Algonquin Tour

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Journal Installment

Greetings from the Algonquin Tour!

We've started off here in lovely Arnprior enjoying a sunny day camping at the Galilee Centre. The past week and a bit has been jam-packed with five days of training at the Riverglen Farm and our first few days of cycling and performing. After an amazing first public performance at the Ottawa farm on Wednesday evening, we were off on Thursday to present our play, "Choices", and the workshop, "The Banana Chain Game," to a group of 50 students at St. Pius High School. There weremany questions and interest expressed by the students about what can be done to stop climate change. Afterwards, we were on to Carp, a ride that was, well, a little windy! Clara, my bike buddy for the day, encouraged me by calling it "awesome resistance training!" Indeed, my body was resisting!

We performed again yesterday for a smaller but very receptive crowd at the Galilee Centre. It was eye opening to hear about the particular environmental concerns of the community such as uranium mining and sewage treatment.


As my minutes on this library computer trickle to an end, I bid you farewell on behalf of the team! More updates are soon to come!



Second Journal Installment



After our fabulous time in Arprior staying and performing at the Galilee Centre and at the Black Canvas vegan café (incidentally, both places had Be the Change displayed in their establishments – weird eh?), we cycled off to Renfrew. In Renfrew, we stayed at the Recreation Centre in their games room. It was fabulous, as there were showers and a kitchen and we made wonderful labour intensive meals of dhal and chapattis and vegan pizza and all sorts of other things, YUM! Clearly, we had made progress on our food mandate, which will be vegetarian and seasonal as much as possible with the possibility of local and hopefully certified organic cheese and eggs if straight from the farm. In keeping with this local mandate, we indulged in some Tracey's ice cream for a yummy local treat, straight from the Tracey's factory/store! Although we had no performances, the mayor came to visit us, and we made our own fun by having a rockin' dance party in the basement with an MP3 playing CD player lent to us by the Rec centre staff, yay dance party!! We were in Renfrew for 2 nights.

Morning Glory Intentional Community – Killaloe

After Renfrew we set off to Killaloe in what was supposed to be a 50km ride. It turned out to be 83km, with an unanticipated hilly dirt road at the end which would not accommodate our fully loaded road bikes and hybrids. Brutal. Its one thing to ride 83 km when you know you have to ride 83 km and can mentally prepare, but it's another to just have the destination elude you again and again and again, plus having this impassable dirt road as the cherry on top. This somewhat harrowing journey resulted in mild/medium grouchiness upon arrival, but this dissipated as the magic of Morning Glory took over.


Morning Glory is a remote intentional community in the Wilno hills near Killaloe, and it has been an intentional community for over 40 years. The farm was a Polish farm before Rob Anderman and a friend bought it with some inheritance for $4,000 in the late 60's, and its now home to three generations of his and Christina's family, and eight other households. Among other things, the intentional community makes and sells Cool Hemp products (non-dairy ice cream cups, bars, cookies, seeds, etc). Rob, aka Beaver, was part of a back-to-the-land movement in the 60's which saw many people buy up the cheap land around Killaloe to live a simple homesteading life. Beaver, Christina and Morning Glory were profiled in a Toronto Star special in October 2007.


When we arrived, Christina brought us over a wild salad with dandelions, camphor, nettles, lemon balm, catnip, garlic greens, green onion, sweetgrass, and some flowers. She taught some of us how to identify and pick them and we picked our own wild salad the next night. We camped atop a hill, but congregated and ate in a farmhouse which had no running water, occupied by Tom, a former physics major and Kanata high tech employee who now lives at Morning Glory where he paints and reads and writes and tends a garden. We helped move wood on the farm and hang laundry with Christina, and played charade theatre games at night with some neighbours and sons. We also attended a community lecture on Green Buildings in Killaloe put on by the Ottawa River Institute which was fabulous.


On our second day, we managed to secure a performance at Killaloe Public School. Some of us walked into town (our bikes were useless on the dirt road) taking time to see the country and enjoy each other's company. How often do you have two hours to walk anywhere?! Unbeknownst to us, the Principal had asked for the script the night before to review it, and when we arrived she asked that we remove any bathroom references, which we did. I think her alarm bells went off when we confirmed that the Catholic school down the street was not interested…but the performance went well and she was happy! That school was already doing a lot, recycling, composting, tree planting, etc…the kids wanted to buy our T-Shirts!!


After the performance, four of us gave a radio interview on the local Killaloe radio station which was awesome. Peter, the host, found out about us at the Green Buildings talk, and we were on air for about 45 minutes answering questions and explaining Otesha; he had lived on Morning Glory farm for five years, and told us about how the Morning Glory wise women's healing circles had been a great help to local teenage girls struggling with self-esteem and depression. Tukker Gomberg had a show on that radio station, one of the few non-campus community radio stations in Canada.


