Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 46: We make Hay along the Shore of the Big Lake

By on Sun, Jun 30, 2013 at 11:05 PM

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We decide to embark from a historic, sacred site that all Canadians should visit: The Terry Fox Memorial Site on Highway 17 by pass above Thunder Bay. This is where the courageous young hero had to cease his cross Canada run, because of his advancing cancer. In fact this stretch is known as the Courage Highway and there is a plaque on the actual spot on the highway where he had to stop. A politician had asked Terry the day before if he was looking forward to finishing the long and punishing ride through Ontario. “I’ll just be thankful to get up tomorrow, sir" was his reply.

A nice Sowesterly helped us overachieve at least until I took over after 50 kms. Then the wind changed to a Southerly, and nature’s kind hand turned to indifference. The sun blasted away however and riding was pleasant. Although still concerned about narrow to non existent shoulders, we agreed at a truck stop in Nipigon (our actual days destination), that we should make hay and exceed today's mileage by another 40kms to Rossport. Nipigon was established - believe it or not - in 1649 as a trade route for fur traders and conduit for settlers westward ho-ing. For centuries it was a settlement of Ojibwa tee pees, until the railway decided to main route through the place circa 1859.

Gin and I yinged and yanged places along the route, through rolling hills, lush birch and pine forest, and peak a boo views of Lake Superior below. Keenan and I finished off the last few kms having to climb 3 big Rocky Mountain sized hills into Rossport but grinning and exchanging knuckles after exhilarating downhill schussing. Our timing was perfect as the sky's darkened and a rainstorm blew in from the big lake, just as we entered Rossport. We had heard about the place from good friends who had passed through and we pass on their commendations. After checking out the near sold out accommodations in the pouring downfall, we settled on a cabin at the famed Rossport Inn (est. 1859). To this day it is the oldest hotel on the north shore of Lake Superior. After coaxing the only restaurant in town to stay open until eight o'clock, so we could grab a quick shower and unpack our duds, we unloaded into the 600 sq. ft., 2 double bed plywood shack, a stones throw from the CPR mainline. We felt lucky to get dry accommodation and a hot meal and adjourned back at our "cabin", for a special coffee, a piece of key lime pie, or chocolate cake, or both, and then off to a good night's sleep (of course until the first of the CPR trains came by through the middle of the shack at 60 mph, horn blasting, rousting us all in a fit of laughter.)

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