Friday, June 18, 2010

Montreal to Lake Superior

Thursday night we were invited to dine with Judee's friends Shorty and Ken, very generous people with big hearts. Having trimmed the wisteria and got the blog up to date and fixed the bike (fuse blown and carb tune), Judee drove us to her cottage on Lake Bowker for the weekend. It's about 100 miles East of Montreal just short of Sherbrooke . Really beautiful place set in a time warp. Managed to go on a short paddle with Judee on Saturday afternoon before the rain set in. Woke Sunday morning to heavy rain and strong winds. Put on our waterproof biking gear and went for a walk looking at the new developments around the lake. JG, who rents the cottage next door, joined us and got his 3rd pair of pants wet that morning. Arrived back soaked and cold but inspired by the beauty. On the return journey when to Magog to look at the lake and stopped at a great Patisserie for provisions.
Monday saw us drive into Montreal to visit the 'mountain', more a hill really but has a great view over the city. Stopped off on the way back for Jill to buy another essential bit of clothing, before visiting the Parc de Rapide on our way to a goodbye Chinese meal with Shorty,Ken and their daughter Kelly. It was good as was the company.
Dawn, well late morning, saw us all packed up and having said our deepest thanks to Judee for looking after us so well we headed off to Ottawa . Stopped at the Ontario Tourist office for a map and some lunch when the skies opened and we found ourselves huddled under the umbrella waiting for the deluge to pass. Made it to the Rideau Heights camp site and after another '1 ring wonder' from Jillie we headed into Ottawa to have a look around. The evening is a great time to visit a city , as it's easy to park and it's not too busy. Walked up to the Parliament building, which looks like a Gothic Big Ben, to be told that they were doing a press showing of a new 'sight and sound' show using the Parliament building as the screen and that it would start at 9.15 but keep it quiet as it hadn't been publicised. We wondered around taking photos, looking at the Rideau canal
and getting a Starbucks coffee before taking our places on the lawn in front of the building at 9.15. Lights flashed up and were focused and the sky got darker and at 9.45 the most amazing show started charting the history of Canada called Mosaik. It went on for 45 mins and will have nightly shows from 8th July. Felt very privileged to see the show on the 8th June. It was like they put it on just for our short stay in the Capital!

Next day we set off towards Niagara. We had decided to go via the US rather than having to retrace our footsteps round Toronto, so set a course for the 1000 Islands. It started to rain, I took and wrong turn and we ended up in Kingston having missed the shore road and the islands. Jumped on the free ferry to Wolfe island and onto another for $7 that took us into the US. At customs the bike was checked, fingerprints were taken and forms were filled before we were relieved of $12 and free to go. We set off from Cape Vincent into very damp grey weather looking for some shelter to have lunch. Half hour later I pulled up in a old barn were the owner must have just gone for afternoon tea leaving his dog behind. For some reason Jill was not impressed with this lunch spot and we headed back to Cape Vincent to order a veggie burger that was 'off today' so fish and french fries it was.
Setting off into more rain and even greyer skies (and we were told the sun alway shone in the US) we drove to the Maplegrove B&B at Sterling ( where Gisela, and a variety of dogs, gave us a very warm welcome, inviting us out of the cold and damp conditions. A pot of tea and a delicious and ample slice of quiche with all manner of dead livestock contained therein (may all beings be happy) was promptly produced and may I say, devoured hungrily! OK so we are trying to be non-meat eaters!
As we glanced around the kitchen we saw shelves of home made preserves, bottles of various shapes and sizes containing plump fruits wallowing in something syrupy, and wool spinning. It seems Gisela is a very busy woman. Before retiring to bed, Gisela enquired about our breakfast preference. David's request for cereal caused Gisela to turn up her nose, so we figured this was not an option. We decided to just see how we felt in the morning. After a warm and comfortable nights sleep we were treated to another culinary treat by Gisela. We delivered ourselves into the kitchen for breakfast to find Walter, Gisela's husband reading the local paper. We exchanged greetings and were treated to a somewhat robust exposition of Republicanism: aka George W Bush-shoot first cos they're bound to be hiding W of MD, and an interesting philosophy for a Lutheran Minister. Gisela on the other hand is a Democrat and thinks Barrack Obama is the best thing since sliced bread-which must provoke some lively dinner party talk.
As we seated ourselves at the kitchen table and a dainty bowl of grapes each (well enough to feed a small family!), and a couple of toasted baps, we glanced at one another-things were looking good. Then with only a small flourish Gisela who had been beavering away in the kitchen, presented a veritable work of art: an omelette the size of a small whale. We did our best but only managed to make a dent in 2 small slices. Not deterred, Gisela, then produced toasted brioche and home made preserves. A truly wonderful feast and definitely a very good reason for choosing a B&B over a dingy Motel.

Well rested and fed we set off (10th June 2010) into grey looking skies, but luckily no rain heading west. But not before Gisela informed us that she grows her own fruit and some veg; used to have a variety of sheep and lamas, but now buys her meat from a local supplier, and makes her own dog food. I cast my mind back to the quiche and the omelette stuffed full of meaty bits.
The drive was very pleasant along good roads just set back from Lake Ontario Link. Stopped for lunch in a New York state park with miles of cut grass fronting the lake. Nothing seems to happen in the parks until the kids break up at the end of June so we have found the parks empty which has been very pleasant. You are supposed to pay entrance but there hasn't been anybody around to pay. Shame that! The Sun was coming out and we carried on West stopping at another park for tea and a nap. We arrived at Camping Niagara to be told it would cost us $35 for a very small pitch, no where to wash dishes in hot water, situated in a triangle boarded by a main road (4 lanes), a railway and an airport. RV's were stacked with only room for a picnic table space between them, (all the private campsites (it seems) are near main roads and railways) but the Chinese owners kept it very clean.
The Next morning in sunshine we set off to the falls. Wanting $10 to park the bike at the state park site we decided to pull up beside some Harley's,whose owners were a bit of an unfriendly lot. I probably judge them harshly as they well might have been deaf and vibrated to mush having travelled quite a way from Minnesota.
We spent the next 5 hours doing the tourist thing. It's mind blowing how much water goes over the falls. I can't remember the exact amount but it's something like 1\2 million gallons a second. Both the Americans and the Canadians have taken off a lot of water for Hydro so like most things, 'It aint what it used to be'. Went down to the 'Cave of the Winds' which is under the American falls Link and got very wet despite our yellow plastic ponchos. In the $11 entry they give you a poncho and a pair of sandals. They had given out about 10,000 by the time we went down! It was unclear how they were recycled if at all.
Walking through the park gave us time to dry off before we embarked on the 'Maid of the Mist' in our blue ponchos. Our boat was 'Maid of the Mist 5' and we got even wetter underneath the roaring Horseshoe Falls.

The observation tower, which houses the lift that takes you to boat level gives you great views and a slight sense of vertigo.
Headed back to the Camp site were Jill concocted another 'One-ring wonder' (book to follow), before travelling back to the falls for the light show and fire works that happens on Friday night . Waiting for the crowds to clear to take in the peace of the night we eventually retreated back to the camp site happy bunnies.

The next day we broke camp having had breakfast and a shower and headed back to Canada for a look at the falls from that side
before heading north, into what we had been told was the wilderness of North Ontario (well after you get a long way past Toronto that is).
Travelled through light rain on 10 lane highways past Toronto, which despite having one of the Tallest building in the world, we couldn't see. At around 6 we started to look for places to rest our heads. We have kind of made an spoken decision that if it is raining and wet we will get a B&B or Motel and if dry we will camp. It was still wet so we were on the hunt for a roof but by the time we got to Washago on the 11 we hadn't found an inn or even a stable! Wild camping it would have to be, but we had found that it was very difficult to find places that you could get access from the road. Looking at every possibility as we travelled northward we eventual came to the Hillbilly camp site south of Gravenhurst. A friendly place run by Dutch people with a good diner just up the road that served and very good omelette and home fries. The Camp site had a country 'n western dance that night, but it seemed you had to wear a Stetson and we were tired so we declined the offer.

Waking unrefreshed as we seem to do quite a lot while camping, with aching bones and puffy eyes, and even more mossie bites (don't want you all to think it all wonderful here) we headed off north along the 169 to join the Trans Canadian Highway towards Greater Sudbury. To our eventual stopping place for the night of the Windy Lake Provincial Park. The place was very empty with I think only one other set of campers and despite it's name was very still.

Heading on along the 144 we turned left onto the Sultan Industrial road, a private gravel track open to public access. This road stretches for 80Km before joining the tarmac again at Sultan. It was an interesting ride at times over loose sand and corrugations that made your teeth chatter, but Nancy held up well. Saw a large Black bear walking across the road in front of us. Didn't seem to want to eat Jillie which she is convinced bears want to do. We came to a stop by the railway line ( they have some strange trains here) just before the end of the track in some deep sand and dropped the bike. We weren't moving at the time, so no damage to us or the bike, but have scored our first down!

