Day Six – Sleeping Giant Provincial Park to Kenora (541km)

The loons sing to us all night and we wake up to the soothing sound of waves lapping against the shore. We see very little of the lake, as there is a thick fog covering it. Suddenly, Wendy hears the sound of paddles in the water and then a kayak glides by. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and no sign of rain. The giant may yet sleep but around him, nature is awakening with a flourish.

Time for a quick protein drink, pack the car and then the dusty trek back out to the main campground begins. Once there, we get rid of our garbage and waste water (which we have kept overnight in Nalgene bottles, inside the cooler, in the trunk of the car), clean our selves, our teeth and ta-da…we’re good to go.

We begin the long drive out of the park. The speed limit is 60km and we’re taking it easier than that, driving between 45 and 50. There is lots to see, its a beautiful day and we are in no hurry whatsoever. Several drivers are queuing up behind us and one can sense their growing impatience…we’re not sure why they are in such a hurry (maybe they come from some place that’s miserably hot)…but we pull over to let them through and they race past us like they are on the last leg of the Cannonball Run.

Shortly after the convoy has passed, we spot a young bear rummaging around in the bushes by the side of the road. We stop to film and photograph him. He’s a joy to watch (from the safety of the car). Too bad Burt and Sally were in such a big hurry…that bear was pretty neat.

A stop in Thunder Bay for breakfast. The restaurant is called ‘madeFRESH’ (269 Red River Road, freshtastic.ca) and our server is Ashley. We have a great coffee and a wicked good breakfast….Grilled cheese with caramelized onions and pulled prime rib on toasted bread (Wendy has the same, sans toast). Pretty darned good and a great atmosphere.

Fully refuelled….we stop at a gas station to gas up the Honda. Gas is $1.39 a litre, which is still cheaper than it was in Marathon, ON…$1.46/litre (so stop complaining Southern Ontario). Pulling out of the gas station, we hop back onto the Trans Canada and barrel along towards Kenora.

Wendy is driving this round, and the promised rain has begun. I take the opportunity to catch up on some important work. I’m asleep and snoring gustily in seconds. Wendy swears that Elk were answering my trumpeting.

We arrive in Kenora around 6.50pm and we’re both pretty hungry (we haven’t eaten since breakfast and we’ve been on the road for about six hours). We see two people coming out of a little restaurant and stop to ask them where, in town, is the best place to eat. They both point over there shoulder to the eatery they have just come out of…’Dino’s’. It sure doesn’t look like much from the outside but hey, you gotta trust the locals, so in we go.

The restaurant is packed. We are met by Dino himself, a handsome young fellow who is a real pro. He asks if we have reservations (as the restaurant is fully booked for the evening). We of course say no and Dino tells us to hang tight while he checks to see if he can squeeze us in. He comes back and says “You’re in luck, I have a table for two at the back”.

Man, is he right on how ‘in luck’ we are. The food is traditional Greek and it’s fantastic. As appetizers we have a beautiful soup of chicken broth with orzo and a Greek salad tossed in a dressing that is a generations long secret family recipe. As the main course we have both ordered the ‘Olympian God’ (skewers of melt in your mouth chicken, shrimp and pork tenderloin, perfectly spiced and served with rice and roasted potatoes).

Families surround us and they are constantly walking over to greet and chat with each other. This place is a celebration of fine food and friendships. It is a great atmosphere. At times, someone will get up from their table and just walk into the kitchen to say hello to whoever is cooking. Later, we discover that Dino’s dad (Peter) opened the restaurant in 1982 and named it after his then seven year old son (who is also a cordon bleu chef). It is a great pleasure to share in this family’s passion for fine food and we tell Dino that we will give his place a bump on our blog…It won’t carry the same weight as a ‘Colbert Bump’ but the Olympian God is spectacular and I’m fairly certain that Stephen would gladly trade one of his Peabodys for such a wonderful culinary experience. (Dino’s Restaurant, 206 Second Street S., Kenora, Ontario, Ph: 807-468-3103)

After dinner, we waddle out of the restaurant and drive to the western outskirts of town to the Bed & Breakfast we are staying at tonight…The Countryside Manor, right on Hwy. 17.

We walk in and are met by an entourage of people; our hosts Donalda and John Peters, a family from Vancouver…Christina and Ivor and their sons, Brennan (5), Aidan (3) and Connor (1)…geez, I hope I got that right. Also there, as a welcoming committee, are Christina’s mom and pops who leave shortly after introductions.

The B & B is a beautiful log home tastefully furnished and filled with great outdoor art and photos. John was a trapper and there are signs of his success everywhere, from the wolf pelt that adorns the floor, the fisher stalking us from one of the beams and a wolverine upstairs. John tells me he’s slowing down a bit so he isn’t trapping as much as he used to (besides he also operates a local contracting firm) and he also lets slip that wolves are overrunning the area and the government is offering a contract to reduce their number by fifty. I’m enthralled and I’d like nothing better than to sit and listen all night but Aidan (my new best bud) interrupts John’s conversation to introduce me to the ‘dog’ who lies on the floor (the wolf pelt). We start feeding the ‘dog’ coconut shavings (laid out on his plastic tongue). A little later, Aidan shares his raspberry/apple drink with me. Unfortunately he shares it with a tad too much gusto and I am forced to go and change everything below the waist as Donalda and Christina work on getting the drink out of the couch cushions. I take the opportunity to have a shower and by the time I’m finished, everyone seems to have gone off to bed. Donalda is kind enough to offer the use of her laundry room and Wendy has been busy getting Aidan’s drink out of my clothing.

Our room is cozy and the crisp sheets beckon so Wendy and I decide to call it a night and within minutes we, like Aidan and his brothers, are out like the proverbial lights.

P.S. Apple products and cellphones may be hot technology but we have been without service of any kind throughout much of our northern swing and none of it works worth a damn. That is forcing us to blog late (as an e-mail) and send it to ourselves whenever we can. Then we download it to the blog site and later yet, add the pics (I wonder if the voyageurs had these problems…probably not)

Moose and Wendle

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