New Brunswick border.

Here’s Grand Falls, N.B., where I stayed the first night.    Not much going on in this town, except for these water falls.

Of course, I had to stop at Hartland, N.B., which has longest covered bridge in the world at 1282 feet.

This brought back memories.   We used to go camping in the Maritimes as a kid, and we’d always stop by Hartland to see the bridge.   I think Friar’s Mom even still has a souvenir plate with the bridge, that she uses to serve candies to her screaming grandkids.

I think the last time I saw this bridge was about 1977.     Nothing’s changed much since then.

Crossing into Northern Maine, I found it really empty.  Nothing but a few small towns and lots of forest.   It’s a lot like Northern Ontario.

On the Interstate, I drove by some big mountains within spitting distance of Baxter State Park.    I’m pretty sure one of these was Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine at 5268 feet.     Hard to tell which one,  because of the clouds.

Finally, the ocean!   Here’s the Bear at Bar Harbors (or “Bah Hah-Bah”, as the locals pronounce it)

Unlike the northern part, the southern part of Maine is pretty crowded.   Pretty much every foot of shoreline is populated.   It’s pretty hard to find undeveloped areas, but you can see glimpses of some in Acadia National Park.      It’s a teeny-tiny park, only a few miles across, but they have some spectacular scenery.


I drove along the U.S. Route No. 1 following the coast.   It’s actually not a very scenic road at all.

You go through one small town after another, there’s always traffic, and you don’t see much of the ocean.   It’s mostly traffic lights,  auto-body shops,  hotels,  strip malls, antique stores, and fast-food outlets.   (UGH!!  I was NOT impressed).

If you head south on one of the side roads, however, you can get away from the crowds, and find some honest-to-goodness villages with boats and lobster traps, where people still earn their living from the sea.

Port Clyde was one of those unspoiled towns I found.   To me, this is the “real Maine”.

Cape Newagen was another place off the beaten path that I liked.

Being a lighthouse keeper here looks like it would be a very lonely job…

Next, I headed inland to North Conway, N.H.    I got a quick photo of Mount Washington from the highway, the highest peak in New England, that’s notorious for its ferocious weather.  I was surprised to see it wasnt’ snow-covered.

I avoided all the factory outlet stores and fast-food joints of North Conway, and drove along the Kancamagus Highway instead.   This is a little hidden gem:  it’s a long stretch of road that goes through the White Mountains wilderness.   There are no gas stations or trailer parks or motels:  nothing but forest, mountains and hiking trails for 26 miles.

I did manage to see a moose from the side of the road.

That’s pretty cool.   You see them all the time in Ontario, but it’s nice to know these critters are still thriving this far south, in New England.

Finally, one last glimpse of the mountains in Vermont, at sunset, just before crossing the border back into Quebec.

This was around the Jay Peak area, just south of  Sherbrooke.

After that, it got dark, and once I crossed the border, the mountains quickly disappeared into flat boring farmland.

At that point, the best part of the road trip was over, and I motored back to Ontario as quickly as I could, because I still had quite a few more hours to go.

Moose-Spotting on a Tuesday Evening

April 4, 2012

What did you guys do after work today?

I went straight from the office and got into my car, and did a quick 5 hour road trip to see if  I could find a moose on the side of the road.

And I did.

Three of them, in fact.

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Two of them were together.

In fact, I got a picture of both of them, with a BEAR.

The Critters I Saw On My Last Vacation

August 7, 2011

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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”.

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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.

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Of course, I had the last laugh, though.

It’s called “SHORE LUNCH”.

Friar’s Travel Guide to Northern Ontario

September 1, 2009

Location
First, let’s get things straight.   Northern Ontario (or “The North”)  starts at North Bay, and includes anything north or west, thereof.

Anything south of this boundary is considered “Toronto” and is worthy of scorn.   (Feel free to make fun of Toronto at any opportunity, it’s highly encouraged up here.).  In fact, making fun of Toronto is encouraged everywhere else in Canada, too.

And never mind cities like Ottawa or Pembroke.   Even though they’re pretty much the same latitude as North Bay, they are NOT “The North”.

Never mind why…they just AREN’T.

Local Customs
Common courtesy dictates that in The North, you must wear a baseball cap.   It’s proper to say “youse” a lot.

And (unlike Toronto) a beer belly is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it’s a status symbol.  Younger apprentices will have a small paunch.  The seasoned veteran will proudly sport a huge gut, which is a badge of honor.  Here’s a man that’s spent many a fine weekend fishing/hunting/drinking with the boys.

Women tend to be tough as nails (they have to be, to put up with their yahoo men).   A Northern woman will think nothing of opening a beer bottle with her teeth, while standing on shore, fishing next to her man.

The ladies tend to be have 1980’s feathered hairstyle, with lots of blue eyeshadow.    Young girls get pregnant at age 20.   Preferably more than once.  After which, they’ll become waitresses at the local restaurant, where they’ll finish off their careers.    Older women in their 50’s tend to become round in shape.  Possibly to conserve body heat during those cold winter months.

The difference between Northerners who live there, and the Toronto yuppies who come up to vacation, is that Northerners do everything “Motorized”.     Motor boat, versus canoe.    Snow-mobile, versus cross country skiing.     4-Wheeler, versus walking.

The only way to earn a living up here is mining, or logging.    So every town has some kind of “Mill”, where everyone works.   The Mill is the region’s sole source of economy.

Unfortunately, a lot of “Mills” are shutting down, and businesses arent’ doing well.   Things are rough here. You can pick up a house for $30,000 in some of these towns, if you want to move here.

