The TransCanada Highway between Neys and Nipigon is extremely hilly but our truck pulled our trailer up those hills with no problem. I had to gear down on the long descents to control our speed, especially on some of the sharp bends. Much of the route hugs the shore of Lake Superior with spectacular views – if you happen to be travelling south! On the northbound journey it is difficult to get a good look from the other side of the road, with most of the best overlooks in the rear view mirror.
The Sleeping Giant and the Tame Deer
After a comfortable day of driving we arrived at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park at the bottom of the Sibley Peninsula near the city of Thunder Bay. The Sleeping Giant name came from a natural giant rock formation that resembles a giant lying on his back. I immediately thought of the character from the Jonathan Swift novel Gulliver’s Travels. The campground is 35km south of the TransCanada Highway. Our campsite was right alongside Marie Louise Lake. All throughout the park deer were roaming at the roadside and around people’s homes. They seemed quite accustomed to human presence.
I wanted to get my activation done quickly so we could explore the area the next day. I setup my gear on a picnic table right beside the water. I couldn’t find a suitable tree for “Shorty”, my wire antenna, so it was necessary to deploy the vertical antenna. My vertical antenna is another home made piece (of course). It comprises a 30inch section of 1-inch diameter aluminum tube, then an adjustable coil and a Buddipole 9ft telescoping whip on top. A raised counterpoise wire is attached at the feedpoint with markings for 15m, 17m, 20m, 30m and 40m.
The vertical has sometimes given me very good results so I was hopeful. It may be a coincidence but it seems to produce its best results when I am near water. Not saltwater (which is known to enhance propagation), but Great Lakes freshwater. Once again the antenna performed admirably. I got my activation completed fairly quickly. 10 QSOs are required to qualify as an activation and I got 12 before sending QRT. Two of the QSOs were DX; one in Croatia and one in Belgium – not bad for 50 watts into a very simple antenna!
That Silver Mine’s Going to Die
The next day was spent exploring the Silver Islet area at the tip of the peninsula. A tiny islet just off the coast was once the World’s richest silver mine before an expected delivery of coal to fuel the pumps failed to show up. The mine was flooded and later abandoned. The crew of the ship (the “Tuttle”) that was to deliver the coal in the fall of 1883 had gone on a drinking binge instead of sailing with the fuel that would have kept the mine operating through the winter.
Happy Wife, Happy Life
The Thunder Bay region is famous for its amethyst mines so we stopped and spent way too much on beautiful specimens to decorate our home. One of our purchases was the rare (and expensive) red amethyst which, we were told, is only found in the Thunder Bay area. You have to keep the XYL happy too!
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