Mary Beth Writes

I adore the Niagara Escarpment and you probably do, too.

A while back Len and I spent a gorgeous afternoon hiking in Wisconsin’s High Cliff State Park (on the upper right side of Lake Winnebago). A sign near the parking lot informed us that the impressive cliffs at the edge of the lake and through the woods and under the Indian mounds that are there, are the edge of an ancient sea that covered much of the middle of North America. That rim of limestone, as you can plainly see on the map, creates a limestone rainbow in the middle of North America. Len and I have occasionally talked about a “dream trip” around the Niagara Escarpment. The afternoon we hiked on Manitoulin Island we realized we were doing exactly that.

See where the red line goes through a lacey mess of islands between the upper peninsula and Ontario?  That is a wild and beautiful conglomeration of big islands, little ones, swampy peninsulas, and sparkling rivers finding their way to Lake Huron.

I knew Manitoulin and Mackinaw islands (the Ottawa called it Michilimackinac, which I can’ pronounce). These sizeable islands were places where First Nation people would meet to trade what they had grown or gathered and to negotiate problems and maintain peace.  These two islands were to northern Indians and the first European immigrants what Sicily and Crete were to the people who plied the Mediterranean.  Places everyone passed by, stopped in, caught up on the news, learned parts of each other’s languages.

The “Cup and Saucer Trail” is a somewhat famous hiking trail on Manitoulin.  We decided to hike up to its famous cliffs overlooking miles and miles of lake and woods. 

We never made it.  Canada doesn’t go out of their way to make their parks accessible. We hiked an hour, made it up several runs of “steps” which are outcroppings of rocks one scrambles up. I’d already done two of these crazy climbs on my butt and knees while hanging on to side rocks with my hands.  Len is more agile than me but even he was surprised at that 10-foot rise that we were supposed to scramble up next. Disappointed, but not fools, we turned around. 

Still, we hiked nearly two hours on a skinny, rocky path in an ancient forest. It was stunning, though next time I want to stand ON the Niagara Escarpment for a long view, I’m going back to High Cliff.

Here are some of our pix from that day.

This was one of the easier places to climb up ...

That's the limestone escarpment, peeking out.

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Thank you, Robert Burns, for that title. 

We were driving from Gaspé to the next town when this happened.

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Like I wrote previously, our plan was to turn to the right at the bottom left hand side of the map (see below) and drive east to Nova Scotia and then shoot up to the 7-hour ferry that would schlep us to Newfoundland.

Following the St. Lawrence River: “Further up and further in.”

We drove right past Montreal and Quebec.  We really “should” have turned off the Trans-Canada and gone into these cities to see historical sites I have been reading about for years.  Except, well, neither of us wanted to ‘do a city’ yet.  We love city life, but cities don’t kindle imagination the same way as the surprise of smaller towns and the beauteous unrolling of fields and woods, river and sky outside out car windows.  I bet people who live in rural areas like to take their breaks in a city when they get the chance…

Let's go to Canada. It will be beautiful and convenient and nothing will get too crazy.

Hi! Len and I returned home at 1:30AM from our 15-day road trip through eastern Canada and Maine and more.  

In case you ever wondered, you CAN go to the “Glazed and Confused” donut shop in Syracuse, NY at 9 in the morning, peruse the  Erie Canal museum https://eriecanalmuseum.org/ and then drive back in Waukesha - all in one 16-hour day. We are generally closer to interesting places than we know.

But I get ahead of myself.

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