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Friday, September 22, 2017

VACATION - Looping Around Lake Superior - Day 11 Agawa Bay to Pancake Bay

PS I fixed the pics from yesterday and also fixed the dog video. If you want to go back and reread the blog here is the link:

Travel today from Agawa Bay to Pancake Bay, Ontario Canada

It was raining most of the night at Agawa Bay, and we woke to foggy conditions over the water. We could not see more than 20 feet out onto the bay... and everything was humid and damp. The water was calm and would have made for great pics if we could have seen further out across the water.

Over coffee, Steve and I took out the maps and laptop and calendar.  We have definately decided against rushing down through the Lower Peninsula of Michigan or taking the ferry across Lake Michigan that we had tentively planned. At our speed, we just aren't going to see enough stuff to justify the cost of the bridge toll, ferry fee at Ludington and extra mileage. We will save that for another trip.

Steve cooked us up a pancake breakfast with bacon and more coffee.  It sure was a nice view out of the window and some of the fog was beginning to lift.  We are getting into a nice routine of a later breakfast and that holds us over until supper.  Then we are not stopping during travelling time to make a lunch.

We hopped in the Tracker with the dogs and took a jaunt over to Frater Station. We had gone there 20 years ago to nose around and it was a very narrow rough gravel road.  Now it's a little wider, but still pretty rough.  It's about 10-15 miles away from the highway.  This train station is used for a pick up and drop off point for hikers, canoers, fourwheelers and snowmobilers in the winter.  At any point on the train tracks, they can flag down the train, it will stop and let them load up on the flat cars. Then they can ride to the next station down the line and pay a fare.  Sometimes people leave their vehicles at this defunct station to load up again, or to depart from, as the train ambles through.

About 10 years ago, Steve and I rode that very same train as passengers from the station in Sault Ste Marie Canada up to the Agawa Canyon for a day trip. That is how we know about it stopping to load up and unload the people from the wilderness. It did stop a LOT so the train was never on a scheduled time. LOL... but we did ride past the Frater Station back then too. Kinda the reason we wanted to drive back there today on the road again.  Someone has been fixing up the buildings and added a propane tank and cleaned things up a bit. So maybe they stay there sometimes or the railroad now rents it out?

We bounced along in our little Tracker.  It moves along like a little billy goat.  Pretty handy because the dogs can ride along, compared to the Honda Helix scooter we used to ride together.  Plus... the Tracker has air conditioning, which we needed on this humid damp icky morning.

We came back to the Agawa campground for a little while to walk up and down the beach in between raindrops.  I picked up some pretty rocks to do a project with... more on that later. Just a few rocks, NOT like Lucy and Ricky in the Long Long Trailer movie!

We got roadworthy and I carried over our leftover campfire wood to our neighbors. They were from Lower Michigan but knew a lot of the places in the Upper Peninsula that I knew... plus they were looping around Laker Superior in the other direction.  Steve carefully moved the motorhome forward out of our narrow campsite, and hooked up the Tracker in the main parking area.  Tested, double checked, and good to go.

Not a huge driving day, I think we are just going as far as Pancake Bay, about 35 miles down the shoreline.  It's all pretty country, but we are missing the views from the gloomy weather surrounding us.  I think if we hang out a day or two here, the weather will clear and we can enjoy a bit more before we leave Canada via Sault Ste Marie.

We got to Pancake Bay and it was still overcast and humid... the temps were rising up in the afternoon.  The office to register for a campsite was closed, with a sign saying not open until 4 pm until 7 pm for check-ins.  We saw a few park workers doing shrubbery trimming near the entrance and one young man came over to talk to us.  He said that we could self register at the pay post, but if you wanted to use a credit card, you could pick a site, occupy it, and wait till 4 pm to register it. They are no longer taking reservations at this late in the season, so you are not taking anyone's reserved site, (the park closes on Oct. 10 anyhow).

The prices here are higher by about $5 for each type of site,  plus they have "prime sites" along the water that are even higher than the regular sites. The prices range from $42 to $51 a night (canadian $)  There are 325 sites throughout the entire long stretched out park!  We unhooked the Tracker and got permission from the worker to leave our motorhome at the entrance gate, blocking one of the three lanes. There isn't any parking areas for RV's anywhere, so we were concerned about blocking the lane. We drove around the park with our little map, marking off sites we liked. We chose to take a non-electric site by the water that was very nice. #238  

We got all set up on the site and it was very nice.... we took a walk around with the dogs and visited with a few folks here and there.

