Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It Snowed Today

Even the natives are a bit surprised that the month of June enters much as March. The campground tonight is the Provincial one at White River, a town between Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay Ontario. The snow is wet and heavy but sticks only to the cold metal surfaces for now. It had been a cold but pleasant and sunny day as I crossed the border, leaving a clear, still, early morning of 35 degrees in Mackinaw, Michigan. It lasted 200 miles accompanied by some breathtaking views of Lake Superior. There are times you are sure it is an ocean because it is so vast. It is appropriately named if size is the reason. I have seen it from both sides now and while the topography and population density has changed, the wonder of a lake so huge has not.

It was a -1 Celsius, as they say here (31 F) at six in the evening and more flakes were promised this night by the sonorous tones of the CBC. I can now mark that off the list for the trip. There has been thunder, lightning, two tornado alerts, over ten inches of rain and now snow. There has not been any sustained sunshine, humidity, or warm weather. The cold is not a bother. I rather enjoy it and have enough layers of clothes to fend off its’ effects. I miss spending the long evenings here outdoors because the wind comes up and keeps one wishing they were indoors. But it is the unremitting wet that has made this a less pleasant journey and there is no belief that the wave of cold fronts are over at least before next week when I will once again have moved south.

As I move west in the morning after wrestling La Coachasita’s electrical connection, which had been stretched to its full 20 foot length to reach the electrical box last night, into coils so it fits the three by three space where it belongs in the camper, the land becomes hillier and the wildlife more plentiful. The moose are out this morning standing mostly in the swales next to the road looking for all the world as if they are going to cross, yet retreating to the tree line once a vehicle becomes closer. There is a coyote standing in the middle of route 17 looking lost and generally trying the patience of even the patient Canadians. He (an assumption on my part) moves off eventually when something catches his eye across the road. Later, as the day closes, I enter Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay. I count ten white tail deer, a grey fox, an immature moose, and a fully feathered bald eagle before I reach the campgrounds. After the payment formalities, I find a herd of six deer eating dandelions near the campsite. This is a giant, multifunction park between Lake Superior and Lake Marie. It is a peninsula that reaches nearly to Thunder Bay Harbor. If one went by boat it would be a short trip. To retrace the steps of today, rejoin the highway and drive there will take two hours in the morning. The anticipation of seeing more wildlife—assuming rain does not drive them to cover-- makes it worth the trouble.

The weather has warmed with the appearance of the sun late in the day. The forecast is for above freezing temperatures tonight by at least two degrees and rain, heavy at times tonight and tomorrow, with the front moving through and sun and cold air behind. Upon learning this I have decided I will drive south toward Duluth tomorrow—it is about 150 miles from Thunder Bay, cross the border and find a state Park along the shoreline somewhere. It promises to be drier, and there is a small chance it will be warmer as well.

The trip around the lake was a good experience despite the weather. Compared to the “other” side of the lake, it is a starkly rural place, known as the “northern area” of Ontario to the people here. Summer vacations seem to be the economic driver along the lake front as it is in the smaller towns on the U.S. side. There are hosts rustic cabins motels, fishing camps, and the most rustic of campgrounds. Sometimes they are all together with a grocery store with a gas pump in front. There are so many small lakes one wonders how they named them all. Three seen a day ago were named “Mom Lake,” “Dad Lake,” and “Baby Lake.” It is a mystery I will leave without resolving.

The “First Nations” are well represented here. They bring a different flavor to this place which seems so inclusive of all. There are tensions of economic hard times, too. Startlingly, at least to me, in the most multinational nation of North America there is a debate in Thunder Bay at the City Council this night about a report that found an excess of “racial discrimination” there, something the city Fathers and Mothers vehemently deny and the commission that studied it for two years wants funds to correct with what seems a vague “plan.” It is confusing to a southerner.

The sun has set. This is the first I have seen in the great north woods. It is nearly ten o’clock and not yet dark. The inevitable clouds are moving in from the west. It will rain before dawn. The electric cord will be a challenge tomorrow, but it is a small price for the lake view tonight.

All in all, so far I am glad I came.


  1. Reamus, glad to see you on the road again and resuming the blogging life as well.

  2. Good to hear from you again. Your thoughtful comments on how the recession has hit the middle of the country were illuminating, sad and a little scary. Those of us on the"left coast" - where, by the way it was hailing 2 minutes ago and now the sun is blazing -need to be reminded we really are in a bubble (so far, anyway).
    May the weather gods be kind to you for your return trip!

  3. Great to read your post from the chilly northern wilds! Amazing how cold it is up there right now. I thought "ocean", too, the couple of times I visited the shore of Lake Superior. It must be fun to see the wildlife about here and there.

    Here's wishing you continued safe traveling, Reamus.