Saturday July 6th
Funny thing, last night as we sat by the fire, ‘Bobcat’ came over, found nothing interesting at our site, so he ambled over to our neighbours’ (who weren’t at home), unzipped their tent and went inside to investigate. We flushed him out…and then made sure our own tent was zipped to the top (and out of his reach).
After another great sleep, we packed up, cleaned our site and hauled our garbage to the waste site, where Wendy happened to spot the little mother fox trotting by with a piece of pizza in her mouth. Mmm…pizza. With that, we said goodbye to Killarney and motored on.
Highway 637 is the only road heading into or out of Killarney. At the end of that road it’s a hard left, back onto Hwy. 69 North. By the time we reached Sudbury, nickel capital of the known universe (at least according to the brochures) it was time for lunch. Curiously, Sudbury might have a ton of nickels but restaurants, not so much…and so, after much searching…budda bing budda boom…we ended up at an East Side Mario’s. Wendy ordered the chicken salad and I ordered soup and a large pizza (you wouldn’t know it to look at me but my eyes really ARE bigger than my stomach).
The food arrived and although my pizza was great, Wendle’s chicken salad was almost completely devoid of one main ingredient…chicken. While she was waiting for another strip of ‘poulet’ (as they say in Sudbury), she looked over at me and asked why I had ordered such a huge pizza. I had absolutely no idea why I had…so I just answered her with a manly grunt. Later, the manager came over and asked how we liked our meal, to which I of course answered “we didn’t actually…unless you like a chicken salad without the chicken”. He was very apologetic of course (saying something about someone not coming in to work…and who doesn’t have problems with the help these days) and told Wendy that he would subtract $3.99 from her meal (apparently the price of the poulet) and then asked us if we planned on eating at this restaurant again. We looked at each other, for a moment, and then together, said “Sure…Absolutely” (as my old mom used to say…’never turn down anything free’). The manager doled out a sweet $30.00 voucher for free food, good only at this location…but redeemable until October. I had eaten only two of the eight pieces of my large pizza so we boxed up the rest and headed out.
After stopping for groceries at a great local market, we were ready to go. Turning out of the market parking lot we saw a young fellow standing, practically in the road, holding a huge sign that said ‘we are homeless and anything you can do to help us would be greatly appreciated’. We immediately stopped and gave him; two bottles of water, six slices of fresh pizza and a $30.00 voucher for East Side Mario’s (I guess mom was right about accepting free stuff).
On the road again (as Stomping Tom would say) and we were immediately back on the Trans Canada (now Highway 17 West) heading towards Sault Ste. Marie (which our GPS lady voice calls Salt Saint Mary). We drove hard through Salt Saint Mary and continued on towards today’s destination, Lake Superior Provincial Park.
The drive along Hwy. 17 towards Superior is a slow process. Climbing and descending the mountainous hills is a difficult proposition for the many tractor trailers, RV’s and nervous drivers that use this road but the scenery is…well…Superior. Ancient mountains, ground down over millennia by the constant action of wind and water erosion are still high enough to cause your grip to tighten on the steering wheel…or door handles (depending on which seat you occupy) and are blanketed with thick forests of Spruce, Pine and Birch. The trees appear to be inexhaustible and it’s easy to understand why our forefathers imagined that they could log these forests forever. Crazy…but understandable.
We arrived, at what we believed was our campsite, very late (around 8.20pm)…which was timely, considering we had no firewood (having left all of our wood back at Killarney to prevent the spread of invasive species from park to park) and, with the park offices closing at 9.00pm, we now had plenty of time to buy wood for tonight’s fire.
We met, and had a wonderful, leisurely chat with yet another amazing park staffer (Debbie Ducharme’s doppelgänger) who told us all about the park and brought us up to speed on the latest bear activity “very active in the coastal and interior campsites but almost nonexistent in your Rabbit Blanket campsites, which are about 30km further west”.
“WHATWHATWHAT?” Thirty kilometres still to drive and time for buying firewood almost passed…goodbye helpful staffer…we jumped back into our faithful Civic…’Home James and don’t spare the gee-gees’
Arriving with minutes to spare we operated like a well oiled machine…Wendy ran into the office to register while I started rifling bags of wood and kindling into a green garbage bag. Seeing the look on the staffer’s face, Wendy tried to reassure her by recounting our ‘snake in the wood bag’ story. By the time I got into the office, she was pretty sure we were both more than a little crazy.
We had pre-booked for site #44 but since the campgrounds were virtually empty, we asked the young staffer which site she would recommend we switch to. Unfortunately, this being her first day on the job (I’m not making this up), she could offer little assistance. We decided to go with #44 and report back to her tomorrow.
We went directly to our site and although it was well past 9.30pm (don’t ask me why but dusk up north falls around 10.00pm) there was still plenty of light to set up camp and start our fire.
I should note here that our fire starting has been tremendously upgraded by our use of the ‘Kim Strileski Fire Bundles’ we had packed for the trip. Wrapped in brown re-cycled paper bags, packed with milkweed, birch bark, Phragmites Australis stems, small twigs and then left to cure for about 10 months these devilishly ingenious devices are incredibly portable and ignite quickly whether they are opened, laid carefully and lit with a flint or (as we did this night) thrown whole under a pile of kindling and lit with a BIC lighter.
No sooner was dinner ready then the heavens opened up and rain began to pour into our plates. We ate quickly, cleaned up our plates, pots and campground, took our garbage to the waste bins, changed out of our eating attire (all things we would recommend when you are camping in bear country) and finally, completely wet…went straight to bed.
We’re not sure how far we travelled today…around 550km (we believe) as our photo of the final odometer reading was somehow mislaid from the iPhone. Probably washed out by the rain.
We have no idea what is in store for us tomorrow. Here, right now, with our thoughts, emotions and bodies still swirling from the experiences of this day…we fall asleep to the zen like patter of rain upon the tent fly. Pure magic and a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Moose & Wendle
- May 27: Wawa, ON to Pancake Bay Provincial Park, ON (joshwillms.wordpress.com)