One thing is very clear. By foot is the way to tour downtown Ottawa. You couldn’t possible gawk and drive at the same time. Weird street directions and one-ways would keep you paying attention to the road all the time – or should.
Had a decent breakfast at the inn, as a continental breakfast was included with the room. Not being an egg fan, I always look at them and think “you really should have the protein” and usually pass. But I have found a way to eat cold hard-boiled eggs for breakfast – on toast….with jam. 😊 So, an egg, a piece of toast, a yogurt a and really good coffee before 10:00 a.m. made me feel like I was adulting all over the place!
The weather app was threatening the possibility of a thunderstorm and I mused allowed that I supposed I should find a place to get an umbrella. The front desk girl pointed out the umbrellas by the front door – is there anything the Rideau Inn hasn’t thought of? So I toted one around with me all day. It didn’t rain, but actually came in handy anyway when the sun popped out and it got hot.
I headed out with an idea of where I intended to end up, but with only a vague knowledge of what direction I should go and none of what I would find along the way. I felt like Anne of Green Gables when she went Kingsport for college and just walked around finding delightful things. To do it justice, you would really need to spend a week here and give proper attention to a couple of things a day.
I wandered down Elgin Street and there are nifty pubs and restaurants all over the place, ironically interspersed with big red brick and/or stone churches. Monuments to different historical figures abound and I was into full-on picture mode within a couple of blocks. I was headed for Parliament Hill and found Confederation Park, City Hall, Nelson Mandela Square and the National War Memorial all along the way. Confederation Park had a nice memorial acknowledging the vital role of animals in the various conflicts Canada has been involved in. Nelson Mandela Square was a surprise to me and very moving. What he accomplished was so incredible and against such odds, it restores my faith that change can be affected with dedication and heart.
The National War Memorial is stunning. The guards out front and the monument with the dates of conflict engraved on it are a stark reminder of humanity’s penchant for war. There are also bronze sculptures of historical figures who were influential in their actions and leadership during conflicts. I wondered, yet again, when we will ever learn.
On my way to the war memorial, a gentleman spoke to me about the work going on at the parliament buildings. I told him I was on a walking exploration and he said he had some hip trouble and was told he was going to need a walker. But instead, he started going to the gym and doing specific exercises and he got better and doesn’t need a walker. As he explained what he was doing, I mentioned the things that I have to do in order to keep my back and hip and leg muscles in proper working order. We had a little demo right there on the street! People probably though we were nutters, but what they think is really none of my business, and he was appreciative. LOL
Crossing the street with the intention of heading over to Parliament Hill, I was sidetracked by the Rideau Canal. Looking over the edge of the bridge with all the other looky-loos, there were many boats lined up at the various levels of the locks, waiting for them to be opened so they could pass through. Down below, I could see the Bytown Museum in the background. The museum is in the Commissariat – Ottawa’s oldest stone building. Ottawa was originally named Bytown and exists because of the desire to build the Rideau Canal. After the War of 1812, Britain wanted to ensure a supply route that would by-pass the St. Lawrence River, and so the Rideau Canal was built. Thousands of Irish and French workers toiled for six years to complete the canal.
I didn’t go through the whole museum, choosing to read the story boards and then go on the Ottawa River Cruise. The river cruise was really great – as we moved along the river, the guide explained the different sites and told stories. It was a great “Reader’s Digest” version of the sites and gave me some context for my subsequent walking route. Some of the sights visible from the river included:
When the river tour was over, I walked up to Parliament Hill. The buildings are just stunning. I look around at all of these massive stone structures and marvel and how they were constructed without all of the technology we have today. I did not feel inspired to go on a guided tour and shuffle along indoors and listen to more talk, so I wandered the grounds instead. There is much restoration going on in various areas of the parliament buildings, but there were still many interesting things to see. Statues of the fathers of confederation and key people in the history of Canada are strewn about the grounds. The view of the Ottawa River and its surrounding sights was gorgeous. I was particularly fascinated by the workmanship in the round structure of the parliament buildings that faces the river. This is the Library of Parliament and is just amazing. The whole building is amazing – such detail and pride was put into the workmanship.
After Parliament Hill, I continued over to the National Art Gallery. Art galleries are a challenge for me and I thought about whether I really wanted to pay an admission. Like jazz music, while I can recognize and appreciate the skill and talent that goes into the different types of art, I just don’t like a lot of it. However, the special exhibit was Impressionist and I do usually like that style, so I went in. I enjoyed my tour through the exhibits and didn’t waste any time on the stuff I didn’t like. Shameful, I know, but it wouldn’t be the first time.
Heading down Sussex Drive, I saw the Notre Dame Basilica and the Royal Canadian Mint. Crossing over the canal again, I continued down Sussex Drive and saw many of the Embassy buildings for different countries in the world – the US, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Kuwait, France. Pretty neat feeling to be amongst all that. I saw the drive for the Prime Minister’s residence, but couldn’t really see the building. Rideau Hall was just across the way and there were guards there as well, so I stopped and sat on one of the benches and rested for awhile, watching them go through their march.
Getting tired, I headed back towards my home away from home. Having walked about 15 kms over the 7 hours I was out, a bit of a rest was required to restore my energy enough to head down the street for supper. Having seen a Dunn’s Famous restaurant, I went there for supper. While the food was good, as always, the service was wanting and there was zero effort put into the presentation of the food. It was unusually quiet in the restaurant, according to the waiter, so I was surprised at the lack of effort. It left me wishing that I had tried one of the little pubs instead.
My day delay in getting here cost me another day of exploration in the city, and I have missed some key sights. However, I do feel as though much more time would be needed to really get a handle on it, so perhaps a return visit is in order another time. For now, it is lights out for tomorrow’s journey to Quebec (which is about 10 minutes across the bridge).
