Superior Circle Tour: Thunder Bay to Black Bay

The Terry Fox Memorial above Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is a great name for a city of 100,000, but the town itself was not attractive—it seemed spread out and industrial. We spent the morning seeking a 6mm Allen wrench to tighten my new mirror stalks. It took forever to locate the “Canadian Tire” store that everyone told us to go to (Canadian Tire is the equivalent of Home Depot in the U.S.). The gas pumps only permitted fixed amounts, the ATM would not take Poldi’s card, and making it all seem worse than it was, we had not had a proper dose of coffee that morning.

Eventually, completing our errands and planning our exit over lunch, we escaped to the outskirts of the city, to the Terry Fox memorial. Terry Fox was a teenager in 1980 who lost a leg to cancer, and then embarked on a trans-Canada run (on one prosthetic leg) to promote cancer research, making it to Thunder Bay before succumbing to his disease. He must have been quite an inspiration to the country because the memorial is a sculpture in a beautiful park with a commanding view of the land and lake.

We headed to Sleeping Giant, a Provincial Park on a long peninsula in Lake Superior. The Sleeping Giant is a landscape feature that shows the silhouette of a prone man. This seems like a place to come back to, with an enormous variety of hiking trails.

Although we had not really travelled very far from Thunder Bay, it had been many hours and we were still not conditioned for more than an hour of riding at a time—we quickly became stiff and sore. So by the time we arrived at Black Bay to the (miserable excuse for a) lakeshore cabin that we had booked, it no longer mattered. We were exhausted, and collapsed onto the too-soft bed, logging nearly a dozen hours of sleep by the next morning.

Sleeping Giant

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Superior Circle Tour: Paths Silently Crossing

Driving along Ontario Route 61, we encounter a kayak-crested car towing a Vistabule

We learned that friends of ours, Diane Lund and Don Holzwarth, were vacationing along the North Shore and would be heading from Thunder Bay to Grand Marais at the same time that we were doing the opposite. We proposed to meet them somewhere in the middle for a picnic and/or hike, but alas, modern communications technology does not work in the wilderness. We sent a few electronic messages, and planned our picnic at Grand Portage for maximum likelihood of seeing each other in the visitor center parking lot, but it did not work out.

Nevertheless, we DID cross paths, on the Canadian highway segment to Thunder Bay. Or at least I think we did. While there are many cars and trucks bearing canoes and kayaks or trailering boats or campers, I suspect that the combination of carrying two Lake Superior-capable kayaks PLUS a Vistabule trailer was a signature belonging to our friends and only a very few other outdoor adventurers.

Traveling at a relative speed of 180 km/hr, there is not much time to scrutinize oncoming traffic, but I happened to notice such a vehicle while we were heading north on Ontario-61 near Neebing. Coincidentally, my GoPro camera was doing experimental recording and I managed to find a frame that captured the event!

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