Saturday, September 29, 2012

(16) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord recently returned from a very exciting bicycle and camping trip to Port Bruce, Ontario.

A brilliant video was produced of one short part of his ride home (2 min.). Please view Gord’s YouTube video here.

Please read the final chapter of the story about the trip here, for more details. Chapter 8 - Brief Debrief

Friday, September 28, 2012

Favourite Photo from Port Bruce

I took dozens of photographs during a recent 4-day bicycle trip to Port Bruce, Ontario. All are brilliant. Below is the brilliantest, in my mind

Photo by G.Harrison


Please click here to read the exciting conclusion to the story about my bicycle adventure.

(15) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Last words about my bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

Summary: rain not bad, keeps body cool. I need cycling shoes and toe clips, mirror to view traffic behind” 


CHAPTER EIGHT   -  Brief Debrief

After any trip I like to sit on the back deck and think or talk about the miles covered, people seen, likes and dislikes, pros and cons and what I could do better next time. Because there will always be a next time.

When I summarized some of my feelings on paper while sitting at the corner of Ferguson and Yarmouth Centre Line, still several miles from home on Monday, August 27 I wrote the following:

I should consider fenders...

Maybe I was tired of water from the road flying onto my hat.

I continued:

... paniers front and back, video camera mount, (therefore) save time, though getting off bike is a GOOD thing

Maybe I was thinking that ‘lighter is better’ and that people would love to watch videos of me cycling down a country road in baggy shorts. Maybe my rear end was sore. 

Actually, it was really sore because I added these words next:

Wider seat, eg., like a tractor (seat) for my sore bum

Hey, at least I’m honest. And at the time I was pretty happy because my final note says this:

Goal: go again, plan next trip, doesn’t have to be longer.

And from those words I deduce that I had a good time during my four day bicycle trip to Port Bruce. As well, I had so much fun I wanted to go on more trips like it. I perhaps felt I'd do the same trip again someday and realized four days away from home was a very good break for a guy of my age and temperament.

Already I feel future destinations might include Long Point, Turkey Point, Paris, Damascus, Brussels, Zurich, and Vienna. I hear Paris is especially beautiful at anytime of year and is within easy reach by bicycle from my home in London, Ontario. Less than 100 kilometers, I think.

Perhaps I’ll forget the tractor seat idea and walk next time, say to a camp ground closer to home. Though a walk to Port Bruce can’t be too daunting can it?

We’ll see. Anything is possible as I continue to discover the world in one pair of pants.

 [Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read Discovering the World - CHAPTER SEVEN   -   PT 2

Thursday, September 27, 2012

(14) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants


Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

I stopped at the side of the road shortly after leaving Port Bruce to take my first photo of the day and noticed the lake was barely visible because off the gray weather.

I consider seeing a train on an old line north of Yarmouth Center a ‘rare event’.

Many ditches and fields adjacent to Yarmouth Centre Line were filled with goldfinches. However, none of the birds stopped for a photo.

My choice of roads was often perfect. No traffic. Good views.

I was inside the city shortly after noon. I felt cheerful because it was almost all downhill from Ferndale and Homeview.

My last photo of the day tells a story.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here for more ‘Photos from along the way’

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

(13) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

“Quiet, uneventful trip home in light, cooling drizzle w good speed” 


CHAPTER SEVEN   -   Good memories, great trip PT 2

When travelling I often follow my nose. So I go down many a crooked lane.

Over the years, especially when motorcycling, I’ve ended up at Port Bruce, bought a coffee and walked out to the end of the pier. While walking from the Beach Hut (now the Corner View Cafe) to the ‘light house’ I’d recall my first car ride around the area.

It occurred during the summer of 1965 or ’66, during a weekend when I’d been invited there by an expert butcher, Ken Faulds, to meet his family. His older son, Peter, had a friend with one of the smallest cars I’d ever seen (maybe a 1950s Austin Mini), and together they took me for a ride - around and around some local highlights - one I’ll never forget.

[“We sped past the Rocabore Inn”]

Late in the evening, well after the supper hour (because we stopped for burgers at The King’s Cupboard at some point; also, the diner is now a lovely yellow-sided cottage), Peter and his pal loaded me into the back seat of the small car and decided to test my nerve. We sped past the Rocabore Inn, past the King’s Cupboard and headed straight toward Lake Erie, about as fast as the wee car could go. I gripped the front seat behind Peter’s head and hoped there was a turn ahead, a nice gradual turn.

