Sunflowers on the Prairies
Getting from Michfest to Sault Ste Marie wasn’t as easy as you might think. The backroads in the boonies of Michigan were not to be trifled with, nor was getting back into driving and towing the trailer mode.
Before we even got to the main highway Mrs Widds left her truck (and trailer, and various lock-up-ables) keys at our first gas station.
We’d like to say our thanks to all the wonderful strangers who gave us their gift of their experience, knowledge and human goodness.
To the guys who helped us maneuver (and at the beginning of our trip outright did the job for us) and back up our trailer into campsites that seemed way to small to fit anything larger than a pup-tent. The guy who wouldn’t look us in the eye after he did his good deed – perhaps not realising we were lesbians until it was too late. The grumpy guy who couldn’t speak english. The guy who took pity on us one very dark evening as we tried and tried and tried to back into a campsite that had a 1 meter drop-off on all three sides.
Thanks to the woman at the gas station in small town in Ontario who gave us directions after we took a wrong turn (it’s no fun negotiating single lane backstreets with a travel trailer) and let us stay parked at the pump while we did a life-saving dash to Tim Hortons. To all the women behind the check-in desks (and an occasional guy) at the campgrounds who were unfailingly generous with their time, local know-how, and advice.
And special thanks to ‘T’ at that gas station in Baldwin, Michigan, who found and posted Mrs Widds keys back to us.
Perhaps the Universe looks kindly on inexperienced middle-age first-time RV’ers who jump into the deep end of the pool without a parachute.
Back to Sault Ste Marie. There are two of them, one on each side of the border. The highway that connects the two, and our only way back into Canada, was closed for repairs.
Did we follow the detour signs through the U.S. Sault Ste Marie until we couldn’t see them any more? Yes.
Did we get caught in the canyons of the historic downtown core that were in the midst of, a) being closed off for some sort of celebration, and, b) also in the throes of summer roadworks? Yes.
Did the street get so narrow that we feared we’d have to grease the sides of the trailer just to keep going? Yes
Were we screwed? Pretty much! …
… until Mrs Widds spotted a woman walking her dog and begged for mercy. I reckon the denizens of Sault Ste Marie (US version) were used to befuddled Canadians asking them how to get home because she gave precise directions and after two toll bridges, and one very nice Canadian customs person, we were back in the Motherland.
We’d gassed up at the Agawa Indian Crafts store on our way to Niagara Falls but didn’t have time to stop and shop then. Now we did.
We bought some sandalwood essential oil to go with the divine lavender oil we bought in Niagara-on-the-lake on our wine tour.
(Oh, I didn’t tell you about that? Short version: 4 wineries, lunch in a gorgeous old ‘plantation’ style inn, 2 bottles of ice wine, 2 of peach wine, all as yet unopened. A Chardonnay to die for, a Cabernet Merlot that put a whole lotta ‘ooooo’s’ in smooth, and a Riesling we’re saving for our wedding anniversary – 11 years on 19th September – maybe we’ll open an ice wine, and a peach wine too)
Because I hadn’t seen a single moose, in spite of roadside warning signs of immanent moose crossings, I was tempted to get a hand carved wood one, but among all the great pieces, nothing caught my attention … until I saw this gorgeous drum …
Definitely not a moose
Next stop, White River, and a close encounter with a very special bear.
Where the story really began
One of our mottoes is, ‘talk to the locals’. After our amethyst mine adventure we stopped at a nearby truckstop for gas, of course, and to see if there were any campgrounds we might be interested in staying at on our way back. (we never retrace our steps, if we can help it) Turns out there was.
First we had to get through a pea-souper of a fog bank that rolled in from Lake Superior and hounded our footsteps (wheelsteps?) from White River to Nipigon. All those opportunities to stop at scenic lookouts and take some great pics of Lake Superior? … all we got was fog.
Little did we know that beyond the fog and the blue sky horizon, a convocation of stormclouds voted to commit mayhem in our general vicinity … again.
The exit off the Hwy to our little campground in Mirror Lake didn’t inspire confidence. Overgrown, red rock gravel, ratty signage at least twenty years old, and cast into a gloom by those pesky clouds.
Into the maw of the unknown we drove.
And discovered a little rustic wonderland where we spent a couple of days relaxing and reflecting on our adventures to that point.
There were still those stormclouds to contend with though. Three storms shrouded us in darkness, spat out a bit of thunder and lightning… and blew away to reveal a midsummer’s blue sky. A fourth one looked serious, so we reviewed our ‘packing-everything-up-in-a-hurry’ plan, and kicked back with cuppas to wait it out. After it delivered what I call the ‘storm-breaker’ crack of thunder (usually the last big one before the storm moves on) the sky grew light and I ventured out to get some cloud pictures before it all blew away …
T’was a dark and stormy day …
… just as I opened the metal flyscreen to get back in the trailer, that sneaky storm turned around and attacked me!
I snatched my hand off the door and swore like a trooper. Loudly.
Thankfully it was only the static discharge from a verrrry close lightning strike, but none-the-less it hurt like hell.
Moral of the story: There’s always another lightning strike in every storm!
Back on the Prairies … driving back around the Winnipeg bypass in a storm … stocking up in Regina for the last push toward home … and the moose of Moose Jaw.
The only moose I saw
It’s a four meter statue, but I figured that once upon a time it was alive until hordes of mosquitoes sucked the life out of it! They were everywhere, millions of the little blood-sucking gremlins. I planned to get a better pic but in the interests of preserving my very existence, I hightailed it back into the truck, wound up the windows and hoped there weren’t enough of them to carry the truck (and me) off to who knows what horrible end.
Mrs Widds (back from a quick dash to the info center bathroom) told me the locals said it was a ‘bad year’ for mosquitoes (and white cabbage butterflies) because of the ‘strange weather patterns’ the area had been experiencing of late.
Just my luck.
I loved the whimsy we sometimes came across.
A weather vane somewhere west of Moose Jaw
And then … our last adventure began.
A gap in the world
Next: Close Encounters of the Cretaceous Kind.