Ontario Part 1: June 25 - June 30
June 25 – Ontario border to Kenora
Wow – we are in Ontario! Once again,
a noticeable change at the border – the scenery here is completely
different. Almost exactly at the border we started getting into some small rolling hills. We got off to a really late start today – about 11
before we were on the road – and we almost stopped in Falcon Lake
(still in Manitoba) at around 3 because it looked pretty nice.
However, we decided to press on and we’re really glad that we did
because Kenora (pop. 16,000) is a beautiful town, and the change at
the border was worth seeing. Kenora is right on Lake of the Woods,
with a happening little downtown and some old buildings to give it
It’s been six days straight since the
last rest, so tomorrow is a rest day. I feel lucky to be having that
day off in such a nice place. I have to say that in terms of the bike
trip it feels great to have the prairies behind us. I really did
enjoy the scenery, but dealing with either a massive headwind or
tailwind every day made it challenging because you never really knew
how far you were going to get that day – or even how long it would
be to the next rest stop.
More to come tomorrow – we’ll get
lots of photos of Kenora!
Sunday, June 26
June 26 - Rest day in Kenora
This was a great place to have a day
off. I’d love to come back here for a vacation someday! Even though
the town itself is so much smaller, in some ways, it seemed more
bustling than Regina did. We went out for dinner on Saturday night in
both places, and Kenora seemed to have more people out and about.
Sunday in Regina, the downtown area was almost devoid of people. Very
Touring around Kenora
Kenora has many similarities to
Victoria. A great harbour with lots of waterfront, float planes, an
old (albeit much smaller) downtown on the waterfront, lots of green
scenery, walkways, etc. It would be a great place to own a little
motorboat. Or better still a float plane! Looking on the map, there
are zillions of lakes all around here, probably many of them are not
accessible by road.
Gulls 'n' Chips
The gulls here eat the same food they
do back home!
Lake of the Woods
This is a really nice lake - many
islands close to the town. I guess people have cottages over on the
islands and blast over here by boat to pick up supplies. What a great
way to spend some summer time!
Kenora is tucked away on a small bay on
the north end of the lake, and the shoreline is really convoluted. I
have read that there are 110,000km of shoreline on the lake, and over
15,000 islands in it.
Float plane service to...?
This sure seemed familiar! Even the
colour scheme is very similar to Kenmore Air's, although the Otters
did not have the turbo modification. They have quite a fleet of float
planes, probably a great way to get here.
Grocery store parking lot
Kenora is really built around the lake.
The grocery store has boat parking for people that come in from the
islands to shop!
False moose sighting
Cheryl managed to get a photo of the
rare Canadian Jackass, trying to disguise itself as a moose.
Sunset in Kenora
We had a great day off here, it is a
terrific vacation spot. We will be passing through here again on the
way back and it will be a nice place to stop. This stretch of road
from Kenora to Falcon Lake is about the only place in Canada where
there is only 1 road available for the east-west journey.
And once again, I am looking forward to
hitting the road tomorrow and seeing what's next!
Monday, June 27
Bike log: 138.9 km, 861m of vertical,
avg. speed 29.7 km/h
June 27 – Kenora to Dryden
The ride today from Kenora was one of
the nicest is terms of scenery for a long time - until we got to the town of Dryden, at least. There are lakes
everywhere! Also, the road is very curvy with lots of little hills.
We would have got some more photos but the rain and twisty road made
it hard. Unfortunately it rained more or less the whole day, but not
too hard, and the wind was mostly from behind. Overall it was a
pretty nice day!
The town of Dryden
The town itself appears to be a pulp mill town. The town is on a lake but we are not near it. This part of the town is not
much to look at, but I’m sure there must be better parts!
There are 2 ways to go from Kenora to
Thunder Bay – Highway 71, south to Fort Frances then east to
Thunder Bay, or Highway 17 through Dryden then on to Thunder Bay. I
choose the latter largely due to some reports I’ve read of other
people who have done this bike trip, The roads are supposed to be
pretty bad on the other route, and quite good on this one. So far,
the roads have been excellent.
