8 AM EDT, Toronto, ON:
We are good to go! Gassed up, packed to the gills, fueled with Timmy's coffee and breakfast sandwiches, our 3-day, nearly-1900 km journey stretches out before us. We can't believe we are able to get our butts out the door even this early - although we had aimed for 7 AM - because neither of us slept particularly well the night before. Lots of last-minute running around and packing and then a couple of jitters about the trip itself. But here we are on the road to God's Country! Up the 404, across the 407 (does anyone actually think for a second we would subject ourselves to rush hour on the 401?), up the 400 to our first "pee break" for Sarah, about 20 minutes out of Toronto. This will be a recurring theme for the trip. I wish now I had logged them all! :) We pass through Barrie, blow past Parry Sound and by lunch time we find ourselves at a Dairy Queen in Sudbury for a hot dog and a cone. We soon run into our first snag (and speaking of recurring themes, this won't be our last issue with Sudbury) while we are trying to find "The Big Nickle. We have made a pact with each other that we are going to hit all the "Big" roadside attractions en route to Kenora and if we can't find the very first one it doesn't bode well for the trip. We cannot find the exit for "Big Nickle Road" and have to hit a small gas station to ask directions. He guides us back the way we came and we are able to find the giant coin (noting on the way that the exit is NOT marked in any way). When we get there, however, we discover that they want to charge us $4 to park JUST TO SEE THE COIN. Are they serious? I can see the thing from the car window and they want to charge us to PARK? Strike 2 for Sudbury, with lots more to come. We turn around and drive back down the hill to the highway where we pull off to the shoulder. We get out of the car and run back up the driveway to the field below the giant nickle. From there we are able to make our way up the grassy and weedy hill to come up with this shot:
Hardly even seems worth THAT much effort. But still...imagine PAYING to see it? Look, guys, you are known for ONE thing in life and really, it's not that great. Just let people see the damn thing. Ok, rant done for now. But let me assure you, I am not done with Sudbury.... but you will have to wait until Day 14.
From Sudbury we powered on to Sault Ste. Marie, ON. We headed down to the locks and explored a little of their very pretty harbourfront, but we were anxious to press on to our first night of camping so we didn't really walk around too much. In fact, this was pretty much the only shot we took there of any interest at all:
We did manage to visit not only a big mall, but also a DOLLARAMA... Sarah was ecstatic! Here we picked up a couple of small things for our camping supplies that we did not think of back at home. Then it was on to the absolutely breathtaking Pancake Bay Provincial Park (right next to Batchawana Bay PP) before the light faded. We chose this park as a fluke: it was the only Provincial Park in either the Northeast or Northwest region of the Parks Guide to offer a "radio-free zone", which we thought would come in handy on our first night after the 10-1/2 hour drive. But once we arrived we realized what a lucky break it was for us that we chose it because it has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches I have ever seen! The weather for most of that first day's drive was blistering and humid so we hurried to set up camp so we could nip down to the beach for a quick dip in Lake Superior and was it ever worthwhile. We were a tad late to take advantage of the late afternoon hot weather and calm waters but the rolling waves were even more of a treat for us and we stayed until it was nearly too dark to see. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera down to the beach so we have no pictures of this gorgeous waterfront. Next time, for sure - and there WILL be a next time.
Off to bed.... two full days ahead of us.