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  1. #1
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    "So what did you do over your May long weekend?"
    "Oh I drove 8 hours north, and explored whatever we came across. I also kept a very detailed journal of our travels."

    The avalanche has Already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
    Friday May 15th, 2009

    I believe the term 'giddy as a school girl' applies to how I'm feeling, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. The excitement needless to say has been building over the course of the last two weeks, so it was a good thing that I had this trip as an outlet. This weekend for me since 2001 has been for the PYPS Spring Fellowship event (except for 2002, but we won't get into that). So this being my first year not going to PYPS something was required. My plans were to leave my house with the team (Brind, Lexi, and Trains) at 1:30pm, and we did. It was actually a feat to get all our gear into the Cavalier, but with force, tenacity, and Lexi we managed to somehow. We took backroads from Milton to the 400, joining that highway via 89 in Cookstown. To make the ride more interesting, we had brought along several masks, three Imperial Stormtroopers and a Darth Vader mask. So we every major population centre the masks were donned. I did not, as being the driver it wouldn't be safe (as I found out later, it's near impossible to see through the 'eyes'). We passed through Alliston just as schools were being let out so the looks were priceless! Although the best was when we were stuck in traffic through Barrie, people actually slowed down and pulled along side the car to take photos! As I mentioned before our route took us through several backroads and Kings Highway routes (former Kings Highway Routes also!), the best town we drove through was Alliston, along the streets were beautiful examples of Victorian, Italianate, and Arts & Craft styles of architecture. Sadly a few of them had demolition fencing surrounding them. I really missed not having a P&S digital camera with me in the center console so that I could've taken some photos of them. After passing through Barrie, I remembered how empty Highway 400 between Barrie and Parry Sound was, the Arrogant Worms say it best, trees and rocks, and rocks, and trees, and....WATER! Both Trains and Lexi napped during this period Just north of Parry Sound we stopped in at a rest stop in Nobel, being on the road for that long was making me hypnotized.


    The rest stop in Nobel


    Lexi and Brind

    We were still well ahead of the cottager traffic, as one person mentioned, give it an hour, then it'll really get busy. Nobel itself, is nothing of note these days, the two major industries (and explosives plant, and Orenda test facility) are both long closed down, so it's nothing more than a stopping point. After Nobel we head into the Highway 69 wastelands, dotting the sides of the highways are old service stations, small dot-on-the-map towns. Soon even these will no longer be accessible to the normal traveler, as the extension of the 400 continues to push further north. There are still some active businesses along the way, a trading post/variety store (usually with an LCBO/Beer store), some motels still are in operation, a gas station. I only used 1/4 of a tank to get to our final destination of the night...which was the Beaver Fever Lodge Inc.It's in the small village of Alban forty minutes south of Sudbury (The Big S). We were all welcomed warmly with a steak dinner.


    The Lodge


    The Lodge

    Dinner was followed by an attempted exploration of the Cottages of Delamere, a former town...now nothing more than a ghost.







    We were chased back to the lodge by the bugs.


    Walking back

    A campfire was already lit as we exchanged tales and stories over beer and other drinks.

    "So this one time at a Mexican Whore House...."
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  2. #2
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Grandpa Always brings the Moose Juice - Part 1
    Saturday May 16th, 2009

    Rain, Rain on my Face.
    I was tempted to burn the New Rain mix of Flood to one of the CDs I brought along on the trip. I didn't of course as there was already rain in the forecast. And rain it did, for almost all of Saturday morning, which of course put a damper on the morning exploration in Temagami, but it didn't really matter as we would be passing through the town again on the way back south on Sunday. The rain had let up a little when we stopped in Englehart for lunch. (Subway!). While in Englehart we paid a visit to the local train yard, directions were of course provided by our resident foamer (the term foamer is slang for 'foaming at the mouth' usually over some form of transport), Trains (he likes trains if you didn't already catch that). While we were there we saw some manuvering by an SD-75 coupled with a very weather worn SD-40.


    The Train! The Train!


    An SD75, ONR 2102


    The Very well worn ONR 1733, an SD40-2

    Along with the restored 701 locomotive from the Temiskaming Northern Ontario Railway, it was the last steam powered locomotive to drive the ONR lines.