After the radio performance, we were supposed to go back to Morning Glory for a community potluck dinner. Unfortunately, one of our tour members Andrew fell ill after the radio show and we had to go to the hospital; he's doing much better now although he's had to take some time off. Although we were stuck at the hospital, our wonderful crew members brought pot luck remnants to the hospital where we enjoyed them right in the hospital room! Out of all the yummy dishes, my personal highlight was the rhubarb pie Christina made from a cook book called Simply in Season, which was also used by our very talented Otesha chefs during training week. I plan to get my hands on copy upon my return! 


During those three glorious days and nights at Morning Glory and in Killaloe I saw many things first hand which I had only really read about before: self-sufficiency, living off the land, doing without while being comfortable, and the "safety of being rich with nothing" (Tom quote!). We stayed at Morning Glory Farms for three nights.



After Morning Glory, we cycled 34 km to Combermere, where we made it just in time for our 1pm performance at George Vanier separate school. We performed again to younger kids, and we did the workshop this time as well. Before the performance, we were sitting on a dock on the lake by the school having lunch when a young man on a bicycle approached us and started chatting. His name was Derek, and he lived at Madonna house, a contained Christian community of about 100 people right across from the school where we performed in Combermere. He shared his story with us about how he was a high level bureaucrat in the provincial ministry of natural resources, but despite this excellent job and benefits, he felt like something was missing in his life. So after a few visits, he ended up coming to Madonna house where he has been for a year and a half. He is an "applicant" and is preparing to become a full fledged member, which will mean that he will take promises of poverty, chastity and obedience.  

Derek came to see our play at the school then afterwards he took many of us on a tour of Madonna house. We congregated out front, and they brought us into the kitchen where we got some tea and bread that they had made by hand. We saw all the people cooking in the kitchen, and then went to the library to have our tea where Derek explained the Madonna house history: it was founded by a lady who was active in race politics in the U.S. and came to Canada for a rest, but ended up founding this religious community. It has houses all over the world, but the one in Combermere is the largest. Madonna house is more like a settlement, and they took us on a tour of the various buildings.


Their crafts, art and repair area was really extensive, and had highly organized stations for pot "begging" (their word not mine) for donations which they either fix and sell for money (in addition to their other fine crafts) or sell to the poor for a very small amount. They also grow most of their own food in a greenhouse, and fix cars in the shop, and maintain a museum which depicts life in the turn of the century. The residents elect three leaders of Madonna house, and accept any and all visitors for any length of time. The visitors and the applicants don't have to take the three promises, but they do participate fully in the life of the community, which involves prayer, work, food, celebrations, etc. Residents and applicants have to ask permission before they spend their own money. Fascinating! 

We stayed in a camp ground on a lake which had pay showers (yay!) and we had a camp fire where we roasted marshmallows…yum! We stayed in Combermere one night.

Dragon Fly intentional community, near Lake St. Peter

We set out the next morning in the pouring rain on a 47km bike ride to Dragon Fly intentional community in the hilliest part of the Canadian shield through some of the highest points in Ontario. We thought the bike was going to be 30km, and were not at all anticipating the almost comical hills. The bike was the most difficult to date, even worse than the impromptu 83 km one, because the terrain was so ridiculously hilly. The hills were huge and in rapid succession - it was like a roller coaster except you have to get your own fully loaded cart up the hill with your own sorry little legs… It was so mind-boggling, that I actually had to take a picture of a hill when I came across another one, just to prove to others that in fact there were so many.  I only walked up a half of a hill, and I was proud.


Dragon Fly came into existence 30 years ago, when 10 anarchist friends bought a piece of land collectively. Today, there is only one person who "lives" there, and he is not one of the original 10. This lone resident Vince actually spends most of his time in another house, and was quite vocal about the dysfunctional nature of this intentional community. He explained that while none of the 10 people live there any more, in order for any decision to be made about the property they all have to agree because they function on consensus.


The property has a greenhouse, but it's the property of only one of the members, and so there is no collective enterprise. They have been fighting recently about getting names off of the deed and other land use issues, but what unites the group says Vince, is a shared belief in anarchism. Vince explained that anarchism works for a week every year during the Rainbow festival, which is a week long, free gathering of people in a different state every year. The rest of the time, he said, it makes getting things done difficult. He struggled with having all his labour at Dragon Fly go to the collectivity, when he would rather it go to his son. I guess we all struggle within our institutional structures, even if our goal is not to have any.  

We stayed in the upstairs rooms at the house, and made a lovely dinner of hot soup and bread. We were given some maple syrup by Stu, one of the visitors, and were entertained by Andy who told us crazy stories of the former residents and what life is like in the quiet of the hills…we stayed at Dragon Fly for one night.



