<- Read the previous post: Sue’s in the Soo – and the boys are too!
I’d like to start with a pertinent quote that someone brought to my attention (thanks Carla!):
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
Day 39 June 15 Saturday
Sault Ste. Marie to Algoma Mills
We started early today, just after 7:30am, as the day was going to be long. It was overcast all day, but no rain, and the winds were either light or in our favour most of the day. We managed to cover about 160 kms by about 4:30pm.
We went through many cool towns today, and because it was Saturday, every town had something going on. In Bruce Mines it was a fishing derby, in Thessalon it was all sorts of garage sales and farmer’s markets, and in Blind River, they had dragon boat races and a festival. The downside to having long cycle days means you don’t really have time to stop and explore some of these little gems. So, three more towns to add to the list – check, check and check.
There are quite a few Mennonites (we think) in the area, so we saw carts/buggies on the shoulder of the highway, and horse drawn plows. There were lots of old, dilapidated, abandoned buildings that had a mysterious, spooky feel about them.
When we arrived at the Lake Lauzon Resort and Marine, we walked to a fish market to get something to make for dinner. The owner of the store was a real character, he kept telling us jokes and giving us specific instructions on how cook the fish, serve red wine, etc. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we could bring up Hillary’s Ride, or we wouldn’t get out of there for another hour! But he did sell us some yummy rainbow trout, which we pan-fried for din-din. We then went to the fresh food market to get some veggies and buns. It is so great to be able to support some local businesses – these smaller communities need them to succeed, to keep the area vibrant and prosperous, not just in the summer months.
After dinner, we took advantage of some of the amenities at the campsite – a sauna and hot tub. The sauna had us sweating inside, and then we went and had an outdoor hot tub, overlooking the lake. The mosquitoes unfortunately cut our soak short, but it was time to get to bed anyway, since we have another fairly substantial riding day tomorrow too.
Day 40 June 16 Sunday
Algoma Mills to Sheguiendah
We woke up to clouds, but no sign of rain, so that makes for a comfortable cycling day. You may have noticed that I haven’t spoke of the wind much lately, as I haven’t wanted to jinx us or tempt Mother Nature to give us more challenge. But I think it’s safe to say that while we are still experiencing some wind, it is nothing like the prairies, and we are feeling very fortunate indeed. We had a really good morning heading east towards Espanola. We were treated to a “buggy parade” as the Mennonite community was heading to church. It makes sense why beyond the paved shoulder is a wide gravel shoulder, as it is for the horses.
The only downside of the morning for me was that I got another flat – number three. I knew immediately, as I felt and heard a “ka-chunk” and then poof – I’m on my rim. It was a pinch flat. The RV was already ahead, so I radioed in to Al and let them know I would be a while. I found out later that this gave him plenty of time to photograph the multitude of flowers in the ditch, so I don’t feel so bad in holding up our progress. And Bob came along and helped me change it, so he turned out to be my knight in shining cycling gear. It is neon yellow, so he really was shining.
A work pal of mine asked to wave to her hometown of Elliott Lake as I passed the turn off, so here it is…..
Things changed a bit when we turned south at Espanola. The terrain changed to significantly more and higher hills, we got more of a headwind, and the temperature rose quickly so we were peeling off layers pretty quickly. Today was a 150 km day, and since yesterday was 160 km (310 km in 2 days – yikes!!), we didn’t have a lot of extra “oomph” left, but we kept going. We soon arrived at the swing bridge that marks the start of Little Current and Manitoulin Island, and some of our crew got to see it swing.
And once we got across, we ran into the 3 Victoria girls again, and celebrated with ice cream.
I must say that although we have been welcomed everywhere, Manitoulin Island really rolled out the red carpet. First, there was the “Welcome Hillary’s Ride” sign at Batman’s Cottages and Campground, where we were staying the night. Lisa and Andre, the owners, gave us a premiere spot right on the beach and brought us firewood. We had an interview shortly after arriving with Mike from the Manitoulin Expositor. It was very interesting, the paper had done an award-winning article about thirty years ago on teen suicide within the first nations peoples on the island, who make up about 41% of the population. Mike said it got lots of attention and several programs were put in place. However, he commented that although progress has been made, more needs to be done, and so here we are spreading the word.
After the interview, we had a good chat with Lisa and Andre, as they have two daughters who will soon be teens., We discussed how difficult it can be to distinguish between the “normal” trials and tribulations of being a teen, and when to intervene and get outside help. There is no easy answer.
