Breakfast with the Goose

I’d known for several days that we would be heading to Wawa, Ontario. This intrigued me greatly. wawa gooseI know that there are people reading this blog from many different locations, but there are folk from NJ among you. We Jerseyans have a convenience store called Wawa (I tend to buy my gas there). I was SURE that there must be some connection between Wawa Ontario and the convenience store as I’d never heard of any other Wawa but the store. Alas, this is not the case. I did finally do a search on the store and discovered to my great surprise that there is a Wawa, PA and THAT is the source of the stores. Live and Learn.

Honour has been telling me (repeatedly) that ‘back in the day’ it was the ‘done’ thing for young ‘uns to hitchhike across Canada. Everyone would do that and it worked great until they hit Wawa. what the goose sees 2For some reason, no one would pick up hitchhikers in Wawa. It was common knowledge and there were T-shirts and such about “I’m stuck in Wawa”. Truth be told, we DID see someone hitchhiking on Monday morning as we headed from Wawa to Ottawa and we did NOT pick him up. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that our car was packed to the roof with animals and stuff. Historically the town is known for mining, forestry, and the fur trade, whereas today it is popular for snowmobiling and sport fishing.

Chairs in Wawa welcome centerWawa is also known for its goose. Quoting here from Wikipedia: The community is known for its 8.5-metre (28-foot) metal statue of a Canada goose, which was built in 1960, and dedicated to the community in 1961. Wawa takes its name from the Ojibwe word for “wild goose”, wewe. Wawa was defined as wild goose in The Song of Hiawatha. On July 5, 2010, Canada Post made a commemorative stamp of the Wawa Goose as part of its Roadside Attractions collection. It’s hard to miss the goose. mining in wawaIt is obligatory to take at least one picture of the goose. Far be it from me to argue. I have pictures of the goose, and pictures of what the goose sees (as it gazes down at Lake Wawa. Unless of course that water is really the Michipicoten River but I’m fairly certain the goose is looking at the lake, not the river. 🙂 ) We had breakfast at the Tim Horton’s (you can’t be in Canada without at least ONE coffee from Tim) and went to see the goose. There is a lovely welcome center giving a history of the area, with a demo mining setup. I loved the flowers and the view – mist rising off the lake. Jamie liked the lawn. We were parked next to a family who were traveling with 2 cats as well. JamieTHOSE cats were roaming freely about their car (probably because no one had been thoughtful enough to give them a cat bed under which they could cower). The family was relocating from Ontario to Vancouver. *grin* Apparently lots of Canadians criss-cross the country, moving here, moving there. Not just Honour.

Ontario is filled with trees, hills, water and rocks. I took a zillion pictures (Honour was driving). I have pictures of the rocks along the road, the trees and lake, the vistas. I have to confess – beautiful as it all was, it DOES tend to blur a bit and look the same after awhile. I would gasp “oh look it’s so beautiful” and take a picture. wawa welcome centerLooking at all of these hundreds and hundreds of photos – it’s a bit hard to distinguish one view from another. 🙂 I will tell you also that it’s a bit difficult to take pictures from the car when the driver refuses to slow up EVER, even when there is not a single solitary person ANYWHERE in sight. The world might have ended for all the other traffic we saw but when I’d say “stop, slow” I heard “we’re on a road”. Sigh.

Eastern Lake SuperiorWe were on Rt 17 heading south to Sault Saint Marie. We stopped along the way to get gas, make a phone call and shop a little (see the prior post with the adorable stuffed moose (not a REAL stuffed moose)). This is where we saw all the people who were NOT on the road with us. There was a line for gas. There were tons of cars in the parking lot and the stores were bustling. We probably spent way too much time there before we headed back on the road to Sault Saint Marie.

locks at saint sault marie 1We stopped for lunch at an A&W (we were doing all the traditional Canadian dining spots). I confess – I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to get food that was NOT fried. Truly appreciated. While we were sitting there the Travel Agent in the Sky pinged us and told us we HAD to go see the locks!!! We were RIGHT THERE!!! There was a lovely woman sitting next to us who began to give us directions, but she wasn’t certain if it was this street or that one. In the meantime the TAITS had texted me directions. 🙂 We were indeed only 10 minutes from the locks. We headed over there.

