Northern Ontario Adventure, Part One

Note: this entry was written on Thursday evening, but I never got around to posting it until today, so in the article, “today” means Thursday (July 5) and “tomorrow” means Friday (July 6). I haven’t even written the second part of it yet.

We got home early this afternoon from a 2484 km trip around Ontario. The sheer size of this province astounds me — from our place to Manitouwadge was almost 1300 km and took us a day and a half, and Manitouwadge is still a full day’s drive from the Manitoba border, and the far north of Ontario is unreachable by roads. The trip was a lot of fun, and we saw some amazing things, but unfortunately we had to cut the trip short. On Wednesday morning, we found out that Gail’s aunt Barbie had passed away on Sunday. We were planning on leaving that morning anyway, but we missed out on an extra day in the Sault, plus a day in Sudbury as well. The funeral is tomorrow in London.

I’m going to break the trip in half, just so that I don’t have one huge blog entry; rather, two semi-huge blog entries. A google map of the whole trip is here.

Day One: Heading Out
Gail had the day off, and I left work around 2:00. We picked the boys up after their last day of school, and headed out. We stopped near Canada’s Wonderland, about an hour away, and went to Chuck E. Cheese’s for dinner. This is a family tradition — we go there for dinner on (or near) the first and last days of school. We continued on to Gail’s dad’s place in Sundridge, where we stayed the night.

Day Two: The Road to the Sault
Friday morning, we had a quick breakfast and headed out on the road. Gail’s dad John, his wife Jackie (Gail’s stepmother, though because they got married when Gail was in university, she never uses that term, she’s just “Jackie”), and their Jack Russell terrier Patches in their truck pulling their camper trailer, and the four of us following in our van. We went through North Bay and Sudbury, then stopped at a rest stop at Spanish River for lunch. Shortly after Spanish River, the traffic stopped dead. The next six kilometres took about an hour, until we got to an intersection that was being blocked by some native protestors holding signs saying things like “Honour our treaties”. There were several OPP officers there as well, directing traffic. I don’t get it. Do these protestors honestly think that they’re going to get what they want, or even gain any public support by inconveniencing hundreds of people who aren’t involved in their dispute?

Anyway, once we got through that, it was clear sailing through Sault Ste. Marie to Pancake Bay, where we were going to camp for the next two nights. Shortly before getting there, though, the traffic stopped again. We thought it might be another protest, but it turned out that there was a serious car accident ahead. After about 20 minutes, they cleared enough space so that we could get through, and the campsite was only about 2 km after that. The boys played soccer and rode their bikes while we got the camper set up, then a quick dinner and campfire, and it was off to bed.

Day Three: Pancake Bay
On Saturday, we went on a two hour hike on a beautiful trail around the campsite. There were a number of completely different ecosystems on this trail, mainly forests, but some parts were more rocky, and then
it opened up into a “fen”, which is apparently the same as a bog except that fresh water flows through it, so you get different kinds of plant and animal life. The boys walked the whole way (they’re too heavy to carry, and I can only piggyback them for short distances now), and took turns walking Patches, which they seemed very excited about. We never managed to get to the beach, though it looked pretty nice. After dinner, John crafted a perfect marshmallow-toasting campfire, and we were all asleep by 10:30.

To be continued….


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