Starting from the Wescana Inn in the The Pas, Manitoba, take a right out of the parking lot. Take main street to the Macdonald’s and hook a roger. Follow that road across the bridge into the Opaskwayak Cree Nation reserve. Keep heading straight past the Tolko mill turnoff out of town. After About 75 km take a right at Fiddler’s corner, which is now closed and may be called something else. Basically, follow the signs for Thompson. Take that road, for roughly 150 km. Stop in Ponton for fuel; it’s the last place to fill up pre-logging road. Once gassed up, continue north 40 km and keep an eye out for the South Jonas road. The road is tough to see but, basically, it’s past the Jenpeg road turnoff and if you hit Sasagiu Rapids you have gone too far. Once on the South Jonas, follow it for 32 km until you get to McLaren Creek road which will be marked with a yellow diamond-shaped sign. You will know if you’re on the right road if you pass a ton of old treeplants between the ages of two to ten years. You will also cross a crazy bridge which always has a bunch of bald eagles fishing in the river below it. It’s super awesome, they all fly out from under the bridge as you drive by. Be careful on this road, its super shitty and many vehicles have blown tires and snapped axles. Take that for seven km until you reach Radar Lake road. This road will be super sketchy if it has rained.
Welcome to Radar Lake. This place is WAY off the beaten path. This is where I’ve had many of the greatest conversations of my life: Radar Lake Road.
Imagine spending eight hours a day alone. Nothing to do but plant trees–and think. And then get into a van with 13 other planters who have been doing the same. The variety of creative, deep, insightful, crazy questions, ideas and stories that spill out of people’s mouths is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I can remember somebody climbing into the van and the first words out of their mouth was, “what would happen if you dropped a ball into a hole drilled through the middle of the Earth?” Leaving the mind alone for that long is like putting Mentos into Diet Coke–you don’t know what you’ll get but you know it’ll be interesting.
Then take those exhausted planters, put a couple beers into them, sit them around a fire and observe. Conversations about aquatic ape theory turn into conversations about Kanye West without anyone noticing. Questions about the edge of the universe morph into interpretive dance-offs. Then, on days off, sixteen beers deep into a twelve pack of Pilsner, people who, half an hour earlier were dancing to Styx with their shirts off, will be sitting on top of boxcars in the train yard taking about photography.
The world wasn’t as cut and dry as the newspaper would have it where every story conforms to a section–world, sports, opinions, arts. Somehow, in the middle of the bush of Northern Manitoba, conversations had no borders.
And it’s not necessarily just Radar Lake. It’s also West Arm, Goose Lake, the Porcupines, Wu-Tang camp, Machine Camp, Kississing Lake Road–but Radar Lake has the coolest name. Imagine if this blog was called Wu-Tang Camp.
Radar Lake is about recreating this kind of conversation. Breaking the mold of single-issue blogs and creating a place where all kinds of ideas, colours and words can live. I know, I know, I write about science a lot. But I’m open to fiction, non-fiction, photos, poems, opinions. If you’ve got something you think other people would like, it’s probably RadarLake material. Send it along to radarlake[dot]blog[at]gmail[dot]com.
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Thanks for dropping by.