Ontario, Lake Superior, June 20, 2008

23 07 2008
Bridge at Ouimet Canyon

Bridge at Ouimet Canyon

Step with fish from the Fish Shop

Step with fish from the Fish Shop

The long scenic road around Lake Superior is fraught with unexpected sights and perils of nature and man. Our first stop was the Lisa Karkkainen Fish Shop (which everyone always referred to as simply the “Fish Shop”) where we purchased some not-that-great Finnish rye bread and a large portion of really great fresh water trout. Seeing numerous lakey vistas and forrestscapes, we were surprised by how beautiful the drive actually was, since all anybody had ever mentioned was how long it was. We tried to stop at a roadside rest stop and BBQ the fish for lunch but soon realized there were way too many black flies around for that to be possible, and instead had bread, sausage and cheese inside the van.

The Indian Head of Ouimet Canyon

The Indian Head of Ouimet Canyon

Ouimet Canyon (pronounced wee-met) was on this stretch of road (and weirdly not buggy). It costs $3 on the honour system to go view this incredible natural phenomenon, which is a short and easy walk through the forest. One thing I learned is in Canada most really tall thin, rocks with a bigger rock on top are called “Indian Head”, but I still don’t know why. They don’t look more Indian than any other ethnic background.

Ouimet Canyon, Man

Another Roadside Distraction?

Another Roadside Distraction?

Somewhere around Schreiber I noticed an oddly out of place carnival booth serving Wiggle Chips, and was so distracted yelling “Wiggle Chips, Wiggle Chips” it took a moment to register that a large moose (is there any other kind?) had decided to cross the highway right in front of us. Why is it always me driving and why do wildlife seem to wait until you’re coming before they cross the road? We had of course seen numerous roadside warnings, not just signs but decaying moose carcasses and bent up trucks on the side of the road. And yet somehow you believe it will never happen to you. So after that we decided not to drive at night anymore.

Twilight at Neys Provincial Park

Twilight at Neys Provincial Park

Morning at Neys Provincial Park

Morning at Neys Provincial Park

Neys Provincial Park is where Lawren Harris painted a lot of his most famous paintings, and we were able to get a kickass spot right by the shore for the night. It was fun to see that his paintings actually weren’t as stylized as I had thought—the landscape (or lakescape) really looks like that. We barbecued the trout and Step made me listen to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” twice. In the song Gordon Lightfoot calls Lake Superior by it’s First Nation’s name “Gitche Gumee”. It’s a very haunting song and now I can never look at the lake without seeing it as somewhat dangerous and sinister.

The Lonely Planet claims sailors would rather go on half rations than have to stop at Marathon, but that was where the auto propane was so there were no half rations for us. The excitement of Marathon was they were finally getting pavement for their road. The station with propane had a truly impressive gallery of moose accident pictures. When Step asked the lady for some propane she would only respond by grunting and grabbing her chemical gloves. The propane was pumping slow so she got a fresh young fellow, who was originally from Newfoundland, to hold the handle and his demeanor was much more outgoing and upbeat. When Step asked him what it was like to live in Marathon, the friendly young man replied “It’s a crappy town”. We thought that was pretty funny, but we don’t have to live in Marathon.

Canadian Goose

Canadian Goose

You must stop at Wawa because they have a statue of a giant Canada Goose. They put it right by the highway, though, so you don’t have to go into the town proper. The giant Canada Goose is a nice place to have a picnic lunch and there were currently on display outside all kinds of doors that had been painted with people’s stories about their Grandma’s and other female heroes. I live for that kind of thing.

Our goal was to get to Sudbury by nightfall but we didn’t make it and it was way down into twilight and super foggy as well. We were worried about the highway mooses and so we stopped at a random campsite called Silver Maple Campground. There is always one that is the best campsite ever and one that is the worst. We should have figured it out by the sinister Tom Waits music we were playing, and the bats darting down the road ahead of us, but all we did was joke about how we would be attended to by a 7 foot tall imbecile man dressed in clothes too small who would be introduced to us as “harmless”. Our next clue was after we registered the owner decided to give us a $2 (7%!) discount because the new bathrooms weren’t ready yet. It turned out the “bathroom facilities” were toilets and cold water sinks in a little bug infested shanty, with not even a nail to hang your travel toiletries bag from. We tried to pull into our “site” but as there was no ground treatment we instantly got stuck in the mud, and spent the night not-quite-level and trodding through suction mud whenever we needed to visit the shanty.

We conjectured the other visitors of the campground must be hunters, for we could think of no other reason anyone would camp there, let alone have season passes as were apparent by the wooden porches and other additions people had put on their trailers. The next morning 4 overweight shirtless guys with moustaches pushed us out of our mudhole, and we were glad to take our dirt sodden boots and be on our way.

I be a Lucky Leprechaun

I be a Lucky Leprechaun

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