Archive for Jun, 2018

Midland to Toronto and Home

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 18, 2018 by David Palmer

Breakfast of cereals, toast and strong coffee preceded a 10am start to a long day travelling. It was predicted to be hot 28+, but the morning had the sun struggling to break through high cloud.

As we left Midland heading south the traffic started to build up, reversing the trend of the last couple of weeks with more cars than juggernauts. The towns we passed through had populations in the 10’s of thousands rather than just a few hundred that we have previously been experiencing and we could tell that it was a Saturday as lawns were being mowed and cars washed on drive ways. The closer we got to Toronto the more industrial it got and the four lane highway that had been previously snaking its way through fields and the periphery of townships began to take on the feel of approaching a very busy city. No letting the mind wander now, road signs had to be read and the volume of traffic began to squeeze on our little Nissan Rogue.

We changed our plans repeatedly on the journey into the big metropolis. First we were going to stop in Barrie, then we were going to stop in a park near Pearson Airport, but finally we decided on just getting the car back to base. We filled up with fuel a mile or so away from the rental car park and then dropped the car off.

Inside the terminal we found where we could store our luggage and then bought return tickets on the UP Express train into Union Station, Toronto. The journey took 25 minutes and just had two stops on the way. It conveniently disgorges its passengers next to the CN Tower.

The plan was to wander around the city centre, have lunch and then return to catch our flight, and that is what we did. The area around the tower had changed dramatically from when we visited it 30 years ago. The large marshalling yards had been developed into a train museum, Ripley Aquarium, shops and eating houses, it was much improved and today it was packed with people, many of whom were off to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Washington Redsocks, they were passing through the centre to board buses taking them to the game, dressed in their patriotic shirts of blue.

We had lunch in a restaurant just a block away from the tower. As we were leaving there was a strange beeping noise, when Sue asked what it was, a rather disinterested waitress told us it was a fire alarm. As we exited onto the street, several fire engines turned up, horns blaring away, nobody moved in the restaurant, it was a false alarm. I suppose this must happen often. We next took a walk down to the ferry port where we sat on bollards, watching the water traffic pass by, glad of a cooling breeze from the lake, the clouds had disappeared and the sun was slowly turning the city streets into a furnace.

Sufficiently cooled we headed back towards the centre, stopping at a bar to escape the heat and quench our now considerable thirst. Continuing our way back to the station we were passing Ripley’s Aquarium when I spotted a security guard running out of the building holding a fire extinguisher. What I had taken as smoke from a BBQ or outdoor fast food stall was in fact the outside of Ripley’s on fire. He soon quenched the flames, but where were the fire service when you need them? The fire began on a wood chipped flower border against the building, probably from a discarded cigarette.

We returned to the airport, picked up our luggage and then waited a while for our check in desk to open. We were passengers no. 2 & 3 in the queue. After security, we sat in the bar and had some more refreshments before making our way to the departure gate which for our flight meant a short ride in a bus to the other side of the runaway where we waited inside a building used during busy times. Shortly after we had sat in our seats to wait for the gate to open, Sean, Domini and Caitlin turned up. We chatted about our various Canadian adventures until we boarded the aircraft.

The plane departed on time at 10.45pm. I slept a great deal of the flight, but Sue felt ill and spent some time up front with a stewardess cooling down as she was overheating. She had an attack of her Golfer’s Leg; the last time that happened was prior to a flight from Vietnam.

Caitlin was met by her mother at Stansted and said her goodbyes; we made our way back to Harborough in Sean’s car via a traffic jam near Huntingdon, arriving home at 2pm.

As it was Father’s Day the rest of the family had planned a BBQ at Sarah’s house in Leicester, but this was rescheduled from noon to 3 pm. We arrived there very tired at 3.20 pm. Lee’s parents and grandmother were there as well as all the Palmers. It was a chilly afternoon but the rain held off. Sue and I were both back home just after 8 pm and crawled into bed, two very tired bunnies.

