Sunday August 13, 2017 (Canada)
We tried to wake up late to avoid the rains. That didn't work. The rain was still coming down in Neys around 11 AM when we decided we had better get going. We packed up the tent wet, which is never a pleasant experience. Almost worse than standing out in the rain to perform the task itself is the nagging knowledge that your wet tent is fermenting (fertenting?) in its bag until you're able to dry it back out again. Gross. We got into the car post-pack-up and everything was foggy. Sandra's glasses, my camera lens.
We dropped into the Visitors Centre at Neys to learn a bit more about the history of the area. As I'd alluded to in a previous post, the area was used as a prisoner of war camp during WWII. After the war, many of the released prisoners settled in the area and formed the basis for many of the German families in the region. Neys was chosen because of its relative seclusion (making escape difficult), but also because of its access to the newly-built railway (which eased the transport of prisoners and goods to the camp).
The weather was starting to clear up a bit, so we decided to chance it and attempt the Lookout Trail hike. Lucky for us, by the time we got to "the lookout" we had a lovely view over Lake Superior. We didn't encounter any other hikers during the walk, so it was very pleasant and private. Just a few dozen metres from the summit we chanced upon a bunch of wild blueberry bushes, so we spent some time enjoying the literal fruits of our labour. Sandra and I have separate techniques. I'm the "I pick one, I eat one" style. She's the "I fill my hands with berries I've picked and then relax and eat them" style. Which type of person are you?
After completing the hike we hopped into the car to continue toward Thunder Bay. Not long into our drive we saw something quite unique: a pair of water bombers fighting a fire off on the horizon. We got to see them taking turns landing in the lake to pick up a load of water, then fly off and drop it on a distant fire. Pretty amazing to see in person! The fire didn't seem like any kind of raging inferno, so I'm guessing it didn't take them too long to put it out.
We took a detour into Nipigon (mostly for a pee), but I was immediately reminded that Nipigon is the home of Paddle to the Sea! It's a wonderful book I read as a child – I still have my copy and it's being shipped out to Victoria! It's the story of a child that carves a small boat out of wood and places it into Lake Superior at the Nipigon River. Paddle to the Sea travels through all of the great lakes and eventually reaches the ocean. I was more excited than was perhaps warranted to walk around the park they have set up. There's a fantastic playground with excerpts from the story placed beside themed activities. For instance, the tubes you see Sandra climbing through are actually big cement grain elevators from a section of the story. What an amazing park!
Also of note is something I wanted to capture but was worried I wouldn't be able to: the elusive Minnow Trap 2 sign. This was the fifth sign for this… book?… that we saw along the Trans-Canada. We haven't seen any signs since the one pictured, so we were lucky I forced Sandra over to the side of the road so I could run back and take a picture.
I have no idea what Minnow Trap 2 is, but I'm incredibly intrigued. How couldn't I be? The name implies that it's the long-overdue sequel to a well respected fish trapping reference. "Finally, they've released the second edition! Get the traps, honey!" But then there's the matter of the green alien head. What does it all mean?! Read the book to find out! Are humans the minnows? Only time will tell. The author's name appears to be BrianHoreck.ca. As much as I want to laugh at the signage (and I did), I've gotta give this guy credit for an innovative marketing campaign in an age where it's hard to get your message out above the noise. The solution? Post five signs on the Trans-Canada Highway at intervals of approximately two hundred kilometres. Profit. I have not read this book (again, I'm assuming it's a book), but I wholeheartedly recommend that you read it. Five star rating guaranteed. It's gotta be amazing. Please report back!
Our last pleasure stop before Thunder Bay was a place called Ouimet Canyon. We'd heard about it from a girl working at Neys Provincial Park, and it sounded pretty neat! There's a short walk from the parking lot… and then a huuuge canyon sitting in the middle of nowhere! They provide two textual explanations guessing at how the canyon was formed from a geological standpoint, so I guess the matter remains undecided. But what's not up for debate is how cool this canyon is! I've never seen anything like it in Ontario! Pretty eye-opening to see this awesome trough cut through the rocks. Definitely check it out if you get the chance!
On the way out, Sandra and I hit the toilets. They were unisex toilets in a sort of economy-sized, plastic port-a-potty pairing. One structure, two toilet stations. We entered our respective stalls side by each. Our flows started. Then it hit me.
"Sandra?" "… yes?" "We are two pees in a pod!"