Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 38 - Thunder Bay (Rest day)

0 km - Total so far 3,513.13 km

Unlike the last time we took a rest day that had us walking and playing tourist all day, we had a late start and only played tourist for a half-day. We still managed to put almost 25 km on the bikes. 

We located what we consider to be the best equipped laundromat of our entire trip to date. All brand new front loading washers and dryers and we got everything done in less than 45 minutes. We then hit the grocery store and bought tons of food as nothing is open tomorrow (Canada Day) and there are not that many services between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.Once we dropped the laundry and groceries at the motel, we once again headed down the the road to pick up propane cans at the other end of town.
Former waterfront train station 

Baggage building converted to an art gallery
On the way back, we stopped in the historic district and did more shopping. For the last few weeks, Hélène had been looking at purchasing a long sleeve shirt designed for sun protection but could never find one. We found a well stocked outdoors store that had everything that was needed. I bought a shirt as well since the shirt is quick drying. I had been wearing arm warmers to protect myself from the sun and I just found them too hot and uncomfortable.

We also stopped at the waterfront park where Canada Day celebrations will take place tomorrow. We thought best to do it now so that we could use the bicycles to get around on the paths. We figure tomorrow the place will be overflowing with people. It is only recently that the citizens of Thunder Bay get to access the waterfront. As you can see in some of the pictures, the waterfront was industrialized and one only got close to the water if they worked there. You can buy yourself a waterfront condo starting at $337,000 overlooking the harbour, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and as far as one can see, Lake Superior.
Hélène relaxing

Water Garden

Spirit Circle and me showing off my chain ring grease tattoo
Victory Fountain and you can see the perpetual rainbow
Trying to align cannon without DGMS...pretty difficult
Older waterfront facility and newer grain terminals in the background
Break water and lighthouse 
Our humble digs 

Thunder Bay waterfront buildings

We have been following the weather and forest fire reports from British Columbia and the 3 Prairie provinces. We still can't get over how fortunate we were in selecting the dates of our trip. We could be trying to get up Allison Pass in 40 degree heat or trying to cycle the Prairies in the smoke. Our heart goes out to the generous people of BC, AB, SK and MB and hope that things will get back to normal for them very soon.

We leave you with this video of the Thunder Bay skate board park.

0 miles - Total so far 2,183.39 miles

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 37 - Upsala to Thunder Bay

127.1 km - Total so far 3513.13 kmhttp://ridewithgps.com/trips/5303736

After spending much time with Google looking for campgrounds and/or motels within 40 km of Thunder Bay and not finding any, we decided to cycle to Thunder Bay.

The route and scenery was very much the same as the day before, lots of trees and black flies. As you can see on the GPS data, it was mostly downhill on Hwy 17 and we only experienced a challenging climb on Hwy 102. It was a nice reality check and gives us an idea of what to expect EAST of Thunder Bay on the way to Sault Ste-Marie. Once we reached the top it was essentially a downhill ride all the way to Thunder Bay, our home for the next 2 days.

We also had lunch with Kyle in Shabaqua and got a chance to catch up.

Once settled in at the Sea-Vue motel which is the best value for money motel we have had so far.  At the last minute the motel owner decided to upgrade us to a two bedroom with kitchenette digs for the price of a basic room.  After supper, we laid down on the bed to watch Coronation Street and both fell asleep. That is the technical reason why we did not publish the blog last evening. It is also the reason why we are staying put for two days we need a good rest. 
Just in case you did not know about the time zone change. Upsala, located in the Central Time Zone, set their clocks to the Eastern Time Zone, confused...we were.
The really old way to get across Canada would certainly be an interesting trip to do. 
Our bikes taking a break. Unlike us, they are not bothered by those darn black flies
Often road construction gave us our own cycling lane with no traffic, The vehicles you see behind me are construction vehicles and we just cycled around them

Up to this point all water flowed towards Hudson Bay now it is heading SOUTH towards the Atlantic
Hélène reaching the top of the one hill on Hwy 102 
The hill on Hwy 102. Reminds us a bit of Gaspesie and Cape Breton. More of those once we head towards Saul Ste-Marie
Tomorrow we start our 2 day mid-trip break in Thunder Bay, with bike maintenance, laundry, etc. Much time will also be devoted to planning the overnight stops as there is not much between here and Sault Ste-Marie.

We will celebrate Canada Day with the folks in Thunder Bay!

