Okay, so now I’m in Ontario. This is the province from which I can see most of the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, and the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Immediately after crossing into Ontario I stopped off at the Visitor’s Centre and was assisted by a very helpful attendant. I told her my general direction and the sites I wished to see. She directed me to a large wall-sized map of Ontario, and began suggesting routes and places not to miss. Within nanoseconds we were surrounded by her fellow Canadians who chimed in with additions and further suggestions to the commentary. Some of these conversations went off into tangents, with several smaller groups debating the pros and cons of a particular route or attraction. I don’t know how to describe how I felt. It was just delightful! You know, I hope Aussielanders are this nice to tourists. I know I will be in future. All the way across Canada it’s been the same.
It was at this Visitor’s Centre that I first met Bill and Pam, who are a retired couple. Bill was an industrial chemist and Pam worked in quality assurance for a food company. They ride Suzuki V-Stroms, and began riding about 9 years ago. They also tour North America in their motorhome, and went to Alaska a few years ago, but I think they prefer the bikes. They’ve been all over the world, really. They got stuck in Melbourne just after 9/11 in 2001, and were forced to endure the place for some days. They said they had a good time there though. We were to meet each other, in a kind of hopscotch fashion, on quite a few occasions over the following days. Our last meeting was in a little town called Marathon, where we unknowingly picked the same motel to stay. We joked that we were stalking each other. Here’s a pic of Bill and Pam, and more about them later:
After getting some excellent information and some maps from the Visitor’s Centre, I stopped at a little siding a couple of hundred kilometres up the road. It was not an overly windy day, but my bike was being buffeted by what wind there was and there were some hairy moments; quite exhausting to try to keep going. I decided to stop for the night and rearrange the YT, because I reckoned it was too high and not helpful on windy days. The next day I would head to the Lake Superior Provincial Park.
The next day was cool, foggy, and no wind at all. Great day’s ride. First, I stopped at the Terry Fox monument. Terry Fox is a very famous Canadian who lost his right leg to cancer at age 20. In 1980, he decided to run from the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland to the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia to raise money for cancer research. It was quite a cracking pace he set himself too, 40-odd kilometres per day, which is marathon distance. Every day. With one leg. What a gutsy man. However, the cancer spread to his lung and he had to abandon the attempt at the spot pictured below. He died the following year, and remains a Canadian icon and inspiration to us all.
Stopped off at a lookout on the way and got some photos of my first view of Lake Superior:
I met some fellow riders at this lookout. They’re from the US and we took each other’s photos. They were heading back to Minnesota or Michigan or somewhere – forget exactly. They loved Canada, but wished there were more signs about impending stops such as this lookout. Here they are:
Okay Aussies, remember I was telling you in an earlier post about those bus things and how they look like they have cars up their clacker? Well, this is what they look like. This was also parked at the lookout:
I didn’t get to Lake Superior Provincial Park that day, but ended up in Marathon, Ontario. Nice little place. There are bears walking around the streets. I didn’t see any, unfortunately, but there was a sign on one of the side doors of the motel which read, “Please keep this door closed. There are bears in the area”. Didn’t want to be sharing my bed with a bear, so kept the door closed, firmly closed.
Just before Marathon I stopped off and explored this lovely spot:
That evening, Bill and Pam shouted me to dinner at the local Chinese Restaurant. We had a great conversation about Ontario and Canada in general. These two are a hive of information about Ontario (they live about 80 kms from Niagara Falls). There is a popular tour at Niagara Falls called “The Maid of the Mist” tour. This is a boat which takes you within inches of the falls themselves. It is an extremely popular tourist attraction, and one which I had planned to join. When mentioning this, Bill made a very good point: If something goes wrong with that boat, and it loses power, you’re history. Bill then proceeded to give me a better idea, and one which I had not known. Apparently there are some cave tours which go directly behind the falls and bring you much closer (and are safer, too 🙂 ).
And so to Lake Superior Provincial Park. I love these provincial parks. They are clean and everything you could want is there (for me, showers, toilets, laundromat). I scored the last beachfront campsite available. This was right on the beach, so I could hear the waves crashing as I drifted off to sleep. Beautiful. Here are some pics of the campsite:
Here’s the beach, right in front:
But the best bit was the sunset. I dithered for ages about which ones to show you, and couldn’t decide, so you’ll have to cop pretty much all of them: