(2. Slept under the stars ... not quite ... part 5 ... The Finale!)
Two years after Eastward Aye, we embarked on our next and, doubtless, final camping trip. After having travelled through some of Northern Ontario on our Westward Ho several years previously, Cuppa and I had wanted to drive the beautiful North of Superior route once again. At the same time, our Althegal had decided to hop on her old, beater bicycle and begin pedaling home from northern Saskatchewan. While Althegal had designs to go a long way in this fashion, Cuppa and I realized, from having previously driven the roads of the Canadian Shield in Northern Ontario, that cycling would be problematic. Ergo, we decided to kill two birds with one stone — visit up there once again and also pick up daughter at some undefined spot, possibly Thunder Bay.
As it turned out, after braving Prairie winds and rain but, nevertheless, making it through Saskatchewan, Althegal decided throw herself, her bicycle and the bike-trailer that she had been pulling into the bus after she crossed the border into Manitoba. When she found the Manitoba roads to be less bicycle-friendly than the Saskatchewan roads, she decided that, after one week, she had pedalled quite enough, thank you very much. Wisdom prevailed, and she took the bus into Winnipeg.
So it was that Cuppa and I decided to hurry along to Winnipeg. It was further than we had intended to go and took us two, long days of travel from where we had spent a night in Sault Ste Marie. However, we didn't really mind because we had seen a bit of the city several years previously (on our Westward Ho) and rather liked it — possibly because we had stayed in a motel, eaten in restaurants, and rested from travelling and camping.
After meeting up with Althegal and spending two nights in Winnipeg, we decided to go camping. Unfortunately, this was not destined to be one of our better camping experiences — to put it mildly. Fortunately, we had purchased a waterproof tent since our previous, Eastward Aye, trip: fortunate indeed, for it rained — a lot! We should have known what was to come when a local mentioned that they had been enduring a drought out there. I think it started to drizzle, lightly, almost the very moment the declaration was made, and, once we pitched the tent, it hardly stopped.
It rained in Manitoba's, Whiteshell Provincial Park; it rained on our drive from Whiteshell to Sioux Narrows, and it rained for most of the three days we spent at Sioux Narrows Provincial Park. One day, while camping at Sioux Narrows, we took a side trip to, appropriately enough, Rainy River, a very small town on the Ontario-Michigan (also near Minnesota) border. It rained most of that day too. Eventually, we left Sioux Narrows a day early, hoping to dry out in Thunder Bay for a night before heading to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Yes, we still intended to camp because, surely, the rain would soon abate (hah!). In order have any chance of packing the car in the rain, we drove our stuff over to the pavillion where we sorted it before stuffing it in. How happy and warm we look (below — we have spread our stuff onto four tables and probably some that weren't in the camera frame — Cuppa and I tend not to travel light).
Of course, it rained almost all the way on our day long drive to Thunder Bay. Although it wasn't raining in the photo (taken form the travelling car), it gives you an idea of what we faced on that drive.
Well, we did get to Thunder Bay, and we did dry both ourselves and our stuff out, by spreading it all over the hotel room. However, the morning's forecast was still bleak, so we cancelled our plans to stay at Sleeping Giant and began the trip home: day one to Sault Ste Marie, and day two to Sarnia, through Michigan.
At least, Cuppa and I had remained dry in our new tent (I'm backtracking a little now), and although Althegal wasn't as fortunate in hers, she did have a lovely spot at Sioux Narrows on a little peninsula jutting out into the lake (see photo below). That night (after that photo), however, the flood in her tent reduced her appreciation of the site just a tad, for the storm blew in off the lake like a runaway freight train. I kid you not, I've never heard the like. It lasted for about ten minutes, and when it abated (although the rain didn't stop) I shouted out to see if my daughter was still there or washed away (I'm actually being serious — I was that concerned. She yelled back that she was fine ... although she was forced to spend much to the night baling water as it continued to pour.
It was on the next chilly morning between rain showers as we shivered and shook over a cold camp breakfast that Althegal came up with the memorable line that will endure in family history when she, through chattering teeth, exclaimed, "This is silly camping."
It's too bad because it was absolutely beautiful up there on Lake of the Woods as the small panorama below should indicate. Please note the cloud however, even though we were in another brief precipitation interval.
Now, you can relax and rejoice, for AC is done with his camping recollections. Hmmm ... must have some baby pictures lying about ...