And you know what that means…..another long blog. Though it didn’t feel like a long day while en route, I realize it was I contemplate the day’s story and review the pictures. If you’ve got a bottle of wine, just put a straw in it, ‘cause this is going to take some time to tell!
Rising early, I took a tour around the town of Madoc. Now you might be wondering “why Madoc, anyway!?” Apparently, there are a lot of folks with the surname of Derry around Madoc and Marmora and I knew they were most likely relatives. However, not having had a chance to do any proper research on the whos and wheres, I had not been able to connect with anyone in advance. Some feeble, last-minute attempts upon my arrival in Madoc yielded no results, as one might expect. While the town doesn’t have the same “shiny” look of overt prosperity I had seen the previous day, Madoc has the homey feel of a well-established community that is comfortable in its skin. Found a beautiful old stone church, many stone and red-brick houses, and a lovely park with a war memorial that stands out.
The gem of my tour around Madoc was a stop at Derry’s Dipsticks and Driveshafts. I noticed the building when I arrived into town a couple of nights before, but stopped today, as business was open. I asked the woman at the counter if she was a Derry and she said yes. She is the wife of the owner’s brother and I have to apologize right here and now for not catching her name! She pointed out the owner and asked him to come into the shop for a minute. Dennis Derry owns the business and they were kind enough to humour me while I told them who I was and what I was doing there. We did not make the family connections to discover where we are connected, but Dennis said something like 80% of the Derrys in Canada are related. I asked for his father and grandparents names and when he provided them, I said “I better make a note of that since I won’t remember in 5 minutes”. Dennis responded “Then we must be related!” Laughing, I thought anyone that quick-witted has to be family. Perhaps I will figure that all out and make another trip. They obliged me with a photograph and I thanked them for their time and was on my way.
Turns out that my tour-guide-by-text, Phil, isn’t just an algorithm on the CTX forum. We arranged to meet up in Smiths Falls about 10:00 a.m. – about an hour and a half out of Madoc towards Ottawa. I should have had plenty of time to get there, but traffic had other ideas. Following a line of about 6 cars for what seemed like forever, I figured the car in the front must be a cop and that’s why no one was passing it in the many passing zones meant for the purpose. Not that it mattered because none of those zones were sufficiently long for me to get by the line of 6 closely-spaced vehicles. The vehicle turned off and it was just a tourist. Speed picked up a bit until we got behind a semi and it was back to Dawdlesville. Finally, a long passing lane and everyone pulls out and books it to get by the semi. We all do, and the SUV in the front decides we’ve all been going way too fast and slows right down again! By the time I arrived in Smiths falls, it was no mystery to me why the first thing I encounter is a good-sized cemetery - that’s where you put all the dummy drivers when you run out of patience!
Arriving at the meeting point, Phil and I went for a coffee and he outlined some options for things to see on the way to Ottawa. I stated my priorities and left the rest in his capable hands. He has more information in his head than I will have in a lifetime, and unfortunately, I will remember only what I took pictures of! Our first few stops were right there in Smiths Falls, beginning with the train museum. Just after we parked, we had a chat with Kerry (not sure that’s spelled right). He was there from Alberta with his wife and they had been doing some touring. Then we checked out the museum.
The building had some great displays inside – telegraph office, waiting room, memorabilia. Outside, you can tour the trains and some of them are set up so you can go inside and explore them. So neat – amazing what they managed to fit into those small spaces. They even had a dental car, complete with treatment room and waiting room. I particularly liked the caboose, where we were able to climb a little ladder and sit up at the top. When I took a picture out of the window up there, it looked like it was a picture frame.
Next up was the Heritage House Museum. The selling point? A two-storey privy! The museum itself, is actually very well done. Originally built by Joshua Bates, who believed the railway would provide excellent access to his mills and improve business. He had been thwarted by his competitors, the Wards, in his attempts to have a road built to provide access to his mills. He built the house as a “mirror image” so that customers arriving either by the road side of the house or the rail side, would arrive at a front door and not be insulted by being presented with a back door. Investing heavily in the railway project to build it between Brockville and Ottawa, he lost everything when the project fell through. A rail line did eventually come through right by the house, but not in time to save Joshua Bates. The house was completed and Joshua fell ill, dying 6 months after its completion and the house went up for auction. And who do you think purchased it? His rival - the Wards! According to Maria, who gave us an introduction to the museum, the Wards bought the property and wiped the Bates name from the history of Smiths Falls. It wasn’t until much later that the history of the Bates’ was discovered. So, while funny and definitely a draw, the two-storey privy is not the most interesting thing about this site. Really worth the visit.
The last stop before leaving Smiths Falls was a ride by what used to be the Hershey plant. It is now Tweed – and apparently the largest pot-growing facility in the world. Not yet open for business to tourists, from the surrounding fragrance, production has begun. Confirmed by the presence of the snack shack outside the front steps?
On to Merrickville, which is another picturesque town of stone buildings and a highly accessible park to see the locks on the Rideau Canal. We stopped for lunch at a street café, indulging in a hot dog and poutine before walking around the town. There are tons of attractive little tourist stores for everything from Mrs. McGarrigle’s mustard to the usual clothing and bric-a-brac stores. Though they were cute and interesting, I had no particular compulsion to enter and look at “stuff”. We wandered over to the waterfront and saw them closing the locks on our way to the block guardhouse. This cool structure had some displays inside that were worth a look and the plaque outside the door explained the use of the guardhouse. I will let you read it in the photo, if you are interested.
Wandering across the street, there were the ruins of about 5 mills that date to about 1860. Beside these ruins was the Alloy Foundry, now called Village Metalsmiths. This is the oldest operating foundry in Canada. They have cast the metal signs for all kinds of government, business, and personal needs. We were lucky enough to see the freshly cast and painted signs that had been ordered for the new Coast Guard boats in Vancouver. Too cool. Everything from the official to welcome signs for your front door. Heading back to the bikes, we took a couple of pictures of the canal before taking off.
Iroquois has a set of locks that control the water level in Lake Ontario and allows ships to bypass the Iroquois dam. If your timing is right, you can watch ships go through the locks. Our timing was not right. Conveniently, the Lockview Ice Cream Parlour sits right across the parking lot. I saw the soft ice cream chocolate/vanilla twist and looked no further. The gentleman behind the counter said that it was one of the only places you could get soft ice cream that was REAL cream. They get it from somewhere in Toronto (I can’t tell you where or he’ll have to kill me). 😊 There is no question it was awesome. While we had our treats, we had a good time perusing the shipwreck map under the glass of our table.
The day wearing late, we jumped back on our bikes and headed for Cornwall to see the Lost Villages. When the St. Lawrence Seaway was being build, several towns (9, to be precise) had to be re-located. Some of the buildings were saved and relocated to Cornwall in remembrance of those villages. This is a really interesting site. Too late in the day to wander through the buildings, it was still very satisfactory to stroll around the grounds and see the buildings with the names of their towns on many of them.
Last, but certainly not least, was a brief stop at St. Andrews. This is the burial place of Simon Fraser, the Scottish fur trader and explorer who is responsible for charting a great deal of British Columbia. Simon had an interesting life, a brief history of which can be read at https://www.sfu.ca/archives/archives-program/outreach/simon_fraser.html. He and his wife are buried in the same grave in the Roman Catholic cemetery in St. Andrews. This site has many very old stones as well as a replica of a pioneer church within the cemetery’s low stone walls. Across the road, the original St. Andrews stone church still sits beside the much larger and flashier “new” stone structure with a steeple that is annoyingly tall for picture-taking!
Knowing that there are a million things to have seen and done, it was time to get back on the road and finish the trip into Ottawa. Riding into very ominous dark clouds, I wondered if we would make it without getting wet. We did, and I bid farewell to tour guide extraordinaire, Phil, and checked into the Rideau Inn bed and breakfast. A lovely old 3 storey house, with a gambrel roof (I learned a new word!), it is quite the picturesque place. Inside, the lower level has a sitting room, kitchen and a few bedrooms. I was relieved to learn my room was only on the second floor. Loving the digs! Rooms are spacious and charming and the shared bathroom has a shower that is to die for at the end of a long day. So, before this day gets any longer (I’m now already into the next one), I had best turn in so I have some energy to go walk-about in our nation’s capital city!
P.S. Don’t forget to re-visit yesterday’s blog for the photos of the Bonnechere Caves and Peterborough Petroglyphs!
Photos posted from yesterday! Internet connection was too sucky at the hotel I stayed at last night to get them loaded up.
I’m starting to scare myself. Got up at 6 today with the intention of getting to the Bonnechere Caves for their first tour at 10:00 a.m. I read about them in the visitor guide at Barry’s Bay yesterday when I stopped for ice cream and rode by them on my way to Madoc. They definitely looked like something that was not to be missed, so even though it meant back-tracking, I was prepared to do it. Having found another petroglyph site, quite close to Madoc and more easily accessible than the other sites I had passed, I determined to do a circle route of exploration today.
The Bonnechere Caves are a path of limestone caves that contain fossils in their walls here and there. They were discovered in the 1950s by Tom Woodward, who explored and developed them into a tourist attraction. The caves have been operating as an attraction ever since and the property is now owned by Chris and Val Hinsperger. I also met David and Lucas, who work there and Lucas was our tour guide today. He did a stellar job, explaining the Ordovician fossils they had and the structure and creation of the caves. He even managed to infuse a good deal of humour in his story to keep his audience engaged in a topic that could otherwise be dry and boring very quickly. Reminds me of when I get to teach my computer classes in labs!
After a little lecture for background and context, Lucas led us down the path to the underground caves. I would be surprised if there was anyone in the lot of us that didn’t go “WOW!” when we descended into them. Truly fascinating. As one might expect, the corridors through the caves were narrow, with wider spaces opening here and there where Lucas could tell a story. He let us wander through a little passageway on our own so he could tell us we were official spelunkers – went through a cave passage without a guide. 😊 They have the caves lit, so it is easy to get through without bumping into each other or the sharp limestone carved walls, but it was helpful to have my phone flashlight to check for fossils in the rock as we went.
On Lucas’ advice, I took the path to the left when we exited the caves. This path led to the sinkhole where Tom Woodward had first found a passage into the caves that the river was not crashing through. Eventually, it led back to the waterfalls that we saw on entering the property. There are 5 openings to the caves that can be seen from the waterfall, but the caves cannot be accessed from them, which is why Tom went looking for another entrance. The whole thing was fascinating and exciting. What an experience! Truly a highlight of this journey.
Returning to Eganville, I topped up with gas and stopped at Rio’s for lunch. I sat on their patio, which has a beautiful riverfront view, and ordered their crispy chicken tacos. They were delicious and it was a nice stop before getting on the bike. The day growing quite hot by now, I switched out my jacket for the mesh one, filled up my water bottle and headed out.
Turning off Hwy 41, I took Hwy 28 to Bancroft, which would take me south to the petroglyph site. This highway, between the turnoff and Bancroft, is a sweet ride! Full of closely-packed curves and very little traffic, I put Fury through her paces as we curled through the pretty countryside. We were having so much fun, I didn’t even stop to take pictures! Once we got to Bancroft, there was a great deal of traffic and a few stretches of construction, so it wasn’t much fun until we took the turnoff towards the site. A short way in, we turned into Petroglyph Provincial Park. It is a sacred site for the local indigenous people, closely linked to their spirituality and history.