Our dogs met up with a super HUGE sheltie named Fergus (actually he is a collie)...  his bark was just like our old Duchess, and we enjoyed petting a big wriggly furball who wanted his butt scratched.

The fall colors are more vibrant here, with gorgeous reds, oranges, yellows and rust.

By 4pm we went over to the gatehouse and registered and the gal inside was very nice and friendly. She mentioned rain and possible storms coming and pointed to her printout of the weather that was posted on the door.  It wasn't too current, just a week worth of weather at a time. Once we paid for the site, we buzzed over to the nearby tourist trap where there was free wifi and checked the weather again.  Rut Roh... not only possible rain in a few days, but high high heat and humidity coming tomorrow, up to high 80's and very very humid!  

Hmmmmm what to do?  We drove back to the gatehouse and asked if we chose an electric site (so we could run the air conditioner) would it be a problem and could we pay the difference?  She smiled and said no problem at all!  Just chose a different site (electric  this time) and come on back with our original papers and she will take care of it, toot sweet.  We drove around and found a nice site with just as nice of a view, number #112, and drove right back to the gatehouse. And she did take care of it easily with a few strokes of the keyboard!   $6.00 more and we were good for the upcoming heatwave.  If we want it for another day, we can just go back at 4pm tomorrow and pay again.

This is SO strange weather for later September around any of the Great Lakes to have this kind of weather. EWWWWWW Heat and Humidity are not a good combination for me, after damaging my lungs and being on oxygen for so many years. I am not now, but that kind of weather does drain me down fast.

We put our tag on the post of 112 and then rushed over to pack up the rig quick and move. We only had out the lawn chairs and a few things on the counter, so it was easy to get "road worthy" and move over to the new site.  Steve drove through it and then manuvered the rig sideways, getting us the most optimum view possible from all the windows down the length of our rig.

Tonight's feast was salmon on the grill.  We are SO glad we were able to take along all our own frozen meat from home in the ample freezer inside of our motorhome. We are eating from our own home groceries and stores we are familiar with. We get these wild caught salmon planks are from the local Piggly Wiggly store near our home, and we like cooking them on a special rack over the grill. The salmon can be flipped to let the fats ooze out and then flipped back to finish cooking. No gooey white stuff on the surface of the salmon that way.

We moved our lawn chairs out onto the beach to watch the evening fall. We settled back in our chairs to watch the water and see the sun beginning to set.  The little sand gnats are pesty as well as some of the black flies (which bite!)  We set out a Thermocell between our chairs and sat in comfort without any buggy intruders.

The waves calmed down to almost a glass like surface, which again is strange for Lake Superior.  I did this cool panoramic picture with my cell phone that kinda captured the feeling of the evening.

 This little seagull, Jonathan, came to visit us!

Soon the sun was inching over to the far western horizon. I snapped a zillion pics of it as it sunk down in the sky... but here are the best ones.

 (this one is for you, Linda G.) 

We headed inside and I decided to bake some brownies (Steve's favorite) in the oven before we went to bed. That way I would not heat up the rig tomorrow during the day, and he could have his snack on hand.  While he hung out relaxing, I was working on this blog and baking the brownies.
We did tune in a single station (analog, not even digital) on the tv, hoping for more local weather or news. Nope, it was only a sub station of old reruns of Big Bang ... and even at 9 and again at 10 it was still older reruns and no local news programming.  We turned on the radio but didn't find any local weather either. In the morning I plan to run over to the tourist trap to use the wifi and check for the weather and also post this blog.

46 miles traveled today
1117 miles traveled so far

Thursday, September 21, 2017

VACATION - Looping Around Lake Superior - Day 10 Agawa Bay Lake Superior Prov Park

After breakfast, we drove on over in the Tracker into the town of Marathon.  We stopped at the grocery store for a few small items.  We needed fresh lettuce and cucumbers, as well as some baking soda and a few snacks.  I wanted a celery for a pot of chili.  It was a cool kinda damp day.

We also wandered through a Canadian Tire Store, having never been to one before.  Like a Tractor Supply Company, TSC.  We saw a lot of cool stuff, but nothing we could not live without. Steve bought a couple packs of the "colored campfire" powder.  It makes colored campfires... toss in a packet and let it burn. (don't cook over it)   We bought some earlier this year at Menards, but they seem to be out of them now.  Fun to dazzle the grandkids with.

