“We Are Gonna Need A Bigger Boat.”

Fishing tips from a good Ontario fisherman who no longer likes fishing.

Just another day in the Great White North. . .

A thirty something friend really wanted to go fishing. As an Irish immigrant who lived most of his life as a musician out on the prairies of Canada, this is a new thing for him, and he enjoys the short breaks he gets from his hectic life. He is a new father and business owner who is often overwhelmed; and of course, is short on sleep.

How to get “mommy and me” time when camping with the kids:

I, on the other hand, wear the “Been there done that.” shirt; having started fishing at around eight years of age with my Dad. I remember even earlier, my sister and I using willow branches with fishing line tied to the ends which led to a cork bobber holding the hook and worm about two feet below the surface. We would fish from an old gas barge and catch Perch, Rock Bass, and Sunfish any time of day.

A good fishing boat:

I was learning to fish even before we got our first boat—a little 12 foot tri-hull with a 9.9 horsepower outboard that would eventually become my first freedom machine. It rode on top of the car to and from our summer holiday camping destinations. From age ten, I would learn my boat piloting skills with my father sitting up front, on a lake in the Trent Severn waterway. There, cabin cruisers would create some massive waves our little boat would have to climb on one side only to surf down the other. I was fearless, but Dad was visibly nervous at times. The boat was stable enough to allow you to stand up in it when the lake was not that rough. It was anything but tippy. Its light-weight construction meant the hull flexed at your feet when you were heading out on a choppy day.

Catch more fish:

We fished often, sometimes with all four of us crammed into the little boat. Dad liked trolling so he could see changing scenery as the day went by. Mom and I liked still-fishing or drift-fishing as we always caught more fish that way.

Finding the bottom:

The “fish-finder” had not been invented yet. We checked the depth of the water by attaching a big home-made weight to our line and then dropping it over the side while watching how much line came off of the spool of the early “trolling reel” as the weight travelled to the bottom. When your line went slack you were on bottom.

Where to find fish:

Pickerel, now called Walleye, liked weeds so we dropped our baits down into loose weeds close to the bottom or just above heavy weeds to get them. We found fish by looking for the mouth of a stream or river as well as weed beds near shore where humans had not yet developed. Bass were easy to find near Bulrushes, fallen trees, and under docks.

Good fishing line:

The fishing line back then was quite thick and anything but invisible. I do not remember ever breaking a line, and I had caught some three to four-foot-long fish weighing as much as twenty pounds on a few occasions. One Muskie in particular pulled the boat, motor, gas tank, anchor and me about a half of a mile up a shoreline into the wind before he tired himself out enough for me to get him to the boat. On that occasion I found out we were going to NEED A BIGGER NET. The total weight it dragged would have been about three hundred pounds and the line did not break. When you got snagged on a submerged log you would have to cut the line if you could not pull the lure free.

The other meaning of leader:

We learned that using a steel leader when fishing for the large toothier varieties of fish like Muskie, Pike and Pickerel was better than watching them chew through your line, usually just as you were trying to get them in the net.

When to fish:

We learned the best time to fish was from dusk to dawn. We also learned bad weather means the best fishing. Worse still, if you are getting eaten alive by flying insects, the fish will be biting.

Rods of steel:

In my childhood, fishing rods were about five feet long and made of steel. They were a one piece design, or in other words, they did not come apart in the middle as they do today. We could feel the fish nibbling at our worm, even with little Rock Bass, Sunfish and Perch. Those rods stayed in the family for about thirty years until rust got the better of them.

We never stop loving our first:

The little boat also stayed in the family for many years. Even when I owned much bigger and more comfortable power boats, I would take out my Speed Racer (mostly just to entertain my friends) bouncing across the lake with its blinding twenty-three mile per hour speed. I met many girls and found a bunch of all-night parties in that boat.

Fishing is not always about the fish:

I fished very little as a young adult. About once each year I would take out one of my power boats, anchor it in some quiet little bay and just recline on the plush upholstery in the sun, often reading, and not caring whatsoever if I got a nibble. It was more about the rest and relaxation the outing offered than it was about fishing.

The two happiest days in a man’s life and catching the fishing bug:

By forty, I had parted with all of my boats; a story for another time. Suffice to say there is truth in the old saying: “The two happiest days in a man’s life are the day he gets his boat and the day he sells it.” Oddly, it was at this time my then new significant other told me how she loved to fish. Her excitement about catching even a little one became infectious, mostly because I would have to get out of my lounger on the resort’s beach and go take the fish off the hook for her. It had me wanting to catch some again.

Girls fish differently:

We would frequent fishing gear stores where she would buy the craziest lures for ridiculous money. Fifteen dollars for a lure with a light in it IS JUST NUTS!

Tips from the pro’s:

We became caught up in the Sunday morning fishing programs on television that left the impression you were not a fisherman unless you had a $50,000.00 bass boat, a half-dozen different rods with different reels, and a tackle box the size of a beer cooler containing a virtual treasure trove of every type, size, and colour of lure, for every species of fish, in any depth of water. Oh yes, we cannot forget the high-tech fish-finder which shows pictures of sunken boats on the bottom.

As with all things “modern” and “high tech”:

Expensive rod designs claiming to be: THE ULTIMATE IN SENSITIVITY, FLEXIBILITY, AND STRENGTH never quite measured up to the advertisement. I had a one-hundred-dollar rod break at the handle with a five pound Large Mouth Bass on the line. Its replacement split at the two-piece joint with an eight pound Lake Trout on the line. The one after that kept damaging the line when casting; causing many lost fish, lost lures, and a ridiculous number of line changes per season. I am convinced it was DESIGNED THAT WAY just to increase sales from really stupid fishing fanatics, like me. Its replacement was billed as “INDESTRUCTIBLE” yet only carried a one year warranty. It kinda makes you utter: hmm.

During this foray into “modern day” fishing, I discovered the more money you spent on gear, the less fish you caught.