lock looking toward saint sault marieWe wanted Jamie to join us but in this location we really thought she needed to be on a leash. Unfortunately her leash was somewhere in the car (*gestures helplessly to the mess that was our car). Honour, undaunted, found a solution – the towing rope included in the car kit. 🙂 Yes, she led that 5 pound little fluff ball with the bright yellow 2 inch wide cord with the 5 inch long clasp. This is another occasion where I have several dozen photos but I’ll restrain myself to just 2 – one each direction from the middle of path over the lock. I can not, however, resist sharing a picture of the truck carrying all the logs. It fits my trans-Canada theme. truck carrying lumberThe logs might be coming from BC, where I’d seen logs lining the river banks. I know, I’m a bit strange. Cope. 🙂

Rocks along Rt 17 and Lake SuperiorBy now it was mid afternoon and we still needed to get to Ottawa. We’d gotten a bit laissez faire about the time. We knew that there would be street lights and buildings and such in Ottawa, so we were not too worried about arriving after dark. Indeed, we did not check in until 11:28 pm. That is significant because I’d set a goal for reaching the hotel by 11:30. *grin* It was helpful to have all those city lights after the blackness of our campgrounds in Wawa.

What we hadn’t counted on, however, was the sheer sameness of the road. It was at this point in our journey, I believe, that we succumbed to sign fever.

Once the landscape fails to enchant, and you’ve finished the really interesting podcast on S-Town, you need to find something to amuse yourself. We turned to road signs. bugland signWe’d been having fun with the moose signs along the road, but somewhere in Ontario the fun turned to addiction and hysteria. I see that I have pictures of “road curve ahead” signs and the traffic light in the middle of the trans Canada highway (it was red, of course), and yet another moose sign, all from the trip from Wawa to Ottawa. Little did I know that it was to get worse, much worse.

Kenora to Wawa

cut in the rocks

Neither of us slept well at the Super 8. clouds road sky in OntarioNot really sure why (maybe hunger pangs???) but we also had to wake early to get on the road early because we knew we had 10 hours of driving without stops to make to Wawa (where my Travel Agent in the Sky had booked us into Catfish Lakefront Cabins). We went down for the free breakfast but it didn’t really work for either of us. We’ve been living on breakfasts with lots of protein and not much carbohydrate or sugar. The coffee was fine but we needed to go elsewhere. The nice young woman at the desk directed us to the Yesterday’s, the restaurant next to the Travel Lodge on the other side of the lake. As we were at the narrow end of the lake, it was only a few minutes to get there. We did inded have an excellent omelet breakfast. I had a raging headache, however, and left Honour and Gypsy2 on their own as I closed my eyes and napped for about 2 hours. I suspect I didn’t miss a lot. One thing we have noticed since we reached northern Ontario is that they have only one tree that they replicated many times. sun and rain over lake superiorSince both Honour and I have created textures for Second Life, we feel that perhaps they need to contact someone and get a few more textures to put on these prims.

We swapped over the driving and ultimately arrived at Lake Superior. There was the most stunning mountain cliff as we approached the beginning of the lake. I was driving and could not take pictures. Honour had made it quite clear in the Rockies how she felt about me suggesting gently “take a picture of that”. You will have to take my word for it that it was indeed a stupendous mountain cliff with beautiful rock striations of different colors. But, alas, there is no picture.

We stopped at Pays Plat F.N. (which I have learned means Flat Country First Nation) for our rest break and swapped drivers. There was a shop in the convenience store selling lovely First Nation goods. Honour bought TWO tee shirts and a blanket, discovering in the process that the blanket was made in – wait for it – British Columbia. You remember British Columbia. Pays PlatThat’s the place Honour couldn’t get out of fast enough. I could now take zillions of pictures of water-lake-tree. It’s really a darn shame about that tree. Just think what the view would have been with a few other varieties.

