The Trip, Chapter 2 – Lost, but not lost

We entered Ontario on Day 2 of the trip having spent the first evening and night in Wakefield, Quebec, not far from the Ontario border.

Well, we thought it was close.

We had a long day of driving ahead of us – Killarney, Ontario, located about 650 kilometers to the west. We were looking forward to our return to Killarney Provincial Park where we hiked for five days about nine years ago, a rewarding back country experience. (Sadly now, at the age of 62, the days of backpacking far into the bush are behind me.)

As we like to say to friends and strangers alike about Killarney, the Group of Seven painted there, and for good reason. (Until we met some Canadians on our trip who had never heard of the Group of Seven… but that’s another story.)

We didn’t expect that following Google Maps would put us so out of our way. Had we only returned to Ottawa and at some point turned right onto the Trans Canada-Highway…

Instead, we took a route that ended up being vastly slower to the one we should have taken.

Instead, we ended up driving though M.O.N. – the middle of nowhere.

There are different types of M.O.N.’s. Not far from our home in southern Quebec, Naomi and I have discovered that the rolling farmland in the northern part of Franklin County located in northern Vermont is real M.O.N. country – isolated, scenic, and silent, elements which give it a beautiful quality. There is a Sanskrit term which adequately describes for me places like this: sattvic, meaning spiritually pure (the other elements being tamasic, or dark/inertia and rajasic, or active/passion).

When I feel that a place is sattvic, I am saying that it is radiating a spiritual quality, a peacefulness or sublimely settled feeling, with or without an accompanying visual beauty. Please forgive if I use this foreign term often in the course of describing our voyage west to Portland, Oregon, and back.

On the bike circuit that Naomi and I took in this isolated corner of Vermont, I felt a special quality emanating from the land. “Middle of Nowhere” in this case took on a special charming quality.

So, too, on Day 2, as we ended up on a gravel road that cut through Gatineau Provincial Park. If only there had been some road signs that encouraged us to believe that we were on the right track! On and on we drove, with only the quiet forest beside us, without a clue whether we were going in the right direction (no Internet service here, of course!). We believed that we were on a road with a route number; Google Maps had been consulted during breakfast.

When we finally exited the park and stopped the car I knew that we were in real M.O.N. country. I was surrounded by corn fields, which is not uncommon, but also by a deep silence. As I walked around getting my bearings (and hopefully an Internet connection) my imagination toyed with the idea of setting up a Buddhist monastery right in this spot. Not the kind that draws visitors, but the kind that insulates and isolates those trying to get away from civilization, here in this little corner of Quebec, west of Ottawa, on the north shore of the Ottawa River.

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It was a wonderful feeling.

I got back in the car. “Can I help you?” a woman called out. She had just arrived at the auto car parts store where we had parked. “We were lost, but we’ve found our way,” I said, looking down at my IPad.

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