On the Woad to Wawa

Thunder Bay in the rear view mirror

Thunder Bay in the rear view mirror

One-night stands, hooking up. Salacious phrases that mean something completely different in our world.

After our hasty retreat from Thunder Bay and the “the dead-end incident” we were left without a plan, which in our world is an everyday thing. Seat of the pants would best describe our travel routine.

The bear necessities

Why did the bear cross the road?

This is where the one-night stand comes in, no un-hitching the trailer, just park that sucker, pull out the slides and you’re set for the night. No fuss, no muss and in the morning you’re gone. Nipigon, our choice for a one-night stand and a great dinner overlooking the river at the Edgewater, gotta love those Tripadvisor recommendations. We make a quick stop at the Travel Info centre (who knew these things existed!)

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Leaving our one night stand in Nipigon

We arrive in Wawa, odd name, nice town and the home of the famous 28-foot metal Goose, unfortunately in a state of decline inspiring fund-raising drives to “buy a feather, save the Goose”. Only in Canada, eh.

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Take a gander

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At these

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But it’s really the other story of Wawa and Ontario that needs to be told, of the horrors that the guide books don’t tell you about.

Skeeters, mozzies, colourful descriptors for these tiny terrors, but in truth they should be called Demon blood-suckers.

Life in B.C. has left the Maloneys ill-prepared–sipping wine on our deck in summers past, lazily waving off the occasional wasp or black fly, our Prairie visitors sitting in wonder, covered in netting. “Where are the mosquitoes,” they exclaim, “Is this heaven?”

As we set up camp in Wawa, those years of smug complacency come back to haunt us. The Dame is quickly surrounded by a cloud of voracious demons and she begins the skeeter dance. Walk two paces, wave your left hand frantically, walk one pace, wave your right hand frantically, slap at your left leg, then right, and swat at your forehead and the back of your neck several times. Such fun really.

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We were eaten alive by mosquitoes

Moquitoes are cunning, open the door a crack and the ten sentinels waiting outside quickly fly in to wreak havoc. Bottles of anti-itch sticks and creams litter the trailer. Spray bottles of OFF and Deep Woods Off fill the cupboards. The Dame has taken to wearing a clip-on OFF personal protector on her belt. A sort-of mosquito repellant condom if you will.

The Dog has other issues, we are in tick country and his rather large head and nose are a magnet for the blood-drinking drillers. At one point a large bubble forms on his back, a tick enjoying prime Golden Doodle snacking.
But other than that things are going well.

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The Dog, a Tick Magnet

Anybody need a used Floatplane?

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Rainbow Lake Park enjoying the view, The Dog is quite the photographer

Travelling Highway 17 along the coastline of Lake Superior you can almost believe the breathless adjectives in the North West Ontario travel brochures. “Epic adventures, fascinating history, outdoor adventures, stunning scenery” Wow, makes you want to get out there doesn’t it.

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On the trails near Davey Lake in Ignace before we break for ice cream

Choosing your next stop on a trip like this is a carefully thought out, painstaking process Take Ignace, our first stop in Ontario; Dude, “I’ve got to stop for gas” Dame, “It’s 4 o’clock, there’s a campground here, we may as well stay”.

See, travel magic.

Ignace like other towns we passed since entering Ontario has that whiff of better times gone by. Themes are important in small towns; it’s what makes the tourists stop. You have to have a big egg, or a giant goose or moose or hockey stick or something kitschy for photo ops. The theme here is float planes, one on each side of the highway. This is strange because Davy Lake, beside the campground, doesn’t appear large enough for a float plane.

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A strange water pit on the trails where off-roaders prepare for Mad Max, the sequel

Kilometers of trails surround the campsite, many used by off-roaders. This became apparent when we cycled out the next day to explore. The trails were either rutted and sandy or narrow and root-bound. The Dame is a sissy-cyclist; I have a comfort bike for gawd’s sake. I’m all about flat trails, preferably paved and scenic byways. The Dude has cycled from Vancouver to Edmonton, I am the cycling albatross around his neck, but he agrees to cycle in town once the promise of ice cream is raised.

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Mmmmmm ice cream

Next stop Thunder Bay. Now that’s a name with some testosterone behind it. It’s a port city, rough around the edges and the scene of every RV’ers nightmare – the dead-end road.

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Houston we have a problem

The GPS is a godsend. But our guide let us down, a satellite malfunction that led us down a road with a “Road Closed” sign posted beside a drunken man lying beside it, who helpfully waved and pointed at the sign in case we hadn’t noticed.

The dreaded long back up. It’s how you react that makes the difference, which separates the true RV’er from the weekend warrior with their rental camper. The Dude, cool and efficient, starts the evacuation, ten minutes later, tire tracks crisscrossing the grass the Gray Ghost is free and heading east out of Thunder Bay towards the Terry Fox Memorial. Some days you just need a little inspiration.

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An iconic image of a great man