Saturday, September 3, 2016

After breakfast from a big rock over the Lake, we rode an 11.5Kms circuit to try to rent a canoe for the afternoon, but there was a staff shortage at the outfitter so they could not get the gear to us. From 10am until the early afternoon, Y participated in a pine needle workshop (B had seen a camp flyer and suggested it the evening before) with Friends Of Quetico artist-in-residence Val Fraser, while B did bike care and explored the lake shore with his camera. Singularly, we discovered when we were looking at photos from our day that at virtually the same moment Y was completing her pine needle project, B was photographing a tree shelf conch and the two are compellingly similar in form, colour and value. Val explained the funding of the AiR program is from a dinner in the fall, with an auction of one donated piece from each of the season's Artists. The art works can be previewed in a growing display at the Park pavilion during the Park May-September season. At 2:30pm we made the decision to move from our lovely site at Quetico, as we still had not heard back from Mine Centre. If closed for the season, we would need to ride 200Kms to Fort Francis, so we rode in the early evening to Atikokan (Canoe capital of Canada), so we have about 150Kms tomorrow. We had a lovely day and are happy with our decision.

Friday, September 2, 2016

With so few Kms to ride today, we slept in and sat and chatted together while we had breakfast and coffee (thanks Kashabowie River Kyle!). Highway 11 was as enjoyable to be on as it was the previous afternoon and early evening. The engineering is quite  different on these roads. The arch of the hills and the flats in between are easier to bicycle, as the scale of the hills enables one to easily peddle half way up with momentum from the previous downhill or flat. Also, as few transport trucks use Highway 11, the shoulders are in reasonable condition. We had a nice pic-nic lunch by a little lake and arrived at Quetico Provincial Park about 2pm! We are at campsite #7 and the sun set is directly out from our site - setting earlier tonight as we are now in Central time zone. It is a warm dry night with no fly on our tent and the stars clearly visible above.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Wolf tracks at the side of the road and only two times seeing people made this day more similar to the Wasa to Port McNeil portion of our Campbell River to Port Hardy bicycle ride last summer. Leaving Thunder Bay took more time than expected: We had a nice chat with McVicar Manor hosts Tom and Dorothy and co-guests Ed and Angie; we had business banking to take care of; and the first 25Kms was up hill. Once we entered Highway 11, about mid-day, the traffic was few and far between, and the road gently undulated over the landscape, with pretty marshes and little lakes at the road side. Most of the traffic was pick-up trucks with boats or canoes, headed to places similar to our accommodation - rustic cabins along a gravel road to a little lake. Kashabowie River camp and cabins is our stop for the night with a nice little cabin (with kitchen, WC, and lots of hot water). Kyle, the owner, augmented our groceries with grounds for making coffee in the a.m., and so we are set!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There must have been wind at our back as we were over 20Kms/Hr before our lunch break today! By ride end we were 18.8Kms/Hr, mostly due to hills and wind from the West. Riding away from Nipigon we looked back a few times to see a sheet of rain advancing, but we somehow kept ahead of it. Again, as we neared Thunder Bay, a sheet of rain was in front of us, but we just skirted it in a brief sprinkle. We had a pic-nic lunch and then a comfortable meander into Thunder Bay along Lakeshore Drive, which took us past the Thunder Bay International Hostel signpost forest (of particular note is the Vancouver sign and the sign to Heaven :-) and other interesting community spots. Our last views of Lake Superior included sea-going freighters ("salties"). We stopped briefly on a residential street on our way to our accommodation at turn of the Century style McVicar Manor Bed and Breakfast, and a kindly woman, Cathy, came from her house to ask if we were okay and, upon hearing about our travels, invited us to seek her help or stay with her if we needed and she checked B's GPS to ensure our route to the Manor would be safe. The Manor proprietor, photographer Tom Walch, recommended "Bight" for dinner, which was a lot of fun and included an interesting and enjoyable walk on the waterfront past music in the bandshell. We provisioned for the next 2 1/2 days of remote bicycling and camping. We'll be accessing the Internet again in a few days.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We're half way!! Today was ride 15 of 30 and today we completed the first half of our approximately 2,960Kms for this leg of our Canada bicycle tour! We started our day with B&B hosts Billie Jo and Bill and co-guests Nancy and Joe. The two evenings at B&B on the Beach has been a warm and welcoming experience and the meals have been wonderful and generous. For a bit of fun, B helped with breakfast this morning by sharing the technique for making big numbers of poached eggs at one time. There were some very high hills to cross today, which took us up above Lake Superior to fantastic look outs. We had our pic-nic lunch stop at the lookout just West of Gravel River. The proprietor Ray at Gravel River Motel (and restaurant, and gift shop) told us that this would be the best viewpoint above the Lake and it was!! The water to the East was shining like silver, the Lake colours were emerald to amethyst to deep blue, and the islands and coastline were distinctive against the Lake water. We are at the Birchville Motel just West of Nipigon this evening looking forward to the next 15 rides, which will take us through some beautiful parks and waterways and then into the Prairies as far as Regina. We are celebrating with microwave s'mores (with thanks to Billie Jo for the two marshmallows), because this year, as well as staying at two B&Bs, one fancy hotel (Winnipeg Fairmont) and a few motels, we are "embracing camping" for 1/3 of our nights, and everyone knows that campers have s'more fun!! This evening we received a cheery call from Billie Jo, Bill, Nancy and Joe with their fishing report from the day, a check-in to see how we fared in the wind and over the hills, and with well-wishes for our journey ahead - thx guys!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

