This is the drive on the northern Superior that I love the very most and brings up the most memories. I recommend it for every one who wants to discover some of the ‘possibilities’ that Canada holds. It was a brilliant blue day and a perfect one for enjoying the views.
At some point, in the middle of nowhere, one of the less-concerning warning lights came up on my dash as related to my key battery…this on a long weekend when absolutely nothing was going to be open and where for miles on end, I would be in secluded and wild country. As a result (not, at this point, thinking about my option of the manual key stuck in the fob and hoping that the battery had no connection to the ignition at all…my Dodge manual was zero help in any of this), I didn’t stop at Rainbow Falls or Rossport…two of my favourite places, but I said, “To hell with it” and hung out at Neys after paying my entrance and Old Woman Bay.
Magic…this stretch of road is simply magic! Drive it! The image below is posted from Google Maps… Keep in mind that because there was not a single accommodation available in Sault Ste. Marie, I forged onward just past Elliott Lake and ended my day at Iron Bridge, a heavenly spot for sure!
After picking up our continental breakfast…a banana…a boiled egg…a muffin and a travel mug full of coffee, Max and I were on our way. I decided not to stop at the Terry Fox memorial this time (it was going to be a long day for driving), as has always been my tradition, but I found myself crying when I arrived at the marker on the highway that pointed out the spot where Terry’s run actually came to a halt. Very powerful to think about that and so I drove for a while, just thinking about people in my life who have suffered cancer…are presently suffering cancer…and who have both lost and fought courageously, their battles with cancer. Prayers were made.
This is the type of morning it was, looking out onto Lake Superior.
Speaking with bikers in Marathon on a former drive, I was told that this day’s bike ride was a more physical ride than going through the Rockies…lots of up and down and certainly the most amazing views, although I didn’t stop at a number of these scenic stops this time. I like this blog post published by a motorcycle group.
I pulled in at Schreiber to see if there was a garage open for someone to check out the Journey, but it turns out that Terrace Bay was hosting a huge DragFest competition this long weekend and there was nothing but a pump available in town. On I moved to Terrace Bay where the local mechanic was shifting around, getting things ready to go to the DragFest site. What a lovely guy! Chat with him sometime at Wayne’s Esso! He gave me some time and some confidence that the warning light that was coming up was benign, not related to anything else and that I was safe to go.
This was a relief and so Max and I, on holiday Sunday, got out and wandered for a bit at Neys Provincial Park. When my son was just a wee boy, I took him on a hike to a spot where I wanted to paint at Prisoner’s Cove. While I painted a little board, he played around in the brush, on the rock, in the old wrecked boats and in the shallow pools of water. Right in front of me, however, he dropped into Superior, holding onto a solid branch as he went. The panel and palette got tossed to the side and I dragged him up out of the cold water. We immediately headed back to the camp site. Lake Superior is cold!! I have saved the small panel painted at this location.
On the beaches of pink sand, one can regularly see the trains journeying the edges of the steep banks to the west…the Barclay Islands in plain view on clear days, out on the water. This was a favourite location for Canada’s Group of Seven painters to work…in fact, this entire region of Algoma provided subjects for many landscape paintings, both well known and lesser known. It was a great stop.
Good passing lanes through this highway, huge granite walls in earthy reds jutting up hundreds of feet as the driver crests each large hill to have a wall of blue water and sky open up to them. A beautiful drive.
Another place I always stop on this route is Old Woman’s Bay…while Max and I have never seen this well populated, the heat had brought out a slew of swimmers, much to Max’s dismay. He didn’t get to play stick in the water and wow, was it ever obvious that he remembered! On leash, I let him, at the very least, get into the water enough to enjoy a big cool down and to drag some sand into the car.
I was a bit worried upon my arrival in Sault Ste. Marie that I didn’t have the energy to keep on to Sudbury, but after a search and many attempts to find a spot to sleep for the night, we had no choice but to try to make it another three hours on the road. I cranked up the tunes and headed out onto the highway. The land had flattened out now, contoured with rolling hills and treed areas. I was happy to see a juvenile heron standing, alert, in a well-lit ditch and this made me feel as though everything was going to turn out and I cranked up the tunes. Neil Young, Tracey Chapman, the Stones…I was pumped.
A short distance beyond the Elliott Lake turn off, I saw a few billboards that advertised lodging in smaller towns on the way to Sudbury. Some miles on and I saw the Red Top from the highway. The car ahead of me pulled in, and I followed, not far behind. When I stepped into the registration office, the gentleman who spoke to me was also taking food out to customers in the restaurant adjoining. OH! The food looked so good. When I asked about lodging for the night, he told me that he was down to his last two rooms and neither of them had television. I explained that I was hungry and tired and I certainly didn’t need a television! He gave me paper work and off he went to the diners. A woman was busy slicing through a thick, beautifully frosted home made cake.
I looked at the art on the walls in the greeting area…looked carefully…really couldn’t believe it, but thought I was looking at six original pieces by Norval Morriseau. When the gentleman returned to the counter I asked him if those were originals and he smiled, saying that he was a collector. I was aghast.
He asked if I wanted dinner as the dining room was closed, but he could prepare me a meal for take out. The room was 60.00, so I believed it would be a great evening for stuffed pork chop, potato pancakes, hot pickles and veg. The tray was prepared with cloth napkin, real silverware and the works. Once, I returned to the lovely room, I got Max out for a real run in their huge yard and then picked up my meal. The wine was poured and the celebration began!
I thanked God for the Red Top and highly recommend it to anyone who has driven from 7 in the morning until 8…such a comfort.