We arrived in the capital Ottowa on 1st July which is Canada Day. As we drove through the end of Quebec State on the way to Ontario where Ottowa is we expected to see lots of celbrations but we didn't see anything it just seemed like a normal day, but then Quebec had recently celebrated Quebec Day. As soon as we crossed the river that separates the two states and entered Ottowa it was like a different country with thousands of people thronging the city all dressed in red and white waving Canada flags. Many roads in the city were either closed or had diversion signs which made it very difficult for us to get to the other side of the city where the campsite was located and we couldn't really stop and park anywhere to join in the celebrations and street parties and concerts.
When we did go into the city we were very impressed with Ottowa which is a very attractive capital and very quiet traffic wise by our standards. The Parliament building is at the core of the downtown area and at the head of three gushing rivers. Recent years have seen an influx of people from many different cultures but Ottowa is not as brash as Montreal. The Rideau Canal has a series of step like locks right into the city centre and the canal turns into the longest skating rink in the world during the endless winter months with 7k of groomed ice. During the summer there are trails right along the canal and around the parks for walking and cycling and we spent a brilliant afternoon cycling around the many trails.
The central Bymarket area is where all the nightlife, restaurants and bars are centred and you would be hard pressed to find as good an area in any other city in the world that we have visited , it stretches for block after block.
To get into the city we had to park our truck at Walmart and then get the bus into the city centre and the bus system was fantastic. Dedicated bus lanes ran through the suburbs similar to tarmaced train lines, not just at the side of the normal road but a dedicated two lane road system hidden in the trees to whisk people into the centre.
We could have spent a lot longer in Ottowa, but again camping is no the best way to see a city, it is always much better being in a hotel in the centre of everything. Even if we were to book into a hotel in the city centre therre is usually a parking problem as because of the severe winters the hotel car park is usually underground and we can't fit in. We were sad to leave Ottowa.
Roughly 120 miles west of Ottowa is Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario's oldest and largest park which has 7800 km of thick pine forests, trickling streams, mossy bogs and thousands (yes thousand's) of lakes. People go hiking here for days at a time and never see another person. some of the camping areas are only accessible on foot or by canoe. There is one major road through the park which runs across a small portion near the southern end and numerous campgrounds and hiking trails can be reached off this road.
Unfortunately for us we booked into a busy campground and didn't get the backcountry experience we expected, also the weather wwas particularly bad again which really spoilt it for us. We took a hiking trail for 7k over to the next campsite rather than a remote one as it was spitting when we set off and raining very heavily about halfway along. By the time we got there we were literally soaked to the skin and bitten to death by mozzies with probles like needles. In some countries it's hard to spot the mozzies but not these boys they are massive and they bit through everything socks, hats, my face all around my hood and Peter's hands, you name it they bit it. When we got to the camp office at the other end we waited a while to see if the rain would stop. I wanted to ask a park warden if they would give us a lift back to our campsite but Peter wouldn't let me so we walked 7k back again, about an hour and a half, in the rain with the mozzies!
Now part of our trips is about meeting and talking to people and fellow campers along the way but sometimes you just don't feel like it. On one of the occasions after a long day's drive, just sitting down to a looked forward to evening meal George from the next caravan feels like telling you his life story and your meal goes cold. On the other occasion after walking 14k in the rain, dying for a nice cup of tea, getting rid of the soaking wet clothes and having a nice hot shower George appears again as soon as we get back asking where we have been, ready to finish his story, oblivious to the fact we are drippting wet, sometimes it takes all your resolve to keep smiling!!!!