A Travellerspoint blog

Day 6 - Thunder Bay, Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

June 27, 2011

Karl, Derek and I left Thunder Bay at 7:30 a.m. heading east on Hwy #17 towards Sault Ste. Marie. The skies were gray and the forecast was calling for heavy rain. There was a large forest fire north of us and the rain was welcomed by the locals, so it was easy to accept a little dampness if it mean't it would help stop the fire.

We stopped just outside of Thunder Bay to take a look at the memorial to Terry Fox. Pictures are attached. Truly a fitting tribute to a real Canadian hero.

It's typical on a motorcycle ride, to meet fellow riders along the way. Today was no exception. As we were loading the bikes in Thunder Bay, we had a long conversation with a chap from New York. While having a cup of coffee and bowl of cereal in the motel breakfast room, we got into a long conversation with 2 Harley riders who were heading west to British Columbia. We gave them some suggestions on good roads to ride in B.C.

At a brunch stop in the town of Schrieber, we met-up with 3 couples from Illinois and Wisconsin on 2 Goldwings and a Harley. They were on a ride around Lake Superior. Nice friendly people. We saw them a couple of times later in the day when they passed us at a stop and we passed them at a stop. Of course, friendly waves were exchanged both times.

The forecasted rain never did materialize except for a couple of minor showers that didn't require stops for rain gear. It was cool however. Around 11 am we stopped for a coffee and I donned my electric vest. It made the next two hours much more enjoyable until the temperature went up to the low 20's.

We made a gas stop at Wawa, Ontario about 220 kms from our daily destination. There's a rather cheesey monument of a Canada Goose (photo attached) that, according to Karl, is a "must see/stop" when you travel this way. While in Wawa, found yet more-expensive fuel..... $147.9/liter... ouch!
I went down the street a bit and found a bargain at the local Esso.... only $1.43.9/liter. We also got into a conversation with a BMW rider at the Goose statue. He was from the U.S. There were a lot of Beemers on the road today. There's a big BMW rally on the weekend just across the border in the States.

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. We checked into a rather well-worn "mom & pop" motel. It's not very fancy but it's clean and the price is right. Karl, Derek and I are still together. There was a slight miscalculation on distances today and we didn't make it to the point where we will go our separate ways. That will happen tomorrow. I've got a reasonably short day tomorrow to North Bay, Ontario then an even shorter day on Wednesday to Ottawa.

Distance today - 746 km
Distance todate - 3,804 km

Posted by wpcross625 20:00 Comments (1)

Day 5 - Steinbach, Mb. to Thunder Bay, Ontario

After the usual ho-hum motel breakfast I headed over to meet Karl, Derek at their hotel. I tried to fill the bike but couldn't find a gas station open at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, I had a bit over a half tank from yesterday. We left Steinbach and headed 20 kms north to the Trans Canada and then east. It was a beautiful morning with blue sky and some puffy white clouds. Just after turning onto the TCH, the prairie landscape was replaced all at once by trees.

We stopped at a Shell station just before the Ontario border and purchased the cheapest gas of the trip so far.... $1.08/liter. The cheapest up to now that I saw was $1.14/lt. in Alberta. As we crossed into Ontario the scenery became spectacular. Lakes were everywhere. Most of the lakes had vacation cabins around them. There were lots of signs around advertising for fishing lodges and fly-in fishing ventures. I imagine this part of Ontario is very popular with people from Winnipeg as it's only a couple of hours away.

The landscape also became very rocky. As we progressed towards Dryden the scenery became more agricultural with emerald green farmland. Further along the trees became more coniferous and less birch and aspen.

We topped up our tanks in Ignace and paid the highest gas price of the trip so far.... $1.39.9/liter!! Being a Sunday, there was quite a bit of traffic on the highway as we got closer to Thunder Bay. We came upon one motorcycle accident where they were loading a rider into an ambulance. It appears he might have hit an animal or something because it was on a straight stretch of highway. His bike didn't look too damaged.

The weather started to deteriorate a bit. It rained hard enough to prompt Karl and Derek to pull over and don their rain gear. I have an Aerostitch riding outfit that is rainproof so I don't have to go through the hassle of pulling on rain pants over boots on the side of the road. The most useful thing about rain gear is that once you go through all the work of getting it on, it usually stops raining. That's what happened today. The weather improved and it was quite nice for the last part of today's ride. This necessitated another stop for Karl and Derek to remove their rain gear. It gets really hot and muggy in rain gear if it's not raining!

We arrived in Thunder Bay at 5:30 pm Central Time. I took a different route into town and took a bit of a tour. I have not been in Thunder Bay since 1967 and I had forgotten how big Lake Superior is. It's like the ocean!

We checked into the Super 8 and cleaned up bikes a bit. The bugs were not even close to what we collected on the prairies. Dinner was across the street at a Japanese Restaurant. The best restaurant meal of the trip so far.

Tomorrow we will continue east. I'll be splitting company with Karl and Derek as they travel onto Manitoulin Island then across Lake Huron by ferry towards Derek's home near Guelph. I'll continue on alone towards Ottawa.

Distance today = 698 kms
Distance todate - 3058 kms

Posted by wpcross625 18:39 Comments (2)

Day 4 - Birch Hills, Sk. to Steinbach, Manitoba

Up at 5:15 am in Birch Hills and into the pick-up truck to Duane's place where my Wing was stored overnight. Even at 6am, coffee and breakfast was waiting for us when we got there. Today it was Duane's famous waffles.

