|Along the shore of Lake Superior|
Let me preface this post by saying that I don't think Canadians are crazy, at least not all of them and had I done the proper amount of research, I could have found something more representative than poutine. Now lets start at the beginning.
I have been all over the world and yet I've never been to Canada. I've been close a time or two and have flown over it more times than I can count, but I've never set foot on Canadian soil. So we decided the time was right to remedy that error and set out one day for a day in Canada, specifically in the Thunder Bay area. I have never driven across a border of a country before so I didn't know what to expect. Being that this was Canada and in a fairly isolated part of the country, I envisioned a much scaled down version to what I see on television between California and Mexico. As we approached the border, the U.S. customs cops had a semi pulled over with cop cars blocking two of the four approach lanes. Perhaps a 100 yards out, a cop looked up, walked out between the cars and started pointing at a spot in the lane next to the car. I naturally assumed that he wanted to question us, perhaps let a dog sniff our car, etc. I pulled to a stop where he was pointing, still 50 yards short of the physical border and rolled down the window to hear what he wanted. He proceeded to lecture me about my stupidity for not giving him a full lane of buffer around his car as required by state law and how he could ticket me if he wanted too. Now I could have pointed out that I hadn't actually yet gone by him and thus could still give the one lane buffer as required by law. I could have pointed out that his pointing for me to switch lanes looked really similar to pointing to spot where I should stop for questioning. I could have suggested he be more polite to others who might be coming into our country for the first time instead of acting like a d$#k. Instead I just apologized every pause in the conversation until he finally let me go to proceed to the border and a very nice Canadian lady.
|Poutine (half gone already)|
We proceeded into Canada for the how every many kilometer drive to Thunder Bay making sure to obey the speed limit for fear the American cop would come throw my ass in some Canadian jail just for sport. Not having any maps or computer aided device that worked in Canada, we didn't drive all over Thunder Bay which turned out to be much much larger than I expected. We found the actual bay and though we didn't hear any thunder, we did enjoy a nice walk along it for awhile. Getting hungry we decided to get some grub and since my motto has always been, when in Rome, eat like the Romans, we set off in search of something Canadian. We found a hole in the wall called Nippy's that seemed to be getting a lot of local traffic and stopped.
Two young Canadian guys sold us some food which included Poutine, seen below. It consists of french fries topped with cheese and hot gravy. It was delicious even though I could feel my arteries hardening as I ate the stuff. That is why I insist that if this is a delicacy in this part of Canada, then whomever eats this on a regular basis must be crazy... and extremely satisfied after such a delicious treat. I'm sure Kymber, the only Canadian I know who reads my blog, could have pointed me towards something a little more healthy and uniquely Canadian but I hadn't thought to ask before my excursion. Let me know Kymber and I will get some next time!
|Wood fired pottery kiln|
At the end of the lane we found a hand built house and a man named Fritz who made wood fired pottery. Fritz was a very interesting guy and showed us not only his wares for sale but also his kiln tucked away in the barn and showed us how he fired his stuff, twice a year. Each time went through nearly a cord of finger sizes split wood and took 22 hours of continuous monitoring. The results, though not like the pristine stuff you get in modern gas and electric kilns, was beautiful in its own right. The fire and ash provided all the coloring in the glaze and every pot had rough spots where ash had fused to the clay during the process. We ended up buying a little vase because we liked the rustic nature of how it looked and mostly just because of the story that went with it. The next time I'm in the area, I will definitely stop in and say hello to Fritz and perhaps relieve him of some more of his pottery.
|Wood fired vase|