78.98 miles - Total so far 2,183.39 miles

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 36 - Ignace to Upsala

113.9 km - Total so far 3,386.73 kmhttp://ridewithgps.com/trips/5292406

We had another early start today on our way to Upsala. We had pedalled 1.1 km when we stopped for out first picture of the day, super heros and cartoon characters hanging out outside one of the local motels. Our next picture would be of Hwy 17 halfway to Upsala. Yup, you guessed right there was not much to see or report on today....so we thought!

Odd characters outside motel in Ignace, Ontario
Ignace aspiring volunteer fireman in action
Panning for something in Ignace
Hwy 17, we could use a rumble strip to prevent us from dozing and going off the road
When there are two or more people in a selfie, always, always warn the others.  This helps keep relations cordial.
At about 76 km, Helene remarked that the gentleman we had just seen walking on the other side of the road had to be raising funds for something, as he was not wearing any sort of backpack. Seeing someone on foot on Hwy 17 is pretty unusual. Another 5 km later, we came across an RV stopped on the side of the road with a large multi-coloured Canada map painted on the back, There were also slogans and a logo of 'La Fondation Steve O'Brien'. We had to stop and inquire. A gentleman came out of the RV and introduced himself as 'Richard'. He told us about 'Steve' who he was, why he was going across Canada and how he was doing it. Steve is raising money to 'Provide the tools required to help youth achieve their educational goals'. He is using a number of different ways to cross Canada as selected by the youth he has met in the various schools he has stopped in along the way. He has walked, ran, cycled, used a hand cycle, etc and come next week; a pogo stick.
Steve O'Brien as spotted by Hélène

Still can't figure out why we are all leaning left. Don't remember the shoulder beside the road being that steep
Steve has made contacts at each of the elementary schools he has stopped at and hopes to eventually link all of those schools under the patronage of his foundation. 

We have not yet firmed up where we want to cycle too tomorrow but it is a sure bet that it will be halfway to Thunder Bay or there abouts.

We leave you with this video of Steve:

70.77 miles - Total so far 2,104.41 miles

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 35 - Dryden to Ignace

107.1 km - Total so far 3,272.83 kmhttp://ridewithgps.com/trips/5282337

We left Dryden a bit later this morning as we had to do a bit of shopping. We hit the road at around 8:25 am with Ignace as our destination 102 km away. As we cycled away from Dryden, we quickly realized that it was pretty warm even at 8:30 in the morning under a cloudless sky. Heat and humidity is not something we experienced much during the past 5 weeks, but it is starting to now affect our daily rides. If it gets any warmer we might have to start much earlier in the morning.
If you don't snowmobile in winter in Dryden you build odd things to pass the time
We had read in other blogs that hydration was an issue for many of the cyclists as they were going up Alisson Pass, and some even ran out of water. From the start, we have always carried a lot of water but it is only since we got to Ontario that we arrive at destination with little water left. We each carry 2 x 710 ml water bottle, 1 x 620 ml water bottle and 2 x 2 liter Platypus collapsible water bottles. We stop to drink every 8 km. We also have a water filtration kit just in case. We got cold water from streams in British Columbia but the slow running small rivers just don't seem as inviting to just plunge the water bottle in and fill up.
Hydration essentials: from the left, water purification kit, platypus bottle rolled up, full platypus bottle and a selection of various water bottles in the back

There was not much to see on our ride today. There was sign of human life for the first 20 km or so and again at the 48 km mark when we stopped for fries at "Dan's Darn Good Food" after that nothing till we reached the outskirts of Ignace. Traffic consists mostly of big trucks and sports fishermen pulling their boats. 
One of the many lakes in the area
Action shot of Hélène coming up a small rise. She has a big grin (trust me) 'cause she loves them hills!
Taking a breather at one of our rest stops by the Revell River
We see the odd pond, but they don't have any of the ducks and other wild life we got accustomed to see and enjoy in the Prairies. Lots of lakes both big and small but after a while they all start to look the same. Over the past five weeks, Hélène took and average of 65 or so pictures a day, today between the two of us, 15 pictures. 

We want to thank Helen for solving the mystery of why the sign over the doorway of the old Winnipeg Police Station reads 'Toronto Police Station'. This has to do with the fact that a CBC show 'The Murdoch Mysteries' set in Toronto in the 1890s' first filmed in Winnipeg. 

