Day 109: Savanne River to Timberland Motel

We didn’t get as far as we intended today. Tricia, who we stayed with in Yorkton Saskatchewan, had told her friends and family we were riding through on her blog. So in Thunder Bay we had plans to stay with her sister Tara. Our intentions were to ride into Thunder Bay to stay with Tara and family, however not long after we started our ride today the rain began. It was a heavy rain that persisted all 60km to the first motel/gas station stop we saw. Here we decided instead to stay in the motel and arrive early tomorrow in Thunder Bay. We will be better able to visit and have a chance to set ourselves up for the next stretch to Sault Ste Marie.

A truck driver in the rest stop did say he passed about 10 cyclists in between Upsala and where we were, so there seems to be quite a few others we haven’t yet come across.

A bit later we returned to the shop for some snacks and we saw Jill inside drying off. We talked with her for a while and found out she’s friends with our neighbour in Montreal. Small world!

As the rain and storm continued the rest of the afternoon we felt our choice in stopping early was warranted.

Day 108: Ignace to Savanne River

Today we really started noticing the reduced shoulders on the road. We were down to about a 1 foot shoulder and at times it wasn’t too fun to ride.

Along the way we met two other independent tourers. Jill was riding across Canada on her own in the same direction we are, and Steve who started his trip in Montreal and was riding to Whitehorse, Yukon. Steve told us the road between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie wasn’t too fun because of the shoulders, so we were second guessing our choice to stay in Canada instead of going through the US.

In Upsala we stopped for dinner at another gas station restaurant before continuing on to Savanne River campground. The campground is on a First Nations reserve, and we talked for a while with the hosts about the history of the Lac des mille lacs Reserve and its history. They were incredibly friendly and helpful. We even had live music since there was a guy playing his guitar and singing a couple sites down.

Day 107: Dryden to Ignace

Relaxed, refreshed and recharged after yesterdays half day, we were ready to go today. Far enough down the road for a break, we found a rest area. Ontario does do these very well – another picnic area with washrooms on the lake, and each picnic table has its own little tucked away space, plus a central covered picnic table area. Here we talked to another tourer named Ron who was on his own cross-country trip. After chatting with Ron both Jesse and I went for a swim in the lake to cool off.

We spent quite a while at this rest stop, eventually getting going again and riding with the strong winds. The wind was picking up and becoming very strong. Looking behind me I could see very dark skies. A storm was coming. The wind was pushing us very quickly down the road, fast enough that I had to break at times to keep from going too quickly on a flat road. It was a bit stressful and concerning here as we could hear the trees cracking the in forest from the force of the wind. Riding as fast as we could we pushed on until a roadside truckstop with bathrooms. At least here if it got too bad we could hide out in the less-than-fresh smelling washroom.

Letting the dark clouds pass, we managed to miss the rain but we were still able to see where it hit up ahead and see the lightening. It was good we weren’t any further ahead.

We arrived late in town so we got another motel, and heard from the hotel owner that the storm hit hard there. It was strong enough there to send his large flower pot flying, and knock out power in part of the town.

Day 106: Vermillion Bay to Dryden

Maybe it was because today we were planning our longest ride yet, but by the time we made it to Dryden I was ready to call it a day. Not because it was too hot, or because it was raining, or especially difficult, because it was none of those, it just seemed more appealing not to ride than to ride today. So while getting breakfast in Dryden Jesse and I decided to call it a day there. He had a lot of work to do and I was quite happy to relax.

We found a motel, Hide Away, with great reviews in town so we decided to go there. We checked in early and had all afternoon to relax, work, watch Netflix, and otherwise stay indoors on a really nice day. It was the perfect place to relax, Erwin the owner really cared about the place and made sure we were as comfortable as possible.

Day 105: Kenora to Vermillion Bay

It was a last minute decision to stay on the Trans Canada instead of taking a quieter route south to Fort Frances and then east. We were saving ourselves 70km and from what Jesse’s friend Evan told us we weren’t missing much scenery wise, just a few hills which was alright with us.

East End Cafe
East End Cafe
We started with breakfast at the East End Cafe. When putting the bikes out front someone came out the front door, I jokingly said to Jesse “oh we can’t lean our bikes against the building” – which is what we were told the day before when stopping at a roadside stop. (We kept going and chose not to stay). However, here at the East Side Cafe we were told we can bring our bikes INSIDE their front entrance to be sure they were safe! This was a really nice surprise. The great friendly service continued through breakfast, and our server was very excited and interested in our trip. We definitely recommend stopping here! Oh and the food was great too!

The ride was full of lakes, trees, and hills. At a picnic area and rest stop there was a lake perfect for swimming, so we stopped there to eat, read, relax and swim. This is my favourite part of a touring day!

We found a campsite, Blue Bird Campsite just past Vermillion Bay which was right on the lake. We setup our tent right on the water, I went swimming again, and again the mosquitoes seemed not at all interested in us. At least until the dew set in and they found us, but at this point we were already inside the tent. Maybe it’s better not to camp quite so close to the water?

Day 104: Rennie to Kenora, Ontario

Having heard about the Nite Hawk restaurant in West Hawk Lake, we decided to make that our breakfast/lunch stop this morning. Eating just snacks before we left, we said goodbye to Adi and Neil – knowing surly they would catch up with us somewhere down the road.

We continued on the highway 44, enjoying the nice quiet road. We were early enough that the cottagers weren’t awake yet so it didn’t matter that there were no shoulders on the road. After talking with some road cyclists, they told us that yes we did make the right decisions in the roads we chose to ride out of Winnipeg, and they also confirmed that the Nite Hawk was a really good restaurant to stop at.

Not long after we sat down, Adi and Neil arrived. We knew it wouldn’t take long for them to catch up! They joined us for lunch before they set off for another ambitious ride. Though the Nite Hawk was good for a roadside diner type place, the prices seemed a bit inflated and the service was slow. And they need to be more clear that the water and coffee is serve-yourself. Also, if a veggie burger is $12-13 at lunch, I think that should include the cost of the service?

From the junction of highway 44 to the Trans Canada the road was absolutely perfect. Newly paved with large shoulders. This continued across the Ontario border and all the way into Kenora.

Kenora itself had marked bike lanes and was a very pretty town. We spent some time at Tim Hortons, then went to Subway to get some quick sandwiches for dinner before heading to the campground at Anicinabe RV Park and Campground. This campground was right on the lake with a couple beaches to access the lake – very nice indeed! The tent sites aren’t all too great – many quite open and small, but we were able to get site 15 which was tucked away and made for a much better evening. Perfect camping – warm evening, cool night, and no rain or bugs!