Things will look a bit different around here for the next few weeks; I’m taking a break from the abandoned buildings to get up close and personal with Northern wildlife, or at least as much as is possible from the windows of my parents’ car.
Day 1: Rochester, NY to Sault ste. Marie, Ontario (649mi / 1055km)
I didn’t even take any pictures… all this looked just like places I’ve been.
Day 2: Sault ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, Ontario (706km, 1761km total)
Along Lake Superior, things started to get more interesting. While there was no question the substance of the trip remained long eastern highway, the truly massive province of Ontario began to reveal just a bit of wilderness. We stopped at Agawa Bay looking for a lake view, and finding mostly black flies. And a butterfly orgy.
Any idea what this sign might have been referring to? Or why pets aren’t allowed there? The trail led only to an overlook onto Lake Superior, with no beasts of the northern wild evident.
Not finding the beast, I left behind a statement in the Canadian tradition of “been there, done that:” an inuksuk. These representations of human exploration have existed since ancient times, and roads in this part of the province are lined with thousands of similar inuksuït. I can’t say it was even remotely worth the twenty brand new blackfly bites (it’s always the blackfly, no matter where you go!)
The only notable city on the way to Thunder Bay, Wawa is named by the Algonquian word for the Canada goose. As one might expect, the Wawa Goose is something of a tourist draw, sitting along the A17 road at the edge of town.
Day 3: Thunder Bay, ON to Winnipeg, MB (703km, 2464km total)
And so it goes, back into astoundingly boring lands. The lakes and forests give way to wheat fields and grain elevators, and encompassing flatness.
Day 4: Winnipeg, MB to Prince Albert, SK (829km, 3293km total)
Saskatchewan wasn’t the least bit better. In fact, if it was possible, it got even worse. The scenery was so astoundingly bad it never even occurred to me to take a photo.
Day 5: Prince Albert, SK to Edmonton, AB (593km, 3884km total)
Finally there was something to see… where we least expected it. In the near-ghost town of Krydor, SK there was an abandoned Orthodox church, of the type that seems more appropriate to a tiny outpost in Siberia.
Coming into Edmonton, signs off the highway pointed toward Pysanky, as if it was expected that tourists would know from that alone what it means. Pysanky is, in fact, a giant rotating sculpture of an Easter egg, given to Canada as a goodwill gesture from the Ukraine. Yes, this thing moves… rotating slowly accompanied by Ukrainian folk music. It probably lights up at night too but I wasn’t there long enough to see it; this isn’t a place to spend much time at, the egg is the only notable thing about this roadside park.