[“We sped past the King’s Cupboard”]

No such luck. There was a turn, but it was sudden.

“Let’s see if we can roll it tonight!” said the driver and he turned sharply left, tires skidding and gravel flying. By the momentum I was shoved against the side of the car and a fat, onion-laden cheeseburger was shoved against the side of my right kidney. Shite, I thought, or something to that affect.

Wee headlights momentarily revealed the lake through the windshield, then Port Bruce channel, then a narrow road back to the Rocabore Inn.

“We’ll have to go faster this time!” said the driver and away we went for another attempt at rolling the car.

Past the Inn, the Cupboard, the first corner, and the rapidly disappearing views of the lake and channel amid laughs and cheers and somebody’s nervous prattling from the back seat. But on the third time ‘round I caught on. It was Saturday night and Peter and his friend had done this before to scare the wits out of some unsuspecting rube. My laughter soon joined theirs and away we went for a few more rounds.

Can you blame me for making Port Bruce a frequent destination whether by car, motorcycle or bicycle? I’ll likely be drinking coffee on the pier when I’m eighty-five, still chuckling about the trips around the traffic circle opposite the Corner View Cafe.

Vivid memories are good reasons to return to a spot time and again, and my bicycle trip to Port Bruce gets a big thumbs up from me. I’ll do it again next year unless the cherry blossoms in Paris or a bean fest in Zurich turn my nose in a different direction.

Trust me. Anything could happen as I continue to discover the world in one pair of pants.

More PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY are coming soon.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read CHAPTER SEVEN - Good memories, great trip PT 1 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(12) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

Mon., Aug. 27 - sprinkling @ breakfast 7:45. I’ll be gone soon in wet clothes?” 


CHAPTER SEVEN   -   Good memories, great trip PT 1

The answer to the above question (i.e., “I’ll be gone soon in wet clothes?”) is yes. 

But I didn’t care at 7:45 a.m. I knew a cool, drizzly day would make for a cooler bike ride home to London from Port Bruce, a distance of 60 - 65 kilometers if my motorcycle odometer - during dozens upon dozens of trips to the small port over the past 6 years - can be trusted.

I packed up my camping gear while a few early risers from nearby trailers went about their own chores and felt, with a lighter load, my ride home would be a lot easier than the ride to the seashore three days earlier.

I already felt the short trip or mini-vacation was a success for several reasons. I’d combined fun with fitness, finished a good book on the beach, ate and drank well, slept soundly in spite of night-time Hallowe’en activities in the campground, splashed about in Lake Erie, celebrated (somewhat unknowingly) the 251st anniversary of The Royal Salute with cold beers in the shade of scrub trees mere meters away from where the original salute took place (the beers may even have been prohibited, so that made them taste awfully good), got a lot of use out of one pair of pants and was going home with many excellent photographs and memories.

Good memories of Port Bruce have piled up over the years, starting over 45 - 50 years ago when I was invited to the wee hamlet for a couple of days during the summer by Ken Faulds, a butcher of some repute.

That may sound a lot worse than it is. Ken Faulds and I worked at the same grocery store (Maedel’s Red and White) in Norwich, Ontario for a few years in the mid-1960s. Ken ran the butcher shop full-time and I stocked shelves part-time, but I happily helped in the butcher shop - because of the perks - by grinding hamburger and wrapping and tagging packages of meat whenever Ken needed an extra pair of hands. Not only did I get my regular pay but I often went home with a small bit of steak as a ‘thank-you’ for my general all-around helpfulness (I was one of the best sweepers and cleaner-uppers in the business) and positive attitude with grocery store customers.

“This regular ground beef looks a bit too fatty for me. Can I get 2 pounds of lean ground beef?” someone would often ask while Ken was slicing and dicing pork loins.

Ken would give me a look and I’d walk over to the customer and say something like, “Why, sure. I’ll just go out back, grind some up fresh and be back in a jiff. And I guarantee it will be leaner than anything you’ll get south of Little Otter Creek.”

After I finished my task of grinding, wrapping, tagging and waving ‘good-day’ to the customer, Ken would say, “What did you do to get the lean ground beef?”