    The 701

    After that Highway 11 becomes fairly vacant, small gas stations, stores, farms, and again trees, rocks, and water. We made an attempt to find the former town site of Wavell, we followed the directions that I had gotten off a website. While driving along a very rough road we passed by a few active homes, the remains of a couple old cars, and one abandoned house. Maybe we had found it, or maybe the site was wrong.


    This may or may not be Wavell...

    Either way, everyone was wondering why someone would live this far off the beaten track, with at least an hour drive for something as common as groceries. There was a second fork from the road that led off the highway but I didn't feel like checking it out. The day was still fresh, and we had two more locations to check out. My GPS seemed to like unpaved backroads and tried twice to send us there. The best was the Old Ferguson route while we were getting into Ramore...it was nothing more than a cart track. So I stuck to Highway 11, and thankfully my GPS cannot take control of the car from me. The town of Ramore was originally built as the PMQ's (Private Married Quarters) for the Radar Station. The town itself is pretty barren, there was a post office, it been long closed along with most other commercial ventures that we saw. The largest building in the town is the local Roman Catholic Parish (as the town is mostly francophone). It was easy to locate Lava Mountain Road on which the old Station was located on, and it was also a little too easy to find the base itself. As we were driving along we drove past this old beat up building, pulling to a stop about five-hundred meters past it.


    I think we're here...

    We all get out, and look around, realizing that we had just driven right onto the past property. And here I was thinking we'd have to hike our way around. By only previous experience with old bases was that were we had to sneak in past security or through a back way, never drive along and suddenly be on the base proper. Plus there were no guards or gates, it just sat there at the top of the road. This was way too easy, but refreshing. Using the car made the exploration easy having the ability to leap-frog between the blocks of uniformly painted buildings (Sea-Foam Green). Near the maintenance Garage was the old Helipad.


    Vehicle Storage Garage. The Helipad was in this area also. The Helipad was added after the base was used as a lodge (Lava Mountain Lodge)

    Also in the heated storage garage was the remains of most of the old barrack furniture.



    Also around the site was foundations and ruins of buildings long since demolished.


    The former combined mess

    After finishing up with the support buildings on the site we continued further up the mountain, our access finally blocked about fifteen minutes from the peek, we hiked the rest of the way up, leaving the car at the gates. Although the property was used as a recreation area for the Kinsmen, the summit never was, so up at the top was intact radar towers, the operations centre, and power station.


    The Operations Site, showing off the Operations Center and a couple of towers

    They were of course only shells the equipment and domes long since removed. It also appeared that locals had been enjoying paintball scenarios up on the summit. Sadly we were unable to breach the main radar tower.


    The Tower. You Americans may recognize the style of tower as Ramore was built by the USAF, some buildings to their standards, others to RCAF.

    Trains soon pointed out to us a very nasty looking cloud front moving in, so a quick decent brought us back to the car and then drove out of the base and through Ramore to our northern most point of the trip.
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  3. #3
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Ah, youth and grand adventures.
    Must have been hard for you to not invade every abandoned building along the route.
    Later, when I have more time, I'm going to google earth your route and look up some more of your funny Canadian English. ;-)
    Keep Shooting!

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  4. #4
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Road 2009 contents?

    Two weeks ago Adina did a Road 2009 post and now Axle does something similar. About 10 pictures, none of which are openly touristy plus a text describing the experience. It makes you realise how empty Canada is, and this isn't even far north.

    Are the dark edges added in later? It looks like you were using a Holga.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  5. #5
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Nice little escape. Your image always have your distinctive style and flavor. I always enjoy my journeys with your photos. Nice commentary as well.
    Don't forget about the Gallery. Are your photos there??


    Nikon Samurai #13

    "A photographer is known by what he shows not by what he throws. The best photographers have the biggest trash cans." Quote from Nikon School sometime in the early 1970's.

  6. #6
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Thanks for the kind words. Yes, the dark edges are added in post, often with various Lightroom Presets that I use. Yes, there are some very empty sections of the province, which have only been empty in recent times, because the resources that drew people out there have run out.

    And now, on with the story...we're still on Saturday, didn't get a lot of photo editing time in last night as I went to go see Angels and Demons.