Leading into the site is a 3 km narrow dirt road, shaded by tall trees that filter the sun delightfully. I’m sure it is not by accident that they have done this, for I was infused with a sense of peace as I approached the site. Then there is a short walking trail into the Learning Centre.
The Learning Centre does an excellent job of educating visitors on the spiritual, cultural and lifestyle philosophies and practices of the Nishinaabeg people. A combination of storyboards, art and videos explain their understanding of the world. I spent a good deal of time absorbing this story before heading to the petroglyph site, which is another short walk through the trees.
A building has been erected over the rocks containing the glyphs to protect them from further erosion. The glyphs themselves are captivating. My mind was visualizing their creation and the possible purposes of the different figures and what the more obscure ones might mean. It seemed a powerful site too, somehow. Tracey came forcefully into my mind about halfway to the site and stayed with me. When I left them, she had gone and I felt dreadfully lonesome for her. While we may have shared the experience in spirit, it was not the same as knowing she will never be there beside me to share it. It took me a few minutes to collect myself before heading back down the path to the parking lot.
You couldn’t pay me to tell you which of today’s gems I liked best. They were both amazing and powerful in their own ways – one by nature and one by spirit. So don’t miss either of them if you pass this way. Both are worth the time.
Hearing thunder in the distance, I checked google maps for the quickest route back to Madoc. Following it without a second guess, it took us down some amazing side roads. Again, closely packed curves, little traffic and good road. We had a delightful run back to Madoc and beat the rain. Fury has had a chain clean and lube and the bags are packed to head for Ottawa tomorrow. Sleep well, my friends. Until we chat again….. 😊
Miracles can happen – I actually got up early for a change in order to head out in good time. Brenda had made a great breakfast and we had a last-minute visit before she went off to work. Gathering up the rest of my things, I proceeded to load up Fury. These proceedings were closely supervised by Sophia, Ajax and Dakota (the dogs), who came and went from the house to the bike to make sure I knew what I was doing. The air was heavy and humid and growing warm already when I left a little after 8:00 a.m. However, the forecast was predicting overcast, but no rain. Not being completely convinced of this outcome, I compromised and wore my mesh riding pants for the heat, but my waterproof jacket in the event of rain to preserve my phone and ipod, just in case.
We cruised along nicely for an hour and a half to Huntsville. Riding along, I again observed the towering cliffs of fractured rock covered densely with trees that line the highway and wondered how the heck the whole thing doesn’t come crumbling down. I suppose they do, from time to time, as evidenced by the piles of rock at the base here and there. I hadn’t filled up with gas in North Bay, so when we arrived in Huntsville, it was time to stop. Huntsville has all the markings of a very prosperous small city of almost 20,000. The businesses appear to be serving a healthy tourism industry and they have a very pretty waterfront park with lots of eateries. The community is well-cared for with picturesque storefronts and flowers along the main street. Needing a break, I stopped at the Whimsical Bakery for a coffee. They also had mini pecan pies and since pecans are nuts, that qualifies as health food (protein), and so I had one. Just to be healthy. 😊 I drink a cup of coffee every day almost, but I’m no huge coffee fan, but the coffee at the Whimsical Bakery was really good!
Back on the road and headed to Algonquin Park, we passed a turnoff for “Allison Road”. But since they couldn’t be bothered to spell my name right (Alyson), I couldn’t be bothered to check it out! We also passed Park Lake, but they must have meant boats, because there was no place to park a bike to take a picture. So we cruised along for another hour or so. The rain spit on us here and there, but we scoffed at it and kept going (inwardly, of course, for it would never do to openly mock Mother Nature).
Stopped at the entrance to Algonquin Park with every intention of purchasing the day pass the signs kept telling me I needed. When I went into the building, there was a lineup and one person at the desk, explaining to each person in detail about the trails and museums, etc. I hopped back on Fury and we just kept riding. Not too much time passed before we were confronted with the Algonquin Art Centre. Hoping I wouldn’t get ticketed for not having a pass, I pulled in to take a look. The entrance grounds have a small tribute garden to Tom Thomson. He was an outdoorsman and artist who came to Algonquin Park to fish. Seeing the creative possibilities in the landscape, he began leading fellow artists around the park. This became so frequent, they became known as the “Algonquin Park School” of artists. In 1917, Tom’s capsized canoe was found by residents searching his favourite painting spots. A few days later, his body was found and death by drowning was confirmed. In 1920, the artists who had gone on expeditions with him were inspired to continue Tom’s passion for exploring and painting Canada’s wilderness. They renamed themselves the Group of Seven and became Canada’s most famous group of painters.
The gallery is beautiful with gorgeous works of art in various mediums. Some of my favourites were the metal welding pieces of different animals. The detail was incredible – I can’t imagine the patience that takes. I don’t even have the patience to hand-stitch a quilt! There were also several paintings I could have on my walls if I win the lottery sometime soon. The art centre is also situated on a very pretty lake called Found Lake and it is a treat for the eyes, so I took a picture that doesn’t even begin to convey the real thing.
Back on the highway, we rode by another very pretty spot with a bright yellow float plane. As I neared the driveway though, it said “authorized personnel only”. Fine then. I went across the road to the park and took the picture back. Not nearly as lovely as it could have been, so I have to confess it’s really just a spite picture of the plane.
For the last 40 kilometers or so, at the east end of Algonquin park, the construction began. And it was never ending. So when I saw the sign for the Logging Museum, I would have liked to have visited, but it was not very accessible and would have been a nightmare to try to get back on the road. Instead, we trolled along behind all the other traffic through the construction and were happy to be free of it.
Arriving at Barry’s Bay, it was time for another wee break. I went into the ice cream shop and had an ice cream cone, since I wasn’t ready for lunch, courtesy of the pecan pie. Since milk is also protein and ice cream is made from milk, I don’t really see the problem there. As a bonus, it was chocolate ice cream and chocolate comes from a bean, which is a vegetable. So really, I had veggies too. I’ve been so healthy today, I can’t stand it!