99% of the fancy lures and artificial baits DID NOT WORK nearly as well as a minnow or frog on a hook, or a worm on a three-hook worm harness. The 1% that do is a secret I thought about taking to the grave in order not to bury a thriving bullshit industry, but then it occurred to me the Sport Fishing Industry has sold me a pile of over-priced over-hyped crap for years, and I OWE THEM NOTHING! Screw the lying marketing bastards and their poorly made off-shore products.

I like to be kissed before I get f-cked:

By publishing this I hope to tear down their empire built on the exploitation of the desperate weak-minded fishing fanatics who are so addicted they will purchase every shiny new brightly coloured thing the manufacturer PAID TO HAVE ENDORSED by a guy who makes a living by fishing on TV.

The three lures that actually work:

You only need three artificial lures or plugs and all are “split” or “jointed” Rapala models. For Bass you want a 3 inch floater with yellow on top and silver/white on the bottom. For trout you want a 2 inch deep diver with blue on top and silver/white on the bottom. Lastly, for Pickerel and bigger game-fish you want the biggest shallow to medium diver they make—five or six inch, I think—that resembles a Perch. It is greenish with black stripes on top and has a silver/white bottom.

A fishing tale of woe:

This brings us to the other day when I took my friend out to prove to him there were indeed fish in this lake, if you know how to fish, and contrary to what he has been told by a frequent guest at his cottage.

With new “INVISIBLE” 8 pound test line in my “old school” casting reel mounted to my “INDESTRUCTIBLE” graphite rod, and the tiniest tackle box money can buy, I headed off to meet this enthusiast who, by the way, has severe fish allergies.

Mistake number one: You will need what you don’t have.

As we were loading up his boat, he asked if we should bring a net to which I replied: “No, we are just going after Small Mouth Bass.”

Mistake number two: The fishing gods were speaking but I didn’t listen.

The wind was gusting to 40 miles per hour creating 3 foot high waves with white caps so we had a bite to eat and made a couple of old school worm harnesses hoping the wind would settle down. It did not. His boat might not survive conditions such as these. It is an old twelve foot aluminum fishing boat powered by an eight horsepower engine that is prone to stalling. This boat is also as tippy as any canoe so we donned life jackets. I piloted the craft to the nearest good fishing spot which only meant about five minutes of pounding waves with spray from the bow hitting me in the face before we would get to calmer water.

Mistake number three: Anchors away!

Even in the sheltered bay, his little boat was being blown all over the place from one shore to the other. I asked if he had an anchor and he said there was one back at the cottage. Retrieving it would require another ten minutes out in the surf so I started looking for alternatives. To get him started, I baited his worm harness for him so he could see how it was done. I then set us up to drift-fish and let the wind take us back through the choppy conditions almost to his dock. He found the anchor as I removed knots from a rope and we set out again to pound the waves and my kidneys. Upon returning to the fishing spot, I anchored us so the changing winds would let us fish both shores.

Action!

We started getting little fish under six inches almost immediately. He snagged a tiny Perch while I had a succession of varieties including a Rock Bass and a Sun Fish before getting a Small Mouth Bass that might have been all of nine inches.

Fishing etiquette is a thing:

My fishing com-padre had his worm picked clean by some others and then expected me to bait his hook once again. As he was not nine years of age, I explained that fishing etiquette dictates you bait your own hook—momentarily forgetting his well-known weak stomach. Upon losing his second worm, he would switch to artificial baits for the remainder of the day.

Next, I too would get a tiny Perch that had been picking my worms to bits for some time without my being able to hook the little bastard despite many repeated attempts at setting the hook.

This is where the story gets interesting:

Instead of removing the little douche bag, I said to my fishing partner: “Watch this.” and cast the little worm thief out into deeper water where I knew some big Large Mouth Bass had lived in the past. In only a couple of minutes something big ate him.

You should know your local fishing regulations.

It may be illegal to use a Perch as a bait fish, but I rationalized he got on my hook more or less by himself. I did not technically put him there.

Karma is a bitch.

I set the hook a couple of times and I could sense it was a big fish, but it was not peeling off line. Still thinking Bass, I thought it was just swimming toward the boat where the fight sometimes really begins. I did not want the fish to run too far in case it found the anchor rope to wrap my line around. I slowly kept winding him in closer, and then lifted my rod to get a look of what I had on there.

It did allow a glimpse.

I saw a flash of orange from a fish with a large girth. I never really got a full view of its length, but the orange area I saw was about two feet long.

Cascading problems:

I was now thinking I had a big Pickerel; with NO NET; an inexperienced fishing partner who could not handle fish without wearing gloves; and we were in a very tippy boat. As my brain was just beginning to wrestle with these problems, Karma took over once again. The fish did a violent side-to-side head-shake like a Large Mouth Bass or Lake Trout would, but it never broke the surface. It did however break my “INDESTRUCTIBLE” rod and line about a foot from the tip.

A rod; possibly a near record Pickerel; the Perch; and my custom worm harness were all gone in that instant.

Quietly sitting staring at my broken rod, I lit a smoke and wondered what I could have done differently. Nothing came to mind,

I did remember why I do not fish anymore:

  • Sitting in a crappy little boat sucks.
  • These days the fishing equipment is garbage.
  • Worms crap all over you.
  • You get bitten by mosquitoes.
  • You get sun-burnt.
  • You get rained on.
  • There is NEVER A BIG ENOUGH NET when you need it. Additionally, when someone asks if they should bring a net, ALWAYS SAY YES!
  • The biggest fish ALWAYS GET AWAY!
  • The only fish you remember are THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY.

It is a sport for masochists.

My best fishing memories are of the times I did not get a bite—no torment—just relaxing alone listening to the waves fighting a losing battle against the substantial hull of my cushy boat. From now on when someone asks me to take them fishing, they better have a $50,000.00 Bass boat with a canopy, 6 rods, and a selection of nets or I will say: THERE ARE NO FISH IN THAT LAKE!

I may try spear-fishing next. I have a score to settle.