I was on the road at 6:45 am. Bruce rode his bike with me about 55 kms east on Hwy #3 to the town of Melford. After a coffee at "Tim's", Bruce returned back to Birch Hills and I went south on #6 to pickup the Yellowhead Highway (#16) and the Trans Canada east to Winnipeg. The goal today is the community of Steinbach, about 65 kms east and south of Winnipeg.

The weather this morning was fabulous. Sunny and just cool enough to keep me awake. The weather deteriorated as I was getting to #16, which took me away from the rain. On the prairies, you can see the weather coming from miles away. My luck ran out just over the Manitoba border at Minnedosa, where the heavens opened on me. I was just on the leading edge of the storm. I was able to get out of the rain as it chased me all the way to Portage la Prairie.

This is the first time that I've ridden east of Saskatchewan. It's finally hitting me that I'm actually going across Canada. The prairies are not the ordeal to ride across that I thought they'd be. Perhaps it's because I took the more northerly route with more hills and more trees than in the south.

I was really impressed with Winnipeg because I missed it. They have had the fore sight to build a by-pass around the city so that those travelling through, don't have to go through the middle of town. Hey.... are you listening Kelowna????

In Steinbach, I hooked-up with Karl Gianakos, a friend of mine from Kelowna. Karl left Kelowna the day after I did and met-up with his brother-in-law Derek from Ontario who rode out to meet him. I will be riding with them into Ontario for the next few days. We will be a very eclectic group. A Harley, a BMW and a Honda. It will be nice to have some company.

I'm staying in a "Mom and Pop" motel in Steinbach. Very clean and very reasonable. They had a hose I could use to wash those prairie bugs off the Wing.

Sorry..... didn't take any photos today. Will try harder tomorrow as we head the Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Milage today 909 kms
Total to date - 2360 kms

Posted by wpcross625 19:51 Comments (1)

Day 3 - Birch Hills and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

For years I have been hearing about SASKATCHEWAN HOSPITALITY and today I experienced it first hand. After a great night's sleep at Lyall's house, Bruce and I travelled out to his brother Duane's place at 7 am. Duane and his wife Mary put on a fabulous breakfast for us. The plan was for a round of golf but as luck would have it, it was raining and we did an oil and filter change on my bike.

After that, we borrowed Duane's pick-up and Bruce drove me around the community to show me the old family homestead, where Lyall will be building his new home), the site of his elementary school and the site of the General Store that his grandparents operated. When Bruce was a kid, Birch Hills was a thriving community with grain elevators, grocery stores, railway service and even a hospital. The only road link to Prince Albert was 40 miles of gravel. It was a real trip to go to P.A. When Highway 3 was put in, the distance shrank to only 20 miles of good tarmac. So people started going to P.A. for groceries and other services. Consequently, most of the businesses closed. Now there is just the COOP grocery, a couple of restaurants, a Credit Union and a CIBC, plus a few other small retailers.

Despite the reduction in services, the town has increased in population as people from P.A. are moving out to enjoy the quieter life-style.

Bruce and I made a run into P.A. in the afternoon to pick up some hardware items for Lyall. After a big stink, I was permitted to buy the steaks for dinner that night.

I had a great day. It was great to experience a day in rural Saskatchewan. The view from Duane's patio is magnificent but unfortunately, the famous sunsets I was told about didn't materialize on either evening I was there.

Milage today - none

Posted by wpcross625 11:25 Comments (0)

Day 2 - Cross Canada Ride - Hannah, Ab. to Birch Hills, Sask

sunny 23 °C

I left Hannah at 6:45 a.m. MDT and headed east towards the Saskatchewan border. Another day of blue skies and most importantly, no prairie wind to speak of. I had a typical motel breakfast at the Super 8 which tasted prettly good considering the lousy dinner last night.

Thanks to on-line highway reports, I have been able to avoid a lot of construction zones. The weather here on the prairies has been very wet this year. There is standing water almost everywhere you look. The forecast is for horrific infestations of mosquitos when the high water recedes and the sun starts to shine.

I stopped in Kindersley, Saskatchewan for gas and phoned my buddy Bruce in Birch Hills. He rode out to meet me in Saskatoon. After lunch at Denny's we headed north to Prince Albert then about 32 kms east to his old home town of Birch Hills. As I mentioned, Bruce in visiting Birch Hills to help his brother, Lyall, build a house there. Lyall is retiring and moving back to Birch Hills. Bruce's older brother, Dwayne lives in Birch Hills with his wife Mary.

I slept the night at a house that Lyall has bought for an investment and is in the process of renovating for renting. Dwayne has a home on a quarter-section of land about 5 kms east of town. The house sits on a hillside overlooking the prairie below. In a word, it is beautiful. Dwayne and Mary are gracious hosts and in true Saskatchewan style, they make you feel right at home. Apparently the sunsets are spectacular from their patio but tonight's was a "dud".

Tomorrow (Friday, June 24) Bruce is going to give me a tour of his old boyhood home. I can certainly see how Bruce remains attached to Birch Hills.

Milage today 647 kms.

Posted by wpcross625 01:10 Comments (0)

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