Checking out, a red haired Irish girl named Michelle explained that the odd construction of the building was the result of several additions over a period of time and that the place is scheduled for a renovation in the near future. She also explained that Thunder Bay hotels are usually busy during the week due to its location as the only stop on several long highways as well as being the referral centre for the entire population of Northwestern Ontario. Apparently, unlike most other places, weekends here are not as hectic. Finally, she and I acknowledged a shared Orange Hall ancestral heritage.
After a quick stop at McDonald's and Shell (another gift card), we headed east on Highway 17 into the rising sun. It was 6:45 and 60 F under a cloudless sky. The first stretch was four lane but, before long, we were on typical Northern Ontario two lane pavement. We saw one deer looking longingly across the road but the Equinox horn sent it bounding away. Oddly, other than this and one small moose on the way out, we had not seen any large wildlife. Then again, I always say southerners drive around up here hoping to see a moose while we drive around hoping we WON'T see one.
Near Red Rock, we stopped at a Husky station to use the facilities. Then it was a non-stop drive to Wawa. There were periods of fog from time to time and sections of flaggers and traffic lights due to road and bridge work. Cell service was often "Emergency Only" (not sure what happened to roaming) or "No Service". The sky went from blue to cloudy back to blue. The highway had no rumble strip in the centre much of the way. However, after White River, what looked like good pavement set up a tire hum that I was afraid might be the vehicle. Luckily, it was the road.
We hit the Tim's in Wawa right at noon and the small parking lot was almost full. It was strange that they had the Ladies rest room closed for cleaning at a busy time like this. Sandy had not been out of the car since Red Rock, so I guarded the door while she used the men's room. We got lunch to go and managed to squeeze out of the parking lot without getting hit.
My friend Don said his uncle had been reeve of the township when the first Wawa Goose was installed and his name had been on the dedication plaque. We stopped and I checked all four plaques but could not find his name. These were obviously more recent iterations.
I should be back here on the bike in a couple of weeks to meet Zeke on his Lake Superior Circle Tour. Less fog and more warm would be nice.
The drive down the east side of Superior was uneventful. Traffic was relatively light and there were only a few work zones. We were in and out of clouds once again.
In Sault Ste. Marie, I missed the only Esso station on our path and had to fuel at the Husky heading out of town.
We began the last leg of our day at 3:00 PM. Although we were under blue skies, we saw some storm cells to the south but avoided them as the highway swung east. Traffic was heavier here and the big trucks were slower. One float hauling a loader was a particular dick in a passing lane before Blind River. He passed a slower truck ahead of him and then did not move to the right. Not wishing to be bombarded with road grit until the next passing lane, I had to get by him on the right.
We reached the grocery store in Sudbury at 6:10 PM. It was 80 F indicating that maybe summer was finally here. After getting some ham and picking up some prescriptions, we pulled into the driveway at 6:45.
Fatigue was a problem for me all day. This has become common in the last few years. I do believe improved fitness will be the cure so look out for me around the YMCA starting next week. I hope this promise to myself works out better than the one about keeping the blog up to date.
This trip was a whirlwind but we got to spend some time with Jan and see a little bit of her world in Saskatchewan. Mission accomplished.
Today's Route (629 Equinox miles):