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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Huge spider at the entrance to a new Ontario cave - Wasteland Waterway

Huge spider at the entrance to a new Ontario cave - Wasteland Waterway

JC and I went to Wasteland Waterway Cave today to do a bit of mapping. Well that was not entirely successful because although my waterproof paper held out, the supposedly waterproof marker did not. we only got about 7 shots done and were a little over 100 feet in before we had to quit.

As soon as I got home my mother called to see if I’d been caving and if so had it rained where I was. No it had not, the weather report for that area had no indication of bad weather and although the sky looked grey all was well at Wasteland Waterway (thankfully, obviously Goderich was a different matter. My brother-in-law had his porch torn off by a tornado). Nevertheless, as a backup precaution in case of rain we had dug open Blue barrel sink as our flood escape route.

See blue barrel sink and one of the huge spiders there – blue barrel sink

See the short video for cave mapping equipment here – cave mapping equipment.

See the cave mapping conditions here – cave mapping environment

The spider pictured above was one of several that was lurking around blue barrel sink. I believe this is what they call a hunting spider -it’s about 2 inches across, not as big as the ones in the Moira cave, but still big enough for me. In fact these looked a little different from those at Moira; notice the spiny hairs on it’s legs. I always thought spiders had 8 eyes, this one appears to only have 2 on either side.

So anyway it was pretty creepy sliding down the sinkhole knowing that there’d be more such creatures, some possibly even larger lurking in the crevices. We also discovered another cave when we dug a sinkhole open – more on that tomorrow.

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Cenote diving in Mexico

Cenote diving in Mexico

The surface of the Yucatan – especially the more northern area along the edges of an ancient meteor impact crater is dotted with deep blue pools of water. They were both of physical and cultural value to the Mayans. As there is little surface running water on the Yucatan, towns grew up around these wells. Culturally, the cenote and its accompanying underground tunnels represented the entrance to Xibalba (shi-bal-ba) the Mayan underworld from where life was both taken and delivered. This past week I had the fortune to visit several underground destinations in the Yucatan and so the next few posts will be along the lines of relating something of that journey.

The above picture is of Dos Ojos near Tulum. Maggie and I went snorkeling there and traveled above the water, beneath the rock between the two eyes (Ojos). It was a fantastic experience – more to follow.

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A map of Costa Rica will be confusing in the maze of convoluted roads along the Guanacaste shoreline. Here we are, several world class beaches within about 20 minutes drive. But where to surf in Tamarindo?

A simple map of Costa Rica with some broad destinations plotted relative to each other might sometimes be the way to go. Follow road signs and ask the locals and providing time is not an issue you will get there.

As they say in Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Check my simple map of Costa Rica here.

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Las Ruinas, Cartago –  It was once the old  Costa Rican capital – read more  in the book Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica

This cracked old bell hangs in a ruined cathedral in the earthquake shaken city of Cartago. It appears in the telling of my story – Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica. The book  is selling on the lulu website at $26.99

As the story goes …

The last Simone saw she was thrashing a flinching Nicaraguan who’d come to pray for the health of his fellow workers.

“Good on you old lady,” Simone shouted approvingly. “I bet he friends with that red hair monkey.”

Simone found Talbot at Las Ruinas, skulking beneath its bell.

Symbolically both the ruined cathedral and the bell are representative of something other than their actual physical presence.  Cartago was the old Costa Rican capital before San Jose captured the title in a battle in a nearby mountain pass.

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Edgehill Press has just released their new book, “Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica – the author, yours truly.

If you intend to visit Costa Rica this is essential reading, a humorous account of the practices of two drug dealers and a lizard who start a company that offers Vespa tours to surfers in the town of Tamarindo.

See the book here…. Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica

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Arbag – Fuel line burst, hot gas on the engine 10K into the bush (Tom’s picture – unknown photographer)

Aside from the hum of the mosquitoes under a grey, cloud-laden sky the northern forest is quiet. It is as though man had never touched this raw and rugged land. From somewhere there arises a faint revving sound, it intrudes into the otherwise pristine morning growing louder over a period of about 15 minutes. Bone jarring thumps reverberate through the trees and soon human voices can also be heard. Now visible, a convoy of several vehicles jolts into view. It looks like something out of a northern version of a Mad Max movie. Mud spattered vehicles with various oddments of human survival strapped atop. Whooping, shouting and cheering the off roaders do their stuff.

A green Neon is of particular interest, why is it out here? The convoy is several miles from the nearest passable road, this is dense bush, its crazy! Tom is the driver. Blond hair, pony tail and ragged beard, he is in his mid 20’s, dressed as per normal in his trademark color, “baby blue.” The sunroof is open, the road is crap and Tom is in his element. As he explained, “My intention is to do a few rock pitches, get the car dirty, I’m a bit of an off road groupie.” The vehicles enter a clearing, it is just a huge expanse of rock, polished by the glaciers, its deeper hollows filled by mud and bog grass.

As I’m sure you can imagine it can be very expensive. Tom has had his neon for two years and as he says, “It looks like xxxx” “I have been my cars own worst enemy.” He confesses. “All the damage is because of me,” he whispers. People say it looks like garbage and regrettably there are a few mechanical problems. I have no power steering and the ball joints are gone, it makes a horrible grinding noise when it goes around a corner, it has no starter so I put it in first and roll it along till the engine kicks in. The car always overheats and it has to be stopped sometimes on the way to work. If you ride in my car most people want to get out quickly because they think it is unsafe but it is not, there are just a lot of little things. (I will clarify this for the reader, it is Tom’s driving style that concerns his passengers.) I have tape on the lights, the mirror is missing, no hubcaps, some of the door handles are off and as Najeeb pointed out, “It smells like weed.” Tom corrects him, “most of that smell is the burning from the engine.”

Off roading is not for everyone, as you can see there are consequences but both Tom and Pablo say, it’s a great way to see the outdoors. They explore any little trail they can find and were most excited when I told them of the lost settlers roads that span the province, overgrown by trees and forgotten to all but the most aged historian. If you find a battered green neon far out in the forest you will know where it came from and you will know that Tom and Pablo have probably graduated to a farmer auto.

While on the topic of misfortunes and accidents, check out this incident when the rope broke in Dewdney’s Cave … Here

Or more to the point, the accident with the Leopard tank … Here

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Beneath Robillard Mountain

Craigmont is about as distant from the reach of the modern world as you are likely to get in the “near north”. Indeed it appears on the map as a substantial settlement but as you cruise up Boulter road you become aware of how far you really are, both geographically and culturally from the bustle of Southern Ontario.

Coasting over hills that stretch off greenish-blue into the summer haze it seems as though you are crossing into a time warp. Meadows are saturated with intense colour and high pastoral fields line the road, strewn with orange and yellow flowers. Beyond this lies the valley of the “Little Mississippi River”. Spike-topped conifers wander unbroken to the horizon and in hillside fields lazy cows watch disinterestedly at the crumbling demise of old log barns.

As a collecting locale, Craigmont is remarkable. Not only is the beauty unsurpassed but its minerals are spectacular. Corundum here is found in large euhedral (perfectly formed) specimens; lapidaries have been known to cut them into cabochons. In their book, “Rocks and Minerals of Ontario” the Ontario Department of Mines say that there are unusual curved mica crystals. Garnets, molybdenite, allanite, uranite, euxenite, magnetite, pyrite and hornblende also appear from time to time.

Blink and you just might glide past Craigmont. The inhabited part is now a private town. It exists as a cluster of houses, barns and sheds and around it the vegetables flourish in earthy rows.

Robillard Mountain is situated within sight of the present habitation; an impressive upheaval of rugged red rock. Some twenty separate excavations scar its slopes.

As a general rule most corundum is found in pegmatites and structures associated with nepheline syenites. In this area north of Bancroft the most abundant deposits (corundum) are said to be sandwiched between scapolite, nepheline andesine and a band of alkaline syenite.

I took a hike beneath the mountain to see the syenite from below.

More on corundum in Craigmont here …

Check out this abandoned mine in Cobalt ... Here

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