My BIGFOOT Encounters: Three Spooky Tales For Camping Out

Fear not parents or camp counselors , the myth is dispelled at the end so they will go to sleep.

Stories of huge hairy bad smelling apelike creatures are told all over the world in remote areas. In North America, we mostly call them Bigfoot, or Sasquatch as they are known to some ancient native peoples. In snowy mountain ranges as far away as Tibet, they are called Yeti or Abominable Snowmen.

These creatures are always eight to ten feet tall, super strong, known for throwing rocks, and are capable of driving humans out of their territory—even humans with guns, it is said. Apparently they have a nasty pungent odour, and make high pitched blood-curdling screams certain to make your blood run cold.

There must be some truth to these stories or else why would grownups keep talking about them for hundreds or even thousands of years?

Living in Central or Northern Ontario in Canada, means you live among the local wildlife. You get used to birds waking at dawn; the fish feeding on the glassy lake leaving little dorsal fin waves, as well as those creating a surface splash and the ever expanding rings in the calm water to mark their location.

The crack of dawn is most likely your last chance to see larger animals as they go into hiding deep in the woods as man gets busy with his day. Around here, deer, foxes, rabbits, and even moose are commonly seen at this time of the morning.

During the day—not in tourist season—the lake is a playground for aquatic mammals like otters, mink, and weasels; water foul like ducks, geese, and loons, as well as reptiles like frogs and snakes.

But at night, BIG DANGEROUS THINGS are on the prowl. ‘Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my.’ . . .  well lynx, and bobcats, and bears at least, with the unproven claims of cougars. Wolves and coyotes should not be forgotten either; nor should potential attackers from above like bats and owls that feed mostly at night. NIGHT-TIME IS WHEN HUMANS SHOULD BE INSIDE. WANDERING OFF ALONE AT NIGHT IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA.

On weekends, from May to October, the number of humans in the area can swell by a multiplication factor of ten or more. Where there are many humans, there is little wildlife, so you are safer, but never totally safe. YOU MUST BE CAUTIOUS;  ALWAYS AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS; especially when you are camping out in the wilderness and NIGHT COMES.

If you go deep into the forest, or are here after tourist season, you can have unexplained encounters with wildlife or something FAR WORSE, and they usually happen when you are ALONE IN THE DARKNESS.

Last night I had my third Bigfoot encounter and this was a close one; just fifty feet or fifteen metres away.

It was 9:30 at night and THE AIR WAS DEADLY STILL; meaning there was no wind to stop me from hearing everything. I live up here year-round so I am used to most of the sounds of the wilderness. There was a clear sky with a half-moon casting DARK SHADOWS EVERYWHERE.

SUDDENLY, in the blackness, I heard a loud KER-PLOOSH, and a splash like the sound of giant boulders being thrown into the lake in front of me. I WAS FROZEN WITH FEAR. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up because THIS HAD HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE.

My first thought was it could be a bear going after a fish. But only seconds later it happened again. The sound of these huge boulders hitting the water told me no human or bear could lift them and be throwing them into the lake so fast and so far. This was obviously A HUGE INTELLIGENT CREATURE that did not want me around.

It was time to HIDE INSIDE until whatever it was went away or CAME TO GET ME. I was lucky this time as it decided to go away. I survived the night to tell this tale.

As mentioned, this was not the first time I had encroached on the territory of a BIGFOOT.

A few years ago, I went fishing in the evening on a little secluded lake without any cottages on it. The fishing was good so I did not want to leave, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS GETTING DARK. I built a big campfire at the edge of the lake so I could see better, and the fire is said to keep wildlife from coming too close.

I was concerned about bears being attracted to the fish I had caught and eaten. I did not have a toothbrush with me, and I had heard stories of people being attacked by bears because THEY HAD NOT BRUSHED THEIR TEETH. It is said the bears could smell their breath.

It was a moonless night. I could not even see my car parked just a few steps away. Everything became very quiet as though something had scared the birds and frogs into hiding. It was TOO QUIET; EERILY QUIET.

In the BLACKNESS, just past where my fishing line disappeared into nothingness, I heard something HUGE hit the water with a loud KER-PLOOSH! Although it did not splash me, it sounded very close. I was the only human for miles around, and it seemed like something was throwing giant boulders almost all the way across the lake . . . and this thing, whatever it was, did not seem to be afraid of fire.

I told myself to calm down because a really big fish could have charged out of the water to try and catch a low flying bat or dragonfly which could cause such a sound when it landed back in the water.

But then it happened again. Now I was SCARED. I did not want to fish anymore. I reeled in as fast as I could, picked up the fish I had caught, and ran for the car. The boulders were landing every few seconds now, SO THERE HAD TO BE MORE THAN ONE CREATURE throwing them. Whatever it was, it could have the container of bait I left behind on the beach.

After frantically trying to find the door-handle, I quickly threw all my stuff, including the fish, inside the car; then I got in and closed the door as fast as I could. There was no time to put things away in the trunk. It was then I had a thought: If these THINGS could throw giant boulders across a lake, then they could destroy a car if they attacked with smaller boulders that would fly farther.

There was a big problem. I couldn’t just leave and speed away. I HAD NOT PUT MY CAMPFIRE OUT. I would have to go BACK OUT THERE.

I searched the car’s glove box for a flashlight and turned it on, only to see a dim light because the batteries were weak. It would have to do. A dim flashlight is better than NO FLASHLIGHT. I got out of the car, shining the flashlight around at all the nearby trees, but it was too weak to light up the area. I quickly retrieved a bucket from the trunk intended to transport the fish now lying on the passenger floor of my car. Nervously, I proceeded to make my way back down to the water’s edge, and BACK INTO RANGE OF THE BOULDER-THROWING CREATURES.

It was quiet again; too quiet; DEAD QUIET.

Just as I had completely doused the fire, THE NEXT ATTACK COMMENCED, but now the splashes sounded even closer than before, and I was SPLASHED as the boulders continued to land in the water. Whatever it was, it had moved in closer, now the fire was out. I ran for the car and tripped on a tree-root dropping the flash-light. IT WENT OUT!