After having never visited a commune of any kind, other than a summer camp, seeing three different types of intentional communities in three days was totally fascinating. Morning Glory was largely family-based, and was united by sustainability and self-sufficiency values and was engaging in commerce through the Cool Hemp company. Madonna house was a highly organized religious community which espoused may of the same values of self-sufficiency and living simply, but were explicitly beggars, and functioned by repairing old things and selling them (in addition to whatever church money there was). Dragon Fly was a property which several friends bought collectively and which was loosely united through anarchist values. Many lessons about social organization were learned and many questions raised! 


After we left Dragon Fly, we left for Whitney which was a 28km cycle. There were hills, but it certainly wasn't as bad as the previous day. We are staying in the basement of a Catholic Church, and are 5 km away from Algonquin Park. It's been so great to be indoors as its been really cold and raining…We leave tomorrow am and have a presentation at 7pm. The Algonquin tour is entering Algonquin Park, finally!


Signing off!  

Shaquaiquai/Stefanie and Otesha's Algonquin Tour 2008

Third Journal Installment

This is how you call a moose. First, you have to cup your hands together, ensuring the index fingers are touching. Then, you put your thumbs together, lower your mouth towards your hands and then yell out…..HEY MOOSE!


Well, it must have worked since at least half of the team members saw a moose while biking through Algonquin Park. There was plenty more to see, and see it we did. Hiking trails, hiked. Visitor's centre, visited. Picnics spot, picnicked.

Our last 11 kilometers into Algonquin Park were the most challenging. The road was not paved however after the team survived the adventure down the gravelly road to Morning Glory we were able to get there in no time. Once at Camp Arrowhon, we were informed our performance would be a little later in the evening and as such, took the opportunity to take in the beauty of the camp and their numerous tennis courts. Following dinner, we gave a performance to about 120 high school Quebecois students who were at the camp for English immersion. Despite some technical problems and a tour member feeling under the weather that evening, the performance went well. The youth seemed to enjoy it and laughed a fair bit throughout. We felt we were successful this day too…no one was eaten by a bear.


May 21, we woke up to snow. Yes, you read that right, snow. After quickly switching to our winter tires and deicing the windshields of our cute little bikes, we pulled on our woolies and hit the road. Now, there were claims that the Frost Centre was in Dorset, our destination of the day. However, once we passed the booming metropolis that is Dorset and continued to pedal our little hearts out through some hilly terrain, we realized we were in for a bit more of trek. 25 kilometers later, we were at the Frost Centre, and luckily it was well worth it. Some tour members, perhaps the two writing this journal, decided the best way to cool down from their extreme trip was to jump into the lake in front of the house. Quickly we realized that the ice had only fully melting two weeks previously. Other tour members later performed this dip in the lake the following day, though their attempts could never replace the spontaneity of the first tour members to jump. To their credit, they were naked.

The Frost Centre was once a government run facility that trained the Ministry of Natural Resources. But after some governmental shuffling, it is now run by a private company and focuses on environmental education for students and summer camp goers. While at the centre, we were visited by Kirsten and Kyla who shared a lot of their environmental knowledge of the area including how the Trent Severn Canal, which is used by pleasure boats to link Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay, drains the Haliburton Lake. They also offered to let the group go canoeing the next morning, allowing the evening to end on a positive note.

In the morning it became apparent that bike skills were not transferable to canoeing skills. But we all tried our hardest and no one drowned and no boats were tipped. Yes, lack of deadly injury is how we measure success. Despite not getting wet while canoeing, on our bike ride to Haliburton, the heaven opened and all those dry shoes and dry shirts, which we were so careful preserved getting in and out of the canoes in the morning, we drenched by buckets upon buckets of rain. By the time we got to Haliburton, the sun was shining. St. George's Anglican Church had agreed to let us stay there, and even when they saw us coming, still dripping wet with rain, they allowed us to use their basement. Thank you St. George's!


Honey Update:

The following items are still missing.

-Previous tour member, Andrew

-Amy's eye infection

-Clara's flashlight

-Greg's sweater which disappeared before the purchase of the honey, but we are still suspicious.

It is suspected that they have fallen into the clutches of the 25lbs bucket of honey. Tour members have formed a honey subcommittee to investigate. Equipped with their spoons, justice will be served.

Fourth Journal Installment

Once upon a time, there was a team of magical dwarfs (metaphorically speaking) who biked from village to town, spreading the magic of change through their magical wands; wands that were disguised as ordinary looking bikes. And even though these wands were disguised, the variety and diversity within them was evident from their shapes, colours and styles. The bike rainbow was purple, and red, and various shades of blue, yet each one proudly held a dwarf with a recycled t-shirt perched precariously atop.