In regards to the Ukrainian breakfast we had the other morning, the plate was huge, and it included perogies topped with sausage and sour cream, eggs and toast. It fuelled us for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow our destination is Upsula, 100 + km away. Can't wait to enjoy that Northern Ontario scenery once again. 

BTW, Kyle blew by us this morning and we are all at the same campground tonight.

66.55 miles - Total so far 2,033.64 miles

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 34 - Kenora to Dryden

140.4 km - Total so far 3,165.73 kmhttp://ridewithgps.com/trips/5274772

With a distance of 140 km to cycle today, we left Kenora bright and early. The ride to our first major stop, Vermilion Bay, was pretty straight forward and I am happy to report uneventful. The terrain continues to be rolling hills and lakes all along the route. We took a few pictures as the best shots always seem to appear when we were on the downhill side of a climb and enjoying the ride too much to stop. 
"Mom," as nice as the one outside the museum in Ottawa and a whole lot cheaper

How many 'Last Spikes' are there anyway!
With 'miles' on the sign it felt like the Prairies again
Notice the clandestine passenger (left side of mesh pocket)

Halfway to Vermilion Bay, we ran into Kyle who is now sporting a much thicker beard. Interestingly enough, Kyle also experienced rear tire issues and had to get a new tire in Edmonton. We hope his tire issues are now behind him and he can proceede on his way without any more flats.

We also cycled by the road that would have taken us SOUTH and to the United States. We did stop for a bit and reviewed whether or not staying in Canada was the best idea. We considered that the biggest advantage of going through the US was the fact that there are a lot more people there and a lot more villages and small towns. Not nearly as many of either on the Canada side. We are confident that we made the right choice.

There was quite a bit of action at the truck stop in Vermilion Bay. The OPP, fire services and paramedic were there attending to a gentleman. Things were not as serious as we intially thought as the paramedic left without their patient. At the gas pump,there was one of the biggest recreational vehicle we have seen on this entire trip. The whole thing looked like a small train. It is interesting to see how much stuff some people need to have when on holidays. We have 4 panniers each and a couple of bags and we have not used all of what we brought.
These guys are getting bigger as we move EAST. This one in Vermilion

We bought ourselves some fudge while in Vermilion Bay. It is really nice to expend all those calories everyday. You can eat as much as you want and not worry about it going straight to your thighs. We left Vermilion with 40 km to go.
Moose whispering. Marcel, we can just talk the moose into climbing in the back of your truck

The calming effects of moose whispering. That moose is sporting a shy smile 
Right after Vermilion Bay, there was a noticeable change in the terrain. There are a lot less trees and more open agricultural fields. We are now starting to see 'silos' and not 'grain bins' as we saw in the Prairies. Everything is starting to look like home, well except for the many lakes.
'We are out of the bush...at least for now'

We finally made it to Dryden at 5:15 and made it straight to the tourist information office. We got tips on what to expect the next few days in terms of services along our route. We were also directed to use the pedestrian bridge to get over the railway tracks. It was the first time on this trip that we got to use an elevator with our fully loaded bikes. Because it was such a long day and again no campgrounds near the town, we settled in for the night in a motel. We forgot this was a weekend before a holiday and most of the motels had no vacancy. The motel we are in would not have been our first choice but it was that or set up a tent in the parking lot at Walmart.  We like Walmart parking lots when we are in 'GereMene' our VW Wesfalia bus but not in a tent!

Latest addition to junk from the road, 12 x 3/4 in. adjustable wrench. First item this week so its a keeper
The next big town is Thunder Bay almost 350 km away, We have decided to cover the distance in 4 vice 3 days so that we can spend each night in a small village rather than by the side of the road. We will most likely take another rest day in Thunder Bay.

 Yes we use "Vermilion Bay" a lot in the blog, as it rolls nicely off the tongue.  Try it, say "Verrrrrmilllllllllllliiiiiiiion Bayyyyyyy"! 

Well done to those of you that figured out what was above the front door of the old Winnipeg police station.  As a follow on question "Do we know why?" 

87.24 miles - Total so far 1,967.09 miles

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 33 - Prawda (MB) to Kenora (ON)

109.1 km - Total so far 3025.33 kmhttp://ridewithgps.com/trips/5253906

We had a lovely evening at the campground. Hélène made hamburger meat with mushrooms and powdered potatoes. That meal has become our comfort food after a challenging or wet day. We got to eat in a fully screened summer kitchen away from mosquitoes. These mosquitoes appear to be getting more numerous and aggressive as we move EAST. Can't wait to see what they will be like when we hit Sault Ste-Marie.