Sudbury to Midland

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 16, 2018 by David Palmer

We had an abortive start. We left the motel at 9am eager to get on the road as it was a gorgeous day promising to be good for sightseeing. However, with our destination inputted into the Satnav, the screen suddenly went into night mode just a few hundred metres down the road and I couldn’t see anything on the screen in such bright sunlight. I pulled into a side road and attempted to reset it, but for some reason it wanted a Wi-Fi connection to find our destination. We returned to the Motel and parked outside the office and picked up the signal. It was then that we realised that we had forgotten to fill up with fuel, the gas station being 5 minutes down the road in the opposite direction. It is not wise to start a journey in Canada of several hundred km without a full tank as the distance between opportunities to do so are quite large. Thank you Satnav, we love you too. After filling up with petrol our conscientious little bit of technology behaved impeccably.

First stop today was an impromptu pull in to the French River Information Centre. We were the first visitors of the day and on entering the centre to check out what the place could offer two inquisitive Brits, the receptionist suggested that we first do the trail to the rapids which the fur trappers (Hudson Bay Company) had to negotiate. It wasn’t too challenging she said and would take an hour or so.

The trail began with a poster warning us to be careful of the rattlesnakes. Plunging into the forest it became apparent that we had to follow the blue circles, thoughtfully pinned onto trees at regular intervals. It was decided that Sue looked out for blue circles and I looked out for snakes. We soon found out that the local mosquitoes were looking out for us! We both soon made switches from tree branches to discourage the little darlings. The path at times was over a mass of tangled tree roots and at others over and between boulders, but all the time it was through thick undergrowth. It was hot, sweaty going and with attacks of swarms of bugs to distract, there was always the danger of slipping and turning an ankle. Eventually we heard the thunder of the fabled rapids and after another hundred metres or so we broke through the trees to find ourselves on a rocky promontory above them. It was difficult to gauge which was the better, the view before us or the lack of bugs whirling around.

We descended to an information board situated on the rocks next to the rushing wall of water. I couldn’t help but smile when I read that the rapids were originally controlled by the French until a couple of brothers turned up called Kirke and took possession of them. However, it is still called the French River. We stayed quite a while discussing how you could possibly canoe over such a turbulent torrent , we found several very old metal pegs drilled into the rocks that would have helped in some way, but quite a lot of lives must have been lost on this section of river.

For some reason, the bugs didn’t attack so much on the way back. Perhaps the switches had taught them a lesson they didn’t want to repeat? On seeing the receptionist again I inquired as to whether sending tourists down the trail to see the rapids was their way of ensuring that the mosquitoes got fed. She smiled.

We spent a little time looking at the exhibits on fur trapping inside the centre, but though well displayed there was little substance, so we moved on towards Midland.

Our only other stop was for a pleasant fish and chip lunch at a roadside restaurant. We spent some time talking to the owners, who were very interested in the Royal Wedding and were in despair of Donald Trump. For once, they didn’t appear to have any relatives in Britain or indeed had even been out of the country. They seemed very happy doing what they did, and they served up the best fish and chips I have had in a long, long time.

They next section was a bit of a drag. A gorgeously sunny day, beautiful scenery passing by, little traffic and I was feeling tired and had enough of driving. I was glad when we arrived at our accommodation for the night; The Knights Inn (good name eh?)

After a bit of a rest we took a walk to nearby Little Lake. A lovely amenity for the town. Shallow beaches, warm water, lots of squirrels and trees, plenty of benches to rest weary legs and a vender who sells the largest ice-creams ever! We discovered a new sport and it is brilliant! They call it Disc Golf. Around the lake and through the park we kept seeing strange posts with chains dangling down into circular tub like structures, what were they for? Then we came across five guys practising for a big competition there tomorrow. They explained what they were doing. They had to throw a disc into the tub, from a concrete slab which was 100 m or more away, through trees etc. The disc is really a heavy flattish Frisbee. They use a driver disc (the heaviest) to start with, then they switch to a putter disc (lighter). There is a white circle around the tubs which if the driver lands inside, they can then use the putter from the edge of the line to spin it into the tub. It looked very popular, there were quite a few groups practising. I would have loved to have a go.

We wandered back to the hotel, then drove down to the harbour area to see the locals promenading and the boat owners firing up there BBQ’s for the evening meal (very civilised).

