On the drive out of Eastern Ontario I was greeted by clear skies and 17-degree weather. I definitely won’t be complaining about that kind of weather, especially since the next couple days they are calling for a lot of rain. Leaving from the Denbigh area, I was able to take a few of the less travelled roads in hopes of seeing the last of the fall colours.
As I was driving down one of those roads, my eyes caught a glimpse of something unique in the hillside. Upon pulling over I realized what I saw was an old mine access tunnel. Now it’s not something I could explore beyond the main entrance as it has completely collapsed, but I have marked it on the GPS for further exploration and research. This area of Ontario is filled with decommissioned and abandoned mines, which can be interested and dangerous if you aren’t careful. I’ve always had this inner child, let’s call him Indiana junior, which drives me to explore the unknown and learn about our history. After a few quick photos, it was time to hit the road as I was under a time crunch to get to the days’ final destination before the dark sets in.
Continuing along my preconfigured GPS route, which avoids most highways, I eventually ended up on Route 653 that passes Storyland, “the perfect childhood experience”. This place looked eerie and reminded me of the Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario. I was taken there as a child, but the place closed down many years ago, leaving all the attractions to be taken back by nature. Storyland looked to it have had that same fate; left for nature to take over.
Not to far around the last corner and I was crossing the Ottawa River, passing a massive Ontario Power Group project and into my first Quebec village, Portage-du-Port. It was time for a short lunch stop, which lucky for me ended up being on the riverside of this small village. Moving along after 10 minutes I drove through many other small villages and one native reserve before I came across my first covered bridge. It wasn’t very big, approximately 100 feet long, and as I drove through it I heard my CB antenna “ping” off the maximum height marker. Not really an issue since it’s a 9-foot long whip that bends easily. Again, I popped out of the vehicle for a couple quick photo-ops, which got me a few strange looks from people driving-by. The next few villages were lakeside properties, all with their own unique styles, but mostly built with chalet architecture. Farther down the road I found a larger covered bridge in Bois-Franc and arrived right at the best time for the perfect lighting. The sun was starting to set, so much for my attempt to make it the hotel before dark, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity that Mother Nature was giving me. This bridge was beautifully restored with an enormous and spectacular flow of water underneath it. After scouting a couple of viewpoints, I finally decided on this final image. This will be the first photograph from the trip that will be available as a print and it will be ready for purchase in time for Christmas!
Once I was finally done at the covered bridge in Bois-Franc I climbed into Ansel and set out the final 25 km to the hotel, with one last quick stop for dinner at the Pointe Roun diner on Route 117. Driving down Route 117 after the sunsets is quite interesting as there are absolutely no streetlights or atmospheric lighting from a city. It’s eerie yet peaceful and made me think that the “hotel” I planned on using, which I never called to see if it still existed, might not even be here anymore. After passing two closed hotels I began to worry, but as I rounded the last hill into the entrance of Reserve Faunique La Vérèndrye I was happy to see my hotel as well as a gas station to refuel in the morning and a nice restaurant for breakfast. Unfortunately the hotel reminded me of the 1960’s Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.