Day 15 – Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Route map

Distance = 706 km        Gas = $29.26 ($1.36/L in Thunder Bay, ON) and $44.43 ($1.42/L in Wawa, ON)

There was only one thing I really wanted to see in Thunder Bay and I missed it. The Terry Fox monument is just outside of town, and I thought I’d check it out as I headed east, but I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on the scenic route. By the time I’d realized I missed it I was many miles away, and decided to forge ahead since I had eight hours of driving ahead of me. But I’d really wanted to see where Terry Fox ended his marathon of hope. As any Canadian knows, he’s pretty much our most important national hero (at least, I think he is), and I’m kicking myself for not paying more attention to the street signs.

The rest of the day was a blur of sparkling water and winding, hilly, single-lane highway curving south around Lake Superior. I’d been told Ontario is big, and that it takes a while to drive through, but it really is never-ending. It’s like being stuck in a time warp; it doesn’t matter how fast you drive, you still end up next to this massive body of water and all around you appear to be the same pine trees. (Except for the town of Wawa, which has probably the nicest visitor centre I’ve been to, with a book exchange, art gallery and what appears to be a metal sculpture of the world’s largest goose.) Anyway, the theme of today’s travels was lakes. Lots of them, but especially the big one.

Did you know Lake Superior is the world’s largest fresh water lake, and it holds 10 per cent of the world’s fresh water?

Standing on the shore, you can see the water stretch to the horizon, and with the waves crashing on the beach at your feet, it’s hard to believe it’s not salt water. But I can assure you that while it may look just like the sea, it is in fact a lake. I know for sure because when got to Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior National Park I tasted it. Not salty at all.

Travel tip: Make sure you’ve got at least half a tank of gas when you get to Wawa or you might get stuck in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It’s 1,500 square kilometres, and there’s nowhere to fill up again until you get to Sault Ste. Marie, which is 228 km away. Plan to spend some time in the area if you can, because there are lots of gorgeous beaches, trails and camp grounds to check out. According to Trip Advisor, the park ranks #62 on a list of over 2,000 most popular attractions in Ontario.

Despite the sunny weather and gorgeous scenery today, this was the first day of my adventure I didn’t particularly feel like driving. I felt weary of the road. I was annoyed at the prices in Ontario (the prairies are cheaper, at least for gas and food), and I was annoyed with the Albertan and Saskatchewan drivers who speed because they’re in denial the roads here aren’t flat and straight, and I was annoyed that I didn’t get a Couchsurfing connection lined up for Sault Ste. Marie. The bright side, though, is I’m at a Super 8 where I’ve got my own giant room with two queen sized beds, about 14 towels in various sizes, free wifi, and a continental breakfast in the morning. I still think $135 is a lot for a motel, but tonight I’m just going to make the most of it and enjoy the luxury of spending as long as I want in the bath.  I might also jump on the beds a little bit.

Oh, and I was also annoyed that I didn’t have phone reception for most of the day. I didn’t have any calls to make, but just knowing I couldn’t make them was infuriating.

Tomorrow I’m going to drive the five hours to Parry Sound, where I’ll spend the night, and then head the next day down to the big city – Toronto!

NEXT POST: Sault Ste. Marie to Parry Sound


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