Long time no blog.
We supposedly had an internet connection in our campsite in Kenora, but it was... Flaky.
As it is here. I am learning that 'free wi-fi' means 'we have a cheap router and want to add the bullet point to our advertising'.
The good mechanics at Olympia Cycle in Kenora were able to get my wheel back in business while I waited and the next morning, we were off. Happy days.
The route off the main highway we were taking was fairly deserted, which was a nice change after several days of fairly packed roadways. On the other hand, we had seen several signs which indicated we were entering bear country, which somewhat heightened the various senses which were responsible for scanning the woods.
About halfway through the day, Hillary starts dropping the hammer and mumbles something at me. I catch up and say, "Pardon?"
"There is a bear in the trees, on the left."
"What? Where?" as I slow down to check things out. Hillary then speeds up even more and I see her side of things and match her speed. I see nothing but trees, but whine for a few days that next time she should warn me before if some interesting wildlife is in the woods nearby.
The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, save for some CN workers deciding to blow what I assume was a stump when we were less than 100m from it. If you've seen footage of mortar shells hitting the dirt in WWI or WWII and that's exactly what it looked like. We were close enough that I could feel the whomp in my chest. Worrisome, especially when debris started raining down on us. Mostly water and some light dead wood by the time it hit us on the road, but that's hardly the point.
We made it to Kenora and into Ontario later that day. Home province now, w00t!
From Kenora we were basically back on highway 17 and the Trans-Canada, which in large part meant that I missed much of the scenery. The traffic wasn't overly bad for much of the day, though by late afternoon it was pretty solid. The worst part was the transports. Not one at a time, but when you'd get batches going in both directions at once. Regardless,whenever traffic got busy, I found myself just focusing on the road and not the shield in general.
Which was too bad. For the first 100km or so east of Kenora was quite nice. Short little climbs and descents winding around rocky formations and lakes. As we got closer to Dryden, the rollers became more gentle and we broke out into farmland.
The next two days, ending at the Cobblestone Lodge and English River respectively, were pretty unpleasant. We had a fairly stiff headwind that kept our speed way down and it was cold and rainy. The high point of the two days was seeing a few moose and the gift of some freshly caught trout fillets from a camper at the Cobblestone Lodge. A most excellent dinner those made.
English River, really nothing more than a little fishing lodge, was not supposed to be the destination for the day, but after a 4 hour slog to get 84km up the road and encountering heavy transport traffic, we decided to pack it in for the night. The hope was that we'd hit better weather the next day, which really didn't require much.
That night, we got a pretty serious thunderstorm that lead into a great tailwind. Power got knocked out of the entire town for most of the evening, you can see Tanya's blog for more details on that... Anyhow, to make up for our short days, we did our first imperial century of the trip. Total mileage for the day was 167km, or about 104 miles. That was exciting.
We ended the century at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park and celebrated our lengthy ride with a couple of pints and a hike down to the falls. The falls were pretty impressive, but Mom really didn't like the idea that the power generation company basically remotely controls how impressive the falls are. Essentially the power company has an agreement with Ontario that they will keep the water flow over the falls to at least x cubic metres per second at various times. Weekdays, the falls are less impressive, weekends, when more tourists/campers are out and about, they turn up the volume. It sort of takes something away from it.
From Kakabeka, it was a short ride through Thunder Bay to Shuniah. Rather than take a rest day, we elected to do a short ride, then tour around in Truck for a bit to see some of the natural things around here we'd miss on our bikes.
First stop was an amethyst mine. Not a whole bunch to actually see there, but the best part by far, was the mining part of it. They dump their tailings and cuttings in a 5 acre pit and let anyone root through it. The ground is speckled in purple and for $3 per pound, you can carry off whatever you find. I found a nice big chunk that is going to go on my desk and we found several smaller chunks with nice colour that we should be able to get cut into earrings or something similar. Not the highest gem quality rocks, sure, but still pretty cool.
Getting to the mine involved going up, then down, a 12% or so gravel road. It was a bit hairy, but no problems, despite some stress leading up to the descent. And I saw a bear on the way down! Gone before we could get the camera out, but still.
Next stop was Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park. On our way to the park, who did we see pedalling up the 17? Tanya and Attila. (forgive me if this is misspelled, I'm going from memory, I'm writing this offline and will just cut and paste and probably forget about checking) Probably surprised them, but it was good to see that they hadn't been eaten by bears yet. :)
The canyon is also pretty cool. It's basically a glacier carved hole in the ground 3km long and 150m deep. At the bottom, it's basically it's own microclimate and has a bunch of arctic plants that you can't find anywhere south of Hudson's Bay. Due to this, you aren't allowed to walk down there, but you can overlook it.
Finally, back to the Terry Fox monument. We all know about him, so it doesn't need to be repeated here, but still. Riding across the country is much faster than running and it's taking us a long time. A marathon a day would have been beyond ridiculous. Unimaginable.
So that about brings us up to date. We're heading back into the back country, so it might be a while before the next update. We're taking a real rest day today, we're utterly covered in bug bites and could probably use a real day off to do laundry, play some mini golf and just relax.