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June 21, 22, 23 Thunder Bay, Kakabeka Falls Prov. Park, on t

Old Friends, Thunder Bay walkabout, hiking up a Portage route, long drive out of Ontario

rain 15 °C

June 20:

We arrived at Kakabeka Falls in the late afternoon, after stocking up on food for our stay. The camp ground is lovely, spacious, private sites, and our 50 feet of electrical cord was just enough to connect without having to make any drastic alterations to how TaJ was parked in our site.


We did a full clean-up of our laundry, two loads worth. Blessedly bug free so far at this camp ground. The weather promises to be good for tomorrow and we plan to spend the day in Thunder Bay. Back in 1975 Jenny backpacked around Europe for 10 months and during that time her companion was Wilma Kempe. We have scheduled a visit with them for tomorrow. Jenny is looking forward to seeing her backpacking buddy again, after 42 years.

June 21:

The best day weather-wise since we started our trip. We awoke to full sunshine, and realized that today is also the first full day of summer. We had our usual morning start: 2 cups of coffee each and cereal for breakfast. Today is also National Aboriginal Day. Ceremonies are planned for down on the harbour for this afternoon.

Thunder Bay is 30 kilometres east of here and we headed straight for a Starbucks, for both a third coffee and a bit of internet time. We wanted to get a feel for the city so we took a 5 kilometre walk along the shore. Part of the lake waterfront is a park and marina, surrounded on both sides by grain elevators and the remains of what must have been industrial area. The skyline on the lake is dominated by the Sleeping Giant. It is hard to take a picture where that is not the backdrop.



At the very end of our harbour walk we came upon the park where the Aboriginal Day ceremonies were to be held. Several hundred people had accumulated there by 11:00 am and the ceremony was due to start at noon. It was interesting to note that almost all people were in jeans and jackets, except for the obligatory politician in his $1,000 suit, glad handing the crowd. Why is it that the politicians always seem so slick and slippery, when what we would really like to see is just another human being?

After our harbour front walk we headed up through what had been the downtown of Port Arthur. Thunder Bay is the 1970 amalgamation of the cities of Port Arthur and Fort Williams. It seems that both places are now less than they once were, although on the whole the new city seems pretty nice. There is lots of evidence that both of the former names are still in use throughout the area. We see the same thing back in Nova Scotia, where the Halifax Regional Municipality used to be the separate cities of Halifax and Dartmouth.

We had a light lunch at the mall, then sought out the only local craft brewery. The Sleeping Giant Brewery is pretty cool, good beer and they had a boler, converted to a tap house for use at events. We picked up a sampling of their brews to enjoy as we travel the area. In every community we seek out the local craft brewers. The offerings of the big production breweries, while pretty good, pale in comparison to something made with the care and passion of a local brewmaster.


After that it was reunion time for Jenny and Wilma. We arrived at their 45 acre property right on time at 2:00pm. It was a pretty emotional reunion for both of them. They had such good memories of the time they spent together in Europe. Wilma's husband is also named Tony, so he and I had no trouble remembering each other's names. Tony has built most of the structures on their property himself and they are pretty cool. They have hens to lay eggs, and grow most of their own produce. Beneath the floor of their house is a cold storage room, to store their potatoes and other root vegetables through the winter. They live a simple, off-the-grid life, and that is amazing to see in this day and age!

The conversation flowed, over home made bread and strawberry jam, and we had a lovely time. Jenny and Wilma relived some of their moments on the road, and Tony and I had lots to talk about. We discussed our travel plans for the coming months. Wilma had made a lemon square and that came out and was eaten as well. Before you know it three hours had passed and it was time for us to go. Wilma provided a half a loaf of home-made bread, a half dozen eggs and some more of the lemon square for us to take with us.


After a tour of the property, pretty soon we were back to our car, where this little bird had discovered a rival, in the side mirror of our car and was properly beating the crap out of his competitor. He was persistent, and we think we saved his life when we drove off...he was determined to kill that enemy. Our bird book says this is a Chipping Sparrow, in mating season:



We got photos of Jenny, Wilma and Tony, and another photo of Tony, Wilma and Tony. We hope to pass back through this area in the late summer of 2018, so we made a date for a return visit.


It was after 7:00pm before we got back to our camp and settled in for the night. An excellent day.

June 22:

Our morning plans included a hike along the river below the Kakabeka Falls, known as the Niagara of the North.




These falls are 39 meters (145 feet) high and were a major stumbling block to the Voyageurs. It was necessary to off load the canoes, and carry the cargo, in 90 pound packs up a steep slope. Jenny and I climbed this portage on our hike and we can tell, you, it was all we could do to climb this portage route, let alone carry anything up it. Virtually straight up!

In all we hiked 4.5 kilometers and had a great experience in the park. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park should be a must see on your travels in this area.

Our afternoon involved a nap, followed by a walk around the campground to work out the kinks from our hike. The evening was taken up with getting ready to depart. Our last night in Ontario. Now we move on, about 1000 kilometers, over two days to the south-west corner of Manitoba. We'll get in a stop at a library along the way, likely in Steinbach, Manitoba, to post this entry. We are also moving into the Central Time Zone.

June 23:

Jenny did the hook-up for the first time, as well as handling the dumping of the waste, both grey and black. An admirable job on all aspects of these important functions. We got out of Kakabeka really early, with the plan to drive about 650 kilometers and end our time in Ontario.

Right out the gate, our GPS decided to pack it in. Our Tom-Tom is just three years old. We bought it in Salt Lake City, Utah in June 2014, to replace the first Tom-Tom we had that only lasted two years. Just long enough to get past its warranty. Our trip for the day is pretty well a straight shot across Northern Ontario and into Manitoba.

We decide to try to replace the GPS, first in Dryden, and then again in Kenora. Both places were a bust, so on we went to our destination for the day, the Walmart in Steinbach, Manitoba. In total we drove 650 kilometers in just over 9 hours. The long drive across this part of Ontario is boring, rock, trees, and more rock and trees. Up and down all the way. We did manage a picture of TaJ with the 6 meter high Moose in Dryden and the 13 meter long Musky in Kenora:



Manitoba is truly a prairie province. Within 30 kilometers of crossing the border the road flattened out to the horizon. We saw two more R-Pods on this stretch, both green. This brings our total R-pod sightings to 6

We arrived about 5:00pm and decided to check Staples for a GPS. They had a Garmin GPS, with a 6 inch screen, on sale for $159, so we grabbed it. Only problem is they do not have one in stock here, but they do in Winkler, about 133 kilometers away, and on our route for tomorrow.

We are at the Steinbach Library, getting caught up with the blog as well as e-mails, etc. The Walmart here has no objection to overnight stops in their parking lot, so that is our plan.

Onward to Turtle Mountain Provincial Park tomorrow.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:15 Archived in Canada

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