Good dog, bad dog.

24 Jul

So, I have a dog. Rather I should say my wife has a dog. His name is Loki, who was the Norse God of Mischief. Today I will begin with his story.

We got Loki in 2004 as a puppy. When my wife was growing up, she was not allowed any pets other than birds. We had always had cats around my house, so when we got married we ended up adopting two cats, Odin and Aurora. However, my wife had always wanted a dog. I was agreeable to her request with one small provision; if we were to get a dog I wanted a real dog, not an oversized cat. We spent some time looking around for puppies and finally found some for sale near Upsala, which is about 1.5 hours west of here.

When we arrived there were 11 puppies in the litter! Overwhelmed at which one to take, we chose the runt of the litter. That runt is now 8 years old and weighs 92 pounds. And what was supposed to be my wife’s dog has now become my dog. Not that I mind though; I never had a dog as a kid and Loki has become my constant companion. I have become so accustom to his company on my hikes that it will be a very sad day when he cannot tag along any longer. I’m actually quite disappointed that he will not be coming with my on my upcoming visit to Gunflint Lake-it will feel very weird without him.

Loki, July 2004.

Anywho, I guess I should get to the title shouldn’t I? Well, the good dog part happened last week during my hike on the railway (obviously you’ll hear more about it later). I had just reached the halfway point of the hike at Hymers and I was preparing to turn around and head back. Suddenly I heard a splashing sound in the river and then I saw something that shocked me. Bounding down the river was a young buck deer, completely oblivious to my presence. I immediately reached for the video camera and was able to record about 30 seconds of this awesome sight. The deer only stopped and then bolted when he saw Loki move, and I was surprised that he listened to my command to “stay.”

On Sunday we were at camp and Loki reverted to the dog that I am more familiar with. I spent a good part of the day cleaning the outside of the camp with the pressure washer and I was very tired afterwards. For supper that day I had taken four striploin steaks out of the freezer and had them thawing in a bowl on the front deck. When I finished my job, I headed inside for a drink and I noticed that the bowl was empty. At first I thought I was imagining things, but then I figured my wife had taken the steaks inside. I then spent the next few minutes hunting through the fridge for them without much success. The boys told me that they saw Loki licking the empty container; now I knew why I had seen him hiding outside. He knew he was guilty. So that day Loki enjoyed a wonderful meal of steaks while the rest of the family ate hot dogs and smokies since there was nothing else to cook!

Well, besides the dog excitement, it has been a typical busy week. The temperatures have still been high, though I think my body has gotten more use to this weather. We spent a half of last week at camp with friends, then back home for a few days, then back to camp. I also had to work on my presentation that is happening tomorrow (hence the late post) and I also spent yesterday entertaining our Italian visitors.

We finally we able to visit one of Thunder Bay’s premier attractions, Fort William Historical Park (Old Fort William as it used to be called). It is a re-creation of a 19th century fur trading outpost belonging to the North West Company. The fort is a living museum that attempts to demonstrate life as it was in 1815. I had not been to the fort since 2001 and my kids had never visited it in the summer season, so it was a very worthwhile trip. I know that our guests certainly appreciated what they saw.

As they are departing for Toronto tomorrow, I decided that there was one last place they needed to see; the Hoito. For those of you not familiar with Thunder Bay, or who have never visited our city, the Hoito (which means care in Finnish) Restaurant is a cultural icon here. Famous for its “Finn” pancakes, one can often find a huge line-up there that stretches out the door. Today was no exception. We had a party of eight, which made seating a bit difficult. It was insanely busy, which led to a bit of a wait for our food, but it was well worth it…I was stuffed most of the day!

So, on to the railway stuff. I mentioned earlier that it has been a very busy week, but I also said that I did get a chance to fit some hiking in. I wanted to take a look at the section between Hymers and Sellers, as I had not been in this area since 1995. I thought my best course of action was to park at Sellers along Dave’s Road (very fitting) and work my way east. I had mentioned this area in a previous post and that it would be a bit challenging due to some erosion of the grade by the Whitefish River.

My road, July 2012.

I began my hike and I immediately ran into some difficulties. In the past few years there have been some heavy rainfalls that have resulted in high water on the river, which has caused some washouts in the first section of line. I had a bit of hunting around until I re-acquired the grade. Once I did I was rewarded with a bit of a prize; a standing telegraph pole. I remember seeing this back in 1995 and was surprised to see it still up. A short distance away I found another and spent a bit of time following the wires to see if it led to anything else. It didn’t, but both poles still had fragments of the insulators on the wooden pegs.

Tekegraph pole, Sellers, July 2012.

The grade then settled into a nice straight section for about a kilometre before there was another washout. I had to detour about 150 metres along the river bank before finding the grade again (which was a chore). Ninety metres and then it was another washout, then a 600 metre section and yet another washout. It was then a tough 400 metre walk (the grade was heavily grown in) before arriving at the remains of the bridge that spanned the river at Hymers. It was there while photographing the pilings that I saw the deer.

Bridge pilings, Hymers, July 2012.

The return trip was much easier since I now had all the washouts and the grade marked on my GPS. That gave me more time to look for any goodies. I didn’t find anything spectacular, but in addition to the two standing telegraph poles, I found the remains of another 7. I also found what seemed like miles of wire, some of it hung up in the trees, in one spot even grown into the bark of a tree.

Erosion, Hymers, July 2012.

After 6+ kilometres of walking I finished the hike. That was very fortuitous since my legs were beginning to cramp up in the heat and the constant climbing over deadfall. I certainly cannot wait to get out again, but I will have to wait since my railway time this week will be consumed by the presentation at the Duke Hunt Museum.

Speaking of which, I have spent the last few days working very feverishly to complete the PowerPoint for the lecture. It is surprising how long it takes to put together sometime that will be over in an hour. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked though; the number of hours it takes to prepare for a school lesson far exceeds the time it takes to teach it. It’s all good though, and I hope those that attend will take something away from it. I’m still nervous though. My whole career revolves around talking in front of people, but talking to a room full of adults is very different from a room of teenagers. I know I will be fine, but I always get lots of butterflies before something like this!

Anyway, gotta run. Still have a bunch of things to do for tomorrow so I better get to it. I’ll have a full report of how things went next week. Until then…


Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Good dog, bad dog.

  1. Ellen McInnis

    July 26, 2012 at 17:00

    Wow – just stumbled across your web site. I was so disappointed to hear you did a presentation at the Duke Hunt museum last night and we missed it! My group of motorcycle friends, the Scenic Cruisers Exploration & Adventure group loves to hear about things like that so I will be passing on the link to this amazing site! We were in the area on a ride and could have very easily dropped in! I have only spent a few minutes checking out your site but can’t wait to see what else you have on the go. Our group loves Silver Mountain Station too! We love the fact that Shelley Simon is trying to preserve the history of the area and rekindle the interest in the area. Hope our group can take in one of your presentations soon & perhaps help you in your research as many of our friends have a piece of that area in their hearts and heritage & I’m sure would love to sit a spell with you and hear of your adventures.
    Ellen McInnis…the “Cruiser Connection”, Northwest Ontario & beyond!


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