Over Lake Superior (Tue. July 28th, 2020)
We left “The Soo” (Sault Ste Marie) early (for us) because we wish to arrive at the Belluz farm in Thunder Bay at a reasonable hour. The downside is that we missed the many stops along the way that transform the “long drive through northern Ontario” (as most people represent it) into a spectacular drive through quintessential Canadian Shield country.
We gassed up for the trip across the northern shore of Lake Superior in the midst of the mixed forest. By Batchawana Bay, it was transformed into the black spruce, pockets of birch and other deciduous trees, bogs, red rock, and smooth granite of the Canadian Shield. To the left were the vistas of the largest lake in the world (by surface area), small pines and spruce trees struggling to hang on to the pockets of soil in the granite and surprising patches of sandy beach among the rock. It’s no wonder that the Group of Seven has become identified with our landscapes.
We sped past the inviting small rivers that occasionally crossed the road on their way to the lake. Tumbling over the rocks, many of them creating small falls, veils of water over smooth rock, and challenges for those of us who are (or were) athletes in the game of stepping stones.
We considered ourselves fortunate that the often foggy and stormy weather of this route was nowhere in sight. The clouds were high, with occasional sunny breaks and any fog could only be seen hanging out at the tops of some hills.
We saluted Wawa as we passed–for the memories of our hitch-hiking days (including getting stranded) and the chats with snowmobilers many years later. Our lunch stop in Obatanga Park included hot-cross buns from Rosemarie and music via Ben’s loudspeaker gift to remind us of what we were leaving.
By the time our lunch was finished, we saw the clouds move in, drops appear on our windshield, and eventually, periods of heavy rain that we associate with the drive over the lake. Fortunately, one of the most beautiful sections (Sault Ste Marie to Wawa) was clear and sunny so we were not too disturbed by the later squalls.
Throughout the ride, our attention was drawn to the occasional small settlements, residences, and businesses along the way–some of them in ruins, but many of them populated and showing signs of activity. Each of them suggested an interesting history, perhaps of escape from the city, failed dreams, or ongoing legacies, but most of them reflecting an effort at sustainability in various ways.
As the road returned to the shoreline we saluted another of the NRE field sites (Pic Mobert, near Marathon) and our attention turned once again to the beauty of the lake. The many small islands just off the coast enhanced the views and marked our progress to the largest of them all: the eye of the wolf that we learned identified Lake Superior. It was nice to see how the tourism efforts of Nipigon included plenty of references (and even a large sculpture) celebrating the children’s book “Paddle-to-the-Sea”.
Our journey took us through Thunder Bay, but our primary destination was the Belluz Farm on the west side of town and the greeting we received from Fran’s shirt-tail cousins, Don and Claire. We were treated to a delicious farm-grown meal and an evening-full of catch-up conversation before turning into bed.