Great Lakes and Thunderstorms
Thanks to so many of you who are now following along and for opening our eyes to many more landmarks that need to be added to the list of Big Things Small Places, a giant hockey stick, a lobster, and the name of the big truck in Sparwood being Terex Titan. The list is coming along nicely and we may need to get serious about putting something together. Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming.
Now back to the journey across ‘some of Canada’ adventure.
So we made it to Manitoba where Kupu quickly learned of the proliferation of poison ivy in this part of the country. At this particular time of the year, the leaves are quite pretty but that doesn’t make them any less poisonous. Don’t worry there were no hard lessons learned here, just a greater appreciation for well-marked trails and warning signs. The weather was still a bit dreary so we thought booking into a yurt for the night would cheer us up. Not sure how many of you are campers, but setting up camp in the rain is never fun. Anyway, we always wanted to travel to Mongolia and stay in yurts but this hasn’t happened yet, so staying in a yurt in Manitoba seemed like a good second best. It turned out to be a top-notch first-time experience. You do have to cook outside to avoid burning down the yurt but luckily there was a covered area to do the cooking while we watched the rain pour down. We only had to put up with a fairly aggressive squirrel. Clearly fairly hungry and quite used to being fed by humans, this squirrel was set on convincing us it was okay to feed him/her. It was a bit of a fight but we did manage to keep nature at bay that evening.
After a lovely morning hike, all on well-marked trails, we packed up and headed for the Peg. I told you I would skip the not-so-interesting parts so maybe we will skip ahead to leaving Winnipeg a couple of days later on a glorious afternoon heading towards the Ontario border. (No offense to those who live in Winnipeg, including our lovely niece.) We thought our luck had changed and the weather was looking up but it wasn’t. We somehow seemed to have let the bad weather pass after a couple of days in Winnipeg and then we caught up to it again. Not only is the landscape much different when you leave the prairies and head into the rocks of the Canadian Shield but the dry air of the prairies (even though it was rainy) becomes much more humid as you get closer to the Great Lakes. When the air temperature is warm the humidity can make it feel luscious like the tropics, but when it is cool in late September, the humidity sinks deep into your bones.
We made camp at Rushing River Provincial Park and found a lovely site right on the water, by the…rushing river. The scenery was spectacular but the temperature was not ideal for camping at 4 degrees, but we decided to embrace the weather and go for it. Another lesson, always test your sleeping bag for warmth before you actually need it for warmth! There is a difference between a humid 4 degrees and a dry 4 degrees. Long story short, the sunset was spectacular, nighttime was really cold, and the sunrise was worth freezing in the tent. However we were now in northern Ontario, an area we have always wanted to explore and we were going to do just that no matter the weather.
The scenery around the top of Lake Superior is spectacular. At some points the road hugs the shoreline and some of the viewpoints are mesmerizing. We still didn’t have the best weather, with dense fog at times, but we took the opportunity to spend a night in Pukaskwa National Park so we could do an early morning lakeshore walk before hitting the road for the day. We scouted out several campsites before we set up. The evening was cool and the clouds were starting to gather. We settled in for the night and not too long into our sleep we could hear thunder in the distance. The rain started to fall and the rumbling thunder got louder and louder causing the ground to tremor beneath us. The sheet lightning and claps of thunder could be felt right in our bones. At one point we are certain we levitated off the air mattress – but there was nothing we could do but stay put. If you have never experienced a Great Lakes thunderstorm inside a tiny tent before then I suggest you skip it. Luckily the storm passed and all was calm by daybreak for our walk.
We ventured out on the Coastal Hiking trail which makes up part of the largest undeveloped coastline of the Great Lakes. This area was a well-traveled area for the Group of Seven who created many pieces from this “landscape of inspiration”. If you have never seen any work from the Group of Seven, we suggest checking it out, it is worth the time. I think their body of work has in one way or another influenced all Canadian artists who have ever tried to capture the rugged beauty of a Canadian landscape on canvas. We hope to someday release a series of paintings, titled Journey Across SOME of Canada”
We eventually did find good weather as we headed further along the Great Lakes. We actually managed to get into the water and enjoy a brisk swim in Pancake Bay at the top of Lake Superior. If you ever make it here, make sure to check the local events calendar as you may luck out and be there on a day the locals put on a special event…you guessed it…a pancake breakfast. We weren’t so fortunate to be there on one of those particular days but it was still a fabulous spot to stop.
Anyhow, we will pause here and perhaps divert a bit on the next blog post as there have been many questions as to how we came up with the names Bhuddi and Kupu, so stay tuned.