We drove on down to the Pebble Beach area again, to see if we just had a bad impression the afternoon before.  We wandered down the trail to the rocky shoreline. It sure is desolate and pretty!  I picked up about 20 little round stones of varying colors and patterns to sneak on home in my shoes in the closet. LOL

 We looked up to see two men in business suits standing by us??  Hmmmmm  They chatted with us for a while and had folders in their hands for a meeting on the beach. I think they were some local city aldermen or perhaps a business group chatting with the officials who were all starting to congregate in the parking lot above.

When we got back to the Tracker there were about 10 men gathering.   Now we are glad we weren't boondocking there and appearing to be "squatters" on their prime city location.  Instead, we patronized their city park, that was well maintained and worth the nightly fee.

Someone on the last blog asked if the prices I am quoting are in CN or US dollars.  The prices I have been posting are all in the CN currency.  If we use a credit card, then it does the US exchange automatically for us.  If we use CN cash, it is cash we already exchanged at the border at Thunder Bay and got the rate (21% that day) ... so we are paying with our CN cash that we got the for US rate, so we are good either way.

We came back to the campground and started to pack up to get road worthy.  I worked on the quick blog, caught up some faecbook posts and commented to a few friends. Having some wifi was nice and I was able to upload some Youtube videos and interject them into a few of the past blogs.  So in case you are bored, you can now click the "OLDER POST" link at the bottom of web version of my blog and it will take you back to the previous 4 or 5 posts to see if there are new videos added.

We asked the gal cleaning the campsites when we need to vacate the site. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders and said "Bout Lunch Time"   hahahaha  We left the park at 12:17 and headed out to the Trans Canadian Highway 17.

I am typing as we are heading east out of Marathon.  We saw a Safari heading into Marathon as we were leaving. We beeped and waved.  Soooo if you were one of my faithful Safari readers, Hello to you!

On the highway we headed into pretty windy conditions. There is a nice visitor center just east of Marathon that overnighting is allowed per other's advice too.  We see about 6 RVs and a semi truck parked in their ample lot as we passed by.

Today is the first day we have seen police officers.  On our whole trip, we have not seen a single one that we know of.  Today we saw one pass us... race up ahead... and then come back  the other way?

Bit windier travel day... some south and southwest winds are pushing us around a bit. Some of the gusts as we rounded rock outcroppings and dip into valleys were "two hands on the wheel" for Steveio. On top of that, it was an older bumpier road surface than the rest of the route so far.  This is how I remembered the single road around Superior we travelled 20 years ago, but Steve said he thinks they were even narrower back then too. He is having to do a bit of jockeying on the wheel to remain in our lane. We are getting jounced around quite a bit, and slowed to 45mph... approx 70kph.  I told Steve if it was too rough driving, we could pull off in White River in about 40 miles and call it a day.  I think we are heading towards Lake Superior Provincial Park, about 120 miles more.

I know we have been spending a bit more of our budget by staying at more provincial parks than we had planned.  We have had 3 boondocking nights and 6 campground nights so far.  I think if we had internet access we could research more places with Google Earth and scope out hideaway spots like we do in the US.   But in all honesty, most of the roads that we have been driving on doesn't have ANY data signals, even along the highway.  So even if I enacted our Verizon TravelPass plan, we would not be able to get on Google to search anyhow.   We are using my laptop and faithful Microsoft Streets and Trips 2011 with GPS dongle to navigate most of the way because it doesn't require any data signal to work.  I love it on the big screen of the laptop to naviagate and search and chart our route, as well as see where we are.

Our droid cell phone GPS works if you can have a data signal to set your course.  But it doesn't let you update or change locations as you travel unless you also have data while enroute.  I can see where we are, but not look up things around us as we go.

We also have the good old paper maps that we rely on as well.  We never totally trust the GPS after it led us up a back alley, through a deep dip, and behind a Walmart building in the middle of the night.  (instead of entering around the front parking area like everyone else does).  We almost didn't make it. The store manager said it's a problem to be notated that way on the GPS location services because some semi drivers get directed that way and can NOT get out.  They get wedged and need a tow truck to remove the trailer after unhoooking their rig from the hitch. We learned that we need to unhook the Tracker and go ahead to see the route and spot any "iffy" situations.

We just passed a nice little rest area that was on the DePew river between White River and Wawa that appears to allow boondocking overnight.  I made a note of it on our map for future reference, and here for any blog readers to mark it down on their maps.