“I took about two pounds of regular and reddened it up by adding some chicken gizzards and pork scraps from the bucket on the middle shelf in the cooler,” I’d say.

“See me on the way out, my boy,” he’d say. 

And one time he said, “And how’d you like to come to the lake this weekend to meet my wife and kids? I think you’ll get along great with my oldest son. I’ll fry us up a few T-bones.” 

A good connection was made with Ken, his wife Jean, older son Peter and younger son Billy on a pleasant summer night that smelled of warm beer, hot fried steak and cool breezes in a tiny lakeside port that few people ever pay much attention to these days. At least that’s how I think of it - and thought of it when I was 16 years old... and it’s my story after all.

Peter Faulds plays a central role in another favourite story of mine, related to Port Bruce, and I’ll share it next. Once you hear it you’ll want to visit the place yourself.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to view Discovering the World: Photos From Along The Way

Please click here to read Discovering the World Chapter Six Part 2

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zoom w a View: On my way home

For those waiting for the exciting conclusion of Discovering the World (Port Bruce) in One Pair of Pants, allow me to say... I'm on my way.

["White Oaks Rd. South, near Dingman Drive"]

Photo by G.Harrison


Please click here to read Discovering the World Chapter Six

Sunday, September 9, 2012

(11) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants


Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce, August 24 - 27

A gravelly, scrubby beach area likely makes Port Bruce unpopular with many young people looking for a place to play volleyball or gather in great numbers.

However, the same qualities make PB very popular with me, and other quaint and quirky people.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


(10) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

Sun., Aug. 26. Pat arrived early and enjoyed an ice cream w out me!! 


CHAPTER SIX   -   Sunday, Sunday (PT 2)

I enjoyed sunny skies and peaceful outings during my brief stay in Port Bruce recently. If I’d been carrying whiskey and gunpowder around - like Sir William Johnson did 251 years earlier, I’d have fired off my own Royal Salute to the weather and quaint, quirky surroundings.

(re Sir William: He visited Port Bruce over two and a half centuries ago by boat and is “known to Canadians for being the husband of Molly Brant, brother-in-law to Mohawk Chief, Joseph Brant and ancestor of poetess Emily Pauline Johnson” - online history 

Early in the morning I read several pages from a history book while sipping coffee at The Pier diner and watched gulls and cormorants traverse a clear blue sky. While doing so I think I lived up to a favourite quote of mine about travelling: ‘The less you spend the more you enjoy, the more authentic the experience it is, the more profound, the more exciting, the more unexpected’. (A Sense of Place by M. Shapiro)

Later, back at the ranch, I ate a leisurely and authentic breakfast of hot oatmeal and toast, then returned to the beach to read a book, and bob in the water whenever I felt the need to cool off... even unexpectedly. All the while I kept one eye on my watch because my wife Pat planned to join me at 2 p.m., and we’d planned to meet at the Sand Kastle restaurant situated 100 yards from where my chair sat in the shade of two scrubby trees. 

Unfortunately Pat arrived 20 minutes early, while I was again back at the campsite eating a highly nutritious lunch, i.e., a packet of Mr. Noodle soup minus half the contents of the heavily salted ‘flavour pouch’. (For those that don’t know, I think the beef flavour pouch is 90 per cent salt and 10 per cent mystery ingredient, and was put together deep inside a chemical factory by a guy in a grease-stained smock who has never stepped foot on an actual cattle farm. And now you know). 

When we finally connected at the appointed hour my wife informed me that instead of looking for me she visited the Sand Kastle ice cream counter. It hardly seemed fair at the time (“You didn’t think that I’d like two scoops of New York cheese cake?”), but because she later bought supper and carried half my gear home in the car on her return trip home, I submitted no formal complaint.

Once we were settled in the shade of my two scrubby trees she asked, “So, how was your day?”

I shared a few words - while admiring the clear blue sky - about my terribly hectic schedule and mentioned that cormorants might be returning soon from wherever they spend their daytime hours.

Photo link to Gavan Watson

“So we should be on the look out,” I said.

She informed me that cormorants can be a bit of a nuisance, which made me wonder 'in what way', because I knew they were good fishermen and had a distinct flying style, but that was about it.