IN TOTAL BLACKNESS, I had to feel my way ahead; back to the relative safety of the car. If I wandered off the road into the wilderness, I could be LOST FOREVER. I expected to feel a giant fur-covered CREATURE in front of me blocking my path, but instead I banged my knee on the bumper of the car. I felt my way along the side of the car and found the door-handle. I quickly got in and drove away; never to return to that lake again AT NIGHT. I survived to tell this tale.

My very first encounter with a BIGFOOT was the most TERRIFYING of all.

I had just moved from the city into a friend’s cabin while waiting to get a place of my own. His cabin was on a lake without any neighbors. It was a long drive on a winding dirt road just to get to a highway, and longer still to find people if YOU WERE IN TROUBLE.

I was getting used to living like people did in the 1800’s. I carried in wood for the fire. I brought water in from the lake for washing, and I was catching fish for dinner right off the dock.

The dock is where this terrifying story took place. Bigfoot would not be throwing boulders from across a lake as in the previous two stories. No, this time he would be RIGHT BEHIND ME; waiting for me on the beach while I was TRAPPED ON THE DOCK.

As the sun set, the fishing from the dock was really good; I was catching a fish with almost every cast. It quickly became DARK AND FOGGY; a dense soupy fog had rolled in but the fish were still biting. I was having fun SO I STAYED OUT LONGER THAN I SHOULD HAVE. That was my mistake.

Because the fog was so thick and close, I could not even see the shore behind me. I might as well have been adrift on a raft in the fog. That is what it felt like. Later, I would wish I was afloat on a raft, and not near shore.

My first WARNING SIGN was the sound of crashing trees up in the hills behind the cabin. I thought it was probably a moose, and kept on fishing. My second WARNING SIGN was the sound of a large animal exhaling and then it made a snorting sound. I was convinced it was a moose or maybe a bear so I stayed quiet hoping it would wander off. My third warning SCARED ME TO DEATH. It was a blood-curdling scream followed by a high pitched YIKE, YIKE, YIKE; which sounded like it came from the cabin.

So there I was, with whatever it was, between me and the safety of the cabin. I was TRAPPED ON THE DOCK with nowhere to go except into the cold lake. I knew I would not last long in the frigid waters of spring WITHOUT A LIFEJACKET—a lifejacket I never thought I’d need.

I had a flash-light in my tackle box which I thought might warn off this CREATURE if it continued to come after me. In the dense fog, the flash-light beam came to a stop about six feet or two metres away. I worked my way slowly down the dock, hearing every creak of the old boards with each step. I WAS STOPPED DEAD IN MY TRACKS after only a few steps by an awful smell. It was like the smell of honey but not so sweet or nice. It was a sickly-sweet smell which seemed to be all around me, just hanging in the fog. THEN THE WORST HAPPENED. The dock boards nearest the shore started to creak with me standing still. IT WAS COMING FOR ME!

I did the only thing I could think of. I tried to communicate with the creature by screaming as loud as I could and following it with YIKE, YIKE, YIKE. Before too long, the smell went away. I CAREFULLY made my way back to the cabin and safety. I guess I had said the right thing in its own language. He, she, or it never returned. I survived to tell this tale.

Myths and legends are merely enthralling stories people keep telling through the ages.

Being scared can be fun because it’s exciting. A good story lets our imaginations go to work to make you feel like you are in the story . . . and sometimes a scary story can get the better of us causing our imaginations to runs wild. This is why reading is so much fun. Stories help you use your imagination to entertain yourself. When we encounter something new that we do not understand, we are naturally a little afraid of it. Even grown-ups do this. When it is dark, we can no longer see so we pay more attention to what we hear. Everything seems louder, bigger and closer. It goes back to the time of cave-dwelling humans when there really were giant creatures trying to get them. Those early people learned when to fight, and when to run and hide. This instinct is still with us to this day.

Now here is how stories can be made to scare us:

  • You were told the writer had encountered a Bigfoot in the title but did he? He HEARD things, SMELLED something, and even was SPLASHED by something, but did he ever see it? No.
  • You were told about a legend. A legend is just a REAL SOUNDING story or tale. We call it fiction. There has never been pure scientific proof of the existence of Bigfoot. That requires much more than shaky videos or out of focus photos.
  • The writer set out to scare you with CREEPY WORDS like: snakes, big dangerous things, lions, tigers, bears, cougars, wolves, bats, owls and how they all come out at night.
  • The writer TOLD YOU this was the third time he had run into Bigfoot so you thought it could be true.
  • You were told A GROWN-UP WAS SCARED AND WENT TO HIDE, but nothing actually came to get him did it? No.
  • Did he ever see any giant boulders? No. He just HEARD SOMETHING his imagination associated with a sound.
  • In all three stories he tells you HE SURVIVED THE NIGHT to tell you the tale.
  • In the second story, the writer essentially told us to build a fire because HE WAS AFRAID OF ANIMALS.
  • He told us a story he had only HEARD about bears, so we don’t know if it is true.
  • HE SCARED US WITH WORDS like: no moonlight, eerily quiet, dark black night, something huge, he was alone, scared, and something was not afraid of fire.
  • The writer told us there must be more than one creature throwing rocks to play on our FEAR OF BEING OUT-NUMBERED.
  • He could not run away. HE HAD TO FACE HIS FEAR to put out his fire. All that happened was he got splashed.
  • He tripped because he was scared. He broke his flashlight and imagined bumping into a fury creature but did he? No. He just bumped into his own car.
  • THE WRITER SCARED US SOME MORE, when he spoke of being alone and far away from people.
  • Did the writer ever see an animal or creature? No!

Here is the not-as-exciting truth behind all three tales:

While startled and leaving after the KER-PLOOSH sounds began , mostly because it would scare the fish away, the writer looked up what he had heard at the library and found out beavers do this when you are too close to their lodge.

  • So in stories one and two there were not any Bigfoot monsters with giant boulders; only beavers using their tails.

