Time Travel: Could It Happen?

FEBRUARY 24th, 2016


Being a comic book nerd my entire life, I have long been interested in the subjects of time traveling and multiple dimensions. Ever since the iconic DC comics story of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Marvel’s entire What If…? line of comics, I have wondered about what lies beyond what we know of our lives as we are living them currently. The new show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes us through a temporal adventure which feeds my curiosity of timelines and the effect little changes can make.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Who else hasn’t wanted to see their future, meet someone from the distant past or wondered what would have happened had you only made a different decision at some point in your life? I have been reading quite a few interesting articles lately about the topic and this started making me think deeply about the concept; when I began discussing it with John, we thought it would make an interesting blog post.

Now please keep in mind that we are in no means scientists and don’t claim to fully understand the processes of quantum physics, string theory or science in general. As such, we would greatly appreciate comments, corrections and clarifications to any topics we include in our thoughts here. Our only request is to keep any comments understandable to us non-scientific types. 

Time Travel - Is It Possible?

Putting aside the fact that we are constantly traveling into the future at the rate of an amazing one hour every hour (boring) or that we can technically see into the past every night while we are looking at the stars (e.g. the light we see from the North Star today originally shone 323 years ago), will it ever be possible to physically make jumps through time? This topic has been studied by the greatest minds of all time including Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

I don’t pretend to understand the effects that gravity and speed have on altering the rate in which time passes but according to my limited readings, it has something to do with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (that has recently hit the world wide news again with the gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes of which we now have physical evidence). What I did pick up from reading about this is that the closer to the speed of light we achieve, the slower time passes. The same can be said for proximity to sources of massive gravitational pull…like black holes. The downfalls here are that the faster something travels, the more mass it gains and the more energy necessary to maintain its speed (maintaining light speed would take the equivalence of half a galaxy’s energy) and the singularity of a black hole would merely crush us in its gravitational pull. Don’t lose hope yet though…enter Kerr Rings and the Einstein-Rosen Bridge (better known as wormholes). While both are theoretically possible, they are highly unstable and even if we could travel through them, the portal may close and never re-open1.While being stranded in time makes for a great story, I would argue that the reality of it would be nowhere nearly as entertaining.

(Above photo courtesy of Pearson Education Inc via  Google .)

(Above photo courtesy of Pearson Education Inc via Google.)

The Problems with Traveling to the Past 

One theory that stands out to me is from Stephen Hawking, who does believe in the existence of wormholes and the ability to travel through time to the future… but not into the past.

“This kind of time machine would violate a fundamental rule that governs the entire universe - that causes happen before effects, and never the other way around. I believe things can’t make themselves impossible. If they could then there’d be nothing to stop the whole universe from descending into chaos. So I think something will always happen that prevents the paradox.”

"In the end, I think a wormhole like this one can’t exist. And the reason for that is feedback. If you’ve ever been to a rock gig, you’ll probably recognise this screeching noise. It’s feedback. What causes it is simple. Sound enters the microphone. It’s transmitted along the wires, made louder by the amplifier, and comes out at the speakers. But if too much of the sound from the speakers goes back into the mic it goes around and around in a loop getting louder each time. If no one stops it, feedback can destroy the sound system.”

“The same thing will happen with a wormhole, only with radiation instead of sound. As soon as the wormhole expands, natural radiation will enter it, and end up in a loop. The feedback will become so strong it destroys the wormhole. So although tiny wormholes do exist, and it may be possible to inflate one someday, it won’t last long enough to be of use as a time machine.”

“Any kind of time travel to the past through wormholes or any other method is probably impossible, otherwise paradoxes would occur. So sadly, it looks like time travel to the past is never going to happen. A disappointment for dinosaur hunters and a relief for historians" 

                                                                           - Quotes by Stephen Hawking2

If this is indeed the case and travel to the future is possible, would we ever be able to verify the truth? Considering it would be a one-way trip because once in the future, it would become the present and the present would then be the past and if we can’t travel to the past, we couldn’t return to the present to let people know we went to the future.

I think I just confused myself.

…That being said, let’s forget about traveling forward in time for now.

Potential Outcomes of Successful Time Travel to the Past

Let’s put aside the ‘how’ for the time being (no pun intended) and assume that time travel is possible. What would the ramifications be of messing with the space-time continuum? This is where we pull off impressive terms like the Law of Causality. This is also known as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Cause and Effect. What if we were to create a scenario and imagine what might happen? The most obvious result of time travel is causing a time paradox.

One example of such a theory is known as the Hitler Paradox. By going back in time and killing Hitler before he could commit all of his atrocious acts, you would be erasing these deeds from history and hence the entire reason in which you traveled back to stop him in the first place. Therefore Hitler still continues on his familiar path because you didn’t go back to kill him. A secondary theory exists in relation to this one where the assassination is successful but the resulting changes actually make things worse (i.e. a more ruthless leader takes over and, through different choices, wins the war or without anyone invading, Stalin goes on the offensive and is the reason for World War II, etc.)

A more personal way to see the potential impact revolves around the time travel itself being somehow responsible for the death of one of your ancestors. While this is known as the Grandfather Paradox, I have changed it up just slightly to keep it original. For our purposes here let us use the example of accidentally hitting your grandmother with a car when she was still just a child.

