Sunday August 13, 2017 (Canada)
We had a pretty lazy day in Thunder Bay! It was our first full day staying in the same general area, so we took our time. To start the morning off, we hit a local T-Bay favourite with a breakfast restaurant called Hoito. The restaurant itself is in the basement of a building run by a Finnish collective action group formed in the early 1900s. Sort of a community centre for Finns. Apparently there are about 10,000 people of Finnish descent in Thunder Bay, which means they account for about 10% of the population! We had no idea!
Hoito specializes in Finnish pancakes. I don't know enough about Finnish pancakes to tell you what makes them particularly different, although I can tell you in general they're much larger and more crepe-like than what you might think of as a "regular" pancake. Sandra had the standard pancakes and I ordered the special, which was an oven-baked pancake. It was noticeably thicker than Sandra's pancakes, and seemed "eggier" as well. The pancakes were great, but very filling!
I decided to take a chance and also order the Viili, which is a Finnish "fermented milk product". Think yogurt. Except once it arrived, I quickly realized it was not quite what I was expecting. The yogurt itself was like some bizarre non-Newtonian fluid. I couldn't scoop it! The first few times I tried to get some of it on my spoon, it just slipped right back off. It was easy to dip the spoon into it, but when I tried to lift it out again the viili was more willing to stick to itself than the spoon, so it'd just slide back off the spoon and back into the cup. Vexing! I developed a pseudo-technique of scraping it up the sides of the cup, but it was a challenge to eat! I managed to get through most of it. I think Sandra tried some, but she said the texture was way too similar to snot for her to continue. Fair enough; it was an accurate description!
I also have to mention the amusing fact that restaurants in Thunder Bay appear to be forced to show their food safety and sanitation ratings in their front windows. We walked into Hoito knowing it was a solid B grade establishment. Fifty percent of doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class, right? We survived the meal.
We took a short drive out of the city to visit the Terry Fox Memorial. Terry Fox ended his run fairly close to Thunder Bay (technically near the town of Shuniah) after running 3,339 miles from St. John's, Newfoundland. Sandra was surprised by how emotional she became at the memorial. It's hard not to be humbled by his amazing story. There's also a beautiful view from the area: you're able to see the Sleeping Giant laying atop the Sibley Peninsula. Sleeping Giant was voted number one by the public in the voting for the Seven Wonders of Canada!
Our plan was to catch the ONTour concert in Thunder Bay – they're a series of concerts happening for free all around Ontario to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the formation of Canada. The weather was really dreary, however, and it had been raining on and off throughout the day without much improvement. We decided to skip the concert and stay indoors. Oh well!
Tomorrow we depart for Rushing River National Park and our second night of camping.