Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie

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?

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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.

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