    Grandpa Always brings the Moose Juice - Part 2
    Saturday May 16th, 2009

    Trains soon pointed out to us a very nasty looking cloud front moving in, so a quick decent brought us back to the car and then drove out of the base and through Ramore to our northern most point of the trip. Holtyre. Now Ramore was bad, Holtyre was worse, much worse. It seemed all the business had left. Brind described the town as looking like something out of a horror film (Thirty Days of Night), so we went from a creepy old guy with bodies in his basement to vampires, which could explain the lack of activity in the town.


    An abandoned baseball field and our first attempt at parking.

    Our target was the Ross Mine, the only industry there which closed in 1988. The town had a spirit of decay all through it and set my senses on edge. Our first parking attempt wasn't exactly that logical. Trains had said it would only require us to cross a small creek (which he pronounced 'crick') and by small creek I mean a flooded field which a raging river. We go back to the car and stash it behind the community centre in town.


    The ATV tracks we hiked along in an attempt to breach the property

    The old Ross head frame over shadowed any building on the town site, even the church steeple, a reminder of what the town used to be. Despite the weird feeling, the mine was amazing.


    The Ross Mine Property


    The Head frame


    Winch house


    The Shaft Elevator

    The company had just up and left in '88 and left everything behind, and I mean everything. Uniforms still left in the basket room, tags, signage, mine trains, core samples.



    The highlight however was the house, the offices which had every last document there, even the original surveys of the site, from 1934. In the attic, Trains and Lexi found 3D models of the mine. It's amazing how much manual work went into creating the mine, since computers were not yet available to a wide number of people especially for a single mine out in the middle of nowhere.
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  7. #7
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Grandpa Always brings the Moose Juice - Part 3
    Saturday May 16th, 2009


    Brind doing some photo work at the Ross Mine


    Trains and Lexi with some rather large tools

    The temperature had dropped rapidly while the skies cleared, and I having no desire to camp out in the creepy town we headed south again, fully intending on camping out that night we stopped again in Englehart to look for a grocery store, no luck, it closed 45 minutes before we arrived, and the variety stores didn't have much variety. We got out again at New Liskguard to get a group shot with a giant cow statue.


    We're just several huge nerds

    It was at that point I decided it was way too cold to camp, and windy. Turning around we pulled into a Quality Inn just north of the llb entrance spur off 11. So here we are, sitting in our motel room, clean, showered, warm, and watching Family Guy. We're allowed to do this, right?

    "My stick shift is in neutral"

    More of CFS Ramore - http://www.flickr.com/photos/axle814...7618570701438/
    More of Ross Mine - http://www.flickr.com/photos/axle814...7618431328105/
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  8. #8
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    When does Spring start?

    I know you don't have the Gulf Stream and all but I am amazed at the look of the place. It looks like February in France. The vegetation hasn't even started to go green.

    The different filters are interesting. I prefer the black-and-white ones - when the light is difficult with a blank sky it looks more natural than a colour image. It looks like you increased the contrast on some of the colour ones (winch house, shaft elevator) to get a posterised effect that worked quite well as well?
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  9. #9
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Loving your trip, Alex.
    Glad we got to see you with the masks.
    Amazing that they just left everything behind. Did some of those tools make it home with you? What are the salvage laws in Canada?
    Keep Shooting!

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  10. #10
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog
    Loving your trip, Alex.
    Did some of those tools make it home with you? What are the salvage laws in Canada?
    Left the tools there, however we did liberate several notebooks (I have one from 1934 with original survey notes on the Ross Mine) along with a site map, date unknown.

    As for salvage laws, I really don't know what they are here in Canada.
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  11. #11
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought!
    Sunday May 17th, 2009

    The sleep at the motel was wonderful, if we had camped, the day wouldn't have been as nice I think. We would've froze, as it stands, we will probably freeze tonight. But the day was rather epic, a perfect sequel for yesterday. To start off Breakfast, it was in this wonderful small town diner, a stereotypical one where we, as out-of-towners just walk in and there was a group of older men all chatting over coffee, an attractive female waitress a small window into the back kitchen, local scenes painted on the walls and the tables also. We walk in, and everyone stops and looks at us, making us feel a little out of place. The pancakes were great! Our first stop was the old Uni-board plant.


