We spent the first 2 days on Manitoulin Island resting our legs, enjoying Manitou lake, taking care of the bicycle (still no technical problem since the first week of travel), and cleaning our clothes properly. We originally wanted to do a hiking trail on the third day, but it turned out to be a bit too far away to go there cycling (100kms round trip), and hitch-hiking to the starting point of the trail turned out to be a complete failure, as there are not too many cars on the island.
We thus decided to stay a bit longer on Manitoulin Island, and to change campsite so as to get closer to the trail. We took the opportunity to take a little detour and visit the “Bridal Veil Falls”, where we got to swim underneath the falls. The next morning, we started early on the “Cup and Saucer Trail”, one of the most famous trails in Ontario, going along cliffs 70m high, offering impressive views of the lakes on the island. Really beautiful ! While on the trail, we ran into the same couple several times, so we started talking with them while we all finished the trail. Marlene and Marinco came to Manitoulin Island for the week-end to celebrate the 85th birthday of Alfie, Marlene’s father. She invited us to join them and all their family for the celebrations at the lodge that evening. We wrote the address down and hoped we would be able to cycle fast enough under the blazing sun to reach the lodge on time. Back at the start of the trail, Clement realised suddenly that he had lost his cycling shorts on the trail (he was holding them in his hands) and started jogging back on the trail, hoping he would find them. 5kms later, he came back thirsty but successful 🙂 Cycling, running, just needed a bit of swimming to complete the triathlon !
Pushed by the wind, we arrived rather early at the address that Marlene gave to us : a wonderful cabin located on a first nation reserve, built in the early 70s as a prop for a TV show. For those interested, you can see the cabin and its surroundings between the 8th and 16th seconds of this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSsH1OLe1HE).
We had a wonderful evening with everyone, received as if we were part of their family. We swam in the lake, ate, drank, talked, and took a canoe to enjoy the breathtaking views on the lake and complete our Canadian experience. We spent the rest of the evening listening to Richie play the guitar, one of Marlene’s cousins from Wawa, accompanied by various members of the family singing. A special mention for the children of the first nation’s chief who sang Happy Birthday to Alfie in Ojibwe.
We left the next morning, under the rain, still filled with emotions from this unforgettable night !
The following days were marked by the return of the Transcanadian Highway (this part is the Highway 17 going west), strong headwind (we hadn’t missed it), meeting two other cycling tourists going to Seattle (they started in Massachusetts) with whom we spent an excellent evening sharing what we had seen on the road and our hatred of deer flies, seeing a bear cub who decided to cross highway 17 five meters from us while we were on a quick snack break, magnificent sunsets almost every evening, and buying a Guitalele for Clement who can now practice every day.
After a one-day break in Sault Ste. Marie, we started going north on Highway 17, along lake Superior for 3 days until we reached Wawa. The road, very hilly, offered us some of the most spectacular landscapes we’ve seen. An important part of the route went through lake Superior provincial park, a wonderful protected park with lots of beautiful trails and scenic spots that we thoroughly enjoyed.
We arrived in Wawa on Sunday and went straight to the Tim Hortons to get a nice 1$ iced coffee (our usual treat) and phoned Richie and his wife Violet (whom we met during Alfie’s birthday party on Manitoulin Island). Richie immediately comes to get us and they offer us to stay at their place for the night.
We had planned to spend one night in Wawa to then take a Greyhound bus to Calgary, but it turned out that the bus was full until the Saturday. Violet and Richie therefore generously offered us to stay with them all week, until the next available bus, and we accepted with pleasure. As people from Wawa say jokingly, “When you arrive in Wawa, you get stuck in Wawa” ! Violet also helped us find a box big enough to pack the bike and during our battle with Greyhound to send the bike to Calgary with us.
In top of receiving us like we are family, Richie and Violet became our guides to visit the area : boat rides, visit of an abandoned mine, swim in neighbouring falls, swim in the waves of lake Superior, ice-cream cones, evenings around the fire pit, etc. They also brought us to the dump (a seemingly original tourist site at first) in order to see some bears, who are always around there looking for food. Bingo : we get to admire 3 big adult bears and a young one. Patricia, Richie’s sister, joined us every afternoon, full of enthusiasm, asking “So, where are we gonna play today ?”, we loved it !
Wawa gets its name from the Ojibwe word meaning ‘wild goose’ (wewe). The goose is therefore the city’s emblem, and we see several gigantic goose sculptures around. The reserve of the Michipicoten first nation is close by, and we got the incredible chance of going on the reserve’s sacred land one afternoon to swim and dive in water as clear as the sand was white. It was like paradise !
Tomorrow evening, it’s BBQ at the cottage by the lake of one of Richie’s sisters, Bev, we’re looking forward to a fun night ! And on Saturday night, before taking the bus at 4 o’clock in the morning, we should be able to see Richie play with his band. We are infinitely grateful for the wonderful week we spent in Wawa, and we feel like we are part of the family !
The bus journey to Calgary should take 1 day and 15 hours, with one change in Winnipeg. Direction : the Rockies !