There were only two other people in the restaurant. Margaret and Frank were sitting at a table each absorbed in their own tablet, proof that the generational barrier for such behaviour has been broken! I passed Margaret on my way to the washroom and said I had noticed this and wondered if that’s what happens when you know longer have anything left to say to each other. We had a good giggle and a little chat. They are from North Carolina and staying at a nearby beach. She said they had 8 or 10 grandchildren there waiting for hamburger buns! Easy to see why they were having a quiet little break at the ice cream shop and restaurant!
My tour-guide-by-text, Phil, from the CTX700 bike forum had told me of the Janusz Zurakowski Park in Barry’s Bay. Zurakowski was a famous Polish Canadian test pilot from Barry’s Bay. He was at the forefront of aviation technology and is considered the greatest test pilot of his time. In 1952, he emigrated to Canada to join Avro aircraft. That same year, he broke the sound barrier with the first Canadian aircraft of that design. A remarkable man with a remarkable life, I encourage you to look him up and check out his story. If you are wandering through Barry’s Bay, the little corner park is very much worth the visit and it’s right on the main road – even I couldn’t miss it.
Another stop, courtesy of Phil, was just up the road a few minutes. The town of Wilno claims to be the Canada’s first Polish settlement. They have a really great little strip of land where they have brought in old buildings, reconstructed them and set up displays of how life was lived by these new immigrants. Really well done and well worth the stop for the “by-donation” museum. Clearly the town takes a great deal of pride in its heritage and the preservation of it.
Walking back towards the bike, it began to rain a bit and I could see the clouds darkening in the west. Travelling east, I thought we had best get going if we were going to outrun it to Madoc. Stopping only for gas at Eganville, I took the turnoff for Hwy 41 south to Madoc. For a rider, this is a beautiful stretch of highway – pretty, with winding curves for miles.
Not being too sure how far we had to go, but knowing it was something under 2 hours, we whistled along to make what time we could. I could smell the rain coming and just wanted to get as many miles behind me as I could before it hit. So we didn’t get to stop at Bon Echo and check out the petroglyphs. This disappointed me, because rain had prevented me from visiting the ones in Lake Superior Provincial Park earlier. However, on we went, and all of a sudden, just outside of Kaladar, the rain came down in buckets! It was at this point that I realized I had not closed a vent on my jacket and a startling rivulet of water ran up the inside of my arm, over my shoulder and down my chest. That’s what I call wicking!
For the first time, I was close to a location to stop, so I pulled into a gas station and waited it out. It came down pretty hard for about 30 minutes and then eased up, stopped and a bit of watery sun peered out. Seizing the opportunity, I suited back up and Fury, shiny from the rain, was ready to go. At this point, I knew we were only 40 kms from our end destination, so knew we could achieve it even if we did get rained on again. We got behind a slow truck that we couldn’t get around for quite some time. This became more than frustrating as I watched the behaviour of the clouds travelling faster than us. I can honestly say it is the first time on this trip that I've had a flicker of anxiety about what was coming. They were…..rolling…..like waves – big, voluminous clouds, rolling over themselves in our direction. I thought it could just as easily be hail as rain. With 20 kms to go, we finally got a passing lane. Pulled out past that truck and we booked it for Madoc. We didn’t quite make it this time, the rain hitting us hard about 7 kms out. It let up just about the time I arrived in Madoc so I was able to pull out my phone for directions to the motel. The good news is, that even though I was wet, it was warm enough out that I wasn’t that cold.
Peeling off my wet clothes and having a warm shower restored my inner thermostat and I’m definitely ready for bed tonight. Hoping for good weather tomorrow so I can check out some of the interesting things that crossed my path today!
Don't have even one interesting story to tell you today. With thunderstorms predicted all day, I stayed put in North Bay and worked instead of travelling. Listened to the rain come pounding down most of the day and thought I made the right choice.
Heading out tomorrow and looking forward to what seems like a very interesting route!
Today was a catching up day. Slept in, spent a couple of hours doing some work, assisted by Dakota, who was sure I could work better if his head was on my leg. Caught my laundry all up and, finishing up in mid-afternoon, I dawdled around until Brenda arrived from work. She took me on a tour of North Bay – up to the college and university campuses, over to Duschene Falls and then to the waterfront. North Bay is a good-sized, but small city, providing everything one needs without overwhelming.
Guy and Brenda say a great deal of what goes on in North Bay are businesses that support the mining industry by providing specialized services and products. There are also a growing number of head offices for large companies here. The rental market is tight with the university and college campuses here, but the housing market to buy into, at least by Toronto and Vancouver standards, is still within reach for most families.
Duschene Falls is a short hike up a little trail, and though the water levels are lower this time of year, it is still a very pretty little falls. The trail continues up the hillside if one is ambitious in the heat and humidity. We were not ambitious….
Heading down to the waterfront, we took a stroll along the walkway. I got a deal on a boat big enough to transport me and Night Fury back to Coquitlam and it looks pretty comfortable. All I need now is a captain and crew to take me, so I will begin that search tomorrow. 😊
I took many pictures of the beautiful flowers along the waterfront walk. Couldn’t help myself. Among the flowers, there was a great deal of milkweed. Brenda said that this is the plant that the monarch butterflies feed off and they come to North Bay in the summer, then begin their migration to Mexico in the winter. I was interested to learn in doing a bit of reading on Wikipedia (the answer to everything, of course), that individual butterflies do not complete the round-trip migration. Four generations are involved in the annual migration as the females lay eggs on the northward migration.
Brenda pointed out the unique sundial and the two rows of bricks that mark the time. One row is used in the winter and one in the summer.