Onto Chapleau, the gateway to the largest game reserve in the world, for some provisions. The park looked inviting but the camping was another 80 kms down a dirt track so I made a drivers decision that 80 kms of dirt driving was enough for a day and headed for the Shoals provincial park. On the 101 (Biking heaven). The camp site was again completely empty apart from a couple of caravans that had seasonal pitches and were left there through out the summer. Peace, tranquillity and the wildlife

Wednesday 16th June 2010 saw us setting off Towards the Pukaskwa National Park where we thought we would hang out for a few days. (This travels stuff is exhausting). Carried on the 101 listening to Pink Floyd through mile after mile of trees, on beautiful smooth tarmac with very little traffic (nothing over took us and only 4 cars the other way in 100 Kms). The sense of space is amazing and I love it. Pulled into Wawa were we stopped for a Subway coffee. Subway seem to be everywhere in Canada along with Tim Horton. As we were finishing our drinks the Mayor, Howard Whent introduces himself and spends the next ½ hour telling us about the town. Went to see some of the sights he recommended The Goose, Michipicoten Marina and
The Silver falls, which were down stream and not as large as the High falls that we didn't get too. While having lunch in the marina area we met the owner who gave a very different picture of life in Wawa. The river was down 3 or 4 feet as the water had been redirected by the hydro company,so that boats couldn't get into the marina. This had cut off the salmon migration and the fishing. The mines had all closed down and logging was in recession due to the US putting an import tax on timber to save there own industry. A rather depressing outlook for the future of small towns that have been built up on some industry that is now no longer viable.
We travelled on past White River where Winnie the Poo came from (not many people know that) to Marathon with a population of 3700 to buy provisions for the next 3 days camping in the Pukaskwa National Park. The bike ended up looking like a 'bag lady' with things hanging of it for the final 30 Kms drive through Pic River to the camp ground 4500 miles after leaving Plymouth.


  1. Was just about to ask where the pictures were but then saw the last liitle bit. Well I am sure Jilly's version of the bear bit would have been different to yours!!

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  3. only wanted to change one word but it would not let me so I had to delete and write again.
    Hi chaps, look forward to seeing your photos.
    Glad Nancy is coping with the rough terrain and doing you proud. Look forward to your next installment. stay safe. happy travels
    love to you both x

  4. hi guys well your certainly having a wonderful experience, well maybe not the weather and camping bit!!! Cant wait to see the photos especially the bike drop!!
    Just to let you know Jill completed the race for life to-day and survived it! Take care all of you looking forward to next instalment xx

  5. Hi everyone, lovely to read your comments. The bear was far enough away to be safe. But I did wonder if it stopped in the middle of the road, how we would negotiate it. But happily it took a look at us approaching and carried on it's way. David is doing well handling Nancy though I have to say that fully loaded she is a bit wobbly when we slow down, hence the drop in sand! Camping has it's challenges. It is things like showers, loos, mosquitoes, black flies, even access to drinkable water, hot water and dish washing facilities, and keeping food locked away from bears-seriously in some campsites bear proof lockers a supplied. Some pitches really are basic. And I now hate long drops! I always get my bum bitten by mossies and the long drop is not always very long-if you get my drift. I much prefer flushing loos, a clean powerful shower, somewhere to hang my clothes without them getting sprayed by the shower-in short my home!! But of course we wouldn't be seeing so many wonderful places from the comfort of 6 Rutger. And of course my wardrobe has shrunk considerably-which I guess means less washing!

    Anyway campers...keep the comments coming. It's great to read them. Lots of love Jillxx

  6. Hey Julie, lovely to hear from you again. As you can see we have downloaded photos. It can be tricky getting everything uploaded as we have limited internet access when on the road, so it might take a couple of goes. Just keep an eye on the Blog, and we will eventually get it all together! Well done on completing the Race for Life. I hope the weather was kind. Did you have to do a lot of preparation? David ran the Plymouth half marathon last year with his daughter Bekki. I was very proud to see them both cross the finish line, and could see the exhaustion and elation on their faces. Has it given you a taste for doing more running? I tried running with Teresa (see Blog follower) but I couldn't keep up with her; and she talks a lot whilst running :) but I couldn't run, breath and talk all at the same time without feeling faint! Jillx