Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Looking Back On Looking Out Back

As noted previously, I was away for the last several days. I went home to Thunder Bay to hang out with my Mother. The RANTWICK mothership is doing well, thank you, and we had a good time. I mostly drank beer and watched hockey in the evenings. Mom watched with me but skipped the beer part. In the daytime, we did various kinds of errand-y stuff and on one fine Sunday afternoon we went out to our cottage, walked on a big beach (because the water was low), tossed a stick for a dog and sat in the sun. One rantsister and one rantbrother joined us and it was really nice.

You know what else was nice? Flying. I get a little uptight when I travel, but I always love to fly in airplanes of just about any description. I am blessed, because I only fly every couple of years or so, so it stays kind of ever-new. I love take-off and I love landing. My landing in Thunder Bay was in super strong wind, and the small 80-ish passenger plane was getting kicked around quite a lot. People clapped when we were firmly on the ground. It was scary and fun. Our pilot earned his money that day for sure. My brother-in-law is a pilot, and I stole that "earned his money" thing from my younger sister, his wife, who commented on the wind when she picked me up at the airport. There's one other thing about flying that I really like. I get an inexplicable sense of happiness and/or satisfaction when I spot a golf course or a baseball diamond from the air. I don't why... that's why I used the word inexplicable a moment ago, I think.

Despite the fact that I just relayed such ultra-exciting details about what I've been up to lately, that wasn't the reason for writing this post. While Mom and I were buzzing around town, we swung by the house I grew up in. I noticed that subsequent owners had replaced a normal sized window on the back of the house with a nice new big one:

No stinkin' wonder. Look at what you can see from that window:

That, friends of mine, is known as the Sleeping Giant, because it resembles a man in repose on his back. I took that picture just before heading to the airport to leave town. This picture stinks because on some days the features of the Giant are really clear and he's way more interesting and "lifelike" and even seems much bigger.

Anyway, my Mom reminded me that when I was little I would ask to "Go to the Ships", which meant walk a block towards the lake (Lake Superior, for those who care) in order to get a better view of the big cargo ships that come and go all summer long in Thunder Bay Ontario, loading up on Canadian wheat and taking it all over the globe. Here's the view from that spot (no ships at that moment, sorry):

It is really too bad I didn't take pictures when it was just stunning the day before, but these give you the idea. Click on 'em for pretty big versions.

This post is mostly about the fact that as a child and for much of my youth I had something utterly beautiful just outside my back door, literally. A city spread out beneath the houses on the hill, houses that look out over the largest lake in the world and one of its mythical characters. Of course I didn't think about it that way because it was all I knew. In Southern Ontario, where I live now, a house anywhere near such a view would probably cost a couple million dollars. So, short version: wow, homesick, after 20 years. Crazy.

That's all I suppose. I guess I just wanted to mention that fit of nostalgia before it too became a fading memory. It is very likely that something bike-related will turn up here soon, I think.

Yer Pal,



Monkeymartian said...

I have family in Tbay, and have fond memories of our annual trip to the family Camp. It was always tough to explain to my friends in Toronto that going to Camp "up there" was the same as going to a cottage "down here." They thought me mad.

RANTWICK said...

Mm - somebody who knows the "Camp" thing! I substituted cottage beacuse I knew Camp would just confuse everybody. It took me years to stop using it where I live now. Nice!

Doohickie said...

You're making me homesick for your home, Rantwick. Very enjoyable tour, and very poignant. In a good way.


Doohickie said...

You know, I just realized something. Maybe profound, maybe scary: I empathize so much with your posts. I think that, growing up in Buffalo, I always saw Canada as this exotic place full of moose and mounties. Instead, I see Canada, that portion that was not too far from the border from where I grew up, through your posts and I've come to realize that it's so much like where I grew up. Only more earnest and polite. Which is important.

Thanks for sharing your would with me.


Steve A said...

This one was better than any TWO bike posts. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a curling connection, or a note that the beer was Labatt's Super Bock, eh?

RANTWICK said...

Doohickie - Thanks very much, man! Striking a chord with somebody like that feels really good. And while I may be an earnest and polite person, I suspect that the proportion of polite people to jerk faces is probably pretty darn close in both of our great nations.

Steve - TWO? That's awesome. And FYI it was mostly imports; Guinness, Heineken, and a nice light German one called DAB.

cafiend said...

That was beautiful.

I lived very briefly in Cheboygan, Michigan. I drove across Ontario from Niagara Falls to Sault Ste Marie, camping from the car en route. More than a year before I bought my first "ten speed" I got this strong impression that a bike tour across Canada might be a wild trip.

The economy in Cheboygan in 1974 didn't encourage me to linger. I returned to Florida to start college.

My father commanded the US Coast Guard ice breaker Mackinaw for the first two winters of navigation on the lakes. His ship was responsible for keeping the connection between lakes Superior and Huron open. The lakes are unique water bodies. I's a fascinating region.

They call cottages camps here in NH, too. On waterfront they have mostly been torn down and replaced with mansions.

RANTWICK said...

Cafiend - Thanks! The Great Lakes are indeed a very cool part of the world, and somewhat surprisingly little known for their beauty and sheer, vast, grandeur.

I think "mansion creep" is happening all over. They aren't mansions, but the Camps surrounding ours are getting much more like homes... we may be the only ones left on the bay still using an outhouse!

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