Saturday, August 20, 2016

No Kms, in Thessalon and at Carolyn Beach Inn
Today was a laid back day off with a laundry and grocery spin into town. Y picked up and enjoyed a relaxing time writing post cards. B made up some bicycle "floss" from an old towel donated by the Carolyn Beach Inn and took care of wheel, gear and brake detailing. We had a late pic-nic lunch by the beach while B completed the bike care. In the early evening we finished our Blog posts to date and set about preparing ourselves for the next four days of bicycling and camping.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Phew! We arrived in Thessalon just before the lightning, thunder and cloud bursts of rain. Our day started with an early breakfast at the lovely Back Home Bistro (mom in the kitchen and daughter serving). We are repeatedly struck on this trip by the energy of individuals and families to provide services in the small towns of Canada. Arriving in a small Canadian town to see deserted business causes us to lament the vision, efforts and finances of those who put the business together. At our morning break, we spoke with an elderly gentleman, Willy Dunn from Elliot Lake. He was curious about our journey and wanted to find out if we knew about Elliot Lake. He spoke about the decline in population at Elliot Lake and his thoughts about the causes of the decline, some of it related to the mall collapse in 2012.  The longish ride today was fairly level and the wind was with us for parts of the day. At one point Y turned to thank B for the push up the last bit of one hill only to see that B was too far back to have been the one who pushed the bike! For those who may have read past Blog entries, you might recall that Y calls her right pannier "turbo" and her left pannier "booster". Today on the flats and down hills turbo-booster were very effective; with the wind from behind, even the uphills were a breeze. We have completed more than 1/4 of our bicycle ride and tomorrow (August 20th) is a day off from bicycling, possibly for storm-watching over Lake Huron, from our Carolyn Beach accommodation.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Our first dry day all day! After a 7:30am sleep-in we breakfasted and packed quite quickly, so got off to a good start. The riding went smoothly and comfortably with a breeze as we rode out of Sudbury. The landscape was lovely, with lots of waterways and lakes and wafting tall grasses and bull rushes. The white birches were stunning against the deep blue North sky. Quite quickly, we had done 50Kms and were at Nairn Centre, where we stopped at Jeremy's for a tasty lunch. There was lots of rode work after Nairn Centre, so we were on the gravel shoulder quite a bit, and so stopped every 10Kms or so for little breaks. Tim Hortons in McKerrow was our final (air conditioned) break before our final 25kms to Massey. In Massey we made time at Mohawk Motel - an eclectic, decorative spot - to get the first 627.3Kms of Blog photos and text completed. We ate at Dragonfly restaurant, which has generous portions of very good food. The Manager told us Dragonfly is in the top 10 of restaurants on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From Sturgeon Falls we rode along a lovely riverside for quite some time and saw a beaver dam and then sandhill cranes at our lunch stop (Kate's Kountry Kitchen). The hostess told us we just missed seeing a trio of black bears. Y picked up some sweet little crochet butterflies and was tempted to get some of the other crafts and preserves, but we have so little spare room in our panniers. Shortly after lunch we saw a funny sight at a farm, where the cows were keeping cool in front of the barn exhaust fans. We intended to upload photos and text to our Blog at the hotel in Sudbury, but ended up in the middle of a cat-in-the-hat episode when some bike grease and particulate grime ended up on the shower floor. The mess grew and grew and grew as we tried to clean it up. Finally we stopped trying and went out for a very late dinner, during which Y got the bright idea to try toothpaste. Yeah! It worked, and within about 15min the shower floor was white again! By then it was close to midnight so we called it a night.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Today was our best day yet for connecting with the locals!  We had a cheery send-off from a few of our Samuel de Champlain Park camp-families - including one young chap who asked his dad as we rode by (us now lost in the camp-site loops, looking for the 'short-cut' to the highway, which we gave up on finding after 15 minutes and ending up back at our same camp site :-) ... "are they delivering the newspaper?" A few remarked on how well-geared and ready to go we looked (in the rain, which would become quite torrential as the day progressed). We thought we would have a lovely morning interaction at "La Tea Da" cafe and tea room early in the day and about 15Kms from the camp, but found it is now a gunsmith and ammo shop so peddled on until we came across a rode-side gas station and Home Hardware. There we were kindly told we could sit in the display furniture to drink our coffee. Just as we arrived, a young mom with a trio of girls age 2, 3, and 5 years old asked us if we would like to come to her house for lunch and to dry off from the rain. She went on to explain that her mom and dad had ridden across Canada and she had provided vehicle support. Y really wanted to say "yes!" to lunch and visiting, but we needed to get to North Bay and find the bike shop for B's bike seat screw and Y's handle bar light. At the gas station stop Y mailed a package home and then we were on our way with 35Kms more to North Bay. Tim Hortons was just on the East edge of North Bay, so we stopped to get lunch. We were dripping wet so we installed ourselves at a table adjacent the window from where we could see our bikes and then took turns getting marginally dried off in the W/Cs and then ordered a yummy lunch. In the time we were at Tim Hortons we had several nice interactions: one man had just done a big ride from Winnepeg to Ottawa and his family had met him to take him home - he offered for us to stay with him in Winnepeg; another had been guiding cross-Canada bike rides in the 80s and 90s and suggested the local bike shop to visit for our needs; a girl was just going off-shift and helped us get settled in for our break there; and a cluster of elder gents, including one from Newfoundland, chatted with us at length and suggested places to shop in North Bay and places to stay on our route to Regina.  We stopped in the rain at a view point over Lake Nipissing just as the sky was clearing for the evening, and then rode on to Sturgeon Falls. After four nights and mornings of rainy camping we chose to stay at a Sturgeon Falls hotel, which enabled us to review our packing and consolidate some things not needed in the rain, as it is supposed to be sunny days ahead. At Restaurant Pasta for dinner we must have looked quite glowing and healthy, as a girl in her late 20s told us we were such a good-looking couple, "like, from a Sear's Catalogue, and how old are you". We ate a delicious Pasta dinner and walked back to the hotel to work on our Blog pics and text.