Scenario 1 - Inconsistent Causal Loop (Similar to the Hitler Paradox)

With the woman who was to be your grandmother, dying before ever giving birth to your parent (the cause), her child (your parent) would never exist to give birth to you (the effect); meaning you would not have existed to travel back in time to hit this particular child (your grandmother) with a car. Events would occur as they always had.

Scenario 2 - Consistent Causal Loop AKA The Bootstrap Paradox

Before traveling back in time, your grandmother tells you the story of how she was nearly killed when she was hit by a car as a child. When you do make your temporal journey, you hit a girl with your car but the collision is only minor because you have your grandmother’s story fresh in your mind and are driving more slowly than usual. Your grandmother lives through the accident to not only become your ancestor but also to warn you time and again to slow down, therefore saving her life.

Scenario 3 - Post Selected Model AKA The Predestination Paradox

In this theory, potentially paradoxical events are avoided through probability fluctuations. What does this mean? Through highly unlikely circumstances, your grandmother would never be hit by the car. How this comes about could be nearly anything. Perhaps your car ran out of gas, or was hit by another vehicle, or even something less fantastical like someone calling her name causing her to turn back before the fatal moment. This theory leads into thoughts of predestined lives.

Scenario 4 - Parallel Universes

This time, when the girl is hit by the car, the timeline simply continues on from this point creating a completely divergent universe where a "you” will never exist. However, the person who ran over this child (you) were born in an alternate reality and hence carry on to live out your life. The rest of the world will maintain a similar (or parallel) course with only minor differences. However, if your grandmother or any of her descendants were famous, a world leader or important person in your own timeline, the changes in this new timeline could be quite substantial.

If anyone ever does figure out the science behind traveling through time, these paradoxes make me wonder if it would even be worth the trip. The majority of these scenarios lead to absolutely nothing happening any differently than it has already occurred. The last possibility that I mentioned would indeed change your own personal history but not that for any of your family and friends from your original timeline. At least this option provides a hint of hope while producing many more questions that would require equally elusive answers.

I must say, on a personal note, the last potential scenario of traveling into the past is my favourite theory. I like the idea of multiple versions of us all running around, living out our dreams. Of course, that probably means other versions of us might be exactly like us and then a few may even live in a nightmare world. The possibilities are seemingly endless. I do believe in multiple dimensions and wonder if time travelers are the ones responsible for them. Who knows…I like to imagine that maybe, just maybe, in some fantastic world out there we might even be super heroes.



1How Stuff Works: How Time Travel Works

2Stephen Hawking “Time Travel to the Future is Possible”


For an Interesting Read

The Big Séance Blog by Patrick Keller: Be the Spirit Guide to Your Younger Self

Magical Mushrooms

FEBRUARY 17th, 2016


Take a trip with me (I’d ask you to close your eyes but that might make reading a little difficult). Imagine that you are lying in bed in the middle of the night. You are sleeping soundly until you hear a commotion outside. Your dogs, which are exceptionally well behaved, begin barking incessantly. You rise from your bed to see why but there appears to be nothing at all. The dogs have stopped just as suddenly as they began so you decide to return to your bed. You no more than let your head hit the pillow when the dogs go crazy again but this time it is different…they are whining. You spring from under the covers and rush outside. The dogs are visibly shaken but again there was no hint as to the cause. You spend a few moments calming the animals down before returning to bed. The remainder of the night is uneventful.

The morning comes too soon but there are tasks to be accomplished. You get ready for a day of chores around the house. You go outside and prepare to mow your lawn. As you are riding your lawn tractor, it stalls out and won’t restart. You push it towards your workshop. Trying to turn the engine again, it roars to life as though nothing had ever happened. Baffled but excited that it is working; you try to finish cutting the grass. As you return to the spot where you left off, the tractor sputters and dies once more. This time something catches your eye. Some wild mushrooms have grown in a circular pattern in the middle of the yard where none had been before and the lawn tractor was right in the centre of them. Is this a coincidence? You push the mower outside the circle and it starts right up. What is going on?

The ring of mushrooms that appeared overnight.

The ring of mushrooms that appeared overnight.

This is the situation that my friend, Micah Leythe* (*pseudonym) brought to me that day in the summer of the early 2000’s. He took a few pictures but was unable to show them to me as his battery had died. I told him that I would come over as soon as I possibly could since I was working at the moment and couldn’t leave with customers in the store. He left to return home telling me that he was going to recharge the camera battery so that I could see the pictures when I arrived.

The advantage of owning your own business is that you can sometimes slip away in the slow times and that is exactly what I did. Since my friend lived just down the road, I grabbed my camera and drove over to his house. I pulled into the driveway and noticed the circle of mushrooms right away. I was in awe at the size of them. They were huge considering the short period of time since they had first been seen. The circle was easily 9-10 feet in diameter.

Micah Leythe, at 6’2”, lying in the circle showing the size of the ring.

Micah Leythe, at 6’2”, lying in the circle showing the size of the ring.

I started taking photos right away. Micah had heard me pull in (side note: his dogs only barked once when I arrived to inform their owners someone was present, showing exactly how well-behaved and well-trained they were) and he came out to join me with his camera. In comparing his photos from earlier in the day to this moment when I’d arrived, the mushrooms had grown exponentially. His pictures showed them approximately the size of a golf ball whereas they were now larger than a softball. The other big change from earlier was that the grass between each mushroom was dying off. It was creating a burnt-looking circle around the perimeter. In fact, it almost seemed like this “burn mark” was an invisible physical barrier when it came to the growth of the mushrooms.

Micah, who had just finished charging his camera, apparently got too close as he totally lost power after only 5 photos. I took a number of photos before I wanted to experiment with my power source as well. Just to be safe, I removed the memory card so I wouldn’t lose anything I had already taken. I watched the bars rapidly fall away as I reached my hands inside the ring. Once it was completely drained, I packed my stuff away, thanked my friend for sharing the experience and hopped back into my car.

Just before pulling out of the driveway, I was flagged down. Micah told me one piece of information that he had forgotten to mention. The dogs were avoiding the ring like the plague. They would always run right to their master’s side but they simply refused if he was anywhere near those mushrooms.

This was the size of a loaf of bread, showing the rapid growth of the mushrooms within a few days.

This was the size of a loaf of bread, showing the rapid growth of the mushrooms within a few days.

Over the next few days we continued to monitor the circle. The mushrooms were growing and growing. The softball-sized fungi were now the size of a loaf of homemade bread and still growing. Something of interest to note… anywhere that a mushroom would have crossed that burnt line of grass, it appeared to have been cut off as if sliced by a laser. It basically looked as though it had been cauterized by some high heat source (which is why we likened it to a laser).

The mushroom seems to be cut off at the outer-edge of the circle.

The mushroom seems to be cut off at the outer-edge of the circle.

So what were these things? According to European folklore, they are called fairy rings (also known as a fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring) which are said to be caused by fairies dancing in a circle. Warnings abound about entering the circle lest you be taken to fairyland or be forced to join their dance until dying of exhaustion, unless someone from outside the ring can pull you to safety and freedom. This isn’t as easy as it sounds however, as the individual inside the ring is invisible to those outside it. Even if you can manage to save the person (who will not remember their experiences inside), their life is believed to be cursed.

There are a couple ways to investigate one of these rings whilst guaranteeing your safety. The first is circling the ring exactly 9 times clockwise. This allows you a chance to hear the fairies dancing underground and the opportunity to escape. If you accidentally go counter-clockwise, you will fall under their control. The second method (and coincidentally the one which both my friend and I happened to unknowingly manage) is to wear your hat backwards thereby confusing the sprites.

So what does science have to say?

There are soil-inhabiting fungi of the class Basidiomycetes that depletes the nutrients in the soil for grass, causing it to die out and create that burnt appearance. At the same time, the fungi release nitrogen ahead of the growth path so the grass outside the ring looks green and lush. These fungi originate from organic matter that is buried under the ground such as roots, stumps or lumber. In this particular case, the local heritage centre informed us that this property formerly belonged to the carriage maker and it was quite possible that wagon wheels could have been buried on the premises.

The curator informed us during our research that there had been reports of strange lights in the sky the night that the dogs were acting up (something else to add a little mystery to the situation).

What do you believe? The scientific answer of a naturally growing fungus is the most logical answer but nowhere in my reading did it mention the power-draining abilities of these mushrooms or the apprehension that the dogs had of the area. I have never heard of a 10 foot diameter wagon wheel either which is what the local historian believed was the buried organic material in question. I wish I had some answers.

Send us your thoughts. Have any of you wonderful readers had a similar experience or done any research on your own? We would love for you to share your thoughts so leave a comment below. Alternatively you can reach us on Twitter (@carbonlilies), Facebook or email us directly at carbonlilies@hotmail.com.

Scott Thompson Made Us Laugh Tonight

FEBRUARY 13th, 2016


[John] I’ve never thought myself a particularly funny person. I honestly don’t think I have a sense of humour. Lana disagrees and other people tell me I’m funny. Sometimes I think sarcasm can be easily confused with funny. Maybe sarcasm can itself be funny and perhaps that’s how I make people laugh but more often than not if I’m trying to be funny I’m just being silly and the rest of the time I’m just quiet and intense. I don’t usually laugh when others do and I don’t typically understand common humour. I enjoy stand up comedy… sometimes. I don’t know most of the popular comics and the ones I laugh with seem to be unknown to many or too old school for others.

[Lana] Don’t believe her at all. John has a wonderful sense of humour and is often laughing and making me laugh. Just because she doesn’t find every type of humour equally funny doesn’t mean the humour is non-existent.

[John] Thank you – and I still don’t believe you. (Lana himself is actually very funny)

There is common ground, however… enter The Kids in the Hall.

Image courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy Google Images

Bruce McCulloch, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson. Five people who never fail to make me (and many others) laugh (and no matter how years and projects go by, they will forever be in my heart as The Kids in the Hall). On February 12th Lana and I had the privilege to see Scott Thompson live on stage… in Whitby, Ontario.

[Lana] The Kids in the Hall brought such diversity with their unique brand of humour that they became a staple for Canadian youth in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Lines from their sketches are often still quoted to this day.

[John] We aren’t from Whitby but we are very familiar with it and thankfully so as much of the night was poking some fun at the non-Toronto nature of Whitby. Opening act Robby Hoffman elicited the identification of one Jewish audience member and did well to warm us up before Scott Thompson prompted the two gay men at the back of the room to identify themselves. Much to Lana’s chagrin I was not willing to raise my hand when Mr. Thompson asked if there was anyone in the room who was not white. Those of you who know our blog know we use pseudonyms, which should be indication of the fact we don’t much enjoy the spotlight. I could not bring myself to identify as the one not-completely-white-person in the room (could I honestly have been the only one?) especially considering we were only in the second row and easily visible at the side – much too apparent for my comfort level.