We went for our own evening meal at probably Midland’s smartest restaurant. I was still wearing shorts as it was such a hot evening so the management placed us at a table away from the other guests and nearest to the toilets. I took their point and was on my best behaviour. The food was really good and when they realised that we were not riff-raff, they treated us well.

Later in the evening, we packed and made our plans for returning home, realising that we are due to attend a family BBQ on Sunday, unfortunately we discovered that we don’t land back in Stansted until 11.15 am and with a 2 hour drive afterwards, it may mean that we may not make it. We shall see.

Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 15, 2018 by David Palmer

Our destination today was Sudbury, the Satnav indicating a journey time of around three and a half hours and the sky promised good clear day. We left the motel just after 9.30am after any rush hour traffic had gone.

We hadn’t gone far when we made our first stop in Bruce Mines, we passed a small museum and after a quick turn-a-bout we found it was open. It was a small local museum housing artefacts from the areas’ main industry, copper mining (hence the towns’ name), it also contained lots of eclectic items from local residents. We donated $7 and were given a personal tour by a well-meaning lady who she said was standing in for the usual guide. We were kind and ignored her lack of knowledge or presentation skills and chatted and smiled appropriately. We were thankful that we have at last found a museum open, before July 1st! We spent around 3/4 of an hour browsing the exhibits, but probably the most interesting aspect of the visit was taking place outside where the local Mennonites were passing driving in their carriages and dressed in traditional garb. They were going to the large superstore across the road. Our guide wistfully informed us that they owned many of the farms around and much of the land; I suspect there may be issues there.

Moving on we put quite a few miles under the wheels before stopping for lunch at a Chinese/Canadian restaurant.

The traffic was light all the way to Sudbury and good driving apart from a couple of roadworks where the workers were beavering away replacing the road surface. Unlike the UK where roadworks are controlled by a traffic light system, here they prefer to have people waving flags and holding Stop/Go lollipops. The seemingly odd thing is that these controllers are usually women or indigenous, but mostly both. I wonder if there is a bit of ‘ism’ going on here.

We found our accommodation ‘The Richard Lake Motel’ without any problem, checked in, unpacked the car then set off to find Sudbury’s ‘Big Nickel’. It is the world’s largest nickel and is located outside the Dynamic Earth Centre which is a technology museum with a tour of a nickel mine thrown in. Unfortunately, we were severely delayed by city traffic and arrived at 4 pm to find the museum was closing; the last group of visiting school children were exiting as we approached the entrance. We photographed the ‘Big Nickel’, read all the information boards around the site and then joined the heavy traffic to make our way to plan B, Moonlight Beach.

The beach is situated on Moonlight Road within Moonlight Park and I guess is at its best under moonlight, but under sunlight it is pretty good too. The lake is flanked by very impressive and expensive properties, probably making it THE place to live in Sudbury. The beach itself is golden sand and contains lots of play equipment to amuse small children. We bought a couple of huge ice creams in a small cafe above the beach and sat licking away at a picnic bench watching a growing number of people enjoying the facilities. Cones demolished we took a walk to the other side of the bay, climbed a rocky outcrop following a small path to another small bay. We were fascinated by the many large hairy caterpillars apparently basking in the sun along the route. We eventually worked it out that they had emerged from the weird cobwebby nests clinging to the junctions of branches in the bushes all around us. On our return to the car, the beach had considerably filled up with families bringing their small children to be tired out before bedtime.

Returning to the motel I discovered that somewhere on our travels I had lost the room key, reception provided a new one without having to pay for it, phew. We enquired as to the location of a decent restaurant and then found it, just 5 minutes away by car. The meal was excellent but more notable for an item of food that we didn’t choose. I named it ‘Death on a plate’; it was potato chips covered in cinnamon sugar and fried, two large scoops of ice cream placed on top and the whole lot covered in chocolate sauce. In discussion with the waiter we learned that the concoction contained 1450 calories!!! He seemed amused that the UK now has a sugar tax on such things.

On the way back to our accommodation we stopped to admire the sunset at Richards Lake, before watching TV until zzzz’s.

Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 14, 2018 by David Palmer

A very pleasant night’s sleep was brought to an end by a thunderstorm and torrential rain around 8am. We were reluctant to make an early start to today’s adventure, hoping that the rain clouds would move on. By the time we did load up the car, it had gone 10am and it was still raining and a decidedly chilly 7 degrees! Our host during last night’s splendid meal was Trinidadian and had informed us that she had lived in Wawa for the last 30 years as on the journey between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa she had fallen in love with the country and had decided to make it her home. Sue had looked up to day’s route and discovered that it is listed as one of the 9 best road trips in North America. It didn’t look very likely that we would be seeing it at its best today.

For the first half hour we saw very little of the beautiful coastline we were apparently following other than the occasional bay seen through rivulets of water marching across window glass.

When the rain eased we took the opportunity and pulled into one of the beauty spots along with a couple of other travellers. Oooooo, it was chilly, but the view at Old Lady’s Beach was pretty good, even under a sombre sky. Clouds whipping low over waves seemingly thrashing each other in a race to the beach, gave meaning to the story outlined on an information board we had parked next to, of the foundering of a large iron-ore freighter in the 1960’s during the worst storm ever recorded on Lake Superior.

Though the rain didn’t return for the next section of our journey, we had been warned that this route was often susceptible to fog and that is what we got. Thick, dense fog that reduced vision at times to just around 50m or so, slowing our progress and ensuring that eyes were fixed on the grey murkiness ahead and not on the presumable pleasurable scenes passing us by in slow motion.

We stopped (to rest the eyes) at a Tourist Information Centre, situated on the banks of Hades. Well, it could have been, the surrounding forest merging into writhing, swirling grey, green cauldron fumes, while the beach promised to deliver Charon and his ferry boat through the blanket of fog just a few metres off-shore. However, it was lovely and warm inside and manned by friendly rangers eager to discuss bears. We confessed we hadn’t seen any. The interactive displays were pretty interesting and held our attention until the journey beckoned and we drove off again along the ‘road to nowhere’.

The fog eventually gave in to the returning rain and around lunchtime we pulled into a Cookhouse for some vittles’. Local white fish from the lake and fries from a field somewhere, gorgeous! As a bonus, on leaving we noticed that hummingbirds were sipping from a couple of hanging feeders. Of course we photographed them (they were unconcerned at our presence), what stunning creatures they are. So fast, so small, so sweet!!!!

Those little birds were the essential element to break the spell that had marred our journey so far. The sun came out; we could see where we were going. However, we then met a series of road works that at times slowed our journey to a stop, but eventually we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie and the Satnav talked us directly to the Holiday Motel.

After checking in we drove off to explore. First was Bellevue Park, a pretty patch of green that jutted out into St. Marys River. After parking up, we discovered why the unusual wispy clouds were whizzing across an otherwise clear sky, it was blowing a gale! The river was glinting in the sunlight but white horses were galloping madly across its surface. And it was cold. We did a full circumnavigation of the promontory, glad on the lee side that we were out of the wind. On the other side of the river was Trump country, we could see lines of RV’s parked up along the opposite bank; you could easily swim across, but not today. We came across a box attached to a post that vended free poop bags for dog owners, how novel, what a sensible use of local taxes. With initiatives such as this there is often a HOWEVER, and there is one here. The park (and river) is home to several hundred Canada Geese, and they also poop, and it is as large as a medium sized dog poop. Goose droppings were everywhere! Good try Sault, but you need a goose education programme to run in parallel.

Next we drove to the other side of the city to visit the International Bridge, St. Marys Island and Whitefish Island.

The bridge is the border between the USA and Canada. Considering its importance, there appeared to be little traffic traversing this huge structure, on average a vehicle every 30 seconds.

The two islands are linked and are a 1st Nation Heritage site. After parking up we crossed the large ship canal onto St. Mary’s Island and then walked up to the bridge. The wind had now dropped and though late in the afternoon it was quite warm. Bridge photos taken we set off on the island trail. We came across some fly fishermen, in waders casting for fish in the main river. We dallied awhile, hoping we would see a fish landed, but were disappointed. Further along the trail we met a red winged blackbird, he was keen to chat; tweeting, chirping and screeching at us as we walked along. We reciprocated and he responded. No idea what the conversation was but it lasted a good ten minutes before a passing walker broke our conversation. Next, we came across a beaver lodge, a local explained that it was their winter lodge, the summer one was across the river and that is where they had their young in the spring. Yuppie beavers eh?


The walk along the trail took up the rest of the afternoon. The Heritage site is well designed and was thoroughly enjoyable, it really brought the history and the nature of place out in its info boards and I am sure is a huge asset to the citizens of the city. They seem to use it well.

On returning to our accommodation we a meal at a fast food outlet in the city, before settling own free the evening watching some TV.

Schreiber to Wawa

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 13, 2018 by David Palmer

The route from Schreiber to Wawa for the early part of our journey stuck close to Lake Superior’s northern shoreline and the views were of still waters, tree covered islands, inviting little bays and of course an increasing number of small settlements, usually accompanied with a camping or RV site.

The morning was a sunny one but the temperature was quite a few degrees down than further inland, the lake was having a cooling effect. As we progressed eastwards it began to cloud over. We stopped awhile in Marathon for a break and a large hot chocolate, we checked out the town beach, but it was just pebbles and piles of drift wood. Marathon sounds as if it might be interesting but regrettably it is not, not a patch on its Greek namesake.

Driving on we had a brief rain shower, then another stop. This time to photograph a moose at the side of the road, a little later on Sue spotted another and again we stopped, this one however seemed as much interested in us as we it, staring us out until we got fed up of taking its photo. He was trying hard to make the front cover of ‘Nature Weekly’ and gave us his best poses.

The road now took us inland, through forested hills and lake after lake, most having at least one cabin attached to it, no doubt for summer use by the ‘city slickers’ from out east! Soon, as we neared our destination, the Mystic Isle Motel, just south of Wawa, we returned to the shore of Lake Superior and the sun came out.

The plan was to find the hotel first then explore, but when the Satnav announced we had arrived, we obviously hadn’t! Retracing part of our route we headed into Wawa town and had lunch in one of the restaurants. Stomachs satisfied we then had a mooch around the shops, before enquiring at the Tourist Information Office as to the location of our accommodation. Annoyingly to find that if I had earlier driven around the next bend we would have found it.

After checking in at reception we found our room and were pleasantly surprised, it was beautifully decorated and furnished to a very high standard, certainly a cut above the usual Motel standard.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the locality. First stop was Silver Falls, followed by Silver Beach then coming across an early settlers’ cemetery we spent time at the three a gravestones still showing and read the associated information boards. A fascinating insight into the lives of those lying beneath our feet. We surmised that the cemetery was situated there as it would have afforded a magnificent view of the lake for its residents. How thoughtful.

We moved on along the very dusty road that we had been following for quite a few kilometres (with the low fuel tank sign displayed) to reach Sandy Beach. Here we walked the length of this pretty arc of silver sand, meeting a local walking his two dogs. We chatted awhile then moved on to stand and watch a large flock of Canada geese clustered together as if in a union meeting, just a few yards off shore. I wonder what they were gaggling on about?

The beach is famous for the ‘Canada Seven’, they were a group of artists, and this beach and other nearby locations were often painted by them. At various sites we would find information boards concerning particular paintings and the artist that created them. A novel idea as the boards were often presented as an easel with the artist’s seat in front.

With an emptying fuel tank we drove on quite a few more kilometres to Magpie High Falls. Waterfalls seem to be becoming quite a theme with this holiday, but I guess when you visit a country with this much water, it is inevitable. These falls were created as part of a hydro-power scheme, but are none the less impressive for it.

With our thirst for yet another body of cascading water satisfied we sped with dust clouds billowing behind to a gas station just outside Wawa. $72 dollars saw the 4×4 hungry beasts belly full again before driving at a more leisurely pace to Wawa town beach. Being ‘out of season’ it was empty (of course), so after another beach walk we took to the car and cruised around the beach side properties, envying their view, their life-style but not their winters!

We returned to the Mystic Isle Motel later than planned, so after a quick change (glad we did) we made the short walk to a recommended restaurant located just above the nearby river. It was fine dining and we luckily were dressed finely. We had the best meal of the trip so far, which helped when the bill came and had to be paid. Lake Superior Walleye fish and chicken stir fry don’t come cheap.