We are taking our time and biding our way, so much so  that we don't think we will make it down to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (sorry Kathy and Mary!)  we can save that adventure for another time.   By the time we get to Sault Ste Marie, (the Soo) we will only have a few days left to meander.  Yes, Steve is retired... but he drives bus for the county ADRC handicapped and elderly people.  It's only supposed to be 15 hours a week. They have been shorthanded on drivers lately and it's been closer to 25-28 a week.  He told them he was taking off 2-3 weeks and should be back no later than Oct 1. That is only 10 days away!!!  We have been averaging 90 miles a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.  From where we are right now it is still 500 miles to home. I guess that now we are heading southward through Canada, my thoughts are turning to HOME.

We noticed a change in the terrain as we headed east... the hills are getting much more rockier and sharp drops and climbs.  The trees are getting more like the Upper Peninsula Michigan type trees, more hardwoods, (which means more color), and thicker taller white and red pines. These are not the thinner tamaracks and scrubby pines of the northwestern side of Lake Superior that we have been seeing since going north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The grades are steeper in the 7% range and the rocky edges are more colorful, with iron ore reds, granite pinks, and greys of slate and shale.  We saw this front end loader driving right down the highway, repairing and moving big rocks that fall down onto the shoulders from above.

About 40 miles north of Wawa, the road got much better and smoother sailing. The winds have died down also, and we are more comfortable as we roll along. It's like sitting in two easy chairs, with a huge picture window of a movie flowing by. LOL

We stopped and did the "tourist thing" at the WaWa goose at their visitor center.  It reminds me of the Red Green Show on PBS about how they made a huge goose out of duct tape and entered it in an art contest.  While transporting it, the nephew Harold accidentally crawled inside the body of the goose and the faster they drove, of course the goose became airborn!  Such an adventure, eh?

On display at the visitor center were these painted adirondack chairs, and I thought they were really cool.  This is an idea for our daughter Heather on her patio someday... especially the piano key and hands? 

Wawa was the location of the connecting link of roads that made the entire loop around Lake Superior in 1960.  How wonderful that must have been to be able to get around the entire lake instead of resorting to ships or a train to get across to the other towns.

This was one of our longest driving days this trip.  We drove past the entrance to Lake Superior Provincial Park... but it's a HUGE park!  The road through the park is over 50 miles long.  We stopped at the main office around 20 miles in.  The gal there registered us for site 103 in the far bottom campground called Agawa Bay but we still had 30+ miles to get there to it. She said someone might take our site as a walk-in registration before we get there, so be prepared to lose that spot and just take another one that is empty.  Oh well....  And... if all were suddenly full (which she said there were a lot of empty sites) It was either that or backtrack to Rabbit Blanket Lake campground 40+ miles to the north.

We made it to the wonderful long skinney strip of a campground along the Agawa Bay and turned down the VERY narrow lane to the row of campsites.  Of course, site 103 had been taken by a popup camper.  We made it down to the end of the lane and around a tight bend, and up the next lane to find another site along the water. Almost all sites were taken. We paused at 110 because it was empty, but kinda tilted and uneven.  We had to unhook the Tracker anyhow, so we did and I scooted back up and around to scope out the rest of that narrow lane... the problem was the hazard of the tall tall red pine trees with trunks within virtual inches of the mirrors as Steve maneuvered through them.

 I looked ahead and found site 114 was PERFECT~~~    Steve was able to drive to it and then back in VERY CAREFULLY between the tall lodge pole straight red pines.

Others watching him were impressed as he got it right in place the first time.  All I have to do is watch up high for anything he can't see in the mirrors and make sure dumb people are not walking behind him as he backs up. He is really great at manuvering this huge rig into some of the tightest spots!

It is much warmer here than when we left Marathon at 1pm. It was almost 6 and the temps were low 80s and very humid.  A nice breeze made it comfortable and we changed into shorts and t shirts for the evening.

I whipped up some chicken tacos for supper, and Steve made up a nice campfire to enjoy in the firepit from wood left behind by another camper.

I caught some great sunset shots, about 50 pics of it. Here is one to share....

Getting all settled into our campsite, we were eager to hop on over the road in front of us, right out into the sand dunes and the beach!  We took the dogs, and neither one is really fond of the water, can you tell?  Here is a fun video clip I shot of them:

This one is for my little brother, and he knows what it means... heh heh.

We relaxed in our chairs until well after dark with our beverages.   A nice flickering campfire and we were comfortable in our "outdoor livingroom".

We could hear thunder rumbles off to the south, and the winds were picking up. The clouds were scuttling by up high rather fast, and we knew a storm was coming.

By 11 pm while in bed, the rain started to splatter down.  Soon it was pounding on the roof. We shut the windows and actually had to turn on the air conditioning! AIR CONDITIONING IN LATE SEPTEMER IN ONTARIO CANADA?   LOL

We drove 168 miles today
1071 so far

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

VACATION - Looping Around Lake Superior - Day 9 Marathon Ontario and Penn Lake


Our morning was just beautiful as we woke up at Rainbow Falls Rossport Campground.  This was our view out the front of the rig as we greeted the day...

I whipped us up a quick breakfast in these little microwave crocks. They had been advertised on TV a couple years ago, called Stone Wave. My friend Linda found them at a chain of Dollar Tree stores for a dollar each. So we grabbed some for the house and some for the motorhome.

Since we had electric hookups overnight, I decided to whip up a breakfast using them. Cracking a couple eggs, add few little pieces of chopped ham, and microwave for two minutes. Then I flipped them over with a little rice paddle and added some shredded cheese, salt and pepper and dried parsley to the top, Now put them back in for one more minute. It takes almost longer to make the toast than it does to make breakfast in these little crocks!

Since the weather was so nice we decided to hop in the tracker and go up to the other portion of the Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. We drove to the parking lot area by the wooden staircase. What amazing sounds we could hear as we descended the staircase down down down alongside of the waterfalls.

Each little area that we could walk away from the staircase presented another wonderful view. There wasn't anyone else around and we had the entire place to ourselves.

The views were spectacular and we made ourselves all the way down to the bottom and the crossing bridge that you could hike up the other side.

We opted to turn around and just climb all of the stairs back up to the top the way we came.

Yep, 181 stairs to get back up to the parking area. If you figure an average of 13 stairs per story that makes it 14 stories to walk up to get back to the top of the waterfalls!!!

We headed back over to the campground in the lower portion of the Rossport park. We chatted with some folks nearby who lo and behold were also a weaver and a spinner from Iowa. She looked up my blog and said she's going to become a regular reader.

Now I hopped in the Tracker with my laptop and headed back into Rossport to find that wifi signal.  It's in a parking lot near a bed and breakfast, next to a sail boat that is dry docked.  I was posting the blog from day 8.  A gentleman came out of a nearby driveway and asked what I was doing, and I said using the signal to post my blog. He said that was fine and have a nice day!

By the time I got back to the park, Steve was able to drive our rig over to the potable water station and top off our tank.  It was a slow fill, but we only needed about 25 gallons added to the 75 we had in the tank. Now we are back up to 100 gallons, never know where we will be next and it is nice to take on fresh water when we can find it.

We drove further east and meandered through some really pretty countryside. Very hilly in this portion of our route. We saw a fox dash across in front of us, but still no moose yet. (at least live ones)

We drove as far as the town of Marathon.  This is a larger town with a couple grocery stores, gas stations and even an A&W. We stopped at a Canadian Tire store to unhook the Tracker and run around to get our bearings, leaving the motorhome behind.

Someone suggested on Facebook that we boondock overnight at Pebble Beach, which is on  the residential end of town.  We drove down there, but the location didn't feel quite right.  There was a motorcycle parked there, but the place seemed kinda remote and uncomfortable.

We had seen a sign as we came into town for a campground run by the city called Penn Lake.  What the heck, we could go and check that out too.  Wow... what a nice place!!!!

The park offers 16 campsites with 30/15 am service and 2 RV sites with 50/30/15 amp service.  An additional 9 unserviced sites are suitable for tent camping.  All serviced sites have sewer and potable water. Internet access is available by wireless hook-up.

Penn Lake Municipal Campground Marathon Ontario

Sites 10 and 11 are the BEST in the park!  The only two RV sites with water views. In our opinion, site number 11 is great for fifth wheels with big open back windows.... and site 10 is great for motorhomes as the view is out alongside of the windows on the passenger side.  We talked to the nice fulltiming folks on site 10 who put their truck into site 11 for us to hold it until we got back.  We rushed back in the Tracker to drop Steve off to drive the rig over.  I registered for the site and paid $45 CN for a site with electric, water, sewer, cable and wifi!  (after exchange it is about $36)

We got settled in and brought out our lawn chairs for a relaxing evening.  We chatted with the neighbors and a few others that came. The park was just about full by suppertime.

We popped some chicken breasts on the grill, whipped up some salads and baked some more white potatoes.  It tasted as good as it looks, that is for sure.

The setting sun caught against the other shore was BRILLIANT!   These are not touched up or enhanced in any way, just straight out of my cell phone camera. They are in order as getting more and more brilliant reflecting the setting sun....

The reflection on the smooth water surface was like a mirror! 

We will see what tomorrow will bring, supposed to be rain again in the forecast.  Sigh.

drove 68 miles today
903 miles so far