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.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Peterborough to Kingston, then home

Easter Saturday was a beautiful day. We launched ourselves into the air after saying goodbye to Don and Carol who had kindly given us a lift to the airport, Don interested in the modified Chipmunk that was parked there. A radial engine had been fitted to it, and an extra fuel tank underneath the fuselage that looked like a bomb.

The eastern part of Rice Lake
Chris found the oil very sluggish in the cold, so PTN was reluctant to start. He frightened me by saying that the engine would burst into flames if we primed it any more, but at the final attempt it worked. We had a lovely ride to Kingston––at least, I did. Chris was so engrossed in his GPS and other instruments he missed too much of the views, in my opinion––we were seeing less and less snow in the fields, the closer we got to Lake Ontario. The visibility was good enough for us to make out the Toronto skyscrapers to the west and the Oswego cooling tower on the American side of Lake Ontario, over 50 miles away. First, though, we crossed Rice Lake, startlingly white against its islands and the surrounding landscape, still unthawed. I leaned across and took a picture through Chris' window.

Beach near Trenton
Solar farm near Cobourg
Predictably, the shore of the great lake was  fascinating. I saw Port Hope and Cobourg, a goods train moving along, solar farms and wind farms. The water was transparent down to the lake bed. Near Trenton the long stretches of white sand on the beaches and the turquoise blue might give the illusion of a tropical shore, if it weren't for the remains of ice in the lagoons. I expect the military families of the Trenton airbase go swimming there in the summer. We kept the airfield in sight and had to talk to the ATC at Trenton "tower" on the way through their airspace. There was no other traffic, so we may have been a welcome relief to their boredom on that day.

Murray canal from the air, Chris' photo
Approaching Prince Edward County, the headland that juts out massively into Lake Ontario, we noticed an unnaturally straight waterway, a canal:
The Murray Canal was built between 1882 and 1889 providing a safer and shorter route for sailing vessels following the north coast of Lake Ontario between Niagara and Kingston. This saved time required to reach the communities in the Bay of Quinte from the west end of the lake, saving early captains the one hundred mile trip outside around Prince Edward County.
This canal effectively turns Prince Edward County into an island.

Like the "early captains" mentioned in the Wikipedia quotation above, we navigated straight towards Kingston, not following the coast proper, where the sandbanks are, but the long, thin Bay of Quinte, with Belleville off our left wing. I was entranced by the sight of the pack ice breaking up and fractals of ice shards in the bay. Nearer to Kingston, passing Amherst Island, we could see the controversial wind farm on Wolfe Island––86 turbines managed by TransAlta Energy now make their presence felt, and it looks as though they'll soon be cluttering up Amherst Island as well. (Later in the day we took the ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island and back, a free ride both for foot passengers and vehicles. Our "cruise," Chris called it.)

On the descent, we heard John on the Kingston airwaves coming in to land from Ottawa. We'd arranged by email to meet him for lunch and when we arrived at the FBO he was getting a folding bike out of his 'plane, with the intention of cycling into the town instead of sharing a taxi with us, part of his keep fit strategy. He met us again at the new Marriott hotel where we were checking in, upgraded because of our early arrival or because the hotel manager wants to make a good impression on new visitors in the hope that they'll return. So for $123 (including the taxes) we had a nicely decorated suite with a complete kitchen (not that we needed it), a king-sized bed, a settee, free internet access, free breakfasts and a lake view. The Residence Inn also boasted a salt water pool that I made use of that evening: two swims in one day! We were very lucky with that price; from now on, with the tourist season beginning, it will rise. However, I shall add a note to self here that the people at the Esso FBO promise their customers an excellent deal at a rival waterfront hotel (the Holiday Inn) all summer long, if we book the room from their office at the airport.

Kingston Public Market
Everyone in town was appreciating the sunny afternoon despite a chilly wind. The marina was still covered in a thin layer of ice, but Queens University students in shorts were jogging along the lakeside trails and the Kingston market was back in business, selling spring flowers, maple syrup, pussy willow twigs, fruit and vegetables, beeswax products and honey.

Keeping the engine warm with plug-in heat and nose cover
Next day, the weather was forecast to deteriorate, so we flew back to Ottawa in the morning, making sure that PTN had a warm engine before start-up, this time. A stiff gusty wind was blowing at ground level but to my surprise and relief there was no turbulence at altitude although we were swept along by a tail wind, cutting 10-15 minutes off the usual journey time for this route. Both sky and scenery were grey, but interesting––I have mentioned and illustrated our view of the Rideau River meandering through Smiths Falls in my river blog.

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