Returning to our room we spent the rest of the evening chilling out (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s).

Long Lac to Schreiber

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 12, 2018 by David Palmer

Checking out of our motels here hasn’t happened yet. We are asked to just leave the key in the room and shut the door when we go. No reminder as to when we are to vacate the room or seemingly a check on whether we have taken the TV, microwave or fridge with us! The Canadians out here are very trusting, but then so was Gwenda who would leave the house unlocked when we took her out. This used to be the same when I was a young lad in God’s own country, Yorkshire. The doors weren’t often shut, let alone locked during the day, unless you were going to the seaside for a week. Knocking on your neighbour’s door when you visited would never happen, that was far too formal for friends/neighbours. How things have changed in the UK, keep the faith Canada.

We left the key by the TV, shut the door and set off west on around a 4 hour leisurely drive to Schreiber. A railway town, so named after an Englishman who rose to the rank Chief Engineer in charge of railway construction in Canada. He was rewarded with a knighthood and a town named after him.

As in the previous leg of our journey we met very little traffic, surprising because this was Monday, a working day. The day was cloudless and the scenery sliding leisurely by became increasingly more interesting. There was increasing signs of habitation; camp sites, little pockets of houses and lakes with cabins. We passed through Jellicoe, but saw no cats, then Beardmore and saw no beards, but as we entered the forest covered Palisades our journey took a turn for the better. No more ruler straight ribbon of tarmac stretching from horizon to horizon, we now wound along the shores of lakes on roads squeezed between water and mountain, such a pleasant change from the day before.

We stopped for the toilet in Nippigon at a gas station and discovered that they vended coffee for free, we had two! I took the time out to wash the windscreen as the insects had painted it with their internal workings as they mindlessly played a game of chicken with the Nissan Rogue doing 90kph. There was only going to be one winner there, but they still kept on coming. Amusingly, I discovered I had half washed the car parked next to mine before noticing that it was Kia, in my defence they were the same colour!

From Nippigon to our accommodation in Schreiber we were heading east again, along the shore of Lake Superior. Again, a refreshing change of scenery. The settlements we were passing through were very pretty and I guess a very desirable place to live for a Canadian.

After checking into the Villa Bianca Inn situated alongside HWY 17 and close by the Trans Canadian Railway depot, we took a drive through the town, stopping at the Railway Museum to find it shut, it appears nothing happens for tourists outside of the large cities until July 1st. We searched in vain to find a local restaurant for lunch, but eventually settled on a KFC.

Next, we drove down to Schreiber beach. An attractive place, we spent quite a bit of time exploring the shore, rocks and the little stream gurgling into the lake. We came across a swarm of large yellow butterflies drinking from a patch of damp sand, we took quite a few photographs of them before returning to the car.

Driving further east along HWY 17 for a few more kilometres we visited Aguasabon Falls and Gorge. A spectacular and thunderous fall of water into a narrow gorge, reached along a raised walkway and viewed from a platform set into the cliff to one side. The spray billowing from the cascade created a rainbow that I hoped would show on the photos that I took. Moving on to Terrace Bay we climbed the lighthouse located just off the highway and had a great view over this small lakeside township. We took a turn around the local shops before driving down to the beach. It is here that the Aguasabon River enters Lake Superior via another thunderous waterfall. We walked from end of the beach to the other before taking the trail through the trees to the top of the waterfall and some more photos.

Returning to the Villa Bianca Inn we rested awhile then drove west to a small hotel which had a restaurant, recommended to us by a local. However, many food establishments in Canada close on Sundays and Mondays (out of season) and this one was one of them. We about turned and dined again on KFC. Waiting for our order to be filled, ironically I watched a news item that headlined, “Over 70% of Canadian men eat unhealthily.” I am not surprised, there appears to be no choice for them on two days a week.

We dined on chicken and chips with peach wheat ale in our room and watched TV; it’s the Monday night Canadian way.