[Lana] Anyone who has been to a comedy show knows that many comics enjoy a “friendly repartee” with targets (I mean crowd members) close to the stage. I have no idea why John didn’t want to stand up and become a participant in the show for the evening. Hee hee!

[John] Cue nausea.

Having established the lack of diversity in the room, the show forged ahead with a frantic deluge of hilarious and pointed life stories and admissions that had us laughing so hard I was crying and my lungs were actually hurting. We had both been very much looking forward to this show (thank you Brother Carbon for the tickets!) and we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed but we had no idea just how happy we would really be.

[Lana] My cheeks are still sore for the near constant laughing and wide-faced grin that consumed my features throughout the entire performance.

[John] I was so aware of the volume of my laugh but I couldn’t control it and decided to stop trying; loud laughter and happy tears… an okay combination, yes?

[Lana] YES!

[John] To say that I’m grateful for the endorphin release would be a severe understatement. Thank you sincerely Robby Hoffman and Scott Thompson, for the desperately needed laughs and break from intense life realities. I’m still not sure that I have a sense of humour but I’m happy I have the ability to laugh with truly funny people. I will forever be grateful for The Kids in the Hall because they brought to our attention the bright talents that continue to provide us with viscerally resonating hilarity that make the tough times seem easier to navigate and remind us that there are some authentically funny people in our world.

The Trip That Almost Wasn't - Part 2

FEBRUARY 11th, 2016


[John] Part One left off with us heading out of Sault Ste. Marie and beginning our trek east to North Bay… somewhat rushed mind you, as we got out of the Soo later than planned and needed to get to North Bay to check into our hotel with time left to find somewhere open for a late supper. Two long days were coming to a close and we still had a good four to five hours of driving ahead of us, which meant we would be unable to stop in Sudbury as we had originally hoped (we’ll see you next time Sudbury!). Join us now as we take you with us on the next part of our journey…

[Lana] One of the trading posts we had to skip on the first time past, we managed to stop at this time around. The Yellow Butterfly Trading Post, in Ironbridge, had actually just opened for business. The operation was, at the time, more of a ladies boutique but after talking for a considerable amount of time with the owner, we learned she had some wonderful plans for the place. She was looking for local artists to display their works and had areas being set up outside for larger pieces. A food truck had also just opened on the premises. It definitely had us wanting to check it out down the road just to see how many of these plans make it to fruition.

[John] While the products within The Yellow Butterfly didn’t appeal to either of us, I really was curious about the whole plan for the place. It all sounded wonderful and well thought-out so I do hope that it is turning into a successful endeavour.

[Lana] Surprisingly, that was our only stop on the beautiful drive to North Bay. We pulled into the city at nearly 9 p.m. and headed straight to our accommodations for the night. When we first pulled into the parking lot at the Lakeshore Suites, we were unsure about just what we had gotten ourselves in for. The paint was all chipped and it looked a little rundown but once we entered the room, our opinions changed drastically. For the approximate price of a regular queen room at most hotels, we had a full suite that was nicely decorated and had all the conveniences you might want for any overnight stay. We had debated on when and where to eat as we were traveling but now that we were checked in for the night, we decided to just order in and rest a bit after the 2 days with so much driving. Had we not been staying here for 2 nights, it might have been a different story.

[John] I was so tired from all of that driving that the last thing I wanted was to walk into our room and find it as rundown as the exterior of the place. Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement to my reaction. A clean room, nice bed, television and pizza were nice ways to end another long day.

[Lana] I must admit, for a city calling itself the “Gateway to the North,” I was quite disappointed. Other than the natural scenery (which was quite captivating as we looked out over the shores of Lake Nipissing), North Bay itself really held nothing to keep a tourist’s interest. Sure the big box stores are there but where were all the unique places? Where were all the places that North Bay could proudly call their own? We drove through the downtown district about 3 times before we even realized that it was in fact the downtown business section. True there are restaurants galore but not everyone’s idea of a night on the town is simply going out to eat. Please North Bay, show your local pride. I’m sure there are many local artists who could capitalize on a store in which they might display their work. Build it and the tourists will come.

[John] I really had very high hopes for North Bay. This was a place neither of us had previously visited and really wanted to see. I would absolutely return for the beauty; were I to have a week or two at a cottage with no exploring on the agenda and just plans to sit and relax it would be a great place. Typically however, when we travel we want to see and experience as much as we can. I’m still convinced that we must have missed a major section of town because I just can’t believe that there is really nothing to the downtown area. Sitting just east of Sudbury and just west of the Ontario-Quebec border, surely there must be more to this place! Alas, we didn’t find it in the short time we were there.

[Lana] Luckily, there was a small community close by called Trout Lake. We were drawn there by the lure of ice cream but what we found was so much more. The Trout Lake Trading Company had more to offer (at least in what we were looking for) than all of North Bay combined. There was a little art, some souvenirs, snacks and a beautiful view to top it all off. We sat by the water as we ate our ice cream and watched the boats motor past the marina docks… a peaceful few moments to be sure.

[John] This would definitely be a place we would revisit should we ever find ourselves nearby again. I really cherish those moments when we can sit and absorb a beautiful view with some peaceful energy. It means so much to me and this was a wonderful spot for that calm space.

