Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kenora 2013: Wasting No Time


Our "lodgings" in Kenora
When we woke up Saturday morning there was no trace of the bad weather that had plagued us over the second half of our drive. It was sunny and cool and we knew that we were going to be fishing before the clock hit double digits. Lana made us a pretty fantastic breakfast which we ate in the sun room overlooking the street, then we made a quick check of the weather and winds (sunny and calm, according to our sources) and bundled our gear into the car. I had been a little worried about getting my camera and lenses wet, so Lana came up with a Ziploc bag large enough to hold everything in it at once and still close properly. I tucked this precious cargo into a sports bag and off we all went to pick up the boat and (for Sarah and me) our fishing licences. At Sunset Baits, where we took care of the paperwork (and, of course, picked up our minnows), I bought a pair of FroggToggs waterproof pants—a steal at $18.99—and changed into them from the non-waterproof sweatpants I had been wearing. If I had known, as I discovered later on, that my baseball jacket was not even water resistant, I'd likely have bought the whole set. Live and learn, I guess. (Trust me: that jacket will be waterproofed by us very, very soon.) Once we were done at the bait shop we made a quick stop at the home of Lana's dad, Sam, to pick up the fishing gear and then we headed down to the Rec Centre parking lot to launch.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kenora 2013: Shortest Day, Biggest Pay-Off


Kakabeka Falls
After a very restful night in Thunder Bay (followed by a delicious continental breakfast) we started out on the final leg of our journey west. It had rained overnight but had stopped long enough for us to load the car, although the air was cold and crisp and the sky dim. Almost as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, however, the rain started up again and it was our nearly constant companion from there until about half an hour out of Kenora. As a result, our nearly compulsory stop at Kakabeka Falls was cut quite short: just long enough for us to take a few pictures from the viewing platform nearest to the parking lot and run for cover as the skies began to open up. In years past we have spent quite a bit of time at this gorgeous natural wonder, but this time we didn't even cross the bridge that you can see in the above picture. If I wasn't 100% certain we'd be back in the future this might have bothered me more; however, the single-digit temperature reading and the piercing rain washed any regrets right out of our heads.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kenora 2013: The North Shore of Lake Superior


Sarah about to "test the waters"


Kayaks again, in a different light
The morning dawned dull and cool but dry. This last feature was a very rare one for us while camping, but especially while camping in Pancake Bay Park. The new air mattress had rewarded us for our struggles by bestowing upon us one of the best sleeps we had ever had in a tent together, helped along by the wolf song that started up just before we nodded off. We broke camp quite early, but were reluctant to leave the beauty of the park. We headed down to the beach and just breathed in the fresh air for a long while, checking to see if the clear waters of Lake Superior were any warmer than last night (they were not) and listening to the water lap gently at the sand. After an almost tragically short amount of time we left the beautiful vista and drove to the comfort station for showers. We left the park, keeping the vehicle permit to use for stops later in the day, and drove across the highway to the shops and gas station there, a must-visit on each of our trips to Pancake Bay. We enjoyed some free coffee and friendly service, purchasing a small bottle of blueberry syrup to bring to Kenora as a gift. The skies looked threatening as we pulled out of the station and headed for Thunder Bay, but we managed to avoid being rained on for much of the day. We munched on granola bars and fruit as we entered the spectacular Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kenora 2013: The Road Trip Begins


The "quick-up" tent we use for travelling
I don't know why we don't make the journey more often than triennially. I truly don't. As a young lad I spent many summer days and nights in the bosom of the Laurentians in Quebec and I thought I would never experience a natural beauty more soul-lifting and breathtaking. I was wrong. I've travelled the breadth of this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific—missing only Newfoundland and the territories to this point—and I have never found any part of it that makes me feel the way the drive around the north shore of Lake Superior does, with the possible exception of our ultimate destination: the incomparable Lake of the Woods. If there were no other claims to our time, attention or pocketbook, I am absolutely certain we would take this trip a minimum of once per year. But then, I am also absolutely certain that if there were no other claims to my own time, attention or pocketbook, I would already be living in that region of the country permanently. But I am not, so I must take full advantage of the life-giving forces of the Near North whenever they present themselves to me. Here—and continuing over the next two weeks—is my account of our most recent Road Trip to Kenora.

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