Hearst to Long Lac

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 11, 2018 by David Palmer

Lazy morning. Late 9.30am start under a blue, cloudless sky along a ridiculously quiet HWY11. I motored along at a steady 90kph (legal max), staring blissfully ahead at the endless tarmacked road stretching to the horizon with a 50m grassy apron on either side limited by a line of pines, beyond which there was a trillion or so more. The 200 or so kilometres had a couple of bends in them (I think), but you couldn’t really call a gentle leaning to one side for 2km, a bend.

There were three distractions; randomly we would pass through a sections of forest that had recently been involved in a fire, this was when we could glimpse further into the tree line, now consisting of lines of charred denuded poles, or an oncoming lorry or RV, but this didn’t happen for kilometre upon kilometre, but most interestingly (from my point of view) was Sue getting to grips with technology and searching for a radio station on the car radio. We had listened to FM stations earlier in the week, but these had disappeared and then she only found AM channels with varying crackles to break the monotony of straight roads and similar scenery. Now we had no signals at all, we were passing through a part of Canada that had no settlements and very little traffic so I guess the authorities had thought there was no point in going to the expense of putting in relay transmitters along the route. However, my mobile was connected to the cars power supply via USB and earlier in the week it had begun to play my music library through the car speakers as well as direct me on its Satnav. Sue spent a pleasant 20 mins or so working out how to repeat this function and bingo, we had music all the way into Long Lac.

As soon as we arrived at our destination we had lunch in a small restaurant by the river. Long Lac lies alongside the Trans Canadian railway, its very existence being that this is where the trappers trail met the railway to take the pelts to market. Today it is a small town with an impressive bridge that the majority of Lorries stop at for fuel, food and sometimes a break. However, get away from the highway and the town itself is quite pretty and down by the lake the park is well thought out and a pleasure to relax in.

We checked into our room at 2pm to be told that we were lucky, the rest of the motels in the town were full, even the local inhabitants were letting out rooms. There was a large Railway meeting going on and the town was rammed. On our orientation drive we came across a great long line of really neat accommodation carriages parked up along a siding. I suppose those workers unlucky enough not to be in these had to suffer motel rooms. Strange though, the town didn’t look busy to us, but the motels were certainly full. I guess the Northern Ontario definition of busy is akin to the European definition of comatose.

We had a walk around town, checked to see if the local steakhouse was open for a meal tonight and looked for some peach wheat ale that we have discovered we like in the liquor store. They had none so we substituted it with some local brew. There was a minor drama at the liquor store, as we entered the establishment a quite large and grossly overweight Canadian kindly opened the door for us. Inside was like being in the inner workings of a freezer cabinet and we were glad to get out side with our purchase. It was a hot day (close to 30 degrees) and on exiting I saw the kind gentleman of earlier leaning against a post in obvious distress and his wife quite concerned. He attempted to reach his car some 5m away and managed to stagger as far as the bonnet where he looked in real difficulty. His wife was phoning 911 when we got into our car, feeling guilty, we drove off.

A short drive took us to the ‘posh’ end of town where we sat and watched awhile as the local residents went about their Sunday business, which was put the boat in the water and go fishing.

On our drive over to the other side of town we stopped to have a wander around the ValuMart. It gets quite annoying that the price marked up is not the price you pay as they add the tax right at the very end!

The Public Park and landing stage was just as popular as at the ‘other’ end of town, though the boats taking to the water were not of the same calibre. We noted that, though there were numerous signs informing fishermen that they should not gut their fish and leave it in the bins (for obvious reasons), they were indeed full of fish guts. French is the language spoken here and French is the attitude on being told what to do, one of the bins had its contents scattered everywhere, no doubt by the wildlife. Not a place to visit by night I thought.

Returning to our room, we whiled the time away until it was time for our evening meal.

Oddly enough we both had fish and chips at the Steak House and Pizzeria, but it is what we both fancied and we enjoyed it. The portions here are far too large and some had to be left, though witnessing the size of pizzas emerging from the kitchen we would have left far more. Not surprisingly, other dinners were taking home doggie bags.

It was still light when we returned to our room, so we watched TV until zzzz’s.

The news here has been concerned over the last few days with Trump and the G7 meeting. The Canadians seem incandescent with rage at Mr Trump comments about their leader and the nation. I find it astounding that someone of his age has not learned to conduct himself better, his rudeness and ignorance seems to have no bounds.