As today was Father’s Day, and since we have a lot of fathers with us, we decided to go to Green Acres for dinner to celebrate both the occasion and hitting the 4000 km milestone today. When we went to pay, Barb the owner would not accept anything, as a donation to the ride. And another customer in the restaurant also gave us a very generous donation. There is love and support everywhere, sometimes we don’t even need to ask and it appears anyway.
There was a severe storm/tornado warning for the area, so we went up to Ten Mile Point to view the storm in the distance as the sun was going down, and found the 3 girls camping. The storm missed us all, but we could see it passing by. All we had was wind to rock us asleep.
Day 41 June 17 Monday
Sheguiendah to Tobermory
We needed to be up really early this morning, as we had 55 kms to get to the ferry terminal at South Baymouth by 10 am, with a big hill to do first thing, and not knowing for sure what the terrain would be like. It’s always difficult to rely on non-cyclists for information on hills, because we find either they aren’t aware of them, or they over-estimate them. We left at 7:00 am to be safe. The hill we were worried about really was nothing, it was a little long but had a nice gentle grade. No sweat! It was a quick ride to the ferry, so quick that we had time for breakfast at Earl’s place.
He makes his own pea meal bacon, and it was very tasty.
The ferry ride to Tobermory was smooth, but we stayed inside as it was very windy and pretty cold. The trip was under two hours, and we took the time to visit with the Victoria girls, who caught the same ferry.
When we disembarked, we were pleased to find there was not a big hill to climb as there usually is, and we were only a few kms to the RV site for the night, Tobermory Village Campground. It was a neat place, quite large with a pond, paddle boats, a pool and a petting zoo too! We discovered we had our own little zoo when we moved a picnic table, and found 2 baby bunnies hiding in the grass. The mom took off, but the little ones kept completely still.
The one great thing is that we immediately got our cell phone reception back when we got to Tobermory. There has been quite a bit of ribbing going back and forth between those using Telus vs Rogers, and who has the better connection. And because we all finally got reception back, we were able to see the hilarious and heart-warming video from back home that was posted on YouTube. Check it out if you want a giggle…
After doing laundry and getting set up, we went into Tobermory to look around, get groceries and have dinner. It’s a neat little town with lots of cool little shops and galleries, and gets lots of tourists as it is surrounded by our only underwater national park. There are lots of shipwrecks in the area, so it is a mecca for divers, so there are also lots of dive shops and glass bottom boats.
We ate at a lovely place with a roof top patio. It was almost like a day off, after finishing so early, we were pretty beat after two really long days and early mornings. As the sun went under the clouds, it cooled off quickly so I went back to the RV to warm up. I crawled under the covers in my bed…and I was out like a light for the rest of the night. Don’t ask me what everyone did after dinner – I was sawing logs!
Day 42 June 18 Tuesday
Tobermory to Owen Sound
We headed inland up the Bruce Pennisula today to a blue sky and sunshine. The roads were quiet, and it was interesting to see the landscape change again from trees to farmland. We stopped at a farmer’s market and bakery to load up on bread and snacks. We went through Wiarton, home of Wiarton Willie, the famous groundhog. Don’t confuse him with Balzac Billy, his Albertan cousin. Wiarton was larger than I thought it would be, and had lots of older historic homes and brick buildings that have been restored. We stopped at the Tim Hortons, which is becoming a habit for us. It is not only a great place to eat, but it’s also an informal info centre. Today we found out that Hwy 6 was torn up with construction, and got a recommendation to take an alternate route, which turned out to be a quiet, peaceful and picturesque road going past acreages and small farms, that lead to the water of Owen Sound. Most of the water we’ve seen in the past few weeks has been dark and churned up, so to see a light blue hue seemed almost tropical.
We got in relatively early, about 2:30 pm, because it was a shorter day of about 115 kms. Funny, I never would have considered that a short day before this trip. Anyway, we spent the late afternoon walking around Owen Sound and enjoying the signs outlining its history and significance as a port for grain in the past. And I must be pretty lucky, as I got pooped on by a seagull (just my foot), and that’s supposed to be good luck – right?
At the RV site, I spoke with Nancy and Marilyn about the ride and our mission to stop the stigma. They were both nurses before they retired, one a psych nurse, so I was preaching to the choir so to speak.
We had a great feast when we returned of smokies, chili and corn on the cob, as it is Brian’s and Bob’s last night with us. Tomorrow, they head south, and we head east towards Orillia. We will certainly miss them, they feel like permanent fixtures of the team and I’m sure things will feel off for a while until we get used to being just 4 again. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s morning goodbyes. But I know I will see them again, and it gives me and Patrick an excuse to go to Naniamo, and who even needs an excuse to go to the west coast??
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