Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Days 42 & 43 - "Thunder" Bay

By this point, one of the largest remaining factors for us is the schedule.  We're trying hard to keep our scheduled finish date of next Tuesday while we also plan to compensate for contingencies during this last week.  So that leaves us in Ignace, about 100km ahead of the schedule.  The decision boils down to, how do we spend that time?  It is a difficult psychological decision--after having been ahead for a week now, whenever we give it back, it feels like we are falling behind.  This relationship will be a large factor in our decisions over the next few days.

First lunch
We woke up in Ignace to an incredible breakfast at the Drake's, followed by a trip to the grocery store--thanks SO much to the entire family.  You made our lives so much easier!  We then continued southeast on the 17 towards Shabaqua.  This is a remote stretch with just enough places to fill up on water to not be at an "emergency" level.  It was a largely uneventful day until we stop for lunch at the restaurant in Upsala.  We saw some other touring bikes at the general store, which is exciting because we haven't met nearly as many cyclists as we had thought.

These bikes belong to the cool team of Michelle and Marissa, who are also cycling across Canada.  M&M stopped at the restaurant, and we finally had some cyclists with whom to swap stories.  They started in Whitehorse!  (Jealous...)  You can follow them on twitter at @MLZBikesCanada.  It turns out that we had passed Marissa the afternoon before heading into Ignace, and we would continue to bump in to them for the next day, too.


From Upsala, there was a campsite 20km away, and a  gas station 25km.  The next place to obtain water was another 50km after the gas station in Shabaqua.  We are wary to stop too far from a water source, so the decision is to cycle either 20km or 75km, on top of our 100km for the day.  You can see the dilemma this caused: we are already ahead of schedule, and another long day would get us to Thunder Bay too early - we need to visit a bike shop, which aren't open Sundays.  Ultimately, we choose to camp at Savanne campground, in the good company of Marissa and Michelle.  We jumped in the river, Kyle had a cold shower, and we got attacked by mosquitoes.  Successful day, 80km ahead of schedule.

Kyle sleeping out the rain
Waking up at Savanne, the girls were gone before us, as you could expect.  On the way to Shabaqua, we passed the Eastern-Central time zone border.  It isn't too significant, other than that it means that we won't have to wake up extra early to compensate for any more changes.  It's good to be back!

On the way to Thunder Bay, we stopped at Kakabeka Falls, which was nice.  While grocery shopping in the town, the region was issued a severe thunderstorm watch, which came sooner than expected.  Our short break turned into a 4-hour storm-wait-out as it absolutely stormed outside.  We waited until 7:00, and in doing so, did not even get wet.  Very successful.

Then on to Thunder Bay.  Here we met with more family members, whom readers of this blog probably wouldn't expect.  First is my brother Spencer, who has found a job in Vancouver.  Thanks for stopping in Thunder Bay to say bye!  Next is Kyle's parents, Dennis and Helen.  They will support us for the next week as we navigate around Lake Superior - a value that by now you know we can't truly evaluate.  They take great care of us right off the bat - a great dinner and a hotel room.  Even more significantly, we planned to pass Thunder Bay (schedule purposes), but it is Sunday and we need our bikes serviced.  Their rented Dodge Caravan allowed us to bypass the city, finish our day, and then drive our bikes back to a bike store for the next morning.  That is something that could not have happened without support.
That's the sleeping giant on the horizon, head to the left 

We finished that day at the Terry Fox Memorial Lookout, which gives a great view of that part of Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.  For many reasons, obviously Terry Fox is a significant and worthy hero for us, and I'm glad we stopped.

With the rain delay, we covered about 120kms, which drops our "lead" time to about 60kms...

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