Day 03: O Canada, We’re Here

Well, in spite of the 10% chance for sunny skies the rain won out and we awoke to more showers.  We weren’t sure if this would impede our itinerary for the day, as the first item on it included taking a 2 hour scenic drive on a mostly unpaved, gravel road through a forest.  But the helpful proprietor of Motel Ely assured us we’d be just fine, and was even more confident once she found out we were in a rental.

Unpaved glory

Unpaved glory

So we found ourselves on the road by 8:45am heading north out of Ely, destined for the Discovery Tour Echo Trail scenic drive through Superior National Forest.  A few weeks prior to the trip I had called the Ranger Station to ask how long we could expect the drive to take, and the lovely woman said it would take 2 hours.  Then there was a long pause before she cryptically added… unless you get lost.  Perplexed as to what she meant, I asked if the route was well sign-posted?  She became a bit vague and said, oh, you might be okay.  Maybe.  Or maybe you’ll take a wrong turn and get hopelessly lost in the 3.9 million acre forest and have to rely on eating berries and living without Purell for years until you’re discovered by some passerby and brought back into civilization.  She didn’t add that last part, by the way.

Canoeless launch

Canoeless launch

Her words were ringing in my ears as I navigated us down two wrong turns within 5 miles of Ely.  And there’s only one main road.  Eventually we got on the right track, spending the next two hours admiring the absolute beauty of the Superior National Forest.

This part of the forest is known as the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, which explained why everyone we’d seen on the roadways the previous day had a canoe strapped to the roof of their car.  Normally we would have had a little canoe envy, but due to the pouring rain we had a little canoe pity on those trying to go out in this mess.

Superior beauty

Superior beauty

In spite of the weather, the beauty of the forest leaped out and we immensely enjoyed witnessing hundreds of thousands of trees with leaves in various shades of fall as the unpaved road (that was in very good condition) wove up, down, over, and through the forest.  We pretty much had the road to ourselves during the 2 hour drive and were able to make photo stops from the middle of the road.

The bear knows of what he speaks

The bear knows of what he speaks

The forest road spit us back out in the town of Buyck and it was time for us to beat feet to…Canada!  We made good time to the border city of International Falls, MN, took a quick photo with the 26’ tall Smokey the Bear, and queued up behind 3 cars to be assessed for suitability by the Canadian Border Patrol.  It’s been our experience that the Canadians do not monkey around when it comes to crossing borders, and they have a tendency to be slightly aggressive – yet Canadian polite – when sizing you up.  This, however, was a different experience in that the guard was mostly concerned about whether or not we’d brought firearms before waving us into his homeland.  After getting through Jimmy said he was waiting for the guard to ask about the little fella in the backseat (Barry the monkey), and I was disappointed I didn’t get to show him my carefully crafted 19 pages of itinerary notes.  Typed.

At any rate, we happily drove into Canada and promptly fired up O Canada to pay homage to our hosts for the next couple weeks.  As we did, we drove past a Tim Hortons and knew it was real; we were in the Great White North.  Something else happened at the border, too:  the rain stopped and the sun came out.

Lots-o-water, lots-o-trees

Lots-o-water, lots-o-trees

From the border town of Fort Francis, Ontario, we continued our drive along the very scenic Highway 71, which took us past more gorgeous forests set in between large bodies of water spotted with beaver lodges.  We even saw a bored-looking herd of deer, and are hoping this is the tip of the wildlife iceberg during the trip.  Speaking of beaver lodges, we tried calling in on Rushing River Provincial Park to do a little hiking around a lake known for beaver lodges, but the park was inexplicably closed.  Drasted.

Us and the Husky the Musky, not Musky the Husky

Us and the Husky the Musky, not Musky the Husky

So we carried on and reached the town of Kenora, Ontario, in the late afternoon, passing along the way a VW Beetle Spider wearing a top hat on Hwy 17, and Husky the Musky, a town treasure.  The latter was a source of great confusion for Jim, as he thought we were stopping to see a dog statue but was surprised to see a musky in its stead.  We then reached the Super 8 Kenora and settled in for the evening.  The next several days were sure to be busy (19 pages of itinerary worth.  Typed.), and we needed to be well-rested.

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2 Comments

  1. Peter S

     /  September 27, 2016

    Welcome to sunny Canada!!

    Reply
    • howieroll

       /  September 28, 2016

      Thanks – the weather has been great since we arrived and I hope you’re enjoying a sunny spot, too!

      Reply

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