    Uni-board

    We just did some exterior scouting work as apparently the place is semi-active, and we learned it still had power, and even though it was Sunday, we really didn't want to risk setting off an alarm.


    Uni-board

    Then it was onwards to Cobalt! They actually still mine silver in Cobalt, but several mines are no longer active, but what Cobalt has done is set them up as a tour of the city with markers at all the sites.


    Right-Of-Way Mine


    An old Mine Train

    Since it was still early on Sunday we pretty much had free reign of these sites without having locals or others call us on the fact we crawled under several fences to get closer to action. The highlight of these sites we visited was being able to crawl around the ruins of an old foundry and then get right into an old fissure where the silver was mined.


    Foundry Ruins


    Foundry Ruins


    Into the Fissure

    We also took a stop at a none-heritage head frame (later found out to be the Silverfield Head Frame) which was falling down.


    Silverfield Mine

    Had a close encounter with local colour. I had gotten out from the collapsed section first and was keeping an eye out on the road and my car, because there's an active construction site, I didn't know if a random car would attract un-due attention. A red pickup drove past and I duck out of sight but was still able to keep an eye on them. They took a little too much attention to my car then I would've liked (in hind-sight maybe they were just concerned if someone was in danger on the site itself). Thankfully Brind, Lexi, and Trains all left the building after the truck had left. We did to, after a brief stop at another heritage site. At the junction of 11b and 11 south of Cobalt we stopped into the highway book store and I was able to pickup a couple of local publications on the history of the area (some of which will go into the creation of a book on the trip). Lunch was taken in Latchford at the Wilkes Pit-Stop Restaurant which is recommended by locals, and recommended by the Highway 11 website (www.highway11.ca). After lunch we visited the Kanichee Mine. Took the Cavalier off roading to do so, it actually survived the half-hour drive into the property which is at the end of a very rough road, which isn't maintained by the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) or MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources).


    A rather tame section of road


    The Car

    Kanichee is old (explorations started in 1920), the silos on site are made like barrels, staves held together with thick wire wrapped around it.


    Silo Details

    I was busy at the back of the site and a pickup truck pulls onto the property. I had heard that the place had been reactivated (that turned out not to be true, the mine is out of commission, completely).


    The Crusher

    It turned out to be a local resident, his wife, and rather attractive daughter who use it to tool around on their ATV, they didn't care that we were there taking photos or even climbing up to the top of the silos. After returning to the Highway I topped up the tank at the same Petro Canada I had used the day before then headed south, the goal was to get at the least an hour south of North Bay before setting up camp. People who live in the GTA don't realize how much green space we have in the Northern sections of our Provence. While the rest of the crew slept I was able to contempt the creation and truly appreciate it, that is while I drove. Just past North Bay you see the first way marker for Toronto, just over 300 Kilometers from the city. If it had started raining I would've driven straight home, or just gone to Camp Cairn to see if they could put us in a cabin for the night. But it didn't rain. We made it to South River as there were a couple Provencal Parks in the town, we didn't find either, so instead we found on a side road a small patch of land surrounded by trees.


    Our Tents

    There was nothing to indicate that it was private land, no signs, no fences, and no markings. There was evidence of a sugar bush but that was down in a ravine. From the amount of rubble we found around we all figured it was a random dumping ground from road work. There were also no nearby homes that we could see. We proceed to dig out a fire pit, using old broken cinder block and bricks to ring it. Tents were setup in a quick manner and a fire was lit.


    Brind Preps the Firewood


    Camp Stove

    There's something about food cooked over an open fire, it's that taste, the smokey wood flavour infused into the meat along with the steak spice. Nothing like whiskey and Steak for dinner. So while we were doing all this there seemed to be an odd increase in traffic along the road, including one driver who just honked at us. Then a minivan pulls onto the site and the driver rolls down the window and informs us that we're on private property. We of course say that we didn't know that. She then tells us the owner would be by shortly and then just laughed. This of course panicked us, so we pack up most of the gear, leaving only a small fire and the tents up. Five minutes later a second van pulls onto the property. The owners it turned out were a very happy older couple. The man tells us that we're more than welcome to stay providing we clean up after ourselves. Then they leave.


