Chris checked the minimum en route altitude (10000ft) and the winds at that altitude (headwinds, 40 knots) and decided it would be better to take a less direct route at a lower altitude (4000ft), stopping at Lindsay. So our first leg was CYRO-CNF4, via the V-300 airway. We went IFR. Strato-cumulus were being blown north east and the skies around Ottawa were busy with traffic, some of it entertaining crowds at a local airshow: "F-18 circling Carp at your twelve o'clock, two miles..." (a far more streamlined flyer than PTN, emitting a trail of smoke from his back-end) and with him, a Harvard trainer. Meanwhile another aircraft was preparing to release a load of parachutists: "Drop at your discretion!" said the controller. Beyond Carp we had the sky to ourselves, flying under alto stratus and then into increasing cloudiness, with bigger, darker clouds over the Haliburton Highlands concealing embedded towering cumulus. We kept a close eye on our strikefinder that was once again displaying a trace of lightning strikes in that direction.
We approached Lindsay through a benign shower after about two hours of flying; the sun was already drying the tarmac as we touched down and two coyotes scuttled off the runway, one to the right, one to the left carrying something in its mouth, either a cub or something it had caught. I'd packed sandwiches, but the Airportview restaurant's all-day breakfast is a better option, complete with fresh and crispy home fries. A line of heavier showers was in the vicinity, the radar display of them monitored carefully by the pilots waiting to fly, and while this weather passed by, Chris and I stretched our legs for a couple of miles past the wriggling Go-kart track, edged with old tyres, and through the farmland.
Mid-afternoon we took off again, CNF4-CYEE. As our weather briefing had warned us, we ran into showers over Lake Simcoe which didn't develop into anything significant until we had flown through and left them behind (as witnessed by our trusty strikefinder). After landing at Huronia airport we found accommodation at the inexpensive but comfortably adequate Red Carpet Inn on Yonge Street, booking a taxi to take us there.
The airport is a ten minute drive from the town of Midland, originally inhabited by the Wendat / Ouendat people. In 1610, Samuel de Champlain sent Étienne Brûlé to live with them and learn about their culture. Champlain himself paid a visit in 1615. A Jesuit mission was established here in the 1630s, led by Père Brébeuf who was eventually killed: the Catholics, calling him and his confrères martyrs, have erected a massive shrine in the vicinity to house their bones. In 1793, J G Simcoe (after whom Lake Simcoe is named) established a naval base in Penetanguishene Bay and when the lumber companies, steamship companies and railway companies arrived, the place was in business, with grain being shipped to Ohio and coal coming back in return (the Midland Coal Dock Company operated from 1901 until the 1960s). We learned some of this while walking along the waterfront trail before and after supper at Scully's Crab Shack, past the Unimin plant with its not unattractive mountains of gravel lit by the evening sun. Beyond the moored boats, the bay itself, part of Georgian Bay with its so-called 30,000 Islands, seemed peaceful and alluring.
Midland looks like a prosperous town, with recently landscaped or well maintained parks all around, and big houses old and new. It is home to what Chris called "a disconcerting number of dentists" and the history of the town is shown by the murals of ships, trains, Hurons and missionaries on every available vertical surface, from the wall of the supermarket to the row of silos in the harbour.
Early to bed and late to rise, and this morning the sky was covered in low clouds; once again it was just as well Chris has his IFR rating. After a Search and Rescue helicopter had come in from Trenton and after we'd glanced at the large scale maps used by its crew, we took off into the stratus and maintained a climb to 7000ft, taking a bearing towards the NDB at Muskoka, then, when our instruments told us we were over it, taking the "Victor" airways to Killaloe and thence towards Ottawa. Just before Killaloe, our routing was changed from the direct V370 to Ottawa to the indirect V 363 which goes via a waypoint called ONDOB, not in our GPS database. Chris therefore had to navigate towards it using conventional navigation devices rather than the GPS: good practice. For some short periods we could see something out of the window, either the cloudscape or patches of landscape through holes in it, but we were mostly inside clouds, growing as the result of a low pressure trough and the warm, damp air surrounding us, so that some of them were rather turbulent in their centres. It's a lovely feeling to come out the other side of such clouds and see blue sky ahead.