Day 3 Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

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.

IMG_0163 IMG_0165Plaque Text

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.

Winnipeg to Thunder BayWhile 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 fun reading over another traveler’s 2013 journey about this same leg and credit her blog, the map.

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.

2011 Drive Bottle Three

Day Three:Thunder Bay to Brandon

At this point, I was determined to drive home in four days, not five.  With such resolve, I hardly considered doddling or picture-taking, so all of that was done on ‘the fly’.  I made a few brief notes on a pad of paper that sat at my side.  I did see some amazing things along the way.  In fact, I would describe myself as having been very ‘in-tune’ with the world.  Leaving Thunder Bay, I experienced the first rainfall of an entire summer of driving.  I was happy that it was happening through a construction zone where everything was slowed down anyway.  I took it easy.  As I drove, leaving Lake Superior behind, I loved thinking about the trip I had made with my son two years earlier…and felt blessed that I have driven both the north and south routes of this amazing Great Lake.

Notes on a piece of paper: random and quite difficult to decypher

Looking through my rear view mirror from Thunder Bay
sun streaming through clouds at sun rise, deep dark ahead
heavy rain
heavy heavy rain HEAVY WIDE LOAD AHEAD!!!!
wine gums
butter tart
another sip of coffee and another Vinyl Cafe Story

Ignace _
smell of pulp and paper, the air changes
Podcasts: The Vinyl Cafe music provided by Craig Cardiff and I am in love with his music now.

Miles and Miles of Stuart McLean stories
Historical Plaques several places along the way
Portages: Thunder Bay, Kenora area-google when I get home.

Husky the Muskie: Kenora

Kenora: A Beautiful Afternoon Break

Bottle Three

Max and I woke up yesterday morning in Kenora.  It was a fantastic sleep and a nice continental breakfast.  We had an early start.  I’ve decided I really really enjoy early-morning driving.  With a hot cup of coffee in my cup-holder and good music playing, the drive is typically beautiful.  I’ve had sun and blue skies for the entire journey to this point and the morning light is remarkable!

Thunder Bay

Our big stop for lunch was at the Terry Fox memorial.  Oh, soooo wonderful!  I had prepped a bean/rice/barley,corn and red pepper salad before leaving home and sat on a park bench, munching.  Max loved the stop as much as I did, socializing with the tourists and enjoying the big stretch.

A Spectacular Day!

Back on the road, we passed by ditches filled with blooming lupins; bright pinks, lavender, blue and violet.  I fueled up at a station where the attendant was so darned happy and helpful and the gas he was selling was also a mere 1.36 a liter. (cheap for that particular place in Canada)  Generally, I’m feeling that people are so very kind!

As I traveled deeper into the Canadian Shield,  I actually got pretty emotional.  I’ve been to some very stunning places in my lifetime, but when I find myself traveling a highway that cuts through such spectacular rock and for so many miles, I am left breathless.  The only thing about the miles that you cover through this landscape, is that there are very few places where one can pull over and be safe, in order to take pictures.  For me, this section of the drive becomes something entirely personal, something that can never be truly shared in a photograph!

Coincidentally,  as I was weaving my way through the Lake Superior Route, Gordan Lightfoot was playing on the radio,  ‘Carefree Highway‘.  What could be more cool than that?

Max and I pushed on to Marathon; quite an accomplishment! Our accommodation was somewhat ‘dodgy’, as my English son-in-law would say, but I was happy to be pulled off of the highway before nightfall and glad to be able to enjoy a soak in the tub!

Cheese Curd, Corona, Chips and Dip in Marathon: Yummers! ;0)

Gardens: Lupins


On my west-east migrations I have enjoyed the awesome colour of lupin plants, whether it be the blue lupins that make their way between cracks in solid rock in the B.C. mountains or thick fields of pink, white, lavendar and purple lupins in Ontario, all the way east to the Atlantic Provinces.  They are spectacular! I have always planted lupins!

 They seed so well and crop up throughout the garden.  They are hardy in direct sunlight, but are generous hosts to aphids.  The aphids will suck them dry, so you really have to keep an eye on that, particularly here in Calgary.  Once established, these blooms are very easy to grow.  I have really enjoyed a thicker batch of these the past two years!  I am also going to post a photograph here of some of the lupins I found, just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Thunder Bay Lupins