I have since read the following: In some Ontario parks, Parks Canada officials shoot cormorants to stem the loss of trees. Wildlife defence groups argue about a hierarchy of values in nature: Are trees and the forest canopy more worthy than a colony of cormorants? These widely unloved, fish-eating migratory birds are ruthless nest builders. With their hook-tipped bills, they strip tree branches; their guano becomes a hyper fertilizer, wrecking the chemistry of the soil. Trees die three to 10 years after the birds build their nests. (www.thestar.com

So, my wife was right. And why should I have been surprised? She’s a genius. As well, I thanked her several times the next day - in my mind and in person once I got home - because my bike trailer felt much lighter while hauling it back to London and my right leg didn’t cramp up like it did on ‘day one’ of my bicycle trip.

My journal says ‘we said our goodbyes after burger and fries’ and reveals that ‘I was reading D-Day again in lovely downtown PB by 5:30 - 6:00 p.m.’ I found the final chapters engrossing and felt glad I’d taken it with me over lighter fare.

My notes for the day conclude with the following: ‘Lovely night, as evidenced in photos of turbines and quiet road side scenes.

I can only recall that I ended the day with a cup of tea, a few thoughts about the next day’s (predicted) rainy weather and another deep sleep. 

[Photos, except of cormorants, by G.Harrison]


Please click here to view MORE PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY

Friday, September 7, 2012

(9) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants


Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce, Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

[“Sunday, Sunday. I had my pick of chairs”]

[“I liked coffee at The Pier diner. And a refill”]

[“I’d better start saving up”]

[“Sunday, Sunday”]

[“Sunday’s full agenda”]

[“Easy speed in Port Bruce. My speed”]

Photos by G.Harrison


Please click here to read CHAPTER SIX (PT 1)  of ‘Discovering the World’

Please click here for more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY

(8) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce (PB), Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

Sun., Aug. 26. Lovely day at PB, coffee at The Pier by 8:30” 


CHAPTER SIX   -   Sunday, Sunday (PT 1)

Sleep came easy at night in PB. Long bike rides, hours in the sun, breathing fresh air and bobbing (repeating whenever desired) in Lake Erie certainly helped.

Meals came easy too whenever I cooked at the campsite. With my tiny but very handy propane stove (Pocket Rocket) I heated up tins of stew or spaghetti in a flash and made toast in less than 120 seconds. And though I could boil water for coffee without walking a step from my picnic table, I preferred to visit one of three diners most mornings - after a shower and shave - in order to stretch my short legs, wake up slowly and answer the pressing question, “What’s going on this morning in this wee lakeside retreat?”

Usually the answer was, “Not much, but there’s coffee on.” And that was perfect as far as I was concerned.

Sunday, my last full day to relax, was a significant treat. I sipped two large coffees, $1.75 for the first one and 85 cents for the refill. According to my photos I was within sight of the lake, and my notes describe a leisurely pace.

For example, while sitting and sipping I watched “gulls lined up like sailors on the beach and cormorants fly west in small to large groups.” I bicycled “back to campsite by 10-ish for toast and porridge” and was back “@ beach by 11:00 to read D-Day by A. Beevor.

[“Gulls lined up like sailors on the beach...”]

“Getting into the last few chapters.” Sitting in the shade. Snapping a cap. Feeling a breeze upon my face. ‘A leisurely pace’ is right, though that day I read several serious chapters about D-Day, 1944 and my mood was surely affected by details about the liberation of France.

I read the following: As the remains of the German Seventh Army pulled back across the River Orne, the British VIII and XXX Corps advanced rapidly west, liberating one town after another. ‘We have had a warm welcome all along the route,’ wrote a British officer, ‘although quite a number of the people still seem dazed and bewildered. The very young do not know what is going on. I saw one little boy proudly giving the Nazi salute as though it were the correct greeting and others looking at their mothers to see if it was right to wave.’ (page 464, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy)

[“8:30 a.m. The view from my chair at The Pier diner”]

 I had a hard time putting the book down on Sunday and finished the book later in the evening at another table, at another diner.

Please join me soon for more details about the trip to PB.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read CHAPTER FIVE of Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Please click here for more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY while at Port Bruce

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

(7) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants


Gord’s historic bicycle trip to Port Bruce, Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

A historic birdhouse

Gord cuts a historic pose

On the look out for historic fish

Historic lumber

All’s quiet before a historic Hallowe’en

Historic sand... and shade

Saturday, August 25, 2012 was a historic day in Port Bruce

Please click here to read little-known history about the day.

