This leg of the journey always gives me a little bit of anxiety, in anticipation. Driving to Kenora is seamless, but I always feel, once leaving Kenora, that I am traveling into a bit of a foreign world. Some distance east of Kenora, I pulled over to sort my music at a plaque for The Last Spike at Little Joe Lake. It was a beautiful place and I felt so happy standing there, all on my own, looking out at these views.
In the 1870s, Canada needed a reliable all-Canadian transportation route between Lake Superior and the western prairie territories it acquired in 1869. After promising a rail connection to British Columbia, the federal government started to build a railway between Thunder Bay and Red River in 1875. It took seven years to complete the 600 kilometer (375 mile) line. Thousands of workers battled mosquitoes and black flies as they cut trees, blasted granite, bridged chasms and filled in muskeg. On June 19, 1882, the last spike was driven just south of here near Feist lake. The line was transferred to the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, which delivered the first shipment of western grain to Thunder bay in the fall of 1883.
Now…take a look at the land…riddled with lakes, weaving and often times very low on traffic. All of the big semis on this trip seemed to be heading west.
While the landscape can hold so much magic, road tripping on your own doesn’t always allow for pull overs and picture snapping, so as driver on a single lane highway, I try to take in as much as I can on the move, all the while, cranking up the music.
I can only liken this particular landscape to a remote, heavily wooded, increasingly rolling terrain. This is where, typically, I spot wildlife…the last time, a pair of wolves crossing the highway. This time I didn’t see any animals, but, by late afternoon, I was feeling like I was in a scene from the movie, Deliverance. I wouldn’t do this road in the dark, ever, simply because I have been out on the highway, late getting into Thunder Bay and clenched the wheel the whole way.
I had a truly awesome moment as I drove past a wee piece of landscape just east of Ignace. Tallest Man on Earth was belting out this tune and everything was so green and the sky was a perfect blue. The moment had everything to do with the light.
As we do in Thunder Bay, Max and I ordered Boston Pizza’s Greek Salad…a bit of a treat after this big day. I poured my third glass of wine since leaving Calgary. I relaxed, after painting a little bit of a sense of the landscape I had finally entered, arriving at the head of my Lake Superior run.
I thought lots about my children, remembering drives with them going east. We would have stopped for an ice cream cone in Upsula, had they been with me, but on my own…I just wanted to make Thunder Bay.