In the last story, a moose came through the forest crashing trees.

  • We know this because the writer found tracks the following day.
  • The horrible scream COULD HAVE BEEN ANYTHING from a barn owl, to raccoons fighting, to a lynx or bobcat, or possibly even a fox.
  • The huffing, the loud exhale sound, and the bad smell was most likely a bear attracted by the smell of the fish he had caught.
  • The writer now knows: If you are going to fish after dark, you should do it wearing a lifejacket with a fire on the shore; or better still, fish from a boat.
  • He always brushes his teeth before going to sleep in a tent, just in case the bear STORY has any merit.

WE ARE ONLY AFRAID OF THINGS WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, whether it is animals or people.

A note from the author to parents:

Please do not help to make your children live in fear. There are trying times ahead for future generations and we must stop passing irrational fears along to our children.

  • Being afraid to go into a lake is ridiculous.
  • Being afraid of thunder and lightning is ridiculous.

HAVING RESPECT FOR THE POWER OF NATURE IS PRUDENT.

  • Your children learn how to manage fear from you.
  • How you handle your fears will have a directly impact on them.
  • If you fear something, research it. Knowledge is the key to overcoming any fear.

 

Lost in the Wilderness: Part 4

The Myth of “Living the Dream” in the Country: The Northern Ontario Experience.

ADDITIONAL POINTS OF INTEREST:

For those of you who have not yet changed your mind about living fulltime in The Great White North, and called a time-share real-estate agent somewhere down South, I will dispel a few more myths of the Ontario North country.

“YOU WILL MEET INTERESTING PEOPLE.”

“Interesting”, if you are a sociologist writing a book perhaps, but you should expect to meet uneducated, unwashed, unkempt, alcoholic, drug using scammers, and gossips anywhere you go.

The area’s “best and brightest” have left for greener pastures and better lives, and they rarely return.

THIS SHOULD BE TELLING YOU SOMETHING!

The locals left behind have a huge inferiority complex that makes them jealous and envious of “citiots”; a term they often use that refers to anyone who left the confines of the area or who is new to the area. They will take your money when you hire them, but will gossip endlessly about you as a “thank you” for employing them. They will always happily take your money in their shops, but will not reciprocate by supporting your business.

The rampant morbid obesity is a tell-tale sign of their low self-esteem and self-worth issues. Anxiety and depression are also common, and of course made worse by alcoholism, illegal drug use, or going off their prescription meds. The closest town has two methadone clinics servicing an area population of only 20,000. This says a great deal about area residents.

YOU CAN BUILD A NEW LIFE IN THE COUNTRY.”

If this means working at a career or job requiring the support of the locals; forget it. If you did not grow up there, they will resist employing you or supporting your business. They think that by hiring you, they are taking food out of the mouths of a local boy’s family. If you bring specialized skills that are unmatched in the area, they will hire several locals before finally caving in and hiring you to fix their problems. They will try to negotiate your invoice AFTER the work is done, so be careful who you work for, and don’t trust a hand-shake deal.

If you think your big city experience is marketable, you are sorely mistaken. They do not embrace knowledgeable people; they envy and ostracize them. Women and minorities will have it even worse as the local folks are about 100 years behind in their thinking. THEY ARE LEARNING TO HIDE IT though, thanks to the societal movement towards political correctnessTheir sexist and racist ideas have been a part of their upbringing and are subtly evident in how they do business.

You will hear things like: “We have tried all this before.” even though they have not. You may even hear my personal favorite: “That’s not how we do things up here.” which shows how they cling to ignorance and resist change. This, of course, is why they struggle so. If you attempt to “raise the bar” they will reject your ideas in favour of continuing to crawl under it. Their inferiority complex makes them petty and small-minded. New ideas that did not come from one of them just makes them feel inferior. They ask for suggestions but view answers as CRITICISM. Their idea of success is survival; NOT GETTING AHEAD!

ALL BAD THINGS HAPPEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT:

  • You will run out of propane at 3:00 am.
  • Your furnace will quit at 3:00 am.
  • Pipes burst at 3:00 am.
  • Trees fall across your driveway at 3:00 am.
  • Drunk, crying women will show up in your driveway at 3:00 am.

“THE FRESH AIR WILL INCREASE YOUR APPETITE.”

You may be hungry but where can you go to eat? Restaurant quality may be my biggest reason for getting the hell back to civilization. Roadside converted service stations selling DEEP FRIED EVERYTHING with “Home Made” GOOD SOURCES of FAT and SODIUM litter the area. You will have to drive some distance for a truly good meal. The smell of the forty-year-old grease and oil impregnating those old concrete garage floors “pair well” with the grease and oil these “greasy spoons” are cooking with.

“LIVING THE DREAM”:

If you think you are headed to a place of serenity, then most of you will find you were WRONG unless you buy acreage away from lakes, trails, roads, and PEOPLE. With ownership, you are simply TRADING city stressors for country stressors.

GIVE ME SMOG, IDIOT DRIVERS, AND BLACK SNOW-BANKS ONCE MORE AND I PROMISE I WILL NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT CITY LIFE AGAIN.

I will rent or buy a condo and let someone else handle all the maintenance. I miss restaurants, spare time, movie theatres, income opportunities, and women who look after themselves. If I never see another snowflake or pine needle again, I would be just fine with that too.

The new dream is of sand beaches, palm trees and warm temperatures.

I wonder how long their bug season is?

See you there!

P. S.

If anyone has a large estate on a tropical island or a huge yacht you rarely use and you want someone to watch over the place, please get in touch. FYI, I am very experienced with boats and would make a good motor-launch pilot. I could probably get used to “hanging” with women named Missy and Muffy.

Lost in the Wilderness: Part 3

A “living the dream” in the North Country rant.

Do you know why most tall strong men are gentle giants? If we weren’t, there would be none of you mouthy little f-ckers left! It must be wonderful to be five-foot-six and sixty-five years of age or more, and be able to say anything to anyone without there being much of a chance of getting a badly needed wrap in the teeth.

