20190710 Bruce Peninsula to Sudbury
I don’t want to bury the lead here. I had dinner with one of the greatest human beings on the planet. Bill McElree! I love this man like Samwise Gamgee loves him some Frodo Baggins. We had a late dinner. We caught up on life. Charbonneau got to ask all of his Canada questions to an actual Canada person in a safe space.
We woke up in at a very reasonable hour. Camping is a different kind of sleeping in. You can sleep in until you must absolutely, positively get up and get dressed enough to go use the bathroom. This was a family campground, so I had to get pretty dressed. We ate sandwiches, made from leftovers from last night and hit the road.
We had a 8a-12n reservation a Bruce Peninsula National Park Grotto Area. We checked in, got a pass, and drove to the parking area. There are three trails heading to the place. The grotto is a scenic cave. There is also a natural arch, an overhang and Indian Cove. This is all smack dab against Lake Huron, crystal clear exhilarating water for miles. You can swim and wade and jump in the water. People look like they are having fun swimming. They are either lying or from someplace far worse than Lake Huron.
We walked around and checked out the scenery. On the way back to the cove, I heard a young women say “Jumping in like that was horrible, it is so cold my bones hurt.” I immediately recognized that this was the place to dip my toes in the water. Charbonneau was videotaping. The women offered to hold my sunnies (sunglasses). I threw them and my hat as a commitment device. I jumped in from less than 10 feet above the water. Landed perfectly. It was hypothermic cold. It was Titanic cold. It was waiting to breathe until you get above the water cold. I got back to the surface. I had to take a moment or two regain high functioning and to compose myself before I started swearing. I waded a tiny bit after I got out and warmed up.
Mostly, I laughed at other people. There was a large family group with at least three generation represented. They had a handful of small children. Watching the guys wade in was hilarious. One adult mom/sister dove in and was swimming around like a boss. There were three or four adult guys who were wisely chickening out. Three of the toddlers wanted to play in the fetid, stagnant pool. One of the kids fell and got slightly hurt and cried until his mom picked him up. Grandma was trying to get a preschooler to swim. The preschooler was definitely not going to put her face in water, thank you very much. I was laughing out loud watching this unfold.
There was also a large garter snake at the cove. No one tried to smash it. It was a nice change of pace. Charbonneau and I also saw a super fiesty, tiny snake on the trail back to the parking lot. I took a picture. I probably won’t post pictures. My mom would rather quit Facebook than look at a snake.
Remember the paid reserved time entry? The benefit of rationing this amazing area? There were less than 100 people total. There was plenty of room for everybody. It’s a pretty nice way to make this space available. Two years ago, Merryweather and I were super excited to breeze past the traffic jam to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a traffic jam the whole way.
We had about four hours until the ferry would start loading.
We hit the Taco Truck (with free hot sauce) for lunch. We took a long walk through the Bruce Peninsula NP visitor center. There is also Five Fathoms National Park co-located with Bruce Peninsula. Five Fathoms is everything you can see with a boat or a scuba suit. There are tons of shipwrecks. One of the earliest was from the 1600’s a French Fur Trading vessel.
“The Bruce Peninsula was dangerous to many a maiden voyage.” – Jon Bruce
The truck got lined up at the ferry lot for free parking. We walked back into town. I actually found a store with normal priced things. I bought something. We also got back to the truck. I took nap. The ferry pulled up. It is called Chi Cheemaun, the Obiway name for Big Canoe. It is a very handsome boat. We loaded in. The parking decks are off limits for the trip. We went up to the top deck as it pulled out. We went looking around. There is a boatique, for all your must have boat gifts and notions. There is a restaurant with Diet Coke. There is also a kids room. They had a movie.
There were two older, french speaking, couples at the table next to us on the ferry. The guys were obviously birders. They didn’t have Tilley hats, but I could tell they were birders because they had binoculars on suspenders. Dead giveaway. They were fiesty. the one guy blew the paper off his drinking straw across the table. Silly happy people.
We also ran into the Marshmellow family again. Yesterday evening, Charbonneau and I passed the Marshmellow Family. I know this because one of the boys loudly announced “Hi, We are the Marshmellows!” I introduced Charbonneau and myself as the “Graham Crackers”. The boys thought this was funny. When we walked into the ferry dining room, they recognized me and bound in their seats to say “Hi”. Once I realized who they were, I told them that we shared our campsite last night with the Chocolate Bars. I opined that it would have been quite perfect if we had all been in the same campground at the same time. I crack myself up. The parents looked like the associate pastor and spouse of a mega church. (if I had to guess). The dad had a killer beard. Nice family.
The boat ride is about two hours. The lake was pretty smooth and glassy. About 20 minutes from the dock, we got sent back to our vehicles. The lower deck had a pronounced lean. The trucks suspension reacts to the boats movements. The truck was bobbing like a bobber.
From Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island is the world. We headed out. The country is the most scenic thing you have ever seen. Charbonneau was hearkened back to the Boundary Waters of his youth. The hills soar. The waters becon. It looks like Moose and Bear should be hanging around every bend in the road. They are, but only when you are driving at night and in a hurry.
We got to Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury is home to the world famous Bill McElree. It also home to two ENORMOUS smokestacks. There is a lot of mining going on around here. The stuff that used to go up the smokestack is being captured and used rather than raining acid. We got checked into a hotel and met Bill for a late dinner. The chicken wings were excellent. In Sudbury, dusted chicken wings are breaded. Naked chicken wings are not dusted. They are excellent. The waitress brought out a small bucket for chicken bones. The beer was also excellent.
Charbonneau and I were both ready for sleep. We bid Bill adieu. I went to sleep at a reasonable hour.