Hamburger meat, mushrooms and powdered potatoes,,,,,yummy!!!!!!
During the night a critter chewed on Helene's mud flap, sort of 'Meals on Wheels'

The happy couple after their 'Ukrainian Breakfast' in Falcon Beach, MB

This picture is dedicated to one of our readers
This gentleman was photographed placing graffiti on the post holding the 'Welcome to Ontario' sign
This is the message he left...he should stick to writing as he can't draw!
We rarely saw flowers in the ditches of the Prairie provinces 
One of hundreds of inukshuks that are all along the highway, Helene is once again wearing her rocket pack
We had a nice relaxed ride down Hwy 1 and we could really notice the change in terrain and geography. We are now in rolling terrain (terrain valloneux) with trees on either side and more and more rocks and rock faces. We are no longer in the Prairies. There are marshes along the highway but they are not home to ducks and other wildlife as they were in Manitoba. We saw no sign of human life between Prawda and Falcon Beach  (36.6 km away). We had a bit of excitement when another cyclist snuck up and startled Hélène and she let out a scream. Daniel (the cyclist behind Hélène) apologized. He informed us that he was cycling to St-John's, Nfld and planned on being there by the 24th of July. He was lightly equipped and covered 200 km a day. We wished him a safe trip and watched him quickly accelerate away from us. We felt like we were stopped as we watched him go. 

As we crossed the border into Ontario, we could see a significant increase in the number of lakes of all sizes. Have a look at the GPS data and you will see what I am talking about. Lakes everywhere! From the border, we had another 60 km or so. Like every other day, we aimed to be in Kenora at a reasonable time. By 4 pm, we were at the grocery store by 4:30 pm at the Beer store and the motel by 5:15. We are staying at a motel on the EAST side of town as there are no campgrounds in or close to Kenora.

Our objective for tomorrow is Dryden about 140 km. We understand from talking with the motel owner that we have a number of nice hill climbs on our way to Dryden.

In a previous post we had mentioned that jalapino and cheese tortillas with peanut butter and jam was a good combination. We also tried vegetable tortilla and peanut butter and jam. DO NOT try that combination at home as it takes an incredible amount of will power to chow down on that. Not a good combination.

67.79 miles - Total so far 1,879.85 miles

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 32 - Winnipeg to Prawda

134.8 km - Total so far 2,916.23 km - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/5244378

After our day of not pedaling, we were once again aiming for an early start. We looked out the window to see what would turn out to be a thunderstorm. Needless to say any thoughts of leaving early where quashed. By 7:30 the skies were clear and we got ourselves ready to go. 

We had mapped out a route the night before. It required us to use the network of cycling routes to get us quickly and safely through the downtown, over the bridge to St-Boniface and out to Hwy 115. We would have been quicker getting to Hwy 115 had we not stopped for pictures along the way. We really enjoyed our brief stay in Winnipeg as there is so much to see and do and we but scratched the surface. I am sure that you also have heard of Winnipeg in the last couple of days thanks to the loudspeaker broadcasts coming from the Winnipeg police helicopter.
Cycling lane in the Exchange district
The old Winnipeg police station

Something very odd about the front entrance to the old Winnipeg Police Station
The guy in the letter A is Louis Riel who helped make Manitoba a province of Canada in 1870. We was hung in Saskatchewan 15 years later.
You will see from the GPS data that after a while we made a sharp turn to the right (SOUTH) from Hwy 15 unto Hwy 12 and then left (EAST) on Hwy 1. Turns out the road surface was terrible on Hwy 15 and there was nothing to see. We ended up on a much nicer road Hwy 1 (Trans Canada Highway) but still there was nothing to see. We got a nice surprise in that we saw Millon having lunch at a picnic table by the side of the road on Hwy 1. Sometimes, one of the lanes on Hwy 1 was closed to traffic due to construction and we slipped in behind the barriers. This gave us a nice road were we got to ride side by side once in a while.
We had lunch under one of the overpasses on the Trans Canada Highway. Reminds you of the 417 doesn't it

The winds were not favourable to us today and we got in later than expected at the campsite in Prawda, We also got caught by a 40 minute downpour. Today was not what we would call a memorable day. Tomorrow will be much better!

Tonight is our last night in beautiful Manitoba. Tomorrow we will be sleeping in our home province (Ontario) in the Town of Kenora.

83.76 miles - Total so far 1,812.06 miles