    Sunset

    We breath a sigh of relief, what a blessing! No longer in danger, we rebuilt up the fire to stave off the chill in the air and proceed to introduce Lexi to S'mores, she had of course been camping before, but I don't think the Army Cadets do the S'more thing. She loved them! So here I sit at a campfire surrounded by friends there's no better way to end a weekend. Compared to the other nights we actually turned in rather early, after taking care of the fire, re-filled the hole we had dug and poured out the remaining water supply, if it was going to drop below freezing that night it wasn't something I wanted to deal with. At least I have a warm sleeping bag for tonight.

    "You're lighting a Dorito on fire?"
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  12. #12
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    Roll for Initiative
    Monday May 18th, 2009

    Why am I still not able to sleep? Maybe this plot of land isn't as flat as we first thought, or maybe it's because my face is freezing!

    2:45am
    2:50am
    3:10am

    By 5:30 I was tired of the game my body was playing with me, so I just sat up, and got dressed, of course not having the foresight to place my clothes in the sleeping bag with me they were cold. To ease the shock I just pulled them on over my pajamas. Trains by this point was still awake. Brind however was still snoring away in the other tent. So Trains and I got to work packing stuff up just before 6am. I hadn't seen any condensation on the inside of the tent, that is until it was pointed out that it too had frozen. While Trains cleared out our make shift firepit stones I got to work tearing down the tent. Brind and Lexi were both awake by this point also. I started the car so at least it would be nice and toasty by the time we were done and packed away. We made quick work of the remaining tasks and rolled out shortly after six. Andrea Kitchen, a news woman from Moose FM (the northern Radio station) confirmed that it did indeed drop below zero that night. So with the last of our water gone and the temperature there was no way I was going to stand outside and cook breakfast...so my wonderful GPS sent us once again through the backroads of Muskoka back to Hwy 11 and into Huntsville, the nearest 'major' form of civilization.


    A Cut Your Own Lumber Home Depot somewhere near Huntsville

    However the highway and the town itself seemed to be covered in a weird fog giving it more of a silent hill feel to it. Some of the occupants of the town were acting more like hicks than usual. As Brind commented how in the US the hicks are in the Southern States, but here in Canada, they're in the North. It's delightfully symmetrical. After sitting down and enjoying a chance to wash up and bit and have warm food and drink at a Tim Hortons I took a lazy driving along Muskoka Road 2 to drop into the nearby PYPS weekend. We arrived there shortly before breakfast so I didn't interrupt anything big, it was nice, and short.


    The main lodge at Camp Carin

    As Lexi said, if it had been any longer they have to come and drag me out of there. We had a rather quick jump from the camp to Gravenhurst to check out the Muskoka Regional Center. But unlike previous times we sought permission. We were able to spot an officer on the property and approach him while he supervised two frolicking police dogs. The officer politely informed us that he couldn't let us take external shots of the building as there was a massive training exercise happening that day, and in a few minutes the entire property would be swarming with dogs. Sure enough as we were leaving there were a pair of OPP trucks with K-9 units rolling in.


    The MRC Sign

    The officer did tell us to contact HQ to arrange for something. I was finally able to get a photo of the sign. We rolled into Webbers in quick time, 10:15am, and then waited for the store to open at 10:30...it was also the fastest time I've been through the store.


    mmmm webers

    The merge between 11 and the 400 was a walk in the park compared to other times I've driven it on a may long weekend. After a stop in Hillsburg we rolled into Milton around 1:30pm.

    And now I'm going to crash and burn.
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

  13. #13
    Analog Photographer, Digital World Axle's Avatar
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    Re: MAYPEX - A Four Day Adventure in Northern Ontario

    By the Numbers:
    Distance Traveled: 1,489 KM
    Cost of Gas: $80.00
    Number of People: 4
    Number of Towns Stopped in: 14
    Number of King's Highways Traveled On: 6
    Number of Secondary Highways: 2
    Number of Giant Animals on the Side of Highway Seen: 2
    Locations Visited: 7
    Coldest Night: -5 Degrees Celsius
    Alex Luyckx | Photography
    Capturing Beauty in Everything

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