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Canadian Road Trip
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
This really is a Canadian road trip (a few pictures of the Rideau River down at the end) -- Kristin's driving us (including the cats) back to Boston with a stop-off in Ottawa to see Marlowe and Dima. But first . . . Grand Marais in the UP.
Here's our motel in Grand Marais, an extremely small Lake Superior coastal town in the Michigan Upper Peninsula between Marquette and Sault Ste Marie, near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Not a bad motel, the North Shore Lodge, all things considered, and it's out on the point next to the Grand Marais Ranger Station. (Breakfast is extra and not cheap.)
Lake Superior in weather that, however bleak right now, has surely been worse.
Cri de coeur. There are cautionary memorials roundabout about people (mostly larking teenagers) who've been swept off the wall in heavy seas.
Downtown Grand Marais -- not a lot going on just now, but the tourist season's over and the weather's turned.
2000 inhabitants here in the lumber-rush 1890s (presently 350).
There is at least one singularly bright spot in Grand Marais: "From our handcrafted beers to our delicious brewpub cuisine, we know you're going to want to come back again and again". All very true.
"WE'RE A LITTLE HARD TO FIND...
BUT HARDER TO FORGET!"
The "Log Slide", a very sandy attraction in the Grand Sable Dunes, near Grand Marais at the eastern end of the long Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (the first "national lakeshore" and one of about 400 properties in the US national parks collection).
No way in the world we're going 100 metres down there, in the footsteps of so many, probably all exuberant teenagers who took a lot longer than they'd planned to get back up again.
We're content, in fact, to pace back and forth at the top of the Slide. The idea is that the old timber fellows built a wooden slide here to move product out of the desecrated forests down to the lumber barges waiting just off the shore.
That's the Slide in the foreground, and the Grand Sable Banks stretching eastward towards Grand Marais about seven miles over the way.
Where there is a Log Slide to be explored, Kristin cannot be restrained.
The Grand Sable Banks
(We're not going to see the Pictured Rocks per se , that's apparently best done on a commercial boat tour.)
'Woman of the Dunes'
Now we're ready for a bracing hike.
Lake Superior's cutting up rough, 8 September 2010, as we set off for a coastal hike from the mouth of the Hurricane River to the Au Sable Light Station.
The marked path follows a dirt road just up in the forest, precious little variety there, so we're having a go at walking along the shore.
This is known as the "Shipwreck Coast", and the shore is littered with corpses of old Lake Superior freight carriers.
Another wreck -- the little museum in the Light Station features poignant tales of disaster and heroism a century ago.
The Light Station looms.
Now we just need to find a way up the sand bank to the exhibits.
-- Over this way. Come on.
The Au Sable Light Station, built in 1874, automated in 1958 by the US Coast Guard but also maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Pictured Rocks Shoreline.
That was great. Charming shipwreck stories. Keeper's lodgings maintained with old family artifacts.
Now we're going back.
In Olympic National Park (WA) you have to time your shoreline walks by the Pacific tides to avoid being cut off. But this is just a lake!
Striving to keep our shoes dry (we're on a cross-country road trip with only one pair each).
This is a sandstone reef that extends a mile out into the lake and accounts for all those ship ribs in the sand.
And now we're stuck on it, too.
Above all else, keep your shoes dry.
A last point to get round. The shore is a much more interesting walk than the (drier) track up in the forest.
Spearfishing with a skipole at the mouth of the Hurricane River
Now we're visiting the Sable Falls, 100m down from the car park, but the falls themselves aren't really worth a photo.
This is the shoreline below the falls.
We're at the mouth of the creek below the Sable Falls, and now, well, we're planning to go back up again.
Bound for the Grand Sable Dunes
This is better. We're out on the Grand Sable Dunes -- an enormous amount of sand. Well duh.
The Dunes stretching westward
The view southward away from the lake. We're talking ourselves into just marching out into the trackless expanses instead of meekly following the marked path back.
Into the unknown
We had a good sense of where we were headed, but it didn't work out. At all.
We looked for another way off of here. That didn't work so well, either.
So in the absence of a trail in the tangled undergrowth, what's the next best thing?
Now our Canadian Road Trip formally begins, with a long traffic jam out on top of the Sault Ste Marie bridge because the dimwits forgot to leave room for cars at the border customs checkpoint.
And after a night in North Bay in Ontario on the shores of Lake Godknowswhat, we're welcoming the Sun God as we get ready to push on the next morning.
North Bay's The Boat: Join Us for Lunch @ 11:00. Bud Light (and Bud Light Lime)/Live Music. All You Can Eat Wings/Live Entertainment. All You Can Eat Fish & Chips, $9.95. Kids Eat Free. This is as good as the US.
But we pushed on nevertheless and now Kristin's phoning Marlowe from the Rideau Heights Motor Inn in Ottawa, with The Squirrel observing.
We followed the Trans-Canada Highway all the way from North Bay, a two-lane road through miniscule villages with more than their share of stoplights -- very like the old US Highway 40 we used to traverse from NYC to Kansas and back, back before they put the real highways in. There are no photos.
Marlowe and the Old Dad overpeeking the Rideau River at Hog's Back Park, near Marlowe and Dima's flat in south Ottawa
The Prince of Wales Falls on the mighty Rideau, where the Rideau Canal branches off from it just on the far side of that bridge
Prince of Wales Falls
Kristin, Marlowe, and Dima planning dinner . . .
. . . at Big Daddy's Bourbon Street Bistro and Oyster Bar just down the road.
Great dinner with Dmitri's family and then we're back down through Vermont to the old church in Brookline.
Staggering up the steps with a summer's worth of luggage and cats
Just 36 hours here for one of us, time for a brewpub dinner with Charlie and Jodi, then out to Logan airport again.
Kristin's flat in the church.
Of course, we're sorry to be flitting off so soon, many old friends unconsulted, but there you are.
Back down to the carpark for a last trip to the shops -- with the US economy at about half its old value, only a moron would not go home with an extra duffel bag full of consumer items however unnecessary.
-- Oh, you're off so soon, are you? See you in October.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 12 October 2010, revised 14 August 2014.