Simply put? Bugs. That come out of our lake. Every year in July. Billions and billions of them.
The shadflies (also called "mayflies" if you're American, or just "shads" as they're unaffectionately known around here) completely envelop downtown buildings and carpet the sidewalks. You have no choice but to walk on them and they make a small "snapping" sounds when you do. Although they have wings, they don't fly very much--they come out of the lake, stick to a building, and that's where they stay until their death. I think their average lifespan is only about three days. Occasionally you'll find one stuck to your arm or clinging to the back of your shirt. It's wretched.
They have no mouths and leave no excrement and the only point I can see to their existence is to be food for birds and fish. But most of the birds don't seem very keen on them. I don't even know how their eggs get in the lake in the first place.
And man, they stink! A horrifying smell similar to rotting fish. Responsible shop owners sweep the bugs from their front windows in the morning, leaving large piles of them on the sidewalks.
I like to tease mortified tourists and asks them if they've tried a piece of "shadfly pie" yet--a local specialty. (No, not really!)
A guy I know got married to a woman that lives in San Fransisco because of a common interest in this insect. He had a special gold pin of the bug made for her when they got married. He's a lunatic. Guess where they chose to live? Yep--not here.
Anyway, this annual ordeal lasts three weeks! All's well by August, but downtown and the waterfront really suck in July. Yucko. 'Nuff said.
Small Town Politics
Everybody gets offended easily. They go off into these crazy tirades about things and write crazy letters to the editor calling other people lazy. Anti-smoking groups are always freaking out and fighting with pro-smoking groups. People routinely scowl at teenage girls with strollers. There are right-wing fundamentalist people here that want to ban absolutely everything--a core set of nutty puritans and health freaks that have nothing better to do than march around the town protesting different things every month. Politicians act like big fish in a little pond, like little Napoleons. It's kind of bonkers living here and sometimes feels as though it's a nightmare version of "Northern Exposure". Some fruitloop will probably write to the newspaper because of this tip I've just written and demand my imprisonment. You've been warned!
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-30°C is Cold, Baby!
Wear layers--lots of 'em! -30 Celsius is about -22 Fahrenheit. It's generally accepted here that wearing a shirt, sweater, light jacket, heavier jacket , and scarf works much better than one big parka. It's also easier to adjust when you're in cooler indoors places. Pants, double-socks, and longjohns (if you have them) are also a must. Cleats for your boots if it's icy. In this weather the air feels like a slap in the face every time you walk outside. You won't last very long wearing light clothing, and I'm not really sure what happens to you if you don't respect the temperature..... Maybe you die from exposure, I don't know. Frostbite will destroy your ears, lips, fingers, nose, toes, and skin and I have a friend whose mouth sphincter ripped as a result of exposure during a snowmobile trip. You can usually visually tell when it's very cold out if it's not windy--smoke and steam rise straight up from chimneys in a bright white colour. If it's -40, don't go out unless you have to. North Bay can be cold from the start of October until the end of May. (That's 8 months of the year!)
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