Heading back home, we had time for a beverage and a visit before the boys were done work. Guy and Brenda and I met their son Adam, and Kira and baby Easton for dinner at Moose’s Cookhouse. Easton is a happy little guy and cute as a button, so he was busy being charming. Dinner was great and so was the company. Adam generously treated me to dinner, so I am once again a spoiled brat.
Feeling the need for another rest day, I’m going to hang around tomorrow again, do some more work and get all my gear prepared for departure on Wednesday. Toodles for now. 😊
Today was an impulsive exploration day. Didn’t get too early a start. Started the morning with a nice chat with Heather and Scott, who saw me loading up the bike at the motel and asked about the trip. Once loaded, I noticed that my spare fuel pack was leaking….again. I can’t say I’m overly impressed with the Rotopax flat fuel packs. I got them because they lie flat, which is suitable for the gear configuration for my bike. They are expensive as heck and if the spout isn’t seated just exactly corrected, the stupid thing drips. So, unloaded everything, fussed with it again and re-loaded.
Knowing I wanted to get to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, I headed out, following the google maps direction. This took me by the Lock City Dairies, who have the most ludicrous statue at their entrance I thought I was going to fall off the bike laughing! Just had to pull in and take the picture.
There is nothing direct about getting to it, but I did find the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and what a treat it was! They have fabulous displays of all kinds of planes, some of which you can actually go into for a closer look. There were displays of period communication devices, an interactive display for kids, a flight simulator and a really good short film presentation on firefighting. I wandered around for a good long while, taking it all in.
Just down the road as I headed out, I saw the Ermatinger Clerge National Historic Site. This site has the Ermatinger Old Stone House and the Clergue Blockhouse, which represented the lifestyle of the rich and famous from 1808-1870. While the buildings weren’t open when I was there, I took some photos of the stone house and the blockhouse. Really neat.
Thinking it was about time I got rolling along, I followed the signs towards Sudbury. I wasn’t on the road long before I saw a sign pointing off the highway to St. Joseph’s Island. Well, what’s a girl to do? Gotta check out and island. So I took the turn and soon rode across a bridge of a very pretty stretch of water. Not really having eaten anything substantial, a sign declaring “Mom’s Restaurant” called me in for lunch. I’m not sure what the options are on St. Joseph’s Island, but clearly this is the place to be. Watching people come and go the whole time I was there, I commented to the waitress that it seemed pretty steady and her reply was “this is exceptionally quiet”. The special of an egg salad sandwich and homemade tomato bisque hit the spot.
There is an historic “fort” on the island, but the ladies at the table next to me over lunch said it’s really just a pile of rocks when you get there, though the ride around the island is nice. However, the road was about half an hour in and out and as the day was wasting, I chose to continue straight down the road. Before pulling into the restaurant, I had seen a sign that indicated an historic site only 4 kms further. What I found was the St. Joseph’s Island Museum. Parking was sketchy – grass and loose gravel underpinned by sandy stuff. Fury wasn’t terribly happy about standing there, and my gripping base wasn’t giving her very good purchase, but she put up with it while I went through the museum and grounds. It is a group of buildings that are extremely well laid out in their displays. Thoroughly enjoyed the stop and was happy I took the side road.
Leaving the Island, I thought “Ok, no more detours. Get going!” But then, another hour down the road…..maybe one more….. Seeing a sign at Bruce Mine that said Cottages and Lighthouse – 4 kms, I had to go down the road. From pavement, it went to a narrow dirt road that was a bit tricky to navigate. I rode over a picturesque little bridge and then through a gate that felt like passing through to a secret place. The short little road ended at a beach. I didn’t find the lighthouse, but the little road was certainly worth the ride in.
I rode uneventfully for another hour or so before stopping to top up with gas. The day had become quite warm, so I switched my rain gear jacket for my mesh one. About an hour from my destination of North Bay, you will never guess what happened! It began to rain. Sigh. Not very hard at first, so I wouldn’t bother to stop and switch all the armour in the jackets again. And then it began to pour. Now there really wasn’t any point in stopping – I was already wet – so I persevered until I arrived at my destination.
Staying with friends Guy and Brenda for a couple of nights. We re-visited the old Flin Flon days over supper and have had a nice evening getting re-acquainted. With some people, it’s just like no time has passed. Looking forward to poking around North Bay a bit tomorrow and taking a rest day after several consecutive travel days to give both Fury and I a break. Hope you enjoy today’s photos!
Being my trip, I’m entitled to change my mind, so today I travelled to Sault Ste. Marie instead of Timmins. Had a quick breakfast at the hotel and saw the first "bag" of milk I have seen since I was a kid!
The morning was cool, overcast and threatening rain, so I swapped out the gear for the warmer, waterproof stuff. About an hour down the road, I arrived in White River. It was in 1914, at the train station in White River, that a trapper, who had found an orphaned cub and rescued it, sold the cub to British soldier Lt. Harry Colebourn. Lt. Colebourn, having come to Canada and eventually ended up in Winnipeg, named the bear cub Winnipeg. He soon became “Winnie”, for short. When sent to France, he left Winnie with the London zoo to care for while he was away. Five years later, the cub was hugely popular with the children in London. Frequent visitors were A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin. And so were inspired the stories of Winnie the Pooh. So, to make a long story short, White River is where it all began. I took a little tour through the town to see the original brick train station where the transaction took place before heading back onto the highway.
