Thunder Bay and Vancouver, end of 2005 trip

Saturday and Sunday 13 and 14 Aug 2005
839 km in total this year

Saturday we rode 65 km in and around Thunder Bay. Out to the Terry Fox memorial in the morning – they achieved here a look of heroism and taste which did not quite succeed in our Terry Fox memorial in Vancouver.

People we are meeting tell us of how on 1 Sept 1980 they were all waiting here in Thunder Bay for Terry to arrive, waiting in the malls, waiting in the other places he was going to visit, and he never arrived. Lots of memories of him in Thunder Bay, they feel a real affinity.

Olin and I were married 2 days earlier, 25 years ago, 30 Aug 1980. We cruised north for a while – found the Mackenzie Inn, a good launching point for next year. Came back along Lakeshore Drive, visited a local artists store and bought some amethest. Back to the B+B, taxi tour of the heights of the city, farewell-to-our-trip-for -this-year dinner at the Caribou.

After dinner, we had a fine time at the CLE – Canadian Lakehead Exhibition, music, rides and midway.

Sunday early morning in a spectacular sunrise, cycled to the airport, put the bikes into bags, took them out again in Vancouver and cycled home.

Thunder Bay

Friday 12 Aug 2005
Top of the Hill B+B
Thunder Bay Ontario

68 km today, taking us on a country route into the south side of town, very pretty through good looking farms, fairly flat. We went to the airport thinking we would store our bikes and rent a car – but no storage so stayed with the bikes and cruised around the town.

Visited the Thunder Bay art gallery at Lakehead University and saw an amazing set of paintings by Steve Gouthro of Winnipeg. Industrial realism. I would have liked to buy one on the spot.

B+B is high on a hill near the harbour – quite a view of the sleeping giant.

Kakabeka Falls

11 Aug 2005
8.45 – 5.00 (Eastern time zone)
110.3 km
avs 22.2 km/hr
4 hours 58 mins travel time

Bananas for breakfast in our motel, then 20 kms down the road to Gary’s Esso truck stop and a good breakfast. The road is flat through peat bogs all the way to Raith, but not quite as fast as some head wind.

Two interesting things near Raith: The first is the time zone change and monument to Sir Sanford Fleming – chief engineer on the building of the railroad and inventor of time zones. The same spot has the large plaque showing our highway – Highway 17 – the TCH, and the highway of the first nations used by the early explorers for several hundred years. The route starts at Thunder Bay, upstream to Dog lake, then over a portage to Lac des Milles Lacs and the Hudson Bay watershed – could stay on these rivers all the way to the Cypress Hills.

The second interesting spot is the continental divide marker – we’ve been looking for it for days now and are surprised to find it so close to Lake Superior and Thunder Bay.

Cycling today was not so fun – head wind and NO shoulder. Very hilly coming into Kakabeka Falls. The falls are very dramatic.

Good dinner in small cafe – the person directing us there cautioned that we might not like it because no deep fryer…

Upsala

Weds 10 August 2005
9.00 – 2.45
108.5 km
4 hrs 10 mins cycling
25.9 kph

Olin has a great bear baiting story to go with this picture.

These Northern Ontario towns on Highway 17 are desolate. Only the truck stops are thriving – though there is industry, logging, gas.

The towns were surveyed with an optimistic eye 100 years ago. They have no centre and sprawl out over miles. Ignace has a new medical centre on the far edge of town facing the wilderness – why not in the middle of town?

Upsala is sprawled with things so far apart it is hardly a town at all. Police in splendid isolation at one end, school far from anything with no prospect of children walking, and our motel is miles the other way. 3 km to our dinner and 3 km back again.

Beautiful riding again today, though the shoulder disappeared altogether in spots. The only thing worse than 18″ shoulder is no shoulder at all. Again flat riding, very few hills, tail wind, we moved pretty quickly. We have not seen many other cyclists though we hear of them. 3 are in the area but with a support vehicle they have passed us by. Also a recumbent bike has people talking. We haven’t seen any of them except 2 people going west the other day.

