RSS

Tag Archives: Flood

Mother nature sucks, but lunch was epic!

Cryptic? Of course; you wouldn’t expect any less of me! I think the title pretty much sums up the state of affairs around here. It has been a crazy, depressing and frustrating past seven days…I’ll try to express it all in words!

So I might as well start off with the crappy part, namely…wait for it…you probably know it already…the weather! Yes, the weather. The stupid freakin’ weather. If I talk about it anymore, people will start to think I have some serious issues (maybe I do-I did say Mother Nature sucks). I can’t help it though, it’s really starting to make me (and everyone else) rather crazy. What is driving most of this angst is that I cannot go out and do what I want to do, which is hike.

So if you read this blog with any regularity you’ll know that I’ve been dying to get out hiking for the past month. First it was the cold, then snow, and now rain. Obviously I did not get to do my planned hike in Minnesota for the long weekend; I unfortunately spent it cooped up in the house all 3 days (well, accept for a few hours on Saturday morning). Remember this time last year when we had that biblical flood? Well, let me tell you a story!

So the forecast called for some rain this weekend, which here in Canada is the traditional start of the summer camping/outdoor season. Then the rain was upgraded to a lot of rain; then it was a flood. Talk about déjà vu! We had a huge deluge last May 28th, and they were talking about rain in the same proportions. So it rained most of Saturday, Sunday and off and on Monday. I thought it was over, but we’ve gotten another big dump of rain today. Fortunately there has not been the widespread flooding that we had last year, but are some flooded areas and road closures. I’m not sure of the exact count, but we’ve had something like 70-80mm of rain so far…I guess hiking in this area is out for a while.

Backyard flooding, May 2013.

Backyard flooding, May 2013.

Backyard flooding, May 2013.

Backyard flooding, May 2013.

Anyway, now that we’ve passed the May long weekend we’re on the downward slide toward the end of the school year. It’s going to be a crazy, hectic 23 days. Teaching, football and graduation will make it all interesting. On top of all of that, I have 6.5 days that I’ll be out of the classroom for various workshops; that’s more than a quarter of the remaining time. Insanity! I will do my best to keep my feet firmly planted.

Now one of things that will help is that our crew at work will try to squeeze in one more epic lunch before the end. Yes, you heard it, an epic lunch (hence the title). This is something we came up with last year and we have continued the tradition of excellence. What is it you ask? Well, it’s what it says, lunches of epic proportions. It was mostly inspired by the YouTube videos of Epic Mealtime. So we try and find culinary challenges to complete, which are usually not always to healthiest choices, but it makes for good time and company. So far we’ve done the 6 foot sub, 3-65” pizzas, Taco Time tacos and burritos, Chinese chicken balls and bonbons, chicken wings and the McDonald’s triple double (double Big Mac, quarter-pounder & cheeseburger). What’s next? Some dirty bird (aka KFC)?

The challenge revealed, May 2013.

The challenge revealed, May 2013.

About to dig in, May 2013.

About to dig in, May 2013.

Things have been very busy on the railway front, mostly with the historical society. We had a board meeting last week to plot our strategy for the upcoming months. A lot good stuff is coming up for the summer. At the beginning of July there will be a Horseback Riding event with proceeds going to the society. In August, the Silver Mountain Station will be hosting the 2nd Annual History Day, which brings together local historians and writers and allows people to learn more about the history of the area.

We’re also starting our first ever membership drive, which we hope attracts more people to the society. To help publicize our efforts, our website is undergoing a major overhaul, and we’re having an advertising poster created (much like the one for the railway). It’s a pretty exciting time, and we hope that society grows and prospers. Be sure to join us if you’re interesting in preserving history!

So as I mentioned earlier, my plans to go hiking last weekend were derailed by the weather. I am hoping to try again this weekend. It might be a bit wet, so for the first time ever I may have wear my stylish rubber boots in the bush. Let’s hope it’s not too bad. I am very glad however that my oldest son, Ethan, has decided to join me. It’s awesome that I can share my love of the outdoors and history with my boys, and teach them to appreciate what we have around us. My youngest, Noah, will soon be six and I imagine he will be joining us on longer hikes soon enough.

Anyway, time to roll; lots of stuff to do in a short week. Hopefully I will have good news to report next week. Until then…

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Hiking, History, Miscellaneous, Railway, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Are we there yet?