No Kms, relaxing day at B&B on the Beach
By noon today we had eaten Billie Jo and Bill's wonderful, authentic breakfast of French toast with home-made wild blueberry compote and fresh fruit with chocolate fondue! We also relaxed and visited more with the B&B hosts and guests and Y took photos of the canoe herb garden and other unique features of this oasis. With a plan to cook with the others at dinner time, the two of us headed off to Secret Lookout and Rainbow Falls for a hike. However, the "big ol' dirty shirt" we had seen in the Western sky just before we left suddenly gushed open and soon there were streams flowing along the path and so, rather than continuing along our hiking course for two hours, we dashed back to the B&B for an afternoon of reading and writing. We were generously invited to a host dinner and contributed a rice dish using herbs from the canoe garden. Billie Jo whipped up a cheesecake and added decorative mandarine slices and chocolate drizzle. What a great evening!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

We enjoyed our hilly but very interesting and beautiful ride today! There were ribbons of new highway with good shoulders and great vistas of Lake Superior, as well as lovely streams and marshes and many little roadside lakes in the morning time. At one stop overlooking the Lake, the view was so wide and far away that Y claimed she could see the curve of the earth! As we ride along, and now that we have been on 14 of our 30 rides, people are giving us big waves and little waves, as the same transport and service vehicles pass by on their routes. Today, Cliff, who works with CP stopped to say hello, as he has seen us quite a few times and he told us about his cousin who bike rides and writes about his rides. We also got a big wave from a fellow who spoke with us at a camp two days previous. At one outlook stop, two motorcyclists who were headed to Labrador told us we were about to cross paths with a man on his bike pulling a canoe. About 30Kms later we met up with Mitchell walking his rig down a long steep hill. Mitchell told us about his journey from Edmonton, where there was no work for him. He was born in Nova Scotia and had grown up in Ontario and was headed back to the Maritimes. We gave Mitchell the cold orange juice B had for him, and when he repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the juice, Y went back to her bike and pulled out fruit, graham crackers, and our emergency nuts & bars, and unopened water, which Mitchell also accepted. We were unable to provision early in the day for the next few days, as grocery places were closed Sunday, or we would have given more to Mitchell. In this area of Ontario, people seem to have annual vacation spots and so near the end of the day we encountered two nice towns, Terrace Bay and Schreiber, which both have good services and nice places to eat. We bought next day's lunch sandwiches at a coffee shop, and too much food at dinner so we have extra to take to our B&B on the Beach accommodation, as there is a fridge and use of the kitchen. We unpacked, showered, watched the sun-set, and then sat and chatted with B&B hosts Billie Jo and Bill, and co-guests Nancy and Joe (and enjoyed home-made chocolate cheesecake and chose our breakfast for the morning time).