[Lana] We took a short drive around to see a little more of the beautiful landscape before we arrived at the Raven and Republic, a pub that received fairly good ratings on TripAdvisor. They had a DJ playing for the patio crowd and seemed to be having a promotion for some kind of beer. We opted to eat indoors where it was a little quieter (even though there did sound like there was some kind of event going on upstairs). True to its name, the décor had a multitude of raven artwork that I actually had to walk around to inspect. We had the option of the main area close to the bar or a separate room off to the side where a large reservation was just finishing up. We chose the separate room. Despite everything else going on, and the wait staff stretched a little thin, the service was still very good and our meals arrived promptly.

[John] I was happy for the quiet corner in this place and it really was a quaint little pub. The artwork by Michelle LaRiviere did appeal to us both and it really added another dimension to the experience for us.

[Lana] After another comfortable night in the room, we checked out and made our way back to Trout Lake for breakfast at the Fifty’s Diner, which we had heard some good things about. The food was delicious and service very friendly. It is always fun when you can banter a bit with the employees.

It was then time to start the home stretch of our journey. Thanks to a reliable source (my daddio), we were strongly advised to stop in the pretty little village of Burk’s Falls. We listened, and stopped at this little shop called Circling Hawks Centre. This place is ideal if you are interested in crystals, meditation, aboriginal art, music, books, jewelry or basically anything else that tickles your fancy. However it is not just the items for sale that makes this place so special. Behind the store they have created the most peaceful area that I have ever been in. There is a tipi, babbling fountains, a fairy garden and a meditation labyrinth. There is something for everyone no matter the faith.

[John] We completely lost track of time in this place. Upon arriving at this shop, I immediately noticed the wall-sized chalkboard affixed to the front of the store. “Before I die I want to…” is a campaign by Candy Chang that was made familiar to me by a dear friend. Lana and I walked up to the board and each wrote down one thing we want to accomplish before we die (I want to see the Aurora Borealis and Lana wants to work at doing what he loves).

Entering this store, I immediately felt a new peaceful energy surrounding us but the yard in the back that Lana mentioned, took us to an entirely new height of serene thought. We each spent time in the parts of the gardens that spoke to us the most and upon realizing the time and acknowledging that we still had significant road to cover before our next planned stop, we walked through the Fairy Garden and then made our way back to the car.

[Lana] When we left, both John and I were consumed by a sense of tranquility and stillness. It was wonderful.

Huntsville was our next stop. We took a walk through the downtown core looking at a few interesting stores. We only had a short amount of time to spend in town so we simply visited a couple of the places. One of these was the Love Tree. I wanted to walk out of there with nearly every piece of art they had on display. Somehow we managed to escape with only a crystal (which they cleansed right at the cash register) and a protective pouch. We were incredibly impressed at the way they handled the problem we had when the strap on the pouch broke when John attempted to close it. They grabbed a new pouch without asking any questions and tried the strap themselves and when it snapped also, they gave us a different one made with a stronger material (after asking if the slight colour difference was acceptable).

[John] I was very happy with this service and the shop manager/owner immediately made a note to talk to the manufacturer of those pouches and she started pulling them all from the display. Not many shops would take things that seriously and so I was very grateful.

[Lana] After leaving the shop, we took a few moments to admire the dedication to Tom Thomson (an artist often associated with the famous Group of Seven…though he was never a member as he was presumed dead before the group formed) before finding a shop called The Antique Cellar.

[John] This shop was quite the experience for me. I love perusing antique shops and though I rarely intend to purchase anything it’s nice to see all the pieces that people have loved and discarded and to imagine all the histories that accompany these belongings. I tend to feel an increased energy and it isn’t often that I want to own second hand objects myself – certainly not from antique shops when I can’t know who previously owned the pieces and what their stories were. I tend to be sensitive to energies and objects can really have a strong effect on me, so I don’t usually take anything home with me.

This was the first time however, that simply being in an antique shop overwhelmed me and after a few minutes inside, I told Lana that I’d meet him outside when he was done. The air inside the shop felt thick and heavy but it was as I approached a specific display of glass and ceramic bottles and jars, my throat quickly dried and my heart began to race. I suddenly felt light-headed and nauseous and needed fresh air – the thought that actually raced through my mind was “I need to get out of here now”. I didn’t explain anything to Lana in the moment as I wanted him to enjoy the shop for himself, so I walked outside and took in some very deep breaths of fresh air. I don’t know what it was that affected me so intensely – I hadn’t touched anything in the shop at all - but after a few minutes outside, my head began to clear and by the time Lana met me outside I was almost back to normal. After another few minutes of walking outside back to the car and having a cold drink of water, I felt completely fine and ready to hit the road again. We have since been back to that same shop once and while the air still felt a bit heavy to me I did not experience anything remotely close to how I felt on the first visit.

[Lana] We got back on the road to continue our journey home and if we’d had some more time, we would have stopped in Bracebridge but I really wanted John to see Gravenhurst. I had remembered the concert stage that actually went out into the lake and always thought it was a great place for performances to take place. What we didn’t know was that there was a car show taking place in the park that afternoon. It was so crowded and we had no idea if there was an admission fee so we took another road that led us to where the steamboat cruises departed. The ship was there and we took a few photos of it and the scenery from the shore. We left knowing we weren’t going to get to see everything we had hoped to but that just solidified the fact we would need to make a return trip shortly.