The proprietor of the restaurant at English River was a bit grumpy – a cyclist came in to ask for water and spent not a cent. These businesses are not doing well.

Ignace

Tuesday 9 August 2005
9.00 – 2.00 pm

Outside Ignace

85.3 km
3.22 hours riding
25.3 kph

Beautiful ride today on the narrow shoulder of busy highway 17. The wind, such as it was, was at our backs, the air not too hot, the shoulder good (but narrow), and the hills not too steep. We were warned that it would be “very hilly” and were pleasantly surprised when it was not.

Ignace, lots of room, very few people

Almost nothing but Northern Ontario scenery between Huber’s and Ignace. Borrup’s Corners (on the map) closed for a long time. Lots of lakes, reeds, trees. Haven’t seen my moose yet but several bears and lots of beaver dams. Not a single business or coffee place. Stopped at a rest stop at Raleigh Falls for lunch (packed by Hubers), recommended by a chatty passing highways guy.

Wabigoon

Hubers Lone Pine Resort

Dryden moose

Monday 8 August 2005
Lone Pine Resort, near Wabigoon Northern Ontario
9.50 am – 2.50 pm
71.2 km
3 hours 4 mins
23.4 kph

Today was a short day so we took lots of stops. First for a drink at the Minitake post office and general store. Jumped on our bikes when the wind in the flag moved around to our direction. Then Egli’s sheep farm and store where we bought sheepskin mitts and slippers to be shipped home.

Dryden for lunch – huge pulp and paper mill, home of the NHL Prongers. Lunch at Kuppers bakery and restaurant, a famous spot in Dryden. We sat outside, everyone else was inside, the weather is warm but very nice.

Easy ride with the wind at our backs to Wabigoon, 2 km to Bear Paw/ Lone Pine Road, then 2 km down a gravel road to Huber’s Lone Pine Resort.

Nicely kept cabins, huge place, hardly any visitors. US tourists not travelling this year. Big shallow lake full of fish, famous fishing around here. This place has 27 boats, 1/2 already out of the water for the season. Very busy in June they say.

Big German dinner – Olin had a huge plate of pork hock, bratwurst and pork chop. Delicious he said, dubious said I. I had wall-eye, but not from this lake as they are not allowed to serve their own fish – has to be inspected. The manager was cleaning fish – the other guests here caught about 10 and the cleaning is part of the package.

I had a swim in the shallow lake, the colour of well-brewed tea, reeds lapping at my body, bugs swirling round. It was blissful.

Vermilion Bay

Northside Hotel, Vermilion Bay

Sunday 7 Aug 2005
Vermilion Bay Ontario
8.40 – 4.30
123.4 km
5 hrs 41 minutes riding time
21.7 kph

Jim dropped us at the Clearwater Bay store, cutting about 12 km off a long day to Vermilion Bay. Because now we are on the Canadian shield and it is ALL HILLS and very hard work. Also very beautiful. Hot day, lunch stop at Willard Lake, lunch and a little R+R.

Really hard day – Olin in front the whole way and he is pretty tired. I’m done in as well, 120 km is very much on the high end of our capabilities and with constant hills, more up than down, very high temperature (+30 degrees) and slight head wind, it was hard work. We had to take quite a number of breaks towards the end of the day – usually sitting right at the roadside on a rock shelf in the shade.

Our restaurant at Vermilion Bay

The granite and rock formations are very beautiful, lots of pink granite a la high end kitchens. Enormous granite works on the west side of town.

Vermilion Bay is disappointing – I thought it would be a nice little lakeside town – instead small scale sprawl. Lakefront is about a km away and we are too tired to go there…. Dinner at Village Corner at the Esso station, very nice young waitress.

Fortified by our dinner we did take quite a long walk through lovely downtown Vermilion Bay (co-op store in town, water treatment centre at the lake, nothing really on the lake front at all). Back to our motel for an early night and good sleep!

On the road - Cdn shield