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“N” is for North

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Still blogging A to Z…are you with me?

Because of Canada’s location on the globe, “north” is not a direction many of us travel in. We’ll scuttle side to side, east to west, as we explore our own country. Further east (or west) if we’re interested in travelling abroad. Or we’ll look south for destinations – the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and so on. The fact is, that for most Canadians, although there’s still a lot of ground to the north, there’s not always much that attracts.

Those of us down here in the southern part of Ontario, however, find ourselves in a unique position. Not only is much of our own country “up north”, 27 American states are at least partly, if not entirely, north of us. And north is a pretty cool place to go.

I have summered in Northern Ontario. I have wintered in Northern Ontario. Note that the nice things I’m about to say relate to summer – I can think of no good reason to go north in the winter. (ice fishing sounds boring, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are hard work, and snowmobiling is too dangerous for me.) Plus, it’s cold- mind-numbingly, frost-bitingly cold, and the snowbanks grow higher than your head by Christmas.

But Northern Ontario in the summer? Ah, now you’re talking. The landscape is truly awe-inspiring. Rock that’s prehistoric, majestic pines towering overhead, blue sky untouched by smog. Lakes so clear…I was eleven the first time I swam in a lake up north; I could actually see my feet through the water. I was amazed.

The Trans-Canada Highway winds around and through this scene; depending on where you’re at, you can sometimes drive an hour or more without seeing another car. And it’s quiet. Even the “cities” are quiet, most of them being about the size of a suburb here in the south. People may still hurry, but there’s an intensity that’s pleasantly absent from the pace. It’s one of the few places I’ve been where an hour seems to take an hour, no more and no less, and it’s just right. And when night falls, the stars are a sight to behold. There’s no humidity. You can’t help but relax.

There are mosquitos though, and black flies. Consider yourself warned.