[John] Gravenhurst was really pretty and the steamboat was a cool sight. Perhaps one day we will actually take the cruise and enjoy the view from the boat. This day, though we had to keep moving.

[Lana] As it was, we were running behind and had to change our coffee date with John’s uncle into dinner plans in the village of Coldwater.

[John] We hadn’t seen my uncle for a while and as we were heading south, we decided that we could detour a little bit and meet up for a visit. While getting to Coldwater was no issue for us, finding my uncle was bit more difficult. My uncle isn’t one for using a lot of words in text messages and so when we asked where to meet him, he simply said, “centre of town”. I asked Lana to read the text again for me, to make sure I wasn’t missing something and Lana confirmed there was no additional information. I had a good laugh and joked that maybe he would just be standing in the main intersection of the town and we would see him immediately. It may have taken us about an hour of texting back and forth, to finally figure out enough that we could sort of find our way to what we thought was the place we needed. The last instruction we received from my uncle was to meet him “at Tiffany”. Lana and I couldn’t figure out if that meant Tiffany Road or where we were supposed to be, but as we turned onto the street we thought we needed, we saw Tiffany Restaurant – a tiny diner that suddenly made sense to us.

We watched my uncle pull up and park in front of the diner. As he walked towards us we laughed with him as I teased him about his stellar communication skills and ability to provide directions. He’s a good-hearted guy and took it all in stride and after a quick meal and being filled in on how he was doing, we said our goodbyes and continued on south.

[Lana] Barrie would be the last stop on our prolonged road trip. Parking right by the huge sculpture, the Spirit Catcher located on the waterfront right by the marina, we watched the boats cruising over the waves on Lake Simcoe. We strolled along the shore towards a gorgeously landscaped pagoda with its own pond and waterfall. There was a tent set up for a Jazz and Blues Festival in the beautiful park (which we just missed unfortunately).

[John] We stayed here for about an hour, strolling along and taking our last moment to breathe before returning home. Barrie is a familiar place to me though to be honest, it is rarely a place I’ve pointedly made a destination unless to visit family. This was the first time I had really enjoyed a nice stroll along the shore of the bay and I was very happy we had made the stop.

[Lana] Calling an end to our meandering, we hopped in the car and headed for home. We still had a few days left on our vacation but it would be nice to have a night in our own place.

[John] It was hard to return to the city after a few days with such picturesque scenery. We reflected on our time away and felt a deep sense of gratitude for being able to live in this great place with access to our beloved Northern Ontario, as we do. Thank you Lana, for making this trip so special. It really was a lovely experience.

[Lana] Thank you John. Without you it wouldn’t have been the same.

The Trip That Almost Wasn't - Part 1

FEBRUARY 4th, 2016


[Lana] Since the fall of 2014, John and I had been looking forward to our summer 2015 holidays. We made plans for a road trip to visit some relatives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. We researched things to do in Thunder Bay and also some of the entertaining sites along the way as it was going to be nearly 20 hours of driving… not including any stops. We were ready and truly quite psyched about it.

[John] This was actually a vacation we had intended to have in the summer of 2014 but circumstances forced us to reschedule to 2015.

[Lana] Then April 2015 arrived and life happened. Events occurred which altered all of our plans and unless things improved by June, these events would mean a drive that long would unfortunately not be a possibility. Changes would be needed. Back-up plans would need to be put into place.

[John] We wanted this so badly and we needed it. As the days drew closer it was evident we would have to make some alterations but Lana was adamant that we would not cancel entirely. We did, however, have to make the tough decision to shorten the distance and we had to eliminate Thunder Bay from the equation. It was heartbreaking and it was necessary.

Having already booked our hotel at the half-way point in Sault Ste. Marie, we decided we would aim to go that distance and so we re-configured the rest of our travel plans around that stop, hoping that it would work out and we would reach Sault Ste. Marie without further hiccups.

Knowing that Sault Ste. Marie would be at least a 10-hour drive for us, not factoring in any stops along the way, we decided we would set out early and make our way to Barrie for our first coffee stop and some homemade sandwiches for breakfast. We had planned a number of stops along the way while still holding true to our planned arrival time – we had family to meet for dinner celebrations in Sault Ste. Marie and so we hit the road at 0600.

[Lana] We had set out early in the hope of crossing the city before the morning rush hour traffic had us at a standstill. Luckily, it was just starting to become congested as we turned off the major route and began cruising along, opposite to the flow of the heavier traffic. We knew we had left early enough and we would be able to make good time and enjoy the drive.

[John] Our stop in Barrie wasn’t a long one, but it was perfectly planned and gave us a chance to stretch and re-check our route before settling in for the long drive. Whenever I head north, I tend not to think of myself as being out of the city until I’ve travelled north of Barrie, so I was excited to relax into the trip and begin taking in the scenery I love so much. This province is beautiful and the further north I go, the happier I become.

[Lana] Just over an hour and a half later, we saw a sign for a definite stop in Pointe au Baril called the Moose Lake Trading Post. One of our musts on this journey was to stop at as many trading posts as we could along the way.

[John] I’m in love with Trading Posts… well, the good ones at least. It seems that they are becoming more and more like typical tourist shops and some are even approaching a boutique level, so it’s a bit tougher now to find the good ones.

[Lana] This particular shop was absolutely everything one would expect in this type of establishment. Great gift ideas, souvenirs from the area, items created by local artisans and books telling some of the community’s history, were all available at reasonable prices. Any future trips that bring us even close to the area will force us to return and spend way too much money again… just like we did this time.