On the other hand, Ontario DID give us the most exciting fauna sighting yet – we saw a young bear as we were driving. It was on cliff above the road. It had come out of the forested area and was looking towards the road as we came into view. We saw it and started squealing in delight. It saw us and turned around and went straight back into the woods. But it was a bear. And we saw it. lake along the Ontario road Still no moose, although, as you will learn, they have great publicity.

We were spending 10+ hours driving through unvaried scenery. We needed to do something to amuse ourselves. Thankfully we had road signs and the GPS. The trans Canada highway in northern Ontario runs around and through mountains (or at least through what folks from the East consider mountains). This means that the road goes up and down and around and about. There are signs to tell us that the road is curving. And curving again. And again. And again. Lake SuperiorGypsy2 felt it was incumbent upon her to make sure we truly understood the road curved. She would flash an orange band at the top of her screen, informing us that the road was curving in 200 m. In 140 m. in 150 m. We were a bit concerned she might exhaust herself, but we comforted ourselves with the thought that compared to the trip across the prairies, Gypsy2 now felt extremely needed and useful. She had true purpose. (I did say we needed to amuse ourselves. )

Not only did the road curve, but there seem to be many dangerous angry moose in Northern Ontario. road rage mooseWe HAD seen moose warning signs earlier in our trip. Those moose were standing still, observing the road from their signs. It was quite clear that they could show up but they seemed well-adjusted. In Northern Ontario, the moose appear to want to charge your vehicle. The signs show them looking like raging bulls in the arena. It must be because there is more traffic on the road in Northern Ontario (as compared to the prairies where there was no one else on the road). I guess the moose don’t like the traffic. We have named these moose “Road Rage Moose”. Should you ever see a twitter/facebook/other social media handle of “RoadRageMoose” you might be able to guess who is behind that. It’s not me, to give you a hint.

We reached the Wawa area (again, alarmed by all the traffic fleeing west) island in lake superior and again Gypsy2 failed. To be fair, my phone failed as well. They both insisted our campground was about 21 km ahead of us. I was playing with the phone, trying to get a map, when Molly swerved violently with Honour yelling “Catfish Cabins!!!!” Indeed, there was Catfish Lake and the cabins. Kudos to Honour for spotting our destination despite the dusky gloom and the lack of technical competence.

The folk at Catfish Lakefront Cabins are incredibly nice and helpful. catfish lake After my sister had booked the cabin for us online, she suggested we call them directly because there were a few things about the booking that left her uncomfortable. I did indeed call and Bev said she did not see our reservation but that it might not have come through. She called me back a little later and confirmed our reservation. I told her we might be arriving very late and she had asked me to give her a call once we left Thunder Bay so we could all get an ETA. We pulled in around 9:30 and asked after laundry facilities. We’d taken care of the animals but poor Honour had sent on most of her clothes with the moving van and had not had a chance to do her own laundry. cabin 4 Bev set it all up for us and gave us directions to a restaurant in town. We pulled up to our cabin and got out, including Jamie. The 2 young children sitting outside the adjacent cabin came running up to meet and adore Jamie. They also told us there would be a bonfire down by the lake later that night.

We headed out for dinner, enjoying our usual banter about the traffic (which has been nonexistent). We had a very nice dinner in Wawa and headed back. Again with the nonexistent traffic. fire on the mountain We pulled up to the cabin and did indeed see the bonfire down by the lake. I went it to use the computer and Honour was feeding the cats. I heard her calling me to come out now. I did and there was a fire burning across the lake, across the road and up the hill in the woods. As we watched other folk came out of their cabins. The smoke was red from the flames and the smell was unmistakenly burning wood. We heard that it was the Halfway Lodge burning, a building we’d passed on the way to the cabins. The fear of course was of the surrounding woods catching fire and having another wildfire raging in drought-stricken Canada. We could see the fire engines heading down the road to the fire and shortly the smoke disappeared. It was a bit unnerving to be standing there, watching the fire spread (as evidenced by the red clouds), having come through all of the wildfires in BC.

Honour and Jamie came in and went to sleep while I made hotel arrangements for the next evening, when we planned to reach Ottawa.

bridge for Jim
Family Tradition: photos of bridges

ontario sunset