No, we are not on a vacation to Kansas with Toto, but we are certainly in need of a break! I’m done! Kaput! Toast! (I could go on with the metaphors) It seems as though no matter how much sleep I get, I still wake up feeling tired. There are way too many things swirling in my head that will only go away once the school year is done. Now I know what you’re saying, poor teachers, it must be rough having the whole summer off! Well, truth be told, this occupation is getting harder to do all the time.

Once the weather begins to turn warm in April, this whole idea of “teaching” becomes much tougher to do. The nice temperatures bring with them thoughts of summer and the kids begin to lose their focus. It is now June 4th and we have completely lost them! They have no attention span, trying to do work is like pulling teeth and the senior kids just don’t show up; June is like a good month/bad month. Therefore June 29th can’t come soon enough!

I must admit though that I do have an ulterior motive; summer means that I will have time to do what I want, namely hiking the railway. Unfortunately the bush it still wet from last week’s rain, so I can’t really get out. The city continues to be in a state of emergency, since our water treatment plant is still out of action. More than a thousand homes were flooded by the rain, and I really feel for those people. I hope that things get back to normal as soon as possible.

Gravel Lake Station, June 2012.

I did get out for another drive this week, mostly to complete my task from the last drive. Moving beyond Nolalu, I marked Hillside, Silver Mountain, Whitefish, Wolfe Siding (Suomi), Mackies and Gravel Lake on Facebook. Being out there made me want to be hiking so bad; maybe I have a bit of an addiction! Or it could be that I love being in the outdoors and it gives me the peace and quiet I crave. I never really hiked a lot of the line along Whitefish Lake and my curiosity has been peaked. This area is fairly high and dry, so I might be able to get out next week.

One of my stops was at the Silver Mountain Station, one of the few remaining buildings on the line. It was built circa 1911, replacing an existing log structure and is an identical copy of the station that once stood at North Lake. For many years it has been an iconic landmark on the corner of Highways 588 and 593. During the railway era, it was home at one point to Dorothea Mitchell, the famous Lady Lumberjack. The book on her adventures makes for a very interesting read, not only chronicling some of the history of the area, but also of the life of a female entrepreneur in a frontier wilderness.

Silver Mountain Station, June 2012.

Today the station is a restaurant, recently acquired by chef and baker Shelley Simon. I had a quick chat with her on Saturday, but I need to stop by again this summer and sink my teeth into a PD burger. If you’re in the neighbourhood (or even if you’re not…the drive through the Whitefish Valley is beautiful) be sure to stop in for some great food and hospitality!

Last week I wrote about my concern for the potential development near the ghost town of Leeblain. Unfortunately I did not receive any replies to my emails, which is a bit frustrating. I know that it has only been a week, and that people have other business to attend to, but I had hoped to hear at least something. Maybe I’m used to my profession and things just operate differently. In my line of work, I’m expected to reply to messages/emails as soon as possible. Then again, I’m responsible to parents for their child’s education, so maybe there’s a bit more urgency in that!

My last news for this week is very good news. I’ve written about my planned talk at the Chik-Wauk Museum scheduled for August 5th, but I’ve managed to land something closer to home. On Friday I paid a visit to one of my old stomping grounds, the Duke Hunt Museum. Located just outside Thunder Bay in the Municipality of Oliver-Paipoonge, it will always be known to me by its old name, the Paipoonge Museum. I first visited this great little gem back in 1997 and I spent many a day there in years past. I was privileged to be able to give a few lectures at the museum back in the late 90’s.

It had been quite a while since I visited the museum, especially given that it was recently relocated to a former school just down the road. The director is a great lady by the name of Lois Garrity and it was nice to sit down and catch up with her. Our conversation naturally turned to railway and we reminisced about the presentations I had done all those years ago. It was then that Lois said, “Hey, it been a long time since you spoke about the railway, are you interested in doing it again?” To be honest, I was hoping that she would ask. Needless to say I jumped at the idea and we were able to pin down a date. So on July 25th I will make my return to the lecture world and I could not be more excited. I love to research and hike the railway, but I probably like talking about it even more!

Anyway, enough yapping for now; I’m sure I’ll have more news and things to say next week. Until then…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing

 

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

Uh, I think we have enough rain now. Thanks.

A monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind which lasts for several months. The term was first used in English in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and neighboring countries to refer to the big seasonal winds blowing from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea in the southwest bringing heavy rainfall to the region (Dictionary.com).

Pic from the net of Vibert Road in Oliver-Paipoonge.

So you’re probably thinking, “Dave, you live in Thunder Bay and according to Dr. Koppen, it is a Humid continental (Dfb) climate (sort of)…you don’t experience monsoons!” As I demonstrate some of my geography skills in jest for you, it seems as though we do. It has been raining for the better part of five days now. It is actually quite bad; several outlying municipalities have declared emergencies today as well as the city of Thunder Bay. We have received well over 100mm of rain that have caused flooding, washouts and for the first time in my teaching career, cancelled buses. Some unfortunate people have had their basements ruined. The ditches, creeks and rivers are full of water; my backyard looks like a swamp! The sun is supposed to return on Wednesday, so let’s hope it dries up soon.

This week is the last week of May and it could not come soon enough. My burnout only seems to get worse! Football training camp starts soon and there are a whole bunch of things that need to get done before that happens. There is timetabling, graduation and a bunch of meetings still to go. I know that it will fly by, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I just need a breather!

Another picture from the net of an OPP SUV in a rather precarious situation.

All the rain doesn’t bode well for my plans to do any hiking in the near future. Rather hard to walk near rivers and lakes when they’re flooded. On Sunday I decided that since I could not hike, I would take the boys on a little drive. My one hour expedition turned into three hours, but it was all good. What could I possibly do in those wet conditions you ask? Well, my main objective was to create some places on Facebook with my phone so that I could effectively locate them when I post. I didn’t get everything done, but the Harstone Bridge, Harstone, Silver Creek, Hymers, Sellers, Leeper and Nolalu are now all officially recorded. I’m sure I’ll finish the job soon enough…the drive made me want to look at these areas sometime soon.

The most dramatic development of my week (other than the flood of course), was when I was informed that a very sensitive area of the railway is due for some development. The North-Gunflint Lake corridor is my favourite on the railway and I try to get there as often as I can (I booked my field work for August 5-8 at Gunflint). It is the farthest area from Thunder Bay and fairly inaccessible, so it has remained mostly free from human interference.

Rock oven at Leeblain, August 2011.

I received an email on Saturday that there were plans in the works to possibly open a resort on the Canadian side of Gunflint Lake, near the ghost town of Leeblain. I have spoken about Leeblain before, and it contains the remains of an old hotel and workers camp, the most important of which are several rock ovens. These ovens were used by Italian labourers on the railway to bake bread and in other places such as BC they are preserved in parks. About 2.5km west of Leeblain is the Gunflint Cross I wrote about a few weeks ago.

I’m not against the development; it would actually be nice to access Gunflint Lake without have to endure a 1 hour boat ride from North Lake or go through the US. However, I think it is critical to ensure that these important historical sites are preserved and protected. I’ve written emails to local MLA’s Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro, as well as the local archeological review officer for the Province of Ontario; hopefully someone listens to my pleas. I will certainly mention any developments should they arise in my subsequent blogs.

Now speaking of Gunflint and Leeblain, I’ve confirmed my plans to visit the area this summer. On August 5th I will be doing my railway/mine presentation at the Chik-wauk Museum and I had hoped to conduct some fieldwork in the following days. By chance I stumbled upon long-time Gunflint summer resident and current lodge owner John Schloot. Back in the 60’s John spent many summers on Gunflint and often visited the Bishop family on North Lake and the old railway station there. He recently purchased the Moosehorn Lodge on Gunflint, which is now known as Cross River Lodge.

I’ve visited the US side of Gunflint Lake several times, staying mostly at the Gunflint Pines Resort, but I also spent an evening at the historic Gunflint Lodge. John graciously suggested that I stay at Cross River and I was more than happy to oblige. Besides, John has old films of the North Lake Station taken in the 60’s and I am very eager to see them. He has even kindly offered to provide me with a copies that I can post on my YouTube channel. The trip should be interesting since I managed to convince my wife Jo-Anne to tag along with the kids. She’s not particularly outdoorsy, so hopefully we can find some things for her and kids to do while I hike the railway. If the weather is good, it should prove to be very a memorable visit.

Anyway, I think it is about time to wrap things up. Maybe be next week the water levels will have subsided somewhat and everyone can return to a relatively normal routine. Until then…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing

 

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