[John] I’m so glad I factored the Trading Posts into the vacation budget!

[Lana] We packed our bounty into the car and set off once more. We would only make it another 45 minutes this time however, before seeing the French River Trading Post. While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Moose Lake, it was still a pretty nice store with some interesting items to peruse. This stop also offered a restaurant and restroom (neither of which we needed at the time). We didn’t spend nearly as long in this location.

[John] Yes… this wasn’t a bad one but it definitely didn’t have the charm of Moose Lake. I had visited this one before with Ma Lilies and I remember loving it at that time… but I hadn’t been to the Moose Lake Trading Post yet. French River comes in at a nice second place to Moose Lake. I think the timing worked well for us too. Perhaps it was the knowledge of the hours facing us on the road and the timeline to reach our destination or maybe we were just really tired, but the short stretch from Moose Lake to French River was perfect in the moment.

After a quick visit here we decided to push on, as we hadn’t even reached Sudbury yet.

[Lana] Even though Sudbury is a fairly large city when it comes to Northern Ontario, we didn’t stop here, as we knew we would be passing through again on our way back. We instead pressed on to Espanola where John remembered a trading post from her last journey through these parts. The North West Trading Company was not nearly what John remembered.

[John] My first visit was with Ma Lilies and I loved it. It had a great feel to it and I found some wonderful treasures. I was there again with a cousin some time later and was still very happy with it. This trip… not so much. There was nothing wrong with it but I think that I was spoiled by Moose Lake and so when we entered on this day, the feeling was very different and everything was too crowded for me.

Having said that, this is a great location for a rest, a stretch and to refuel both body and vehicle. You may also find that special treasure you’ve been looking for.

[Lana] As we were driving up to the trading post, I had happened to notice a bunch of statues in the window of what looked like an old service station or mechanic’s garage. The statues were horror-themed and quite gory. A man was wandering around with his dog and I only really took notice when he unlocked the door and went inside. We decided to stop so I could take some pictures and he informed me that his friend created the statues and that he did custom work. There would be more pieces coming soon so if we stopped in the next week there would be more to see.

I asked about a business card for the artist but this man had none and also never even told me the artist’s name. I didn’t ask anything more as I was picking up a bit of a creepy vibe from the man. We drove a short distance down the road and while we ate our lunch, discussed the strange events that just occurred.

[John] It was weird. I didn’t like it there. I don’t know what that feeling was but to say it was creepy is almost an understatement. I wanted out and was so happy when Lana returned to the car. I was even happier when we were safely out of the parking lot and back on the road. I was not comfortable there at all. At. All. Had it been more isolated, I would have expected the makings of a horror movie at hand. Complete contrast to the beauty of the land.

[Lana] I would just like to add at this point that this part of the drive through the Canadian Shield is absolutely gorgeous. The picturesque rock cuts, thick-forested areas and multitude of lakes makes you want to stop every couple of minutes to take photos. If we had paused every time we saw a worthwhile opportunity, we would have never made it to our first destination. 

[John] This really is some of my favourite section of Canada. I absolutely love driving but when I’m travelling through Northern Ontario I do find it difficult to focus on the road and not get lost in the beauty of the Shield. Rocks and trees are some of my favourite things in life and I could drive through this area every day and never be bored of the landscape. It’s also nice to see the wetlands of Ontario and count the Deaver Bams and Heaver Bouses you can catch along the way. Deaver Bams are very cool to see if you’re lucky enough to spot them while driving by and it always amazes me how large Heaver Bouses can be. 

Beavers are some incredible creatures and quite cute at that. If you ever see a Bittle Leaver… well if you’re anything like me you will smile for weeks because of it.

[Lana] Our next break came at the Serpent River Trading Post. While it didn’t have nearly the variety the earlier trading posts had, the selection it did have was beautiful. Focusing on local, Aboriginal artists, the items here would make great gifts or souvenirs especially at the reasonable pricing for hand-made art. Also attached was an art gallery featuring larger pieces that aren’t designed for simple passersby but making the location an actual destination in its own right. For anyone interested at all in Aboriginal works of art, this place is a must.

[John] We did pick up a couple of small pieces here and I look forward to a time when we can return. As Lana said, the gallery alone is worth the visit. If you are ever travelling in that area, please do stop and visit the Serpent River Trading Post.

[Lana] Realizing the time, we knew we would have to boogie along to get to Sault Ste. Marie in time to check in and freshen up before meeting our relatives for supper. With no more stops along the way, we made it to the hotel in approximately two hours. Normally I wouldn’t comment too much about a hotel especially when it is basically just a place to lay our head for one night but the service we received needs special mention in this case.

We pulled into the underground parking of the Days Inn on Bay Street and made our way to the main lobby. A busload of people was just finishing up checking in for the night. The woman at the front desk was quite jovial when we approached, even after having rushed through all those people. The process was handled quickly and efficiently and we were soon in our room with our luggage. Fifteen minutes after checking in, we received a call asking us if the room was satisfactory. I was quite impressed as this was the first time I could remember actually receiving such a call. It nearly guaranteed, in my mind at least, that we would most certainly stay at this hotel the next time we were in the “Soo.”

[John] The room itself was nice and very clean and that is always our biggest focus when we stay somewhere. We didn’t need anything fancy – just a nice, clean room and friendly, helpful service.