And while these dwarves were dwarves because of their mystical ability to sneakily spread magical change through their screechy yet mesmerizing voices, they also needed to reach out to those (like you) who were not able to hear these sounds and see these magical wands (aka bikes). There and then, the dwarves decided that in spite of their telepathic abilities, it would also be good to write about their journeys, for writing with a dandelion dancing in the wind is far funner then connecting through invisible mind waves. And so they took turns to use these dandelion pens, recording periodically their journey's "notes from the road'. The turns were going well, until encountering two dwarves who couldn't get the dandelions to work. Well, the dandelions actually worked fine, but these two dwarves just were not able to find out the exact right way of holding them. And so they struggled, and struggled. Sometimes, they would sit down after a dinner, and talk, hoping they could teach each other to use these dandelion. At other times, they would walk out to a coffee shop in the hopes that scent of coffee beans and the view of large glass windows would motivate them to fill leaves full of their tales, but yet they were unfruitful Until now that is!! The winds have clearly changed for the leaves have started to fill with scribbles of water from the lakes. And even though these leaves are late in coming, the leaves have bud nevertheless! The two dwarves  are overjoyed at finally having learnt how to hold dandelions and the other dwarves are beaming for they have been anxious for their friends and family to read about the secrets hidden within the leaves.

Above, we've attempted to explain the reasoning behind this installment's delay.

~ Greg and Fatima   

Fifth  Journal Installment

May 22nd - May 25th: Haliburton

Haliburton was memorable for a number of different reasons: the prevalence of local art was strong in  the few lake-side streets, and the spirit of the town matched this flare. We found a really neat organic coffee shop that had an entire page in its menu dedicated to detailing its environmentally-friendly efforts. But it was inside the Anglican Church at Haliburton where we decided to take the ultimate garbage challenge! What is the garbage challenge you ask? Well, it is where the tour members agreed to carry all garbage that is produced from this date onwards. The challenge applied to both individual garbage that was a by product of indulging in any luxuries such as bars of freshly made fudge, as well as garbage produced by the kitchen crew during their cooking adventures. In-depth discussion took place at how exactly the garbage would be transported from town to town, with arguments made that transporting garbage in the car would not really send as strong of a message of the repercussion of our purchases while increasing the carbon emissions of the car. For that reason and for the sake of challenging ourselves to the awesome max (as we are Team Awesome), it was decided that interested tour members would carry their garbage on top of their panniers. As we write this, it has been over 20 days since this decision, and while the candy wrappers do seem to be piling up, this decision has made us more mindful during our evening walks and days off.


May 25 - May 27, 2008: Bracebridge

Bracebridge was a point of fascination for a couple of different reasons: Bracebridge United Church, who hosted the team, was well-used by people living in the surrounding areas and it was a real pleasure to see a community resource being used to its full potential. Similarly, the minister of the church, Nancy, was super cool and among many other unimagined favours, had baked us these insanely delicious cookies and caramel squares. She was also the individual who had publicized our performance on the evening of the 26th. This performance not only brought out well over 30 people but also allowed us set a record for the most number of books sold and most donations collected of any performance. But all this record-setting pales in comparison to an offer that was made by one of the audience members: to go paint balling the next morning. While most of us were super excited to try it for the first time, it was felt that it was important to hold a discussion surrounding the environmental impacts of the sport, and the general idea of supporting something that requires a substantial amount of money to be spent merely for recreational purposes. Alas, after much drawn-out Otesha-style consideration of the ethics of participating, it was decided we would go. And what a great idea that was! It turns out that the paint balls used are biodegradable and the owners of the range are very earth-minded. In fact, we even got to see a spruce grouse that is miraculously surviving  in the middle fo the paint ball field: somewhat protected, incredibly bold. Through the whole experience, along with raising team spirit, we were also able to find a solution to war and towards world peace: simply fill the warring nations' guns with paint balls... it would allow people to engage in the action and achieve motives (such as gaining status, medals, bottles of moonshine etc) but without risking civilians lives and their security and well being. One last claim of fame for Bracebridge is being home to the birth of "Morning Choices Play, Version 2.0.". There were many ideas thrown around during this process, for instance, at one point, the play was based on an alien visit to earth. In fact, we had even brought a very shiny aluminium foil thing from the thrift store to serve as the aliens' arms. While that idea was later scrapped, there were many laughs and a few frowns during this process of revamping the play. Needless to say, we all have gained a heightened sense of appreciation for script (and other creative) writers through this experience.


May 27 - May 28, 2008: Rosseau

We rolled into Rosseau Lake College just in time for a much appreciated and tantalizing dinner. Amidst a busy dining hall of high school boarding students and heaping plates, we were introduced to a young science teacher who nearly overflowed with environmental knowledge and enthusiasm. We learned of RLC's windings and workings: how the students have prescribed wake times, assigned homework durations, and a weekend retreat consisting of a candy shop and a Tim Hortons' and yet still, almost mysteriously, mostly beam with ambition. These attitudes made our play presentation the next morning one of the best received yet. After 240 attentive high-school eyes followed us with fewer than normal snickering quips, we were asked a whole slew of excellent questions, including the principal desiring to make RLC into a model campus of sustainability, and another student asking what we'd each do if we were prime minister right then and there. We did workshops for two large classes after the performance, which continued the spirit created by brilliant and motivated students. We even had to throw together another impromptu workshop for the same students who wanted to know more: it wrought many tangible actions which the RLC folk want to employ. After the day's success, Amy was crowned master wordsmith after writing a song for nearly every one of each the fire attendee's (which was mostly only us as the eleven o'clock bedtime sent RLC enthusiasts away to dream sweet dreams) requests. The chorus of the culminating piece, which of course was about dwarves, rang through the star filled night: "Hey shorty, don't you know where the gold's at-at-at!". It wouldn't be last time this song graced the dwarves shiny fleet as they rode of towards Perry Sound the next day.