Due to the sparseness of towns, taking
this route pretty much ensures it is 4 days to Thunder Bay from
Kenora unless you go nuts (or get really lucky with the wind) and do
a 200+ km day. So the distances are not huge for the next few days
compared to some of the days I’ve had. It will be nice to be
“taking it easy.”
Camping in Dryden
The campground we are in is very nice
–definitely one of the cleanest private campgrounds we’ve stayed
in. Sometimes they are kind of hit or miss, mostly miss. There are
carpets on the floor in the bathroom and laundry area, and a little
radio playing tunes. There was also a radio playing this morning in
the grocery store, and strangely I heard the song “Don’t you want
me” by The Human League twice today! Now it’s stuck in my head,
Me with no glasses
One thing I don’t really like about
riding in the rain is that I can’t wear my glasses. My uncorrected
eyesight is not terrible, but it’s not great either. Here’s a
partial list of some of the things that I saw today and what they
looked like to me:
- Uprooted tree root system = bear in
- Small, burnt tree = bear
- Line of small shrubs = wolf pack
(swaying in wind due to extreme hunger)
- Poles for safety barrier alongside
the highway = mother bear and cubs
- Mossy wet patch on blasted rock on
opposite side of highway = bear
- Murky swamp in forest = bear
- Skinny tree at top of cliff = weird
man standing up there, probably heavily armed, probably kicked out of
Idaho militia for being too weird
I hope it does not rain tomorrow.
Bike log: 110.7 km, 520m of vertical,
avg. speed 28.9 km
June 28 – Dryden to Ignace
As planned, we made it to
I lost count of the number of little lakes we passed! The above
photo was representative of what it looked like most of the time.
It seemed like a short day, and I guess it was. That was only the 4th
time this trip that the time spent peddling was less than 4 hours.
But there was not much option, the local tourist office in Dryden
confirmed that there was no camping between here and Upsala which is
about 110km down the road.
Sandbar Lake Provincial Park
We’re staying in a
provincial park here
(Sandbar Lake) that is quite nice. Cheryl went for a walk out by
the lake - very pretty and peaceful. It feels very remote out
The only complaint was that the flush toilets,
laundry and main shower building is broken. Funny they didn’t
mention that at all when we paid our $26.75, which is the most we’ve
paid anywhere yet to camp! I guess the prime season has started.
Lakes and flowers everywhere
The scenery continues to be incredible.
It seems that around every corner there is another lake, and
wildflowers everywhere! It is also great to see hills again. The
trees are shorter here than they are back in BC – it reminded me of
how I was shocked at the size of the trees when I first went out
It did not rain today, but it was
pretty cool. I actually got a bit of a chill when I stopped for a
snack break. Strange to be dealing with cold when it is nearly July,
but this is Canada after all! There was a small headwind, today, but
nothing like the prairies. The trees provide some shelter, and the
road keeps twisting and turning, so it seems like the wind keeps
changing – at least you get a break from the onslaught. A few more
small hills today as well, but not much really. The shoulder
continues to be good, but narrower than yesterday’s full lane.
I hope our neighbour doesn't come
back to camp
I am not sure whether to be reassured
or alarmed by the fact that there is a bear trap parked in the
campsite across from us. I asked for a campsite near the showers and
laundry (which are broken), maybe it’s a sore spot with them.
This weekend is a long weekend, so I am
not sure what we are going to end up with for camping. Unfortunately,
it’s hard to say exactly where we’ll be more than a day or two in
advance (if at all possible) so we can’t make reservations. Oh
well, I’m sure we’ll figure something out!