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Folks make extra pocket money selling wild blueberries off the side of the road.    Definitely worth stopping and buying some.  These aren’t store-bought farm berries from the States.  These are wild-blueberries hand-picked picked in the bush, bursting with flavor.

Don’t be thrown off by the signs, though.   Ontario Bylaw 15-C1 dictates that “blueberry” must always be misspelled.

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Lots of huntin’ and fishin’ up here.    Obviously.    Whether you got your Moose Tag or not is a frequent topic of conversation.

So Vegans or members of Peta might consider staying south of Huntsville, for their own Safety.

Distances don’t mean anything up here.  Driving 60 miles to the next town is the equivalent of going to the corner store for a pack of smokes.  Hornepayne, HearstWawaKapuskasing…just neighbors down the street.  They’ll probably have a cousin there.

Talk to someone from Manitouwadge about a good fishing lake 300 miles away, and he’ll know about it.  In fact, he’s probably been to that lake and fished for walleye.  Along with everyone else within a 100 radius trying to do the same thing.

Because the main fish to catch here is WALLEYE.    Everyone wants walleye.   All other fish is considered junk (with the exception of trout, which is reluctantly deemed an “acceptable” alternative).

Never mind that the lake a mile down the road is full of pike, and nobody’s fishing there.

Never mind that the other fish taste just as good and are more fun to catch.

That’s BESIDES the POINT.

You want WALLEYE and you’d kill your grandmother to have one.

Which you’ll then fry up for shore lunch (the fish, I mean).   With a fire you started with gasoline.

Getting Around
Unlike the States, which is criss-crossed with major Inter-States,  21-st Century Canada  still does NOT have a continuous 4-lane highway.    Sure, we have sections here and there, but not in too many places.  Especially in The North, where it’s essentially single-lane for at least 1000 miles.

So good luck getting around cities like Sudbury, where you have to stop every 2 miles for a traffic light.   And the same railroad track that crosses the highway multiple times.   This is especially fun when a train comes by.     Get to know that 18 wheeler in front of you…because you’ll be following him for the next 30 minutes.

Oh, and in North Bay, there are six traffic lights.   You will get at least FIVE of them red (with the advanced green against you).   Always.   Just accept it.

At least this is the Trans-Canada Highway (our one major east-west artery through which all commerce and trade passes).

But hey, at least we built it.  Canadians have been able to drive across Ontario since 1960. (Seriously, I’m not kidding..that’s when they completed the last section of road).

There are only three types of vehicles on the road:   Pick-up trucks, 18 wheelers, and those Freaking Land Yachts (those slow RV’s driven by seniors as they inch their way across Canada).   Who hold up the traffic for all the rest of the us.

North of the Soo, things start emptying out.   If you want tunes, you might be lucky to get some American radio station from the Upper Peninsula.   But often, the only damned thing you’ll be able to get is the CBC.   So enjoy listening to some pony-tailed tortured intellectuals read poetry while you drive between Marathon and Rossport.

If you drive at night, watch out for Moose.    Seriously, these huge fuckers love to cross the road at dusk, right in front of you.   If you’re not in a rush, try follow a truck.  At least he can act as a line-backer, and clear the road of any potential Bullwinkles who might smash into your windshield.

And don’t expect to find too many McDonalds.    There aren’t any in the 400 mile stretch on the North Shore of Superior.   (There are at least two A&W’s that I know of, though).    Just no Rotten Ronnies.

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If you’re low on gas, look for the “Esso” and “Shell” signs.   Don’t trust signs advertising for a “Gas Bar” in the next small villages.  You don’t know how old that sign is…you might be in a town where The Mill has shut down, and you’ll be disappointed with deserted gas-pumps with grass growing out of the pavement.

Heading north of Superior, you might come across a sign saying “Arctic Watershed”.   (There’s one halfway between Sudbury and Timmins).    I always think this is pretty cool.  Which means, that you’ve crossed the drainage boundary.   The lakes and rivers at that point no longer will drain into the Great Lakes, but will now drain into Hudson’s Bay. (At least, I take their word for it).

If you’re driving across the country, and you’ve reached Thunder Bay, don’t count your chickens just yet.    You aint ‘done with Ontario.   You still have another 5-6 hours of trees and lakes before you hit the Manitoba border.  (Ontario is one Big-Ass province).

One Final Note
Be aware of the “500 series” of highways on the map.    Normally, around Toronto, these tertiary highways are paved scenic back-roads.

But up here, should you decide to take a scenic detour, you might find yourself committed to driving the next 90 minutes with gravel and trees.

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And when they say “No gas for 80 km”, they MEAN it.

Three Moose and a Bear on a Sunday Evening

April 19, 2009

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What I like about where I live, is that the wilderness is never that far away.   Today, I thought I’d go for a ride with Junior Bear and try to spot some moose.   You can usually find them in the Provincial Park this time of year, right by the highway.   Apparently they like the road salt.

We weren’t disappointed.   This evening we got a hat trick:  Two bulls,  just starting their antlers, and one cow.

These critters weren’t that afraid.   They were obviously used to having people gawk at them.   They tolerated our presence, provided we kept a respectful distance.

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Of course, Junior insisted on having his taken photo with each one.

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I’m sure I’m not the first person on the planet to take a photo of a moose with their Teddy Bear.

But I wonder how many people have photos of their Bear with THREE different moose….taken on the SAME evening?

(I think Junior must hold some kind of record, after today.)