August 17, 2012
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We didn't get the best night's sleep in Nipigon. The small inn we'd chosen the night before was right on the highway, so for most of the night we could hear large semis and other traffic barreling along the road. Another startling occurrence happened sometime in the middle of the night when our room door that led outside to the parking area at the back of the building suddenly blew open with a strong gust of wind. Since we had come into the inn through the main entrance to pay, and then had come upstairs to our room through the inside, we had never used the outside door. It must not have been totally latched from the last tenants or from the cleaning people earlier in the day. We woke up from our sleep to the very startling bang of the door hitting the wall and the chilly wind blowing in through it, but Jonathan quickly saved the day by getting up to shut it and make sure it was well latched and locked for the rest of the night. Needless to say, we didn't have much restful sleep, and we were up pretty early to start another day of driving.
Before we started our drive, we had to make a decision about which route to take. We had a goal to reach by that night, to get all the way from Northern Ontario to my older sister's house in Ottawa. One route would take us a more northerly route, staying north for longer as we traveled east and then eventually directly south to Ottawa. The other would take us southward along the lake first and then east further down in the province. Both routes were about the same distance and time. While the northern route would have taken us right through Iroquois Falls (near Timmins), where my aunt and cousins lived, we decided that since we wouldn't have time to stop and visit anyway, we might as well just keep along the shores of Lake Superior and take the more southerly route. Much of the drive in the morning and early afternoon was within sight of the deep blue water of Lake Superior as we traveled south along it's northeastern shore.
We made two quick stops in the morning, the first one when I saw signs about Winnie the Pooh as we neared White River, ON. This town is the hometown of Winnie the Pooh, where a Canadian lieutenant, on his way to England during the First World War, bought a black bear cub from a hunter and brought her across the ocean with him. He named the bear "Winnie" after his adopted hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. (More information on the historical origins of Winnie the Black Bear and Winnie the Pooh in the History/Origin section of the Winnie the Pooh entry on Wikipedia.) It was neat to stop for a few minutes in this town and snap a few pictures of the Pooh Bear statue.
Just a little bit later on our drive, we stopped in another town to grab a meal at Subway and this particular town, Wawa, just happened to have several large Canada goose statues around town. We snapped photos of these as well, and looked them up later on to find out why they were there. The main goose, overlooking the highway was built in 1960 to commemorate the town, which takes its name after the native Ojibwe word for wild goose. (More information on this northern Ontario roadside attraction in the Tourism and attractions section of the Wawa, Ontario entry on Wikipedia.)
As we continued our trip after our satisfying lunch, a little bit south of Wawa we drove around a corner and spotted a pretty bay just below. As we drove closer, we saw signs for Old Woman's Bay camping area in Lake Superior Provincial Park. We made an impromptu decision to stop in and explore the beach area for a little bit. It was a very pretty spot, and the steady wind roused up some good-sized waves for us. We enjoyed the rugged outdoor environment and the chance to stretch our legs on the empty beach. As we headed back to our truck, we spotted a quick little chipmunk and stalked him for several minutes before snapping some great photos of him when he was sitting still for a few seconds.
After that stop we knew we had to get going again and keep pressing onward in order to arrive in Ottawa that evening. We drove right though the center of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, another town that I had always been fascinated by because of that grade three socials textbook, but we didn't spend any time exploring.
As we started on the eastward part of our trip to cross the width of the province, I took over driving for the first time so far on this trip. (Every time before this I had asked Jonathan if he wanted to trade, he had said he was fine and I much prefer being the passenger, so I didn't push the idea any further after asking each time.) Soon we were in the heart of some long miles of construction somewhere between Sudbury and North Bay, which didn't make driving much fun, but we eventually got through that area. After driving for about three hours, we were ready to switch again and Jonathan drove for the rest of the day. We finally arrived at my sister's house in Ottawa long after sunset, but we were very glad to have made it. We were very much looking forward to the Sabbath and a day of rest from our travels! We were also very much looking forward to homemade meals and visiting with a family member that we hadn't seen for awhile.
Next up: Ottawa & hiking in the Gatineau hills