Bike log: 126.1km, 556m of vertical,
avg. speed 24.2 km/h
June 29 – Ignace to Savanne (just
I take back what I said about taking it
easy for the next few days! Today was hard work. Lots of headwind for
the whole day, and getting stronger throughout. It was pretty flat so
there was not much of anything to help break the wind. Almost like
being back on the prairies, but there was a thin line of trees
alongside the road to help a little bit, and a few more curves to
break things up. I noticed that the practice of keeping a 20m wide
swath of trees alongside the highway in order to mask a giant
clearcut is not something that is restricted to BC.
Loading up with a cinnamon
bun and an extra coffee is not a luxury, it is a survival strategy.
It was a bit chilly today – I was in
long sleeves and wore a windbreaker at times. At least the
rain held off until the ride was over. It is coming down fairly
heavily now – it’s nice to be warm and dry inside the van!
We are camping at a fishing resort.
There are cabins to rent, along with these campsites. Each campsite
has its own dock. Looks pretty inviting, even though I don’t fish!
Not very busy tonight, but I bet with the long weekend coming up, and
being so close to Thunder Bay, it will be filling up soon.
Friendly campground food inspector
There was a dog on patrol in the
campsite. He quickly became our friend, it was a slow day. He looked
pretty interested in the food we were cooking which is very unusual
behaviour for a dog. I’m pretty sure he did not know we are
vegetarians. He politely ate the carrots that I gave him.
I passed another smoking cross-Canada
biker today – hard to believe! I also saw what looked like a turkey
vulture from less than 10 feet away. Weird looking – it looked like
an eagle but it had a small red head that appeared to be bald. I
surprised it as I biked past, and it flew up from the side of the
road. Very big up close.
The shoulder on the road has
deteriorated to what I would consider adequate. Still decent pavement
(in most places) but it is down to fairly narrow in some places.
Still better than a lot of the shoulder in Manitoba!
There were a couple of campgrounds not
far past Ignace that we passed today. They did not look too bad. We
had not found mention of them in any of the 4 camp/guide books that
we have. On this trip we have frequently thought how great it would
be to have a completely comprehensive list of campgrounds! I would
gladly have traded a few km’s today for km’s yesterday, so we
would have pushed on a bit if we had we known. I guess bike camping
is not too common of an activity – and if you are in a car it is
not so crucial to know that the next campground is exactly XXX km
Bike log: 110.0 km, 627m of vertical,
avg. speed 26.4 km/h
June 30 – Savanne to Thunder Bay
Another tough day even though it was
not that far! Headwind with a heavy rain on the side, and a flat tire
to boot. Only my 2nd of the trip, not too bad I guess. This one was
due to the nail sticking out of a discarded furniture caster combined
with the fact that the rain made it impossible for me to wear my
This was a pretty desolate stretch of
the highway. The shoulder was not as good as it has been, but is
still quite ridable. We passed through a “town” that was on the
map called Raith, but there was almost nothing there. A very suitable
name! It was just about the only thing on the map between Thunder Bay
and the place we stayed last night. However, as we got closer to
Thunder Bay, there were a few more hills, and then finally – Lake
The rain was pretty intense today. For
the last half of the day, I decided to take off the rain gear and
just go with my bike shirt & shorts with no resting at all until
we made it here. It was not too cold in the afternoon (around 18C) so
as long as you kept moving it was tolerable. With full rain gear on,
it was just too hot! Plus I was pretty much soaked anyway, the wind
just blew the rain down the front anyway. Needless to say I was
dripping wet by the time we got here, so we decided to take July 1
off, get a hotel here and get dried out! It was actually kind of fun,
and gave me a chance to push things on the bike a bit. Most days, I
do not go at "full throttle" at all because I think it is a
bad idea to push hard and risk burn out with so many miles to go
every day. But the rain and the promise of a rest day gave me a
reason to really go for it - more like the style of riding I am used
It appears that we have been staying
just ahead of the floods – I read that Manitoba is now getting it.
I am not surprised, because we have gone through several deluges and
most of the rivers appeared to be very close to their limit already!
Watch out, southern Ontario, here we come…