Days 9, 10, and 11

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The good news is we’re finally out of the Prairies. The bad news is that the Prairies have take the wind out of our sails a bit. We’ve basically been packing camp, on the road, or unpacking camp for the last 6 days, pulling 10 hour days. We’re sick of driving. Our bodies are sore from being in the car for such long hours. We haven’t slept well in 2 days because the last 2 campsites we’ve stayed at have been near train tracks – and let me tell you, the Canadian Railroads are in what seems like constant use! We’ve been feeling isolated because of the lack of cell phone service (not something we expected to encounter).
At this point, thankfully, the end of the journey is nigh. We are past Sault Ste. Marie, which means Ontario gets a bit more populated. We are powering through today, and are treating ourselves to a hotel tonight in North Bay. They are a small suburban town, parking at the hotel is free and has room for the trailer, and they are 100% pet-friendly. We will have put in a 12 hour driving day, but that means we’ll be able to make it to Ottawa and a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow evening. If we leave early enough, we may even get there in time for the Jets-Habs game at 5:00.
Rural Ontario has definitely been more scenic than the Prairies. When you cross the provincial line, you are immediately in lake country. There are literally thousands of lakes, many of which dot the sides of the highway. Lake Superior is magnificent – it almost felt like seeing the ocean. Part of me thinks I could get used to this lake country. Then I think about what a winter in this part of Ontario would be like.
Through this rural area, we’ve seen a lot of wild animals that have been hit by cars. Lots of foxes, a few skunks, and even a turtle. On the drive today, a small not-quite-baby bear ran across the road and was killed by the car in front of us. We didn’t hit it at all, and it was old enough that it was probably away from it’s mom, but it still shook us up some.
I didn’t expect to get such burn out from being on the road. I think the thing getting to me is the pace. The trailer’s max speed means we are going considerably slower than the speed limit. At first it was okay, but there comes a point where the navigator in me can’t help but get frustrated at the terrible time we’re making. We put in a lot of hours driving on the trip last year, and I never felt road burn out until we got to Portland. I didn’t expect to get it in about a third the amount of time. The difference is that on our trip we were regularly getting out of the car and stretching our legs and exploring. And the drives were generally scenic and varied. This trip we’re just driving, and stretches are longer between variation. I keep telling myself that once we’re past this Ontarian Shield, once we’re settled in Montreal, road trip drives will be good again. A few hours’ drive to Ottawa, Toronto, upstate New York, Quebec City, Niagra. The drive from Montreal to Halifax includes 5 of the Top 25 things to see in our Lonely Planet guide. Plus we will be road trip-able distance from New York City and Boston. I just have to remind myself that the ultimate purpose of the trip is to get us to Montreal. We have enjoyed a lot of it, and it’s been a better transition than flying would have been. But at this point we are looking forward to being with friends and getting to be tourists again.
Our friend in Ottawa lives pretty much in the heart of town. He’s walking distance from Parliament and the National Gallery, and since the weather looks good for Monday a tourist walk in Ottawa sounds great. Also nearby is the Zaphod Beeblebrox Pub. I am serious. I am actually reading The Hitchhikers Guide this trip, and just finished the first novel. I have decided gin and tonics there are a must do!
Just listing the things to look forward to now that the brunt of the journey is near it’s end has started to lift the driving funk.
-W-

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2 Comments to “Days 9, 10, and 11”

  1. I worked with two girls from North Bay while I was living in Canmore and they were really nice and the town sounded like a decent size for that part of Ontario. When I read your previous entry (3 minutes before I read this entry, so way too late to make a suggestion) I was actually thinking that North Bay seemed like a good place in that region of the province to spend the night. Glad to hear you found it on your own!

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