[Photos by G.Harrison]


Please click here to read CHAPTER FIVE of Discovering the World

Please click here for more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY

(6) Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants

Gord’s bicycle trip to Port Bruce and Catfish Creek, Aug. 24 - 27, 2012

Lazy bum am I.” (Historically speaking, of course).


CHAPTER FIVE   -   Sir William... meet Sir Gordon

Readers who know about Port Bruce’s exciting history will undoubtedly be aware that, on Friday, August 24, at about the same time I was speeding down Dexter Line toward a stop sign - with 50 pounds of gear strapped to my bicycle and hoping my hand brakes would save me from ripping across a busy intersection and splashing into Catfish Creek - Sir William Johnson approached the creek from the opposite direction, from Long Point, with “his son Lt. John Johnson, Capt. Slosser, the Royal Americans under the command of Ensigns Francis Slosser and Robert Holmes of the 60th regiment in four "battoes" (bateaux or large boats) and the Yorkers under the command of Lt. Amos Ogden in eight boats and one birch canoe... (along with) a group of Mohawk Indians giving a total of 13 boats in the expedition” 251 years earlier to the day. (History: At Port Bruce)

[Sir William Johnson visited Port Bruce in 1761]

[Meet Sir Gordon, 251 years later]

Some readers, now that the dates are fresh in their minds, will also know that August 25 is a significant day as well, and that exactly 251 years before I sat on the Port Bruce beach under lovely, sunny skies with a few cans of cold beer and read some of the last chapters of a thick book about D-Day in Normandy (WWII, France), Sir William, after receiving significant news “of the surrender of Belle Isle to his Britannic Majesty, the 7th of June last; also an account of our defeating the Cherokees the tenth of last July, and burning fifteen of their towns,” assembled his mighty forces around him - along with a quantity of gunpowder and alcohol - and “gave orders for the Royal Americans and Yorkers, at three o'clock, to be in arms, and fire three volleys, and give three cheers; after which, each man is to have a dram to drink his majesty's health.” 

Hip hip hooray! What a lovely day, I say.

[Sir William wrote, "Tuesday 25th, A fine morning; wind at N. E."]

According to my notes, I too raised a glass (in my case, a plastic cup) at about three o’clock, and was quite likely the only person in the entire world celebrating - somewhat unknowingly - ‘The Royal Salute’ on the beach upon which the very first was given. I’m a proud, historic man. 

According to Sir William’s diary, however, the same cannot be said for all who took part in the original salute. It says, “All the officers dined and spent the afternoon with me, and Mr. Gambling, the Frenchman, who got very drunk this night, and told me several things very openly.

What shameful, historic secrets were blurted out over tall glasses of rum I can only imagine.

My day and evening past peacefully. I spent most of the afternoon reading in the shade and bobbing in Lake Erie. I ate healthy meals and, because Hallowe’en was celebrated in the campground, I treated myself to ice cream after supper - far away from the noise.

[Motor 'battoes' entering and exiting Catfish Creek]

While looking at the selection of ice cream at the Corner View Cafe I also answered what was likely the most important question of the day.

Question (from my notes): What ice cream flavour tops off my 2nd meal of No Name Irish Stew with “formed chunks of meat”?

Answer (also from my notes): Something without chunks, maybe! 

I later enjoyed tea at The Sand Kastle, with my D-Day history book in hand, and as the sun set I returned to my tent, hoping all young ghosts and goblins were zonked out on sugar. 

Most were, and ten minutes after parking my head on a pillow inside my tent, steps away from the last bits of Hallowe’en madness (“It’s 10 o’clock Saturday night in August, for Pete’s sake,” I said to myself.), I fell fast asleep, with not a care in the world, except for that Hallowe’en thingee.

Please stay tuned for more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY and CHAPTER SIX of Discovering the World.

[Port Bruce, August 25, 2012]

An account of Sir William Johnson's visit to Port Bruce, Ontario (site of the Royal Salute, Tuesday, August 25, 1761) is found at this link. References to my participation have not been found.

[All photos but one by G.Harrison]


Please click here to view more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY

Please click here to read CHAPTER FOUR, Discovering the World in One Pair of Pants