Trip of a Lifetime: Ottawa Valley to Lake Superior National Park

(Part 1 here: Home to the Ottawa Valley)

We peeled our eyes open bright and early on Sunday morning, the day after the wedding. We were sluggish at best, picking at a quick breakfast prepared by my dad and loading up the bike. A quick wipe of the dew off the bike and a few hugs and well-wishes and we were back out on our way, this time with a goal to get to Vancouver Island.

First, though, we had family to visit. Our first stop was my mom’s house in Brockville, to visit with her, my niece, sister and brother-in-law. It was our first time travelling on a major highway as we hopped onto the 417 and the 401 in order to get there. Luckily, our travel was pretty uneventful and we made it to Brockville unscathed. It was incredibly, incredibly hot so I was happy to trade my jeans for cargo pants my mom had bought for me, and I snagged a leather jacket from her to use for the trip.

We didn’t have much time there, sadly, before we had to hit the road again, this time to Peterborough to visit with Matt’s family. We stayed on the 401 for awhile but the traffic was picking up and getting hectic, so we opted to switch over to a secondary road past Quinte West. This meant we travelled through Matt’s best friend Joe’s town, and we managed to catch him at home. He was mighty confused to see a Goldwing pull up in his driveway unannounced!

We made it to Matt’s mom’s house for a visit and dinner, and were lucky enough to see his brother and wonderful niece. The storm clouds started to roll in, so we had to beat a hasty retreat, but we weren’t fast enough– we found ourselves in a storm. We managed to get ahead of it by the time we hit Lindsay, and opted to keep going for as long as we could.

We decided we’d stick to Highway 11, venturing into the Muskokas. If you ask me, Highway 11 after dark smells like musty gym socks.

We only made it as far as Gravenhurst before we had to stop, as I was starting to fall asleep on the back of the bike. I wish we could have gone further, but I was done for and falling asleep and jolting awake over and over was making me feel seriously ill.

We stayed the night at a Howard Johnson, where I managed to stay awake just long enough to brush my teeth before I completely crashed. I’m usually the kind of person who requires utter silence and darkness to fall asleep, but not on this trip.

Our premature stop meant that we got to see the Muskokas during the day as we travelled on Monday, a nice treat. We jogged over to Highway 69, stopping in Pointe Au Baril for lunch.

Oh how I missed cheese curds. It was a long, hot ride to link up with the Trans-Canada again, but we managed to make it into Sault Ste. Marie around dinner. We were slowly beginning to realize that 12 hours in a car versus 12 hours on a bike are two totally different things– 12 hours on a bike quickly turns into 14, 15, 16 hours as every stop requires removing gear and repacking the bike, and rest breaks are needed far more frequently.

Matt had the brilliant idea of sitting in massage chairs at the mall. Best $2 I’ve ever spent. But, by the time we ate our food and got back on the road, it was dark. We stopped in Montreal River Harbour to put on heavier clothes, thanks to the wind coming off the lake, but we didn’t get much further before we had to call it quits.

If you’re going to call it quits and go camping, there’s no better place than Lake Superior National Park. It took us maybe 10 minutes to find a suitable campground, Rabbit Blanket Lake. Although it seemed pricey just to pop our tent up for a few hours of sleep, we signed up and headed to a campsite in the dark.

A few days of built-up exhaustion made for a less than stellar camping experience for us, that first evening. According to our neighbours across the way, who Matt overheard psychoanalyzing us the next day, I complained too much and Matt gave me too much trouble for complaining. We were not working well together at all, and it continued into the night when we woke up and the blankets were entirely torn apart as we shifted in our sleep.

Of course, a new day always follows, and though we were tired, we made up. In fact, hearing our neighbours psychoanalyze us probably help as it gave us something to bond over! We were really, really far behind on our schedule, so we packed up pretty quickly (although we did take some time to feed a friendly chipmunk I named Earl).

Next up– Lake Superior National Park to Dryden!

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