blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ottawa to Peterborough

Approaching Peterborough airport
We spent the Easter weekend flying across Ontario, staying at Peterborough, on the Otonabee River, and Kingston, on Lake Ontario, where the St. Lawrence River starts to flow towards the 1000 Islands. It was our first flying trip of the year, a short and simple excursion because of the risks incurred by changeable weather at this time of year. We can fly in cloud, but didn't want to fly into icing conditions at the higher levels.

Cliffs of the Bon Echo Provincial Park
We filed IFR from Ottawa to Peterborough, flying at 4000ft. There was minimal cloud at Ottawa and even less at Peterborough, but in between the sky was covered and, soon after crossing the Ottawa River, we were flying through the base of the clouds. They were in a thin layer at first but thickened over the higher ground where the lakes and forests are. Very little turbulence. From time to time I could see the ground quite clearly, such as the dramatic landscape around the Bon Echo park (one day I'd like to see those cliffs from a canoe in the water. Mazinaw Rock, a cliff 100m high, has native pictographs drawn upon it). Otherwise we were flying in IMC at around 0ºC and the drizzle was beginning to freeze on our aircraft's surfaces and spatter the wheels with a white rime ice. This was not enough frozen stuff to be concerned about; clear ice from freezing rain would have been much more worrisome. ATC told us that a pilot had reported icing at 6000ft but that flying at 4500ft and below "should be no problem."

Beyond the half way point the views became gradually clearer, but Chris insisted on flying the full instrument RNAV approach to runway 27 at our destination which, when we landed, we hardly recognised. Peterborough airport has had a thorough and expensive face lift since our last visit, acquiring several new hangars, workshops, parking for Bombardier jets and a stylish terminal building that includes a bistro serving remarkably good food (freshly battered fish 'n' chips with coleslaw, in our case). Outside it, various small aircraft were parked, including a Wilga 80 with tundra wheels that was attracting attention. During lunch we watched it take off, using hardly any of the runway to get airborne.

We asked the Esso people to fuel PTN and parked her on the apron for the night without ropes, having forgotten to bring any. This made us realise that we needed to buy some new ones that don't freeze in the winter when wet. We did so at Boater's World the following morning.

Peterborough City Hall, George Street
At Peterborough for the night, we stayed at the Otonobee Inn, a Best Western on a bank of Meade Creek (tributary of the Otonobee River). It gave us a quiet, spacious room, with breakfast and wi-fi use included in the price. Carol and Don were staying at this hotel as well; we shared breakfast with them on Saturday after I'd swum for half an hour in the pool. On Friday afternoon we walked from the hotel into town, past a cemetery and "Little" Lake, at the business end of which was a marina and an art gallery with pieces of sculpture nearby. Feeling too warm wearing our winter jackets in the mild weather, we walked most of the way up George Street as far as the City Hall. A maple tree in the war memorial park had responded to the sunshine too and was crowned with maple flowers. This is where Carol and Don picked us up to meet a relative of theirs who studies French and History at Trent University.

Seven of us had supper on George Street too, at the Olde Stone Brewpub, where I talked to the girl about her studies and later at some length to Chris about this too, because she didn't seem to have been as excited by Racine, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Camus and company as I'd been, when I was a student of French. Walking back to the hotel in the dark, fortified by the food and distracted by my thoughts on the subject, the distance didn't seem half so long as before.

Talking of the French literature in which I have wallowed, I saw the new film of Mauriac's novel Thérèse Desqueroux in Ottawa last night, starring Audrey Tautou––formidable!––I had better make that the subject of a different blogpost.

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