[Lana] We had a wonderful reunion with our relatives at Aurora’s Westside. I must say it was probably the best panzarotti I have ever had. 

[John] Lana knows his panzarottis well – it is a favourite of his and he really was quite impressed. My meal didn’t really stand out to me but I did enjoy it.

[Lana] We hope we didn’t delay them too much in their closing process as we ended up staying quite a bit later than we had intended. It had been way too long since we had seen each other so we had a lot of catching up to do…not to mention that it was the first time they had met John in person. Our waitress was very kind in taking pictures for us with our entire multitude of cameras. With the meal finished, we said our goodbyes to the family and made our way back to the hotel; day one came to a close.

[John] This was such a special night for us both and it really solidified these relationships for us. It was so great to chat and laugh over a nice meal and though the evening was short, the time was endless in our hearts. It was a long drive for a dinner date but it was worth more than we could have imagined. We retired for the evening and woke up early the next morning for another meet-up with more family, after a great breakfast at the hotel café, Absolutely Delicious (seriously… their cinnamon buns are amazing!).

[Lana] Heading out on this morning, this time we met with John’s relatives who were unable to make it for dinner the night before.

[John] My cousin and her husband met us for coffee at the Tim Horton’s around the corner from the hotel. Living so many hours away from us, these moments are few and precious. My cousin was quickly approaching her due date with baby number two and it was such a wonderful time to catch up with them that morning. It’s amazing how time whizzes by when you are rambling on about the life happenings that occur in those months and years between visits; and oh how much life can happen.

After chatting intensely for longer than we had realized, Lana and I decided we had to get back on the road. There were a couple of places we really wanted to check out before leaving the Soo and continuing on our short journey.

[Lana] The cousins suggested stopping at Superior Home Bakery knowing the love we have for éclairs. I must admit they were probably some of the best pastries I have had in a long time. It would be quite the drive just to hunt down an éclair the next time the urge hit though.

[John] True… but we are usually up for an adventure…

[Lana] That is so true.

Our next stop was the “Frontier Village” which is a collection of businesses that are in a strip mall that is designed to look like buildings from the 1800’s. They have totem poles, life-sized (and bigger) statues/sculptures and a giant moose holding a hunter by the back of his pants. I know it sounds cheesy but who doesn’t need a little cheese in their lives.

[John] Cheesy is spectacular.

[Lana] A few of the stores here we may have tried out had we not just had our little snack (The Big Moose Ice Cream Parlour, Sweet Tooth Fudge Factory, Frenchie’s Fries, Jack’s Chicken & Ribs and Wild West Pizza) but we just had no room in our bellies no matter how tempting these places seemed. Three stores did stand out, however. The anchor store is called the Chippewa Trading Post, which in actuality is basically a camping/hunting/fishing/convenience store, a little disappointing considering some of the great trading posts we had visited along the way but had we been looking for these sorts of items it would have been a great place. Luckily there is The Totem Pole, which has much more in the way of traditional trading post fare (at least in the way we have come to know them). This is the stop to grab any souvenirs you may want.

The place we found the most interesting of all was Tarot Ida’s Tea Room. This was our first time in anywhere like this type of business. Ida Miceli does Tarot spreads, reads tealeaves and does palmistry. Both John and I decided to have our palms read (the results of which we are going to keep private considering the personal nature of such a thing). If we had it to do again, we would keep our sessions separate so we could compare notes after the fact, and record them so we would have a copy to look back on just to see how much actually came true. What I would like to do is find another palm reader and see if their results are similar to the ones we received that day.

[John] I don’t know where I stand on palm reading. This little shop was cute though I did feel like we were a little pressured into receiving a service. It was an interesting experience for sure but I was deeply skeptical, though happy to have tried it out. I was certainly curious to hear the reading.

[Lana] With a lot of shopping and eating on the trip so far, it was time to get in a little dose of nature. Just north of town (and I would suggest using a map here) is Crystal Falls at Kinsman Park. Once you find the park, it is relatively easy to get to the falls. A boardwalk has been built to take you to the midway point where you can get some amazing photos. The water cascades down into a large basin which looks as though it would be an outstanding place to take a swim…something which is unfortunately prohibited for safety’s sake. Had we only worn the proper shoes, we could have continued to the top of the falls where a bridge crosses the flowing water. As it was though, this was quite a peaceful and calming experience and one that I think we both needed. 

[John] This was exactly what we needed! It was absolutely a perfect experience and gave us the necessary opportunity to open up and breathe. Our shoulders dropped, our minds cleared and we were in the moment. It was so hard to leave this place and it was hard to share too… the more people to arrive and take in the beauty, the harder it was to be in the moment. It really was a spectacular place though and just thinking about it now as I write, I’m transported back to that space and energy. I wish we could go there again soon and have more time to spend just taking it all in. 

[Lana] It suddenly occurred to us that it was after three in the afternoon and we had a four-and-a-half-hour drive ahead of us if we didn’t make any stops and that was very unlikely to happen. We had to get moving…North Bay was calling us.

[John] It was really hard to leave Sault Ste. Marie less than 24 hours after arriving and it was harder still to not continue northward as we had originally planned; but we hopped in the car and made our way east on the road we had just travelled the day before… grateful for the opportunity and time we had just experienced and so deeply thankful for the time we had with such incredible family in our short hours there.

Google image, map of Ontario - Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay.

Google image, map of Ontario - Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay.