Thursday, July 3, 2008

June 25 - 27: Leaving Northern Ontario

June 25: Algoma Mills (Lauzon Lake) to Whitefish Falls 108 km 5:50 on the bike 18.5 km/hr

We woke up to a cloudy sky and heavy dew, but low bugs (well, relatively), and a slightly cool morning -- perfect for riding. We got back on the Trans Canada and carried a very high speed until we hit construction outside of Spanish. Like other construction on the TCH this one was quite beneficial to us because it stops the traffic entirely, but we are usually allowed to go through on the shoulder.

After a stop for 2nd breakfast in Spanish (Vance's Moter Inn -- excellent wall-eye fish) we rocketed along to the town of Massey. The tourist info and museum in Massey had internet service as well as the most helpful staff we have come across in Ontario, so we took a bit of time here. Lucky we did because Charlie caught up with us in Massey. What a surprise it was to see him riding down the TCH. Massey was a turning point in another way as well. It was here that we said good-bye to the Trans Canada. We turned down a secondary road (Lee Valley Road) and took it to Espanola. Unfortunately, this was the road of many flats. Mindy got a rear flat, Mike got a front flat, and then Mindy got another flat.

After a long stop at Canadian Tire to buy a new tire and patch flats, we set off south towards Whitefish Falls. Although we did have some traffic on the road south from Espanola, it was pleasant to be off the TCH and away from the heavy truck traffic. Also, I saw a very interesting snake on the side of the road. I think it might have been a rattlesnake, I'll have to check.

We stopped for the evening and camped on the shores of the North Channel of Lake Huron. Everyone went for a swim off the huge, glacier-rounded boulders at the end of the campground. The water was warm and the evening air was soft and bug free. We had dinner in camp and went to bed just as the bugs were starting to come up and make themselves known.

June 26: Whitefish Falls to South Baymouth (Manitoulin Island) 110 km 6:18 on the bike 17.4 km / hr average

Three of us had a bit of a night -- some "good ol' boys" in the next spot to us got into the booze and started an all-night euchre game that went on and on. We heard comments about every hand! It made for a somewhat long night, but we banged a few pots early in the morning, just to give them a wake-up call.

The day was hazy until late afternoon, but this didn't stop us from taking a spin around Manitoulin Island. We got off the main highway and headed west to see a few of the big lakes Manitoulin is famous for. Manitou Lake is the biggest lake on an island in a lake in the world. Mark did a bit of juggling on the shore. We passed through several Native reservations and towns, and saw some interesting geology. Mark got a great view of a beaver working away on cutting down a tree. But, the hightlight of the day for me was viewing some sandhill cranes. Mike spotted them off in the tall grass as we rode between Big Lake and Manitu Lake. What elegant creatures -- I got a few pictures, but nothing that did them justice. I would have gotten closer, but didn't want to disturb the birds. We also had a profusion of ladyslipper orchids growing along the side of the road. These orchids produce fat-bottomed pink blooms. I didn't think I'd see any on this trip, but there were thick clusters of them in the damp road-side seeps and marshes.

Four of us spent the night in a B&B in South Baymouth, and Mark camped at the local campground. Both places were pleasant, and put us in a good location for catching the ferry to Tobermory in the morning.

June 27: South Baymouth to southeast of Wiarton 99.2 km 5:21 on the bike 18.5 km/hr

We got up to a blue sky and mist off Lake Huron. All of us were well positioned to get on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry from South Baymouth to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. We had fine views from the ferry as islands and coastlines emerged from the lake mist. Bicycles and riders don't need a reservation for the boat -- just ride up to the ticket booth and buy your tickets. It was 14.50 per person and 6.20 for each bike.

After sailing through Fathom Five Park, we pulled into Tobermory (the Tub) and caught a view of the famous blue-green waters of Georgian Bay. We stopped for a bite and headed out of town on Highway 9. It was a warm and muggy day so we stopped again for a drink and ice cream around the town of Miller Lake where we came across an Ojibwa carver working on an intricate piece -- faces held together by carved braids and hair strands. He introduced himself as Wilbur and told us he had exhibited at Expo 86 in Vancouver. He had worked with some Vancouver Island carvers and had spent time carving at Cedar on the Island.

We continued on, moving over to Highway 9 down into Wiarton. Here we were able to catch a glimpse of the famous Niagra Escarpment before we had to ride up a few hills to get up on top of it. We got views of white cedars growing out of the limestone of the escarpment. These trees can get to be quite old, but due to the relatively poor nutrients in the limestone, don't get anywhere near as big as the cedars on the West Coast.

Tonight we were staying with friends of Charlie's -- Pam and Reg from outside of Wiarton. Reg met us just outside of Wiarton and guided us through town and on to his home on Bass Lake. Pam rode out to join us for the last five kilometres too. We all arrived at their lovely home on Bass Lake, got ourselves sorted, and jumped into the lake for an evening dip. After a long hot and muggy day in the saddle it was heavenly.

We were treated to dinner, hot showers, great conversation, and comfortable beds for the night, you can't ask for better than that!! Thank you so much Pam and Reg, we really appreciated your wonderful hospitality.

No comments: