Still in Ontario after days, but at least we are finally Alberta bound!
We woke to a much warmer day at 18 degrees and rode up to Little Current for breakfast.
The road is smooth, but mostly straight and with peek a boo views of the lake. You leave the island by a single lane swing bridge.
We gassed up in Espanola and then headed west on the 17 (TransCanada). The view is of very straight road and trees! It is again very windy today, but at least it is to our backs.
We made it as far at Sault Ste Marie by 3 and again used the Mcd wifi to find a place to stay. The weather is supposed to turn bad by midnight and we will likely wake up to rain for tomorrow. This is not a very nice town actually especially the downtown and we are glad we booked into a place nearer to the TransCanada.
They are super friendly and even have designated motorcycle parking under the covered entry and where the desk staff can keep an eye on them. Apparently there are a lot of thefts here in the city. The staff also put out clean rags on the bikes in case we wanted to use them on the bikes.
It was sprinkling a bit as we left at 915 and gassed up for the day.
We stayed pretty dry and even stopped to check out the view in Agawa Bay on Lake Superior. Just off the coast here is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank.
We only had our rain jackets on and not the pant over suits on. It was warmer today at 22 and the skies really cleared until we got about 80 km from Wawa. The sky was getting very black, but it was not raining until suddenly it was torrentially pouring.
Cars were pulling over to the side of the road and blocking the entry to the rest stop. We finally found a safe spot to pull in as it was impossible to see where we were going and there were cars all over place. We were soaked by the time we had our rain pants on and THEN it really started to pour. A car leaving the rest area pulled up beside us to say that just down this small road there was a shelter we could hide under and so we headed there. This was a small info board with a bus shelter like frame. There was another biker there hiding too.
The rain was amazing and then it got worse. It was howling sideways at time and accompanied by thunder and lightening. We waited it settled to a light shower after about an hour. We had just pulled out on the highway and found a large accident with the police just setting out the cones. Luckily the rain had almost stopped as we had to sit there for quite a while.
We then rode the 75 km to near Wawa where there was the first gas in 150 km and a lineup as the next station is 100 km west in White River. Premium is now up to 165/l.
We had planned to get more than half way to Thunder Bay today and we knew there were a few motels in Marathon. We rode as far as White River and our rain suits had dried out and so we stripped them off to air dry our suits for the last 100 km.
We finally made it to Marathon at 330 cold and starved. We found a hotel in town that was clean and quiet. So glad they had endless hot water for us to warm up in. There was a bar/cafe 2 doors down and we had a great homestyle meal.
It rained thru the night, but was just misty and very foggy when we packed up just after 9. We are headed west towards Calgary and are not sure where we will end up today.
We gassed up in town and then rode west on the 17, which apparently curves along the north shore of lake superior, but we can see what is just in front of us most of the time and so can not tell.
We still could not see much when we got to Thunder bay for gas and coffee after 306 km and turned inland. It was now intermittently drizzling and this continued to Upsala at 425 km and we gassed up here as well, since you never know when the next station will appear. There have been a few sketchy motels so far, but not much else along our route. 4 Days and still in Ontario!
We decided to push on another 209 km to the next real town Dryden where there are a few more hotel options. 50 km from Upsala the rain stopped and the sky looked brighter. By the time we made it to Ignace we actually had blue sky above. This made the last 100 km so much easier to manage mentally.
We are still on a mission to get to visit Dan’s aunts in Saskatoon and Calgary. Again we used the McD wifi to check out the options and settled on the Comfort Inn right next door. Conveniently there was a diner across the road as we again had not eaten all day. The 650 is making a wailing noise at idle and is running loudly. There is also a loud clacking of the chain in low gears. Dan tightened the chain, but what the whaling noise is we are not sure. It is otherwise running perfectly.
We have decided to go to Winnipeg tomorrow in 351 km as there is a BMW certified service center (for whatever that is worth) there. It is the holiday weekend and so we booked 2 nights near BMW. We finally woke to sunshine and even better when we started the 650 it sounded completely normal! The oil level checked out to be good and the chain clack is better. We will still go to Winnipeg and see how the day goes. The ride today was warm at 24 degrees and this is the first day without the hand warmers on for the 5 days across Ontario. There are am amazing number of lakes here!
Just after the “border” to Manitoba we came across the marker for the longitudinal centre of Canada. This drive is so straight it can be mind numbingly boring on the transCanada. We arrived to the city and to the hotel near to BMW in late afternoon and finally had lunch there after 3.
We tucked in for a relaxing evening. It is sunny out again today, but when we stepped outside in shorts and t shirt and were battered by a freezing wind we retreated to put on jeans and get warmly dressed up. There is not much to do here in “Winterpeg”, but we did take the bus down to the Forks. This is the meeting of the Red and Assinaboine rivers and is a National Historic site. We then walked along the Red river into the Exchange district.
This is an area of old Winnipeg known for its “intact early 20th century collection of warehouses, financial institutions, and early terra cotta clad skyscrapers”. There is a maze of interconnecting tunnels below ground so people do not have to go outside in winter when it is minus 40.
Setting out this morning it was another gusty windy cold day. It started out at 12 degrees and was only 14 by noon. We had to wear our rain suits to cut the wind. We headed west again the 16/1 and planed to make it to Yorkton in 454 km, but only made it 351 km to Russell.
We made it 188 km and gassed up and then met Butch a local who bought us a coffee at Tim’s. He is a super friendly guy who has ridden various bikes in all the USA and Mexican states.
It is getting even more windy today and in fact at 3 when we stopped for lunch in Russell we had had enough of the buffeting and the noise. The Motel here was clean and reasonable. We settled in for a quiet night.
We are not going direct to Calgary as we are taking a slight detour to visit Dan’s aunt and uncle north of Muenster. Waking up today we put on some long under wear, but it was already 14 at 9 am. In fact it was 21 by 11 and we had to strip off some layers.
There are a lot of signs in many towns that proudly advertise the Olympic Gold medal winners NHL players from these small Manitoba and Saskatchewan towns. 17 km after Russell we hit the next provincial border.
The road is straight, but a bit more scenic today with the farms and lakes. There are the iconic grain silos prominently situated along the way.
We stopped in Yorkton for gas and to pick up some beers. You never know in the small Canadian towns along the rural highways if there will be a liquor outlet or not.
We stopped in Foam Lake at the Husky (so Canadiana) for lunch, and then at Lake Lenore for gas and after pushed onto Rick and Mariette’s.
You have to love that there are often not real addresses in rural Sask. Our instructions were “take the highway to Muenster, turn north on the 368 , and then ride 40 miles. We are on the west side of the road with two rows of spruce trees and there are hay bales across the road.” And there they were ( we did have to call from the Coop 2 km up the road actually :).
We were happy to have the time to visit with these guys who have really followed our journey. Rick is a gourmet cook and we had home made smoked white fish and salmon fish, Fish and Chips made from their own potatoes and White fish he caught. We also enjoyed quite a bit of his red wine.
This morning it is a bit chilly and windy, but it settled down by noon and we hitched up the boat and made for the lake nearby. Dan and Sara both had a pike on the line with the first casts, but after this we just had a few nibbles. We had a lovely afternoon out on the water.
Rick cooked us up some huge prime rib steaks for dinner tonight.