Here is the background dirt I dismissed, AS I ALWAYS DO, as gossip. People who gossip are usually a waste of skin, but in this case they were relaying accurate information. I believe you should judge people by their actions rather than what you HEAR. Some people are trying to change and improve. I am someone who encourages those who SEEM to be making the attempt. I have hired ex-cons, reformed alcoholics, and former drug users, and some made the transition back to productive members of society. Some did not.

My former neighbor has a small horse farm he runs on a pension. He is a total country boy. He was born here and he will die here. He traps, hunts, has a vegetable garden, mills lumber, and slaughters his own livestock—a very self-sufficient guy. These are traits I admire. I have hired him on several projects and found him to be reliable and hard-working. I have been invited to his yearly barn party that was a very “rural” thing to do, while not really my thing. When he had a heart problem, I offered any assistance I could give.

I had heard alleged reports of spousal and animal abuse. A good friend said simply: “He’s an a–hole.”, though I never knew the reason. I do know he has children who never visit. I recall he was always grumpy, even twenty-five years ago when I first encountered him at a local bar’s pool table. He was a bad loser who would get angry and leave without uttering a word that might have gotten him knocked out. It was that kind of place.

He exhibited the classic Napoleon complex—possibly abused, probably picked on or bullied, and unhappy his entire life at the hand he was dealt.

A couple of years ago when he was stressed about his health issues, he had been snarly with me. I let it pass because he is much smaller and too old for someone like me to bother with.

Strike one called.

Recently, I introduced a young friend to our little Napoleon to get some chainsaw chains sharpened; bringing him still more business. A couple weeks later, the same young friend had brokered a house trailer sale between his client and Napoleon. His client, whose wife was in hospital with terminal cancer, asked us to retrieve some blankets from the trailer which had sentimental value so off we went to Napoleon’s to get the keys. When I asked if we could get the keys to retrieve some items, he flatly said NO. I asked if he was kidding to which he replied NO and told me to F-CK OFF as he closed the door on us.

We left, a little stunned by what had transpired. My young friend was enraged. I was still in a state of disbelief. My rage would bubble up later. I explained to my young friend that this little twerp would gladly involve the police were he to do anything, and any judge who saw the age and size difference would not rule in his favour.

I was the voice of reason for a change.

I, on the other hand, am only ten or so years younger than Napoleon, but would not consider pounding him into the ground like a tent peg for the same reasons. I explained he is likely a sociopath, and punching him out will not fix his condition.

Strike two called.

I know the readers were hoping for the strike three call to see what I would do, but we will ALL have to wait to find out. Even I am not sure what I might do. I may be writing that segment from a prison cell.

What do we do in our tolerant and overly-policed society with a provocative prick who uses his small size, age, and the law to run his mouth, and who is such a piece of shit that he would keep f-cking blankets from a dying cancer patient?

I got nuthin’.

WE CAN ONLY HOPE KARMA IS A REAL THING.

 

Lost in the Wilderness: Part 2

The Myth of “Living the Dream” in the Country: The Northern Ontario Experience.

PEACE AND QUIET:

For most people considering a move to the country, peace means SECURITY—worry free living. You can leave your door open. You will be moving to a place where neighbours get together to help each other out, just like “the olden days of barn-raisings and quilting bees. Right?

There was a reason that EVERYONE CARRIED A GUN BACK IN THOSE DAYS. Some guns were actually named: Peace Maker. Back then, just as today, about 33% of the people you met were good people who would help their neighbor. Unfortunately the other 66% are people you must keep an eye on. 33% are out to screw you over. The remaining 33% are either indifferent or could waffle from one side to the other on any given day.

If you think there is no crime or less crime in the country, THINK AGAIN!

You are moving to the POT GROWING CAPITAL OF ONTARIO which means organized crime. While exploring trails on your ATV, you may cross paths with a biker-type carrying an automatic weapon. When he tells you: “You should not be here.”, LISTEN TO HIM and go back the way you came—QUICKLY!

Add to this the local teens with little to do to kill the boredom, who will get drunk, high, or both, and come up with some really bad ideas as to how to keep the party going.

Lastly is the saddest group, the alcoholics, drug addicts, sociopaths and schizophrenics displaced by cut-backs to the Ontario health system. They too are here for low-cost living. THEY ARE YOUR NEW NEIGHBOURS. They are easily managed if you BUY A GUN AND FIRE IT OFTEN to make them think twice.

The “QUIET” will make up for these other minor negative points, so long as your idea of quiet includes logging trucks that literally shake the place when they go down a nearby highway, chainsaws and gunshots just like in The Red Green Show, ATV’s every weekend for 8 MONTHS, snowmobiles the other 4 MONTHS, plus heavy power boat traffic for 2 MONTHS, and the never ending over-flights of commercial, military, and police aircraft THAT WERE NOT THERE TWENTY YEARS AGO. Oh yeah, do not forget your neighbour who is building a mansion with diesel powered heavy equipment.

FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS:

If by “fresh” you mean COLD, then yes. Northern Ontario has some of the freshest air short of the Arctic Circle because THAT IS WHERE MOST OF OUR AIR COMES FROM.

The winter of 2013-14 was horrible everywhere in the province, but here are some statistics from my area:

  • In each of the 8 months beginning in October and including April, it snowed.
  • In that same period, the temperatures NEVER HIT POSITIVE DOUBLE DIGITS. In other words +10C or 50F was not seen for an 8 month period.
  • For 4 consecutive months the temperatures NEVER WENT ABOVE FREEZING.
  • For that same period the typical night-time temperatures were -20C to -40C or -40F (they are the same at that point on the scales).

For most of 6 months, “dressing up” meant putting on your “good” long-underwear and snow pants.

Sunshine happened occasionally for 30 minutes a day, if you were lucky, and you may have had to travel to see it. In winter sunshine comes with a price. Clear skies often mean extreme cold. There were entire weeks that went by without seeing the sun. A favourite joke when it did come out was “What is that fireball in the sky?” SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) runs rampant without the sun and its natural vitamin D production. In December you will get four hours of sunlight, if you are lucky, and you will not want to be outside. “Feel the burn” is usually a phrase associated with a work-out, but here it means frostbite or sunburn due to the giant hole in the ozone layer overhead.

BEING SURROUNDED BY NATURE:

The fantasy of having rabbits, foxes, and deer playing in your yard was my reality. So was the more disturbing unwanted less cute critters like bears, wolves, fishers, skunks, raccoons, snakes, and what some people thought was a cougar.

YOUR FANTASY OF RUNNING NAKED THROUGH THE FOREST MIGHT GET YOU KILLED BY NATURE.

Being surrounded by nature means GOOD HUNTING: BUG SEASON is open all year round!

Black fly season begins as soon as the snow melts and lasts for 2 TO 3 MONTHS! For those not familiar, this is a CARNIVORE about the size of a flea that does not like their homes being disturbed by anything; especially raking. A distant relative of the piranha fish, they will attack in great numbers and devour ANY EXPOSED FLESH. Working outdoors means covering up or using massive quantities of CANCER CAUSING AGENTS a.k.a. bug spray to keep just some of them away. Locals like to make black fly season even scarier to tourists by making jokes like: “The black flies are so big this year I just saw one humping a partridge.”

Some years you will be given a choice between bleeding bites from black flies and lumps from the West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes. Mosquito season can last for 5 MONTHS and it begins with the heat of summer that will kill off most of the black flies. However, the mosquitos will only be killed off by cold.

In July, the mosquito will be joined by other man-eating species like deer flies and horse flies. Deer flies are about the size of a house fly, but they are a fast delta-winged biter that lives in wooded areas.

The horse fly likes, you guessed it, horses, but have now adapted to eat other mammals as horses are not as common as they once were. Horse flies appear as an over-sized house fly until he takes a chunk out of you. They are relatively slow which means you can often swat them with your hand. They do not drown easily and yes, I have done this experiment. The horse fly loves a sunny day at the beach, especially when humans are on the lunch menu. If you want a high kill ratio, then wait until they start to bite before swatting. Like a human eating a good steak, they are savouring the taste of your meat, and are not paying attention.

Dragon flies, bees and butterflies are often COLLATERAL DAMAGE when using insecticides. Though they are beneficial, sometimes they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never used these products as a camper, but once you live in the woods fulltime, your views on environmental impact change.

Just there to piss you off are June bugs, moths and ants. Enjoy the hunt and the kill. FYI: moth season is open year-round as somehow they will last into December when all the others have died or are in a cryogenic sleep.

Spiders, ants, and house flies are available for hunting year-round without having to go outside.

The stinging varieties are many:

Wasps, especially ground wasps that nest under rotting logs, hornets and yellow jackets are like ISIS members: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY. It is them or us. In late summer or early fall, many of the stingers cannot cope with the idea their lives are about to end so they act insanely and commit suicide by attacking you for no reason . . . the suicide bombers of the insect world.

Enjoy your week. I have to go kill something.

Blogus Interruptus… continued next week.

 

Lost in the Wilderness: Part 1

The Myth of “Living the Dream” in the Country: The Northern Ontario Experience.

“MOVE TO THE COUNTRY.”, they said.

Your unknowing weekend guests will envy the VISTAS you wake up to each day. On the surface, life in the country appears to offer: low cost living, time to enjoy the simple easy life, peace and quiet, unlimited fresh air, and the beauty of being surrounded by nature.

I moved to the country near the southern-most tip of Algonquin Park to write a book. After TWO YEARS getting settled, I began writing a book. I met a woman. I stopped writing the book for another TWO YEARS. She finally left and I continued writing the book until I finally completed it after another TWO YEARS; which begs the question:

Why does everything take so long in a lifestyle that was advertised as slow-paced?

The simplest answer is: ENDLESS HARDSHIPS!

For most of us here, with the exception of the very wealthy, there is an endless list of daily chores that must be dealt with just to avoid catastrophe.

Once you have taken the plunge, just as with marriage, you will post these incredible photos of your amazing life on Facebook in an attempt to LURE OTHERS into the same NIGHTMARE.

There is a reason alcoholics and pot-heads flourish here; and that is because alcohol and drugs help you to forget how much IT SUCKS TO LIVE THIS WAY.

snow-11

PICTURE POSTCARD SETTINGS: VISTAS come with a price.

Snow on evergreens means two things: you can make your own Christmas cards and when the wind blows in the middle of the night and that snow falls out of those trees onto your roof; it will sound like London during The Blitz.

photo0339

In summer those same trees will secrete a super glue-like substance all over your car, skylights, garden furniture etc.

Nov 11

For ONE WEEK each fall, hardwood trees will have their leaves brightly coloured creating a magnificent splendiferous display, and then for the next 24 WEEKS they will look like a POST ATOMIC HORROR.

Pine trees are the bane of my existence. Their needles seem to fall endlessly as does their sap. If nature has a smart-weapon, it is the pine needle. They build dams in your eves-trough as well as any beaver could and they can worm their way into every nook, crack or crevice in a 150 foot radius from the base of a single tree. The pine needle is like a leach that loves to travel- hitching a free ride on vehicles by attaching themselves semi-permanently to rubber seals, wiper blades, carpets and air-vent holes in order to travel the countryside with you.

Murphy’s Law of the North Country:

The wind will not blow the snow out of the trees until you go outside.

There really is nothing as “refreshing” as having pounds of fine powder snow land on your head completely filling your coat collar as it makes its way down your back.

LOW COST LIVING:

Property in general is cheap to purchase but less so for lake-front property.

Property taxes are cheap for acreage zoned agricultural but is absolutely ridiculous for water-front property zoned recreational. $5000.00 to $8000.00 annually is not unheard of. MPAC (our tax assessment organization) is like a black helicopter black-ops group that covertly looks over your property and figures out how to charge the MOST they can. If you have a large puddle in view then they will mark your property as having a water-front. If you have a wood-shed, they will call it a garage. If you have a dog house, they will call it a guest house.

They never talk to the property owner because they might get shot for their obvious attempts at over-taxation. They get away with their tactics because people with recreational properties are either oblivious or too busy to spend an entire day in a cottage country MPAC office trying to sort out the monkeys working there.

Just as with Hydro ”ESTIMATING” your usage, the government will get INTEREST FREE MONEY by over-assessing a property until the owner gets around to making a fuss. I know of one case where two, nearly identical lake-front properties that were side by side had a $3000.00 per year taxation difference. One owner fought and one did not. Oh yeah, if MPAC have had it wrong for years, THEY WILL NOT REBATE YOU. They will merely credit your account.

The governments like to keep their ill-gotten gains.

On the subject of Hydro, your Hydro bill will be MORE THAN DOUBLE that of the city due to the low population density, the number of tree and weather related emergency outages, as well as aging infrastructure. $3000.00 per year is not uncommon.

If there is a planned Armageddon as conspiracy theorists claim, then Hydro is leading the charge to herd people from the country back to the city with their ridiculous rural rates. At least once they release the pathogens in the cities; you will not have to pay your cottage Hydro bill again.

DIY: Your maintenance costs will be higher than most high-end condos in a major city unless you do most of the work yourself.

If you choose this road, you will become a full-time maintenance person and contractor with an endless list of things to do seven days a week. You might get some time off when it is blowing, cold, and raining but because your production schedule will be set back by the bad weather, you will work ALL the nice sunny days that follow. This is how you can become a slave to your property and the reason you will not have any time to enjoy the simple easy life.

SIMPLE and EASY:

There is nothing SIMPLE or EASY about life in the country other than many of the people you will meet.

  • Using an outhouse at -40 is not simple or easy.
  • Not having running water in the winter is not simple or easy.
  • Having drains back-up because the septic tank froze is not simple or easy.
  • Cleaning up after multiple daily snowfalls is not simple or easy.
  • Plugging your car in for at least 60 nights is not simple or easy.
  • Dealing with a deer-hit car insurance claim is not simple or easy.
  • Cleaning splattered insects off the front of your car is not simple or easy.
  • Getting pounds of sand out of your car interior is not simple or easy.
  • Keeping your propane flowing below -30C is not simple or easy.
  • Getting suitable work is not simple or easy.
  • Keeping from being eaten alive by bugs is not simple and easy.
  • Going weeks without seeing the sun is not simple or easy.
  • Having cold feet for a third of a year is not simple and easy.
  • Priming the water-pump and keeping it going is not simple or easy.

Becoming “countrifiedmeans: You will let most of the above list slide in favour of getting drunk, going fishing or both.

On the subject of running water; if by RUNNING you mean:

  • It RUNS down the drain and freezes there- then yes.
  • That a pipe burst in the middle of the night causing water to RUN all over your new finished basement- then yes.
  • When the snow melted quickly in the spring, it created a moat with RUNNING water around your home- then yes.
  • It RUNS everywhere except into the cottage where you need it- then yes.

Blogus Interruptus … continued next week.

 

What is it all about anyway?

After a ridiculous amount of rest I am back in the “writing chair” at 5:45 a.m. on a Monday morning. I was a couch potato yesterday afternoon and throughout the evening watching DVD’s.

Having a smoke out on the deck a few minutes ago, I thought about writing something on the need for global consciousness, but I think I need to be more awake for that.

Drinking my first cup of coffee and writing in a semi-conscious state, I wonder why I am so driven to be putting down still more words. You see, I am about a month ahead on my blogs and tweets so there is no real need for this.

Am I about to be run over by a beer truck?

Is this the universe’s way of making that moment more palatable? So when the end comes, I can say I have left behind some good words for all of mankind. But these are not those words. These are idle ramblings at best, I think. Or are they? Perhaps allowing your semi-conscious mind to spew words all over a page is therapeutic or beneficial in some way. I have no idea.

In actuality, I rarely drink beer anymore. That saying was from my youth. A more appropriate saying today would involve a single malt scotch truck or a fine bourbon truck, but they do not have the same impact and probably do not exist. Speaking of impact, I am almost certain a truck will be involved in my demise.

The universe has bigger things to deal with than one writer of millions, on a tiny planet of billions, in one galaxy of millions, in one universe of an indeterminate number existing in some of at least eleven dimensions. THERE IS THE REASON!

I feel small.

I fight to rise above the crowd and be noticed before I die. I would give my life meaning. Not that my life has been without meaning to this point, as I know I have had a mostly positive impact on those who have known me; but more like it still is not enough of a legacy.

O.C.D.?

What is the difference between a compulsion and being passionate and driven? There is probably a very fine line between the two where I tend to hover. I have previously admitted I have a touch of O. C. D. Occasionally, I catch myself counting steps as I walk. I do try to keep a semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic life. For me, there IS a correct arrangement of, and place for things, and that is okay.

For me O. C. D. has a different meaning:

O. C. D. acronym- Obsessive COMPLETION Disorder.

“Finish one thing before starting another!” are a few of my father’s words that actually stuck. I am a completion addict. My behavior proves it. I reward myself for the completion of milestones with cocktails, cigars, dining out, and massages.

Multi-tasking requires splitting your focus, and therefore produces a lesser quality product. I am surprised employers encourage this. Getting everything done will not improve the bottom line as much as getting everything done WELL, even if it takes longer. I will argue further, that getting most things done well without completing everything is also better for the bottom line. Do not create a work environment which encourages your people to strive for mediocrity. Many employees will do this naturally anyway. Any of them who say “It’s all good.” are really saying it is all fair to averagely mediocre.

I don’t like my breakfast cereal, but I am either too cheap or too lazy to get a better one. I hate waste so I will keep on eating it.

I am on my third cup of coffee, one-hundred and five minutes into this, and I still do not know what I am writing about or why. Do any of you?

I envy writers who have a block and can spend a month staring at page 1. I would use it as an excuse to take a vacation.