Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario to Thunder Bay Ontario

We had breakfast at the hotel this morning. This Microtel had eggs, sausages and potatoes for their hot breakfast, along with the usual continental items. Jan made a waffle in the ubiquitous machine. I have not been comfortable with this device since I really screwing one up many years ago. Plus I was not supposed to be eating waffles anyway.

I went to use one of my Shell gift cards at the Flying J/Shell station just up the road. I was informed that they are not really a Shell station, just a Flying J that sells Shell gas, and that the gift cards could not be redeemed there. They did direct me about a mile back into town to a REAL Shell station, where I got some free gasoline.

It was 59 F as we left town. Only two days until the beginning of summer, but I was not hopeful that we would see a significant change.

Highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa along the eastern shore of Lake Superior has been touted as one of the most scenic stretches in Canada. It was pretty good today. We did see a series of signs advertising the Esso station/restaurant/Ontario hunting and fishing licence outlet at Pancake Bay but they all said "Closed for the season". Either they had a really short season or they were out of business. When we got there, it was obvious they had closed SEVERAL season ago. That was sad because it was the place my cousin Jamie had bet me back in 1984 that I could not eat three Starving Trapper Burgers. He was right. I got through 2 1/2 before throwing in the towel.

We continued past the bays. Haviland, Harmony, Pancake, Batchawana; and then the Montreal River. The long, steep, curving southbound grade there has claimed more than one trucker.

The Mile Hill and Blueberry Flats

Low lying clouds

Many many closed signs for this place

At least somebody is open

Near Montreal River


...and upgrades

Even the abandoned buildings get tagged

We stopped at the Agawa Bay Visitor Centre just inside Lake Superior Provincial Park. The power was out due to planned maintenance so navigating the bathrooms in the dark was a challenge. Still, we were able to check out most of the exhibits. There was a door to the rear deck and a sign inviting visitors to take a book from the rack so they could sit outside and read. Once I went out, the door locked behind me. Thanks to Jan for letting me back in. The blackflies and mosquitoes here were really bad. Their bites don't bother me due to an immunity I acquired during a summer working in cedar swamps, but they are just annoying. To Sandy, who swells up at every bite, they were worse.

The Group Of Seven

Members of the Group Of Seven included A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, Fred Varley, Frank Johnston, Franklin Carmichael and J.E.H. MacDonald. Tom Thomson was a founding influence but died before they gave themselves a name. They are an important part of Canadiana in this part of the country.

An interesting bench

Stones embedded in the bench

Railway sidecar?

Luring you into a trap like a lobster pot

Jan, Sandy, an interesting tree and a gazillion biting insects

Pictographs are different from petroglyphs. The former are paintings and, here, are found on a big rock down by the lake. Given the walk down the tricky path and the insect hordes, the ladies elected to keep going. We also did not have room for the young man heading west.

Keep on going

The lake was looking good today

Are moose only dangerous at night?

Line painting crew near Wawa

At the Wawa junction with Highway 101, we stopped at the Wawa Goose visitor centre. My mother and father met and got married in Wawa in 1950, long before there was a highway. There were only eight miles of road between Wawa and the Algoma Central Railway station at Hawk Junction. Mom had a 1950 Pontiac that was brought in on a railway flatcar. In 1975, Sandy and I had a major incident here at Magpie High Falls (the same place that my father proposed to my mother) that started our lives together.

This is true

Does the carved head look sinister to you?

Small old mucking machine

Sandy taking a picture

This is the picture she took

Panning for gemstones...

Even the chairs are creative

I'd take this one if I had room

My parents flew in Keith's Norseman many times

OK, we needed a coffee anyway

Jan and Sandy with the busy Wawa Airport in the background

Wawa means "wild goose" in Ojibway


Wawa is kind of a nexus. We saw several interesting vehicles in the parking lot. The Westfalia van with Virginia licence plates looked like it could have been European. The Travel Van t620 was European. It was a German unit powered by a Fiat engine that had been shipped from Hamburg to Halifax and the owners were on a six month tour of Canada. The BMW rider was from Grand Rapids and was on his second ride around Superior.

We watched the line painter and his involuntary followers continue west on Highway 17, so we went for a drive through town and stopped at the Tim Horton's for a bathroom/coffee break. Wawa has not changed a lot and still has a population of only 3,000. I passed the motel where I am supposed to meet Zeke on July 6th. Then we returned to Highway 17 and continued west.

The next stop was White River, where I topped the tank off at the Esso station. Esso gives me Optimum Points which can be used to pay for groceries at home. Then we stopped at a little park dedicated to Winnie-The-Pooh. The bear cub Winnie was named for was bought here by a soldier from Winnipeg heading overseas during WW I. She was named Winnie for Winnipeg and ended up living at the London Zoo where A.A. Milne often took his son, Christopher Robin. White River also called itself the coldest place in Canada, having recorded a temperature of -72 F. This was a myth. The temperature was correct but there have been colder places.

This is White River

The Winnie-The-Pooh story

Sandy, Jan and a honey loving bear

The Subway restaurant in White River has only been there a few months. The owner just put up signs on the highway yesterday. This is a big addition to a town that basically boasts one gas station and not much else. We ate lunch there before moving on.

There were a number of single lane bridges being worked on

The closed Golden Giant Gold Mine

Large piles of crushed mine rock

Not much traffic

Not all the hills are rock

Although most are

Some of it is red (near Red Rock)

Shift to low gear, a $50 fine my friend

Tall skinny trees

Eventually, we came to the cable stayed bridge over the Nipigon River. The bridge was located right after the Highway 17/11 intersection where both routes came together and was, therefore, on the ONLY road joining eastern Canada to the west. Shortly after it was dedicated during the winter a couple of years ago, some anchors broke and the bridge heaved up, cutting our nation in two. The only way across was to go through the US. It seemed that the fancy (and way more expensive than necessary) structure was not as well built as the contractors thought.

On the way into Thunder Bay, we stopped at the Terry Fox Memorial. Terry's brave but interrupted run to raise money for cancer research resonated with Canadians and he became an icon of the indomitable spirit we revere.

The watershed

Terry Fox

Jan and Sandy

Me getting a shot of the Sleeping Giant

The Sleeping Giant

The Visitor Centre was open after 6:00 PM

The Days Inn was not far off the Trans Canada Highway. After checking in, the lady on the desk suggested Daytona's Restaurant and Sports Bar for supper. It was a short drive away and they were able to seat us right away. Our server was very bubbly and friendly, which added to the experience. I had a mushroom Swiss burger with an absolutely great Caesar salad while Jan and Sandy had salad with beets, feta cheese, spaghetti squash and candied pecans. Then the ladies split a good looking crème brûlée for dessert.

Daytona's Restaurant and Sports Bar - Thunder Bay Ontario

Mushroom/Swiss burger and Caesar salad

The other salad

Back at the hotel, I thought we might hit the hot tub since that had been a topic of conversation. However, everyone was tired so I just did the minimum to wind up the day's notes and we all went to bed.

Tomorrow, Winterpeg.

Today's Route (436 Equinox miles):

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