Day 18 CCR: Along Lake Huron
As I write tonight’s blog, I’m currently five miles from the United States; earlier today I was a mile from the border as we skirted Lake Huron on the way to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. But it will be at least two more weeks before I’m back on U.S. soil, since I have about 3,500 more miles to ride in Canada to complete the CCR. I still have to transit Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia before I see the Pacific Ocean.
Yesterday I wrote that I wasn’t impressed with North Bay on the shore of Lake Nipissing but that I would look around today before leaving and see what I was missing. I looked around. I had missed a lot. Our motel, as it turns out, was on the very edge of town in a rather rundown area, despite billing itself as a “Hotel and Conference Center.” Knowing that today’s ride was relatively short (270 miles) and could be ridden in five or six hours, I scouted the area and discovered that I had missed a bustling and modern downtown and an absolutely wonderful park on the lakeshore. Consequently we spent an hour taking in what we missed in North Bay yesterday.
As I admired the park I struck up a conversation with a friendly Canadian walking her dog (there were scores of people walking dogs) and she filled me on some of the details of the park, officially known as the Goulet Golden Mile Park after the former mayor who was the driving force behind its development.
The lakeside park has two carousels with hand carved horses, benches for walkers to rest on, sculptures, monuments, a restaurant inside a landlocked boat, a large parking area with easy access to the walking path/sidewalk, and, of course, unhindered views of the Lake. But most impressive, perhaps, are a dozen separate flower gardens, each maintained by a loyal group of volunteers who not only tend the gardens but raise the funds necessary to maintain them. As it turns out, there are many other parks in the city of North Bay, as well as first rate hotels and restaurants and excursion boats that ply the lake and take tourists to the popular Manitou Islands, eight miles from shore. I’m glad my first impression of North Bay wasn’t my last. If you’re in the area try to stay a day or two. But don’t stay at the Best Western.
We left North Bay a little after ten a.m under mostly blue skies with temperatures in the low 60s and continued our westward path on the Trans Canada Highway, a good road for the most part though some two-lane sections are due for resurfacing. For miles we passed hundreds of beautiful farms carpeted with fecund fields well into the growing season. Ontario, boasting more than 50,000 farms, produces one-quarter of all Canadian farm revenue, with crops that include apples, soybeans, grains, dairy and beef. But most of the land is covered with thick forests growing on hilly, rocky soil. We rode through those forests today, too, and as I noted yesterday we were never long out of sight of water, whether it appeared as small lakes or bogs or rivers and streams or the gigantic Lake Huron.
Tomorrow should be another nice, 300-mile ride as we continue across Ontario, though we may see more rain toward the end of the ride. At least we’ve had plenty of practice riding in the rain.