On the Road to Niagara Falls

A strange thing happened as we neared the border between Manitoba and Ontario, the rolling canola fields ended and the Land of Many Lakes began. I don’t suppose Canada’s Drawers-of-Lines-that-Mark-Provincial-Borders did that on purpose, but even if they did, it was a nice surprise to drive right by lumps of earth and rock higher than a few meters.

Red earth, red rock

Red earth, red rock

***

All the lakes had names, but in a part of the world that has a gazillion lakes, I guess the person who named ‘em got in touch with their inner whimsey. We passed ‘Mom Lake’, closely followed by ‘Dad Lake’.

Now, you’d expect that if names continued in this vein next would be ‘Kid Lake’, or ‘Children Lake’. We certainly expected that, but no, the next lake was ‘Orphan Lake’!

Someone had a delightfully twisted sense of humour.

***

Most of the mosquito bites I’m still scratching I got during our first night in Ontario. They even had these little buggers that bit chunks out of me and left trails of blood running down my legs to freak me the hell out.

Skeeters have always liked the taste of my blood. Every Summer it’s my lot to either be smothered in nasty chemicals to keep ‘em away, or be smothered in nasty bitey insects that WILL NOT leave me alone.

***

Enough about blood-suckers, lets talk about Amethysts.

About 45 minutes north of Thunder Bay is a little dirt road that winds up the side of a mountain. Travelers like us are encouraged to leave their RV’s back at their campsites or deposit them at a turnout at the bottom of the mountain. We opted for the ‘leave the rig at home’ option.

At the top of the mountain is a quarry where some of the finest amethyst in the world is mined. It’s called Amethyst Mine Panorama and you get to dig for your very own amethysts.

There are white ones ...

There are white ones …

And purple ones ...

And purple ones …

And white and purple ones ...

And white and purple ones …

There are ones that have 'fools gold' stuck to them ...

There are ones that have ‘fools gold’ stuck to them …

And just for good measure, you can also pick up some sharp-edged flint

And just for good measure, you can also pick up some sharp-edged flint

All for C$3 per pound

***

Ever onward we drove. North then east then south around Lake Superior. We drove through White River where we had the best donuts since Tim Hortons, and met a very special sort of bear, but more of that later.

 We pulled into here for gas, but didn’t have enough time to explore the hidden delights within. We vowed to do so on our return journey. Turns out something magical was waiting for me. (also, more later 🙂 )

Agawa Indian Crafts

Agawa Indian Crafts

***

We stopped in Sault Ste Marie, exhausted from yet another 8 hour drive. We knew it would be our last for a while so we took ourselves into town for to stock up on fresh veggies, and thusly fortified we slept the sleep of the dead … until 6am when we took off for parts East, and the South Baymouth/Tobermory Ferry.

***

There’s a little fish and chip cafe just off the main drag at the South Baymouth ferry terminal.

Look! Wrapped in newspaper, even!

Look! Wrapped in newspaper, even!

With a fairyland outdoor patio to eat them in

With a fairyland outdoor patio to eat them in

Then it's into the belly of the (ferry) beast

Then it’s into the belly of the (ferry) beast

Across the water we go

Across the water we go

When I saw such a huge expanse of water, with the opposite shore being below the horizon, I expected to smell that unmistakable salty, slightly fishy ocean smell. Nope, it was a slightly fishy, freshwater smell. All that water and not a whiff of salt. Who’d’a thunk!

***

We followed Hwy 6 South and got turned around in Owen Sound, and drove for most of the journey to Hamilton at an average of 60 k an hour. Every little hamlet and village and town was ‘speed quietened’. Mrs Widds surmised that a couple of centuries ago they sprang up like weeds along this route at about a day’s horseback ride from each other.

***

Negotiating the Hamilton bypass, (Queen Elizabeth Way, no less) was an exercise in controlled terror. Eight lanes of peak-hour traffic. We couldn’t understand why all those other drivers weren’t as laid back as us. (or as laid back as we were before we got on the bypass!) Wasn’t everyone on a grand adventure holiday?

A couple of semi truck drivers got downright nasty. Most kinda good-naturedly gave us a wide berth, but those two … I do believe there’s a hell especially reserved for arrogant aggressive asshole truck drivers, and every now and then Patrick Swayze drops by and beats the living crap outta them. Cue ‘Roadhouse’

***

So, Niagara Falls at last. Our campground was on Lundys Lane,  quite cosmopolitan as it turns out, and just down the road a couple of ‘gentleman’s clubs’ and massage parlours. We’d landed on the edge of a red light district!

***

The last word … I must’ve walked by this sign half a dozen times before Mrs Widds pointed out how special it was.

 

Of course I noticed the typo

Of course I noticed the typo

***

Next: Over and Under the Falls

 

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15 comments on “On the Road to Niagara Falls

  1. Wow, fish and chips in newspapaer! Last time I was in Britain, I didn’t see that anywhere. It’s dying out on its home turf, to be replaced by KFC and McDonalds.

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  2. Those campgrounds have very strict spelling regualtions.

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  3. Erin says:

    Lovely! The amethyst mine sounds enchanting (and I’d be lucky to drag my kids out of there with less than 5 pounds apiece).

    (“taller then”? *sigh*)

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  4. Naming lakes would be a fine job for me. I wonder how many I could name before I draw a blank. Eating fish & chips in a newspaper next to a fairyland park is a great example of a delightful adventure. Things like that make up for aggressive drivers, who karma will eventually kick in the patootie.

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    • Widdershins says:

      I’m all for patootie kicking karma 🙂

      I’m not sure how far back from the road the naming of lakes went, but we sure chortled at some of the names we did come across. 😀

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  5. Olga Godim says:

    Sounds like your great trip proceeded quite nicely. I wish your photos were bigger though.

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    • Widdershins says:

      Apart from skeeter bites and being way too tired, we were having a blast. 🙂

      Which pics? I work with a big screen desktop computer so things I can see clearly might not be translating clearly on to smaller devices.

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  6. londonmabel says:

    Fun to revisit my own trip, but in more detail. Being alone, I couldn’t read the names of lakes. And I remember Amethyst Land but didn’t stop there.

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    • Widdershins says:

      Thought you might appreciate it. 😀 … I certainly have a new appreciation of you, doing this trip on your ownsome … with a few non-human companions.. 🙂

      Like

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