Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 20 - 24: Lake Superiour and beyond

June 20 - 104km to Wawa
Sitting here in my tent there are approximately 10 million mosquitoes all quietly waiting on my screen door for me to open it and let them in, which I'm not going to. It's kind of unnerving - what if they figure out how to open it? What if they find a hole I don't know about?

Today we breakfasted twice in White River, one at the motel and once in town at Jen's bistro, and then hit the road. It was rollier than yesterday but still flat, and the weather quickly cleared to be sunny and warm all day - first in a while - but more importantly the wind didn't cooperate and the gentle breeze developed into a more forceful southerly breeze which is set to continue for the next few days - unfortunate since we are heading almost due south for the next two days.

We lunched on snack food at the Halfway Motel, which may mark our halfway point of our trip in mileage, coincidentally, but it is named because it is close to halfway from White River to Wawa. In the afternoon we saw two dead moose at the roadside, an adult male and female, both no more than a day or so old, and we have heard from locals that hitting moose is unfortunately quite common at night - one guy we talked to had been in a car that hit a moose just a few days ago: the car was totalled but he was fine.

We got into Wawa about 3 and decided to stay here, though we could have continued another 30km to a camping in the provincial park. A good decision - Wawa is a nice town, despite the three (3) large tacky goose statues that line the road into town. After setting up camp on the shores of the Magpie River we went into town to explore and have dinner. Wawa Lake is a nice setting, and we saw the Big Bike Ride for health research roaming around town - it's a giant (four-wheeled) bike with seats for about 50 people, playing music and riding around town. Very weird. Maybe Mary will post a picture of it with this blog post. We had a fine and cheap dinner at the Columbia Restaurant, which has a Friday night $5 medium pizza special - we plowed through four of them and were very satisfied.

Tomorrow we are planning on staying in Lake Superior Provincial Park at Agawa Bay, which has campsites right on the beach!! Tomorrow should be quite scenic and we expect a few mondo hills to climb, which we've been missing for the last few days.


June 21, A Superiour Day
15.9 average
6:23 hrs

The shores of the Magpie River provided us with a quiet night's rest, until we were visited by a four-footed trouble-maker. This happened at about 1:30 pm. The bear started with a thorough inspection of the common garbage area -- twice, just to be sure he didn't miss anything! This caused us all to wake up, but I didn't think anything of it as the garbage area was quite far from our campsite. About 15 minutes later, after I was nicely back to sleep, Mark's blew his alert whistle and I was instantly ... well, alert. A huge shape walked right behind the back of his tent. Of course, it was Mr. Bear on another scouting expedition. We knew there were bears about so we didn't have anything of interest in either of the tents, but put yourself in Marks place: There is a beautiful full moon shining on a nearly cloudless night. The moon is so bright it casts shadows. Suddenly a huge, shaggy, four-footed shape is sillouted across the back of your tent. This is exactly what happened to Mark. So, everyone got up and out of their tents to drive away the bear (that is what the Ontario Parks bear-aware instructions suggest -- yelling, throwing things, making noise). Luckily we didn't have to resort to any of this as the bear was just passing through to other, more lucrative pickings.

The bear incident aside, Wawa campground was very restful, and we got up eager to ride through Lake Superiour Provincial Park. The day certainly didn't disappoint. The park is lovely, with vistas over Lake Superiour, or other much smaller lakes, poking up around every turn. Other than the great riding through rolling terrain highlights of the day included lunch on the wharf in the Adirondack chairs at Red Rock Lake. This is a fine place to stop, and is just below the Park Office about 40 km south of Wawa. Anyone can use the wharf, and it makes a great diving platform for Red Rock Lake. The day was so warm we all cooled off with a swim. This was our best lunch stop yet. We took in other scenic gems, like Old Woman Bay (of course, Mike had to get a picture of me at this stop). We could really feel the moderating influence of Lake Superiour. As we swept down into the bay the temp dropped about 10 degrees.

After Old Woman we visited Katherine Cove, and then on to Agawa Rock and the Ojibiway pictographs right on the Lake Superiour shoreline. Very impressive, and difficult to get to. The final highlight of the day was camping right on the beach at Agawa Bay. Lake Superiour filled the horizon, a cool breeze and some mosquito coils kept the bugs at bay, and sunset over the water was stunning. A great way to end a fine day.

We also had a number of Charlie sightings reported to us today -- a trucker reported seeing him just a few kilometres back, another motorist reported him to be catching up, -- but even though we waited and went back to see if we could find him, we have not seen him. Hopefully we'll connect in Sault St. Marie tomorrow.

June 22
100km to Haviland Bay on Batchawana Bay.

Tonight I am sleeping in a teepee - how cool is that? The hills are more or less over except for one big one the locals call the Mile Hill we'll do tomorrow morning. We came around Batchawana Bay - the last of Lake Superior we will see - and found MacCauley's motel and restaurant, run by the very friendly ex-pat Brit Adie, and he cheerfully let us camp, and then said "or you could sleep in the teepees if you like" to which we of course said for sure! He has two full-sized teepees, real ones, all wood poles and canvas covers, set up, unfortunately next to the highway so they were a bit noisy at night, but otherwise very comfortable. Mike and Mary set up their tent, minus the flysheet, in theirs, but I just put down my groundsheet on the dirt and my mattress and slept on that - I bundled up in the sleeping bag and put the bughat on and found the bugs didn't get me at all (teepees are not bugproof).

Also in the evening another cyclist rolled in - his name is Bruce and he's from Cortes Island, which is very cool. He is going to make Mike some espresso in the morning with his portable espresso maker. He is a cool guy - this is the second time he's ridden across the country, first time was to his parents' in Deep River, and he typically does 150km a day.

The final exciting part about today - we passed a plaque at the Chippewa River marking the halfway point of the Trans-Canada Highway! Though we are almost certainly past the halfway point of the trip, this is a cool spot on the highway, and we got some pictures of it.


June 23 - Through the Soo
118 km to Bruce Mines

Today was cloudy and misty off the lake, though we didn't see the lake again. The last major hill was just south of Haviland Bay at Goulais River, and then it was a gentle downhill all the way to Sault. We stopped at the Velorution bike shop for information and a new chain for me, and then we stopped at the local bakery and continued into town. Downtown Sault is pretty bustling and we went all the way down Queen St to the Canada Locks historic site to eat lunch and check out the locks. There wasn't any traffic through the lock as the Canada side just does recreational traffic now. Then we headed east along the waterfront and continued out of town on the 17 and 17B.

At Echo Bay I was hanging around outside a cafe while Mike and Mary were shopping when another touring cyclist rode in, going in our direction, so that is how we met Mindy who is now cycling with us (or is it us with her?)! Mindy is going from Wisconsin to Philadelphia via the north shore of Lake Huron, and might cycle back too (or part way). She quit her job as a network analyst and is going back to uni in the fall, and is taking the summer to do this trip. She's an awesome travelling companion and it's great to have some more company again!

Her trip blog is here, I hope we get a good mention:

So even though Charlie hasn't caught up with us again - we heard from him tonight, he's in Sault St Marie tonight, he nearly caught us up in Wawa but then got hit with major bugs - we're once again a fourtet cycling along! And Mindy has some odd coincidental similarities to Charlie: she has exactly the same type of bike, same panniers (no trailer though), and same titanium camping pot.

The highway from Sault east appears to be pretty busy and there are usually quite a few big trucks, and little in the way of shoulders, but we are all so used to cycling on roads like this that we have no trouble with it. We got as far as Bruce Mines before deciding to stop for the night - there was a nice municipal campground in town, but the weather had given us a few dumps of rain during the afternoon so the campground was pretty soaked, and with the four of us and cheap motels we got a decent motel room for all of $18 each. Then of course the sun came out and we had a very pleasant evening on the shores of Lake Huron's north channel, cooking dinner in a gazebo on the waterfront.


June 24
93km to Algoma Mills
We had a cold breakfast in our motel room and were away fairly quickly to the very pleasant lakeshore town of Thessalon for breakfast. Our second lunch was at Iron Bridge, which of course doesn't have the eponymous bridge any more, and a snowmobile bridge in its place. The road is often away from the lake now and we only see glimpses of it, though the riding is very pleasant flattish farmland. Then the road continues along the Mississagi River to Blind River, again on the lake.

Now, I am sure you all think we are supremely tough and studly for cycling across Canada, but today we met some guys who put us all to shame, in that they are WALKING across the country, in 6 months! Followed by an RV for support, these guys are spreading an ant1iviolence message by walking across the country and stoppping at each town to give talks. They walk about 40 kilometres a day and are planning on being in Victoria by the end of October, and we are going to go say hello to them again! Check out their website for more info:

Mary here -- just a word about our amazing campsite at Algoma Mills -- we are on Lauzon Lake, just off the highway. The campsite has a hot tub, a sauna, and waterfront. We used all of the above, many times! Just down the road is Clarence's Fish where they smoke lake fish -- over 10 tons a year. I got some smoked rainbow for us to sample, and some maple syrup made in the area we just cycled through. All in all an excellent end to a fine day.


Anonymous said...

Hi M-cubed. I just wanted to let you know that I arrived safely in my hometown Deep River and am thinking of you. I hope you enjoyed good company, good food, lots of hot water, and beds in Walkerton, and that your trip is progressing wonderfully, without bears. I am going to monitor the blog and I am in for the party in the fall! My email is and I'd love to hear from you if you have the brain-power after a day of cycling! Regards, Bruce

Unknown said...

hey y'all, i too wanted to let you know that i arrived safely in my hometown of burlington. long day - another century ride of 166 km, 2 kms shy of beating my record! alas, it was not to be. pretty darn crazy riding into my hometown, knowing i rode my bike from my door in victoria, to my door in burlington. crazy. anyway, hope you're all doing well, fattened up and well rested from uncle dick's. haven't heard from mindy yet - hope she's not dead in a ditch. i also hope to catch you guys in the east! lots of love, chinese jesus.