Monday, August 15, 2016

We had such a pleasant start to the day from Driftwood Provincial Park- sunny but not hot and no bugs, again! Except for when we stopped for coffee at a gas station and just as we were leaving Y noticed a very furry, colourful, exotic looking spider crawling up her leg and tried to brush it away, but it zipped up her torso so fast that she really had swat quickly to get it off (happily she had tucked her pant leg into her socks for riding!). B had said we would be seeing rocks and trees, and trees and rocks, and we are pleased to be seeing nice little marshes and sloughs and creeks too. Some of the marshes had pond lillys, black-eyes susans, and interesting grasses.  We stopped for a pic-nic break on a road-side rock outcropping only to discover a kilometer ahead a pretty little pic-nic site beside a little lake. We are going to pick up a provincial map that shows the pic-nic sites so we don't miss them again. We stopped at the historical site of the Upper Ottawa Rapids and didn't see rapids (they were historical) - it was a pretty area. Shortly thereafter we saw a sign for "historical meteor site", but didn't stop.  At the Rapids stop, a 50plus man with his wife looking curious said "did you ride your bikes here?... on the highway?... keep safe!" We saw three men on some kind of push bike, with regular bike wheels, but they were standing with one foot on a platform, and the other scooting along the roadway (skateboard style). We had another tasty, predictable Subway meal - we are always impressed with the  careful preparation of food and the consistency of the products.Samuel de Champlain Park is a very nice, very large site on Moore Lake. It is a very pretty route in from the highway about 4Kms and has great amenities. We had a salad and sandwich dinner and look forward to a good sleep tonight.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

No Kms traveling; a few Kms going for coffee run
Our Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 3-person tent with our lux camp lg thermarests and goose down sleeping bags are perfect! The mesh ceiling of the tent results in condensation on the fly above, so no wet inside when walls accidentally get bumped. Today was a nice relaxing day off. We hung out things at our site to air and dry once the sun came out. Today our only ride was up over the hill to Park reception to fill thermoses at the coffee counter (B in the a.m.; Y in the afternoon). We did housekeeping from just after breakfast until lunch (our tasty selections from Deep River). We did laundry and had showers and B charged electronic devices and external battery packs and worked on the bikes. The bike screw that clamps the seat post broke while being tightened, but we managed to find an alternate from the rear pannier rack and the broken seat support screw worked okay for the rack. We'll look for a replacement in Sudbury. Both our gear systems are not 100% - maybe due to cables being soaked and gritty from riding in the rain on the gravel shoulder - we cleaned them - but the handle bar shifters will need a few sunny days to drive out the water. Y's Blaze 2Watt Micro as well as her rear flasher took on a lot of water and are working only intermittently - we are hopeful they will dry out and work again. There was very little rain today, sun by mid-afternoon, and a lovely sunset. 

Sunset on the Ottawa River