The landscape did not vary much from the previous days, so while I continued to enjoy its beauty, I didn’t take many photos. Arriving in Wawa about lunch time, I stopped at the visitor centre. Can’t go by Wawa without having a picture of the giant goose! The grounds are really nice and have some neat story boards about locals who have influenced the town’s development. Four young buddies from Minnesota were doing “the Lake Superior loop” and I took a picture of them with the goose. On my way back to the bike, I noticed that one of the bolts on my license plate had fallen off and the plate was hanging on by the remaining plastic nut and bolt. Found a Home Hardware up the road and got two proper bolts and locking nuts to secure it again. Right beside the hardware store was a gas station and Young’s General Store. A haberdashery of all sorts of things on the outside was an effective tool for getting me to go in! Proudly, I managed not to buy a thing, but it was sure full of all kinds of goodies.
Topped up with gas and, since the day had warmed and rain had only been the odd spit, I shed my rain gear pants. A quick grilled cheese sandwich and a coffee at Tim’s and I was back on the road towards Sault Ste. Marie. About half an hour out of Wawa, it began to rain…..of course. Not too seriously though, so I didn’t bother to stop and put the rain pants back on. Soon I was riding through Lake Superior Provincial Park, which was beautiful and full of pretty little lake spots. The rain increased as I moved south, obscuring the views of Lake Superior in mist and giving it an air of mystery.
The rain eased up about 40 kms out of Sault Ste. Marie and I rode in wet, but not cold. Checked into the Holiday Motel, parked and unloaded Fury. Less than five minutes later, it began to POUR outside! The Holiday Motel is a small hotel with very good rates. The room is very comfortable and I can recommend it in good conscience.
With the rain hammering down outside, I decided it was a pizza night and ordered from Pizza Hut. I must have been hungry, because I ordered dessert too – the chocolate chip cookie. When it arrived, the cookie was bigger than the pizza! Finally, my life is in balance…. 😊
Going to try again to make an early night tonight and try to get started earlier tomorrow. So much more adventuring to do!
P.S. Today’s pictures have a bonus picture of cousin Patrick that I forgot to post from my day in Winnipeg. I blinked, but he looks great!
Stayed up too late doing yesterday’s blog and so didn’t get going too fast this morning. Had a leisurely breakfast with Grace and Grant and then loaded up the bike. I wanted to stop by Grace’s store, The Purple Camel, to check it out. It’s a great learning resources store for teachers and while things are a bit quiet at the moment, they are already reviewing stock and preparing for the back-to-school rush.
My other goal was to stop by a shop with Night Fury as a new noise had surfaced yesterday that I wanted to check out. Fortunately for me, a Honda dealer was quite close to The Purple Camel. The mechanic was finishing up another job, so I left the bike and took their suggestion to go to Daytona’s for lunch. Ordered the short rib poutine on the “small plates” menu…….not small. Really good though!
Fury checked out ok and it was 1:00 p.m. by the time we headed out. We weren’t far out of Thunder Bay when we saw the signs for the Terry Fox Memorial and rode into the monument. It is a beautiful monument, set against a stunning backdrop of Lake Superior. On one end of the monument it says, “….it was through his strength and commitment that he united Canadians as they have never been united before. It is for such a reason this monument was designed, joining east with west, depicting all provincial and territorial coats of arms and the Canadian emblems of the maple leaf and beaver”. (At the time of construction, Nunavut was still part of the Northwest Territories)
This struck me as a very relevant objective for our country right now. The divisiveness and negativity with which media manipulates us, it sometimes feels as though the Canadian values we pride ourselves on are being eroded. It seems to me that as affluence increases, empathy and tolerance give way to selfishness, greed and excess. “Because we work hard for it, so we can do what we want, have what we want and look down on those who don’t.” If there was satisfaction in that, why are people never content with what they have? Why do they have to cut someone else down to make themselves feel smart and important? What does it cost us to help someone else succeed?
These thoughts reminded me of another quote I have seen recently. “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less”. This quote is attributed to both C.S. Lewis and Rick Warren, but regardless, it resonates with me as I consider the excessiveness of our current culture. It is less than 200 years ago that people came from other countries to Canada to try for a better life. Whole communities of people – Ukrainians, Poles, Italians, Irish, English, German – you name it. They had to work together as a community to survive and thrive. They looked out for each other and eventually had to adjust to others in their midst and accept new ideas, new movements and new cultural influences. That’s what it means to be a Canadian. We must stop letting the propaganda of negative media tear us apart and stand united against the folly going on around us. United we stand, divided we fall. Increasingly, I fear we will need to defend ourselves and we must do so as a country, not as a political party, a religion, an ethnicity, or a region. We must do so as Canadians, regardless of our differences.
Ok, I’m done with my soap box for now. Having had this deep, philosophical conversation with myself, I got back on the bike and carried on down the road. I wasn’t much further along when I was seduced by a sign on the highway that said Fish Shop and Amethyst Store, or something like that. It seemed such an incongruous pairing that it must be checked out, so I pulled off the highway for the very short detour to the shop. Great little store with a huge selection of amethyst jewellery, geodes, candles and all manner of goodies. I did not realize that amethyst was a big thing around here, but apparently it is mined here and so there are many little shops handling it. Which probably makes it ingenious to pair it with fish goods. They had all kinds of smoked fish - whitefish, salmon, trout, and more - that looked fabulous and made me wish I had a cooler on the bike. Instead, I settled for chocolate fudge. Sacrifices must be made......
The next thing that detoured me was a sign for Sleeping Giant Park. I turned off the highway again and took the 35 km road into the park. That road was a treat! Hardly any traffic, twisty road all the way in and decent surface. When they said “bumps”, they meant it though, so you have to watch for them. Had a fun time swinging through the curves. I didn’t see any sleeping giants, but I followed the road to the end at Silver Islet. Suitably, there was a silver mine on the islet off the shore of the lake. Though it was difficult to mine, the historic marker said over $3 million in silver was extracted from it before it ended. There is an old store building there as well, but it’s all locked up. If the store advertised on the signage leading into the community exists, I didn’t ride quite far enough to find it.
