For the two weeks that we’ve been on vacation we’ve had a hard time going over 400 miles daily and only achieved it twice until yesterday when we covered 556 miles. We knew we had to drive just as much today, if not more, because we had given ourselves two weeks to get to Maine and just as long to return. Today is the 16th day of our trip and we still have a province and a state to cross. And because of our time predicament we will take the early morning slow, enjoy it, and try our best to not get too sidetracked during today’s drive.
The ranger assured us last night that the beach was the perfect spot to watch the sunrise. I thought that odd because it’s exactly where the sunset was, but figured it would still be pretty to see the colors develop in the sky over the water. Well, that moment never came. We stood on the beach, swatted at the mosquitoes, danced in the water, and tried to keep our toes warm by digging them into the rocks. Once the sky got a lighter blue I decided it was time to take a shower.
I can always appreciate a good washing, as I’m sure the people who encounter me throughout the day can as well. I thought this would be a simple three-minute ordeal and we would be on our way. The nozzle was like a water hose in diameter, but a fire hose in strength which I hoped would keep the mosquitoes off. I ended up playing whack-a-mosquito with their bloody little bodies all over the walls and others attacking me while I dance and get soap in my eye – partially clean and mostly wet I put my clothes on.
We stop in Batchawana Bay at the Voyageurs’ Lodge for breakfast and gas. We look for something quick. Caleb gets an apple fritter. I get an oatmeal bar and a fig pastry. They weren’t impressive, but we were fed. After father and son filled the tank and wiped the windshield we were on our way to Sault St. Marie to get the oil changed at Jiffy Lube where the customer service was fantastic. Then we made our way to the Wal-Mart and Home Depot parking lot to purchase things and borrow tools.
I forgot about the ‘No shirt, No shoes, No service’ policy. I had no problem in Wal-Mart, but they didn’t have what we needed, so we went next door. One of the employees expressed concern about my toes being smashed without shoes on. Well, someone told the manager, so I went to the car, put my soggy shoes on again, went back in, and then we were done and ready to go. I suppose a little trouble was needed to keep the trip balanced. Everything has been so perfect – even being asked to leave a store for the first time.
Driving along the Trans-Canada Highway we see, what seems to us, an exorbitant amount of horse and buggies carrying Amish and Old Order Mennonites. It’s not that we haven’t seen them before, one or two at a time, in Pennsylvania or the other many states that they call home. It’s that Ontario is the only province with Amish and there is either a sale at Jacob’s farm or it’s… Monday? I revel in the thought of joining them in the simplicity of family and community. And then I get back to driving my gas guzzling SUV down the road with my exhaust in their horse’s face.
Somewhere between Sault St. Marie and Sudbury are some trails that take visitors past fenced in mine holes – totally not as interesting as we thought. We pulled over and put on our hiking boots because the trail was washed out. We let the dogs go ahead of us and when Piggy fell into one of the pits, after I could get the majority of my laughing over, I called her back so we could return to the car. No point in drowning the blind dog in muddy water over a mine we can’t get stuck in, but it might’ve been awesome.
We stop in Verner to buy some cheese noodles in a jar, then in Sturgeon Falls to stretch our legs. We drive through North Bay to Mattawa where we will stay along the border, following the Ottawa River, of Ontario and Quebec until Pembroke where the road splits. Dinner of mac-n-cheese with tomato is had in a parking lot in Cobden in front of their welcome billboard. And sleep will be had at the campgrounds of Fitzroy Provincial Park. We did it. We managed to drive 564 miles today and wear ourselves out. Sleep comes easy tonight in our moist and sandy tent.