~ Greg and Fatima   

Le Sixième Chapitre -- The Algonquin Tour's Journal, en français!

La nuit du 28 mai fut une nuit très mouvementée. Nous dormaons au parc provincial de Killbear. Après 74 kilomètres de route, la fatigue nous emporte dans nos tentes pour une bonne nuit de sommeil. Une surprise commence à se faire entendre, la vie sauvage du parc se réveille. Nous avions reçu plusieurs avertissements sur l'importance de ne laisser aucune nourriture sur le terrain. Malgré ses conseils, l'experte du groupe en camping, Amy a décidé de ne pas les suivre. Elle a alors donné une invitation à la sauvagerie de nous visiter, résultat : impossible de dormir pour le groupe , nous sommes attaqués par une bande de ratons laveurs qui ne cherchaient pas notre nourriture mais plutôt notre identité. Ils sont partis avec le porte-feuille de Stephanie, et ils ont reniflés nos tentes toute la nuit. Le lendemain, le 29 mai, nous nous levons épuisés, mais prêts pour notre journée étant donne tous les rires de la nuit dernière.  Nous avons une journée complète d'ateliers au festival de conservation de l'eau.  L'équipe a su mettre sa créativité à l'épreuve en changeant la chaine des bananes pour la chaine productive d'eau. Nous avons reçu une belle réponse des jeunes et tout le monde s'est bien amuse.

Le soir du 29, on prend un temps pour admirer le beau coucher de soleil sur un rocher de la baie Georgienne.  Encore une fois, la nuit est pénible par la venue de notre charmante bande de rations laveurs. Nous avons même crée une chanson à leur honneur qui s'intitule : Ballad of the Coon Doggie. Le matin du 30, on prend la route jusqu'à Parry Sound. Nous présentons à l'école secondaire devant 120 etudiants. À Parry Sound, nous rencontrons 2 étoiles Oteshiennes, Amanda, une jeune fille ayant participée à une tournée à vélo et une femme avec un grand cœur, Gloria, une bénévole qui nous ouvrit ses portes pour notre mi-programme.

Notre mi-programme à la maison d'Alex et Gloria du 31 mai au 1 juin fut incroyable. L'hospitalité de nos hôtes fut impressionnante : bonne bouffe, grandes conversations, bonne bouffe, un grand confort, bonne bouffe, belle ambiance et ....bonne bouffe! Le ventre toujours plein, nous avons pu parler de nos expériences durant la première partie de cette aventure et de nos attentes et espoirs pour le mois à venir. Le départ fût très difficile, non seulement nous étions tristes de se dire au revoir, mais tellement full de bonne bouffe qu'il fut physiquement pénible de retourner sur nos velos.


C'était parfait d'avoir autant mangé, puisque le 2 juin, nous avons une journée record de 106 kilomètres, jusqu'au parc provincial 6 miles ou nous avons été reçus par des milliers de moustiques et des centaines de goelands affamés. Le 3 juin, on reprend la route jusqu'à Midland pour présenter notre pièce dans un centre ecologique nommé W . Marsh. Le groupe a pu visiter de ce fait même le village historique Sainte-marie des Hurons. Une surprise nous attends à l'heur de notre présentation, un grand record de 4 personnes, dont 1 journaliste asssite à notre pièce. 

Le 4 juin, au matin, on prend nos vélos pour la plus splendides des excursions de la tournée.  Nous bordons la Baie Georgienne pour des kilometres jusqu'au parc provincial de Craighleight, situé directement sur la baie.  La Baie nous fait penser à l'océan étant donné son immensité, sa beauté et son naturel.  Quel beau temps!!!!!

Seventh Journal Entry


The Rainy, Grand, Glorious Adventures of Team Awesome

The Unabridged Tale, as told by Kara (Kira/Clara...who are apparently one in the same, according to most team members)


Thursday, June 5th - Creative Encounters in Collingwood.

9am, The Oteshites have downed their delicious granola and soymilk, a welcomed change from the labour intensive buffet of 7 grain gruel accompanied by our 25 lb bucket of honey(to be accurate, it weighs about 5lbs now) normally served up by the cooking squads for breakfast.  It was our day off – of gruel, and of normal Otesha responsibilities.  Given our growing dependence on one another, we vouched to spend it together.  Group by group, we trickled out of Craigleigth Provincial Park for an epic exploration of Blue Mountain's "scenic caves".  A few kilometres later, unimpeded by the warnings of a gargantuan hill preceding the caves, the Oteshites stopped at the Blue Mountain Resorts for confirmation on directions (checking up to 5 times for any given route is highly recommended) and hours of operation.  Some decided to mount the much-hyped hill simply for the thrill of the descent, others wandered off towards town, others pedalled in search of goats.  Miniature goats.  Ok, baby goats.  So in effect, miniature versions of adult goats.  "They're like children, a combination of children and dogs, in one.  And I want one" – explains Clara.  As luck would have it, Clara and Elise found their goats, and rabbits too.  That would have been enough to make the day, except…there's more!

For one thing, Collingwood has a library.  As we like to sing – "having fun, isn't hard, when you've got a library card!"  There was also the Blue Mountain Art Studio Tour going on.  Many of us checked out and were inspired by The Fishbowl, a studio space shared by 5 artists working in all sorts of media.  Thanks to Kelli-Ann for all of the wonderful discussion, and for the gift of some of her artwork!  Collingwood was also the location of many- a-members' virgin trips to Bulk Barn…a habit that has been growing full force for the past week.  Many of the Oteshites stuck around for a night on the town – commencing with a lengthy Otesha style consensus decision on just where to dine.  Hours later, they ended up at Frida's for salsa dancing and dramatic readings from Team Awesome's favourite genre of literature, hot and spicy romance novels – where the main character's name just happens to be that of our most reserved and virtuous team member – Kira.  After and evening of deep-fried deliciousness, we enjoyed a night-time ride back to Craigleith; an opportunity to test out our night-lights, rain gear, and resistance to lightening.      

June 6, 2008 – Oh Wow, We've Only Reported on One Day So Far!

The anticipation for Friday had been building…word on the street was that rain was on its way out, and hot weather in. For once, the meteorologists had it right…to the tune of 32 degrees, or something awful like that.  We had a presentation at a local elementary school, followed by an afternoon of library fun, gelato, and squishy, slippery rock beaches.


June 7, 2008 – Sweaty Saturday

We intimidated all the mountain bikers with our sleek tires and spandex as we arrived at Blue Mountain Resort. To best accommodate our audience (who were sitting without shade) we performed at the peak hour 12 noon at the pedestrian village stage. Competing with a fountain and shrieks of joy from splashing children, we still managed to reach some people: The lone employee working the sound system and a surprise guest from Kira's family (plus several people looking for entertainment as they enjoy their Ben and Jerry's ice cream). Following our performance, the Oteshites continued to demonstrate their talents in an impromptu dance party in the fountains.


Our next destination was Kimbercote Farm, nestled within the bountiful Beaver Valley. We were more than prepared for the hilly, scorching ride with minimal water and an unclear idea of just how far it was. But don't be put off by our dark humour, it really was a picturesque ride. After mounting a final seemingly vertical hill we were warmly welcomed by members of Kimbercote from far and wide. That evening we joined the community in a delicious potluck featuring fresh organic vegetables from local farmers.



June 8, 2008– And then there were nine (almost…Jess's close call)

At 10am we gave a presentation to Kimbercote Farm members present for their AGM, and a class of teenage girls.  Because presenting in polyester costumes wasn't enough to work up a sweat, 13 Oteshites and Kimercote members and one dog piled into the back of an empty van (and by van, we mean that each individual had their own seat and seatbelt…obviously….ahem..) destined for the Slabtown swimming hole. Water levels were "higher than usual", which just made for a cushier ride over the rapids.  After a few demonstrations by the locals and cautious attempts by Oteshites, Jess decided it was her time to jump into the falls.  Graceful as she is, she plunged into just the right spot to get down nice and deep…and stay there…and stay there….and flail a bit as the rushing water pushed her down rather than out.  After futile struggling, she gulped some water, ceased her struggling, and thought "Oh, crumbs, so THIS is how I'm going to die – oh, that's such an unoriginal last thought…".  Amy witnessed nearby, thinking " I hope she gets out, because I have no idea what to do to save her, and I'm just going to have to watch her drown…oh, that sure is selfish".  Thankfully, the gas in Jess' bloated tummy from days of undercooked beans came to the rescue with their buoyant force, propelling her limp body upwards, until, finally….POP!  Out she came! Hooorraaayyyyy! It's a girl!


Other notable events from the day included a lovely dinner shared with the farmers from Niagara Escarpment Organics - delicious turnip greens salad, the wonderment of Ryan's garlic spread made from garlic greens on TOASTED, we repeat, TOASTED bread, as well as some hearty pasta.  Thanks NEO!


June 9, 2008 – Free Food = Overjoyed Oteshites

The Oteshites with their stuffed bellies waddles to their bicycles and pedalled off to Meaford via the Georgian Trail, a bike path running from Collingwood to Meaford...maybe beyond, we're a little sketchy on the actual details.  Garth, a prominent member of the Kimbercote community and an avid cyclist, was keen and kind enough to accompany the cyclists on their ride, providing a tour of the Beaver Valley and Meaford as they went.  Meanwhile, in the support vehicle, Kira and Jess were busy on their Otesha Halloween excursion.  Armed with big canvas bags and spandex "costumes", they arrived at NEO to gather the equivalent of candy for tour members: asparagus.  And not just asparagus, but turnip greens, yams, lovage, garlic greens, rhubarb, swiss chard, and bok choy! Thank you to NEO for generous donations.  As if that wasn't enough, a coffee shop donated some cookies (that didn't quite make it past Kira and Jess to the rest of the team - you know, important to quality control, for safety...), Grandma Lambe's donated some apples...and.....drumroll....


Two gigantic tubs of homemade cookies from the Frasers!  Our presentation in Meaford was a hit, the mayor was there, as well as the parents of Otesha staff member Elizabeth Fraser. It was another day of food consumption levels justifiable only by hours of cycling.


June 10, 2008 – Gregory Turns 23! 

Tuesday was our day off in Owen Sound. We woke up to the all too familiar pitter-patter of raindrops just centimetres above our heads. We enjoyed a "King Greg" birthday breakfast under the orange glow of our tarp/clothes line. We also enjoyed soggy trips to the library, Inglis Falls, Bulk Barn and a birthday dinner with sparkling cider accompanied by a "wild rhubarb*"dessert. This was the first indicator that some Oteshites were not born natural foragers.

* "Inedible" wildplant found on nature walk, which resembles rhubarb ... we're still not sure what it was


June 11, 2008 – Aanii (Hello in Ojibway)

We presented at Dufferin Elementary in the morning, followed by a historical talk on Owen Sound by Glen, a volunteer at the tourism office. On route to Cape Croker we stopped to see the Bruce Caves and Wiarton Willy. We stayed at Cape Croker First Nations Elementary School on Chippewas of Nawash First Nations Reserve. The school had a fantastic selection of temporary tattoos, old greeting cards, as well as a Lego playground and a community filled with warm and welcoming individuals. 

Eigth and Final Journal Entry

June 12, 2008

Today was the first day I found myself wishing I was taking steroids regularly throughout this trip. Apparently, it worked for Lance Armstrong and we all needed his speed to make it from Cape Croker School at 10:30 am to Lion's Head 34 km away where we had a presentation at 1:30 pm. It was hot, really hot outside. Yep, we biked like champions and we almost all made it on time. It turned out all that sweat and glory was well worth it. Once we got to the school, we were well received with a cafeteria lunch. The school in Lion's Head was just designated a UNESCO site - which means United Nations Environmental Social Cultural Organization. So there was much for us to learn from the people at this school. Wanda, our contact teacher at the school, was very enthusiastic (she even came to our next performance in Tobermory the following day) and had great insights into working with kids. We got a visit from Ms. Grieg who had been supply teaching at Cape Croker that day. She brought along a dream catcher that the students at Cape Croker had made for us. Fun was had by all at Lion's Head but alas, we are nomads! The following morning when we awoke, we were on the road again.    

June 13, 2008

Now let's discuss the directionally challenged: On a bike trip, the directionally challenged are those that have the steeliest legs, remembering that only 3 kms in the wrong direction will add up to 6 km extra to bike if not more. The directionally challenged are also those who have the biggest love handles, for apparently ice-cream is the best way to re-find your heading and it doesn't really help when the bike shops sometimes are combined (or right next to) an ice cream shop. So, although some people might have gotten lost on their way to Tobermory, their sugar cravings were fulfilled. We all reached the school on time. The school was small, but inspiration was definitely apparent. One 11 year old student shared her passion for theatre and her commitment to poverty issues with some Otesha members, definitely offering a piece of hope for the future.  The wonders of Tobermory did not stop there.  After a performance at the visitor's center, where we had a small yet international crowd, we had a run-in with a Massasauga rattlesnake named Fluffy.  It was intense, but, the truly amazing part of Tobermory was the staff and management at the Foodland who generously donated fresh produce to the Otesha Project. 

June 14, 2008

Da, da dum, ta ta ta dum da dum (etc.) Super Sean (from the visitor's center) showed up to take us for a hike.  The Hike was beautiful.  We saw the infamous Grotto, we swam and generally soaked in Georgian Bay's beauty.  Sean was, in fact, so fantastic that he provided the group with snacks.  He even took some of the girls out to the Legion, where not only did we play pool and shuffleboard, but also tore up the dance floor with acrobatic dancing.