By this time, I had travelled less than 100 kms and figured I had better get serious. Topped up with gas and looked up to find a dog in the truck across the island watching me intently. I chuckled to myself as the words formed in my mind: "Ever feel like you're being watched?".
Only stopping to take a couple of photos of the gigantic railway bridge on the way back to the highway, I carried on my way. The day was cool and overcast and Fury sailed along smoothly. We rode through very pretty country and the road was cut through huge outcrops of pink rock that made me go “wow” every time it happened. We didn’t stop again until we saw a sign for Aguasabon Falls. Needing a break anyway, we rode a short way into the parking lot and I followed the boardwalk down to the falls. It was a very lovely waterfall with a river flowing between massive cliffs.
The day growing very late and the rain starting to spit on us a bit, I decided Marathon was as far as we would get today. Checked into a hotel and unloaded Fury. With a chance for an early night, I hope to be on the road earlier tomorrow. I hope you are still enjoying this adventure as much as I am!
See what I did there, with that double-entendre? 😊
Well, I thought the accommodations at Chateau Lougheed were pretty deluxe, and so they were, but the McLeod Lodge and Chez Parker are certainly wanting for nothing either! I’m a spoiled rotten brat.
Slept great in Charlie’s room, well supervised by Lego and rubiks cubes. If he can solve all those cubes, I am mightily impressed. Bennett and Charlie are two young people with some serious talent. Left Neil and Christine’s about 9:00 this morning after a quick breakfast and last visit with Betty and Ed, then stopped at Neil’s Chiropractic office on the way out to say goodbye. I was disappointed to miss Christine, Bennett and Charlie, who had to be away while I was there, but sometimes bad timing just can't be helped.
Robertson Davies is one of my favourite authors and he wrote a book called The Cunning Man that is a particular favourite of mine. In that book, a doctor is narrating his life. His decision to become a doctor was planted at a young age by a childhood experience with a shaman in Sioux Lookout. So, I had to make the detour to Sioux Lookout on my way to Thunder Bay.. This meant adding 2 hours to the riding day, but I turned up Hwy 72 and was so glad that I did. Traffic was sparse and I had a beautiful, solitary ride through dense forest, marshland and rocky outcrops.
As I was riding along in this peaceful utopia, it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I haven’t turned on a TV since leaving home. The news was on at Neil and Christine’s last night while I was writing my blog and that is as close as I have come to watching TV. And you know what? They’re right – ignorance IS bliss!
Sioux Lookout is a happening place, which was not what I was initially expecting. Betty had told me it was and true to her words, Sioux Lookout’s tagline is “Hub of the North”. It appears to be a hunting and fishing mecca for Americans and there are lots of outfitters and guides there. The city is well-kept and looks prosperous. They have a really beautiful park at the visitor centre, which you can’t miss on your way into town. So I took a little walk around the park and a little cruise through the city. Not being sure where gas might be available at the next stop along the road, I topped up and had a coffee and a sandwich before heading out again.
The road between Sioux Lookout and Silver Dollar was a real treat! Lovely scenery, a practically deserted road and twisties! Night Fury and I had a great time working the rust out of our curve technique and sightlines. And because the traffic was almost non-existent, I could stop and take pictures whenever I wanted. The only wildlife I saw other than birds was a turtle crossing the road, which, of course, I saw in plenty of time to avoid. Maybe it was because the day was so hot, but it seemed to me there were a lot less bugs than splattered on us across the prairies. I see I have a semi-upside down one that I took by accident, but it's kind of cool, so I left it in. At one of my little pull-out stops, the sandy soil was covered in wild blueberries! I picked a whole bunch and had a little snack by the roadside before carrying on.
Silver Dollar isn’t really a town – more like a junction. But there is a lodge at the corner for gas and food, as well as souvenirs, washrooms and very friendly staff. Stopped for a Gatorade and Fury and I headed down the last 60 kms of our detour. Arriving in Ignace, I didn’t really need gas so just drove around town. Had to take a picture of the airplane and superhero statues at a local hotel! Then got back on the road towards Thunder Bay.
Back on TC-1, I encountered the same frustration as I had out of Dryden before the Sioux Lookout turnoff – those drivers that drive slow along the highway and then speed up when a passing lane comes up. So we did lots of rest stops to keep me from seeing if Fury could do a wheelie onto their rear bumper and just drive over top of them. My last rest stop was just a few minutes out of Thunder Bay at Kakabeka Falls. Shed my helmet and jacket and headed down the short boardwalk to the waterfall. I was about half-way down the walk when I got the nudge to take Tracey’s ashes with me. Retrieving them, I took a different route back to the boardwalk and saw the storyboard with the Legend of Greenmantle. The story goes that Greenmantle was a daughter of the Ojibway chief and was captured by a Sioux tribe who had attacked them. Forced to lead the enemy to an attack on another Ojibway camp, she pretended to betray her own people and led them down the river. At the last minute, she steered her canoe to the bank, leaped out and swam to shore, escaping her captors, many of whom went over the falls. She was able to beat the rest of the enemy to the camp and warn the Ojibway who were able to fight off the attack. There are other versions of the legend, some that she went over the falls too rather than betray her people, and her spirit lingers in the mist as a rainbow.
Now, I may be biased, being a waterfall girl, but the falls are really quite stunning. With my phone camera, I couldn't get the whole falls in a pictures so of course, the pictures doesn't even come close to the real thing. Add a legend like Greenmatle to go along with them and I could see why this should be the spot for Tracey’s ashes in Ontario.
The last few kms to Grace and Grant’s were uneventful and I was welcomed very warmly, even though they have not seen me since I was a wee thing. I was extremely grateful for a shower to wash off the day and a fabulous stir-fry supper. As I crawl into bed, I realize once again how fortunate I have been to have so many people welcome me into their homes. Sometimes you just have to put it out there so the universe can deliver!