Hearst to Long Lac

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.

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