June 15, 2008

On the ferry, the bikes were loaded right next to the motor bikes (remember this for a later story).  We had a pleasant ride across Georgian Bay; some catching much needed beauty rest, while others were sword fighting and playing pirates.  It was while leaving the ferry that a humorous cycle/motorcycle clash began.  Picture, if you will, a leather clad motorcyclist sitting rather seriously on his hog, versus spandex clad Amardeep wearing her silver helmet, with her thumb on her silver bell.  Vroom, vroom, goes the motorcycle.  Ding, ding goes the bike bell along with a threatening look from Amardeep.  The motorcyclist wasn't serious for long, soon laughing at the impunity of the silver cyclists.  Off the ferry, we charged to Mindemoya, where we were greeted with homemade veggie chili, a veggie platter, salad, bread and breakfast for the next day.

Followed by AMAZING (yet controversial) PIE!


We laid our sleeping bag down in the gym, and then rose the next day to clean up and present to CMPS.  We ran a presentation and several workshops throughout the day.  The teachers then presented us with food (yeah food!) and worked hard to ensure that all dishes were either vegan or vegetarian.  The students were excited by the presentation and one even asked for autographs.  So we left Mindemoya feeling like superstars.  It was with this energy that we were able to make it to Little Current and Loon Song Farm in the afternoon.  There, we met people who are farming organically and had an opportunity to learn from them by getting out hands dirty.  Also, it was inspiring to meet people our own age working on the farm who had dreams for a better environmental and social future. 


June 16, 2008

On our day off, some decided to explore the area (we visited the Ojibwe cultural center and hiked the Cups and Saucers trail) while others stayed at the farm and baked and ate many batches of cookies and brownies.

June 17, 2008

We said goodbye to Loon Song the following morning and goodbye to the largest freshwater island in the world.  Our destiny: Espanola.


June 19 - 25, 2008


Espanola was more than just a fine paper town. Indeed, there were fine people there too. At A.B. Ellis School, we performed two shows to our biggest combined crowd yet - 400 students. The students really enjoyed the performance and even asked to check out our bikes after the performance. One student was quoted as saying: "Wow, that's a cool bike". Needless to say, we were all on cloud nine. Afterwards, we had access to showers, computers and the music room, an Oteshie's dream. Furthermore, the school fed us a delicious brunch the next day. We had another performance at Sacred Heart Catholic School before we set off to our final tour destination: the smoke stacks of Sudbury were calling us. We had been warned of the perilous conditions for the highway linking Espanola and Sudbury. In anticipation, we had planned to bike safely in a big group (not unlike the Mighty Ducks). Our plans taking over the entire highway lane turned out to be interesting, yet impractical and unfeasible. Little did we realize how many transport trucks used that highway as a migration route from the old stomping grounds up north down to the south, and those hulking metal beasts were none too careful about cyclists on the road. What solidified our concerns over the safety of this highway was when a second Otesha car traveling in the opposite direction didn't stop to greet the bikers. Likely they felt it was too unsafe to pull over. Yes, those shoulders were nasty. As per the norm, our team turned on our creative minds and a combination of hitch-hiking and shuttling into town safely was arranged.

Ahhh, the Bury! A pleasant mixture of rocks, smokestack, big five-cent pieces and pot holes the size of elephants. Luckily, we made it to Camp Sudaca without losing any members to said potholes and were greeted by a gift basket which was also almost the size of an elephant. This basket confirmed that our cyclists know no bounds when it comes to chocolate. The massive beast was reduced to smithereens in no time. On Saturday, Sudbury was a happening place: the city held a 26 km bike ride around Ramsey Lake to raise awareness about cycling in the city. There was also a Blues fest to raise money for the food bank, a pow-wow to mark National Aboriginal Day, festivities to celebrate St. Jean Baptist; but most importantly Otesha performed in Tom Davies square at 12:30 pm (I think we outshone even rapper 50 cent who was there that same night - he begged us to open for him but we refused on principal). With all these fun activities to choose from, the group's torrid love affair with Sudbury began.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday continued with lots of rest, relaxation and learning of local eating options with Allison from Eat Local Sudbury. We managed to dodge the rain back to camp to share another meal together as the happy Otesha family. Tunes were brought, a dance party ensued, cup cakes slightly battered by Sudbury's bumpy roads were consumed, and the beach was visited with joy.

The next day, we headed to Science North for a morning/afternoon of learning. Chris, from the City of Sudbury, was able to get us in for the much appreciated, low, low cost of nothing. After being stimulated by science, it was time to perform in our most intimate setting yet: Helga's (aka Mummu, aka Amy's grandma) lovely apartment. Amy's family in Sudbury flocked to the apartment by the 7s and got to see a rip-roaring rendition of the play. Mummu made sure that sustenance (a small snack, she claimed) was always provided for the famished actors. It was a phenomenal and welcome spread of food to dive into after our last performance. Back at the camp, the end of tour retreat began. And here we are, on the second last day, just wondering how it will all end and whether words will ever really be able to express this experience.


The End?