After at least fifteen years of dreaming about my first World’s Greatest Donut in Grand Marais, MN, searching the world for any donut that could possibly compare, I now get to share the joys with these kids. Olive declares these are the best donuts. Silvia has discovered the Skizzle (which I now adore as well). Marshall declared these not the best mini donuts. He’s right. These are donuts.
Every time we hike up for a view of the lake it’s somehow more beautiful than the last. Pukaskwa National Park did not disappoint. Definitely the most beautiful shoreline, trees, islands, rock formations, and vistas yet. Even with overcast skies. Video by Silvia:
This one may look like we lost Olive, but she walked ahead to the trail.
Our plan for the day was not set and even changed halfway through. There is both nothing and everything in this part of Canada. If you wanted to stay in one place and hike and soak up the solitude, you could spend a lifetime. If you have miles ahead of you and this forest looks a little like the last forest, you keep moving. it’s also like the Canadian Marketing Deoartment lost the files on this part of the wilderness.
Our next destinations were milk/eggs/beer shopping and a canyon described as second in size to the Grand Canyon. We made the age-old tactical error by waiting until Sunday to buy beer in unknown territory (re: Utah circa 1992). ‘No, we don’t sell on Sunday. Maybe try a big town like Thunder Bay.’ Maybe? They don’t know? We picked up our milk and eggs and picnic lunch fixings and went on our way.
A perfect lunch at the canyon stop. Sandwiches all around and I dug into the smoked fish leftovers from Cornucopia. Was that only days ago?
The thing about the Grand Canyon is that you sort of know what to expect when you get there. But, when we turned the corner on Ouimeamazingly, we were amazed. How did they get this canyon in what seems the middle of nowhere?
Back in the RV on the road, everyone is pretty much holding their own. Olive’s read a lot of her books but has also been getting a little bored and picked up a crossword book in the grocery store that looked easy. (Five-letter name for a Tory PM? Yup. Bought this one in Canada.) Marshall’s drawn battleground after battleground of tanks and ninjas and listened to hours of books on CD. (Can I get the iPod? Marshall, what are you doing in the fridge? I’m hungry. I need a snack.) Silvia’s gotten in a daily nap (she’s up every night until 11) interspersed with hourly screen time requests (Play a game. Read a book. Draw a picture. Look out the window.)
Roger? He’s mostly been driving. Me? I’ve mostly been keeping it all together in the back, playing flight attendant, and navigating.
We rolled through Thunder Bay about 7 pm (‘We only sell beer until 4pm on Sunday.’ Aaaaargh!) to Kekabeka Falls Provincial Park. Roger stayed here when he was a kid Campgrounds are quiet at the end of the summer on weeknights. I caught a glimpse of the falls. We’ll be back in the morning.
BBQ chicken with baked beans and salad tonight. I always think we’re getting to bed at a decent time and it always ends up being 11pm.
Overall, we’re ahead of schedule. Gichigami-in-nine-days? Gichigami-in-ten-days-without-a-plan? We definitely have time to meander down the North Shore.
What Pancake Bay Provincial Park lacked in seclusion from the highway (a LOT of semis use the Trans Canada Highway) it more than makes up for with a spectacular lake beach. We spent most of the morning on the beach and got our laundry finished (bonus). It was hard to leave.
The Trans Canada Highway is absolutely beautiful. We stopped at a few scenic overlooks and met a guy biking from Vancouver to Ottawa. Impressive. We drove through White River, the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. Look it up for yourself.
We lunched at Subway in Wawa because they advertised free wi-fi. We overheard our first conversation in French but did not experience our first internet communication. A call to Verizon helped me change a couple settings on my phone so now I can make phone calls but data eludes me.
I had my second long stretch of driving this RV today and we made good time getting to Pukaskwa National Park. Yet another amazing evening on a beach of Lake Superior. If all you see of the lake on your life is Minnesota’s North Shore, you never know the rest of the lake has beaches and it helps that the lake is at historic high temperatures. We settled in for the night after veggies with dip and hot dogs over the fire.
Tahquamenon Falls are the largest in the east second only to Niagara, so they say. We had a big day ahead of us so we buzzed through breakfast and all jumped on our bikes headed for the lower falls. Oooo. To get to the lower falls you ride down one big hill and somehow we’d all have to get back up that hill. Then, when you rent the fifteen dollar row boat on a lightly overcast day out to the the island to explore and get closer to the falls, it will sprinkle for your hike and then drench your boat ride back. The rain solved our ordeal getting back up the hill – Roger biked back in the rain for our big ride. It was great, though. The falls were super, we were all still in great spirits, and the kids had time for ice cream and a checkers game. (Great marketing – we ended up buying the same game in the gift shop. O + S had to finish their game.) I think the upper falls are supposed to be coup de grace of the whole deal, which the were great, but the lower ended up being more of an adventure.
On our way to the point of the peninsula we stopped at The Berry Patch for lunch hoping to get in the pasty of the day. What a great, cozy, casual place with a wise purveyor who read our kids perfectly. BLT, BBQ pork, and pasties!! On a whim on the way out I grabbed a piece of pie. Ohhhhh, that crust! On to the point.
There have been more than 3,000 shipwrecks in Lake Superior and as children of the 70s we had to seek out the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald at the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. The Fitz went down in Canadian waters off this point in 1975 and they recovered it’s bell in 1995 and it is in this museum as a memorial. All amazing stories.
After the museum we hit the road for Soo (Sault St. Marie). We stocked up groceries after a failed attempt to patronize a local food coop (it went out of business best we could tell). We were headed across the border into the Canadian wilderness – who knows what we’ll find?
Then the stars aligned. After a lack of successful directional signage to the locks we found some metered RV parking. Without noticing, we were parked no more than 50 feet from a tanker pulling into the locks! All out run for the locks! It was very cool. You can watch from a covered viewing area that announced each boat enter or, what we did, stand on the side behind a fence and chat with a guy working the locks. He definitely likes to share with the tourists. The second and last boat we saw come through was the first 1,000 ft boat ever to travel in Lake Superior. This time it was carrying iron ore.
Jump in the RV and council the kids, yet again for some that may remain nameless, how to act and what not to say at customs. It all went smoothly and quickly. Had our passports, answered a few easy questions, and we were on our way. We caught the visitor center one minute to closing for a map and money exchange. Whew.
Dusk and rain for the first Canadian highway driving wasn’t on our list, but we got it anyway. The rain wasn’t bad and we got to Pancake Bay Provincial Park in time for a quick dinner and walk to the lake to touch the water.