On a recent Sunday afternoon, my son asked if we could go watch the trains at the train park. It is a simple park, on a corner of a side street. A large brick and wood gazebo sits toward one end, several cement picnic tables dot the area, a chain link fence along one edge that divides the park from the train track on the other side. I agreed to take him, reminding him that the trains don’t run as often on Sunday. We made the 30 minute drive, enjoying the fall colors. We arrived at the park, and spent about an hour waiting for the train to pass. When it was clear we wouldn’t see a train that day, and it was lunch time, I suggested we come back on a week day when we would have a better chance to see the trains.
The following Wednesday, my son had a half day at school. We decided that I would pick him up from school and we would pick up lunch and have a picnic at the train park. As we continued to talk about the trains, my son said he wanted to take his video camera and tape the train passing by and post it on the internet. My son is autistic and his favorite things are trains and YouTube videos. Making his own YouTube train video is nirvana to him. The plan was set.
Wednesday came and I picked my son up from school, just as planned. As we drove the 30 minutes to the park, my son made sure I remembered to bring his video camera, and tripod, and headphones to help his ears with the loud train noise. I assured him it was all in the back seat, and he settled in. We went through the drive through at the burger place, deciding to eat at the park while we wait for the train. As we pulled up to the park, I decided we should have our lunch inside the car so it wouldn’t get cold before we finished.
Faster than I had seen in a long time, my son finished his lunch and was out of the car racing toward the fence, video camera in hand, to make sure he didn’t miss the train. I grabbed my camera as well and followed to the table closest the fence.
At the gazebo stood 4 or 5 people, just sitting on the ledge talking, watching as my son set his video camera in just the right spot
After a moment a woman from the group, seeing me with my camera, came up to me and asked:
“how much do you charge to take pictures?”
I replied that I don’t charge anything. She then said ” could you take a picture of my husband and me? We’ve been married 30 years and have no pictures of us together”
Sure, no problem I told her. She then had a big grin and quickly called her husband over, telling him that I would take their picture. I turned as her husband grumbled about getting his picture taken, but begrudgingly came over to where his wife was.
The woman and her husband stood near the picnic table and I snapped a quick picture of them. I showed the woman the picture, to see what she thought. She said ” can we take another? I had my eyes closed” Certainly, so they stood again and I snapped a picture. I said ” one more, to be sure.” And took another. I showed her all three, and she again gave a big smile. During all this, the train had made its way past, as my son caught it all on his video camera.
I asked if she had an address, and she went to her bag and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, writing her address. As she handed me the paper, she thanked me again saying how happy she was to have a picture, maybe an 8×10? I said sure, 8×10. She asked how long would it take? I told her a few days. She gave me a big hug, thanked me yet again and said I was sweet to do that, turned and walked back to her husband and friends.
My son was excited to head back home and put his video on his computer to watch, so we headed out. The next day I went to the store and printed her pictures, the first 2 in 4×6 and the last 8×10- I placed them in an envelope and sent them to her. A few minutes of my time, to maybe bring a smile to someone I most likely will never see again.
The final few days of our time in Canada, we spent heading to Sault Ste Marie. The drive from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie follows the north shore of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. It is possible to drive all the way around the lake via the Lake Superior Circle Tour, a 1300 mile drive. Our portion was about 1/3 of the circle tour, and was beautiful. Driving in a 42 ft Rv towing a van, we are rather large. As we traveled along, we kept an eye out for pullouts to stop and view the lake. Funny thing about traveling in Canada, rest stops are not nearly like they are in the U.S. A. As we traveled along, at approximately 65 mph, we scanned for rest area signs. We would see a sign for the rest area, but it seemed that we were already passing the turnoff. Other times we would see the sign, slow enough to make the turnoff, but realize the spot was so small we would never get in, let alone get out. On we traveled, wishing to stop at some of the beautiful view points of Lake Superior. A drawback of being in such a big rig, pulling a van.
We did manage to find one turn out large enough for us to pull in and pull out without incident. I thought it funny as this was the only spot we fit, as we pulled in to Old Woman Bay-I had to put my feet in the water. It was mighty cold!
We arrived in Sault Ste Marie about 2pm, and checked in. At the campground was a self-serve rv wash, so Mark decided to wash off the miles of dirt and bugs while Andrew and I went to find some lunch. As much as the rv needed to be cleaned, it’s not a fun job, fighting with mosquitoes at the same time sure didn’t help.
The campground we chose was a KOA. A plus for this park was it had a nice off leash dog area. More and more, campgrounds are including dog areas in their camps, and it makes traveling with a pet more relaxing.
Our spot was nice and big, though our satellite didn’t work. I know, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, unless it’s baseball season and you will be there for several days. We spoke to the camp host and were able to move spots the next day. As we relaxed for the evening, we looked through the tourist magazines to plan our activities for the next few days. Lots to see and do, and we looked forward to exploring our last days in Canada.
The drive to Thunder Bay was nice, easy. We arrived at Happyland Rv and set up as usual, and even had some time to go swimming. Nice big rig friendly park close to Thunder Bay. As we looked through the area information, we found there is a park nearby that we decided to go to the next day.
Kakabeka Falls is just 1 1/2 miles from the rv park. At 130 ft high it is referred to as Niagara of the North. A wooden walkway follows along the river and crosses over the falls, providing excellent views. We spent a relaxing afternoon walking the trail and enjoying the beauty of the falls.
Back at the rv, looking at the local tourist book, Andrew said he wanted to go sailing. We found a company that has sailboat rides on Thunder Bay. We booked a ride for the next day.
After breakfast we drove into Thunder Bay, found where the boat tour was, and looked around a bit. It was SUPER windy, and the wind made Andrew a bit agitated. Our tour was scheduled for 2pm, and we went to talk to the captain of the boat. With such a windy day, and choppy water, the captain suggested we come back at 8pm when it would likely be calmer. This turned out to be an excellent choice.
We arrived back at the boat in the evening, and it was indeed calmer. I explained to the captain about Andrew’s autism so he would be aware. i said that he may seem scared when he really is having a good time. I also mentioned that Andrew would love to “drive the boat”. The captain nodded and smiled and then we went to board. The boat was a 40ft sailboat, with the captain the 3 of us and another couple. We got settled on the boat, and headed out toward the break wall and Lake Ontario.
On the bay the ride was easy and relatively calm. The captain pleasant as he shared information about the area. In the beginning Andrew climbed up to the bow of the boat and enjoyed that view. After a few minutes we reached the break wall that lead to Lake Ontario. Passing the wall, the temperature suddenly dropped and the waves picked up. The captain put up another sail and we were then scooting along, wind in our face, the spray splashing off the bow, and Andrew screaming with excitement. As we were going along the captain asked Andrew to come on back and “drive the boat”. Carefully Andrew crawled back and stood at the wheel- he was sailing and having a great time.
We sailed back to the dock and ended our evening. Sometimes and idea comes, like sailing, and you just go with it. Have fun and do something different. The joy of that hour and a half sailing trip is one of our favorite memories of our trip.
We left Winnipeg for the trip to Thunder Bay, and figured we would stop at a rest area or truck stop for the night. A light rain was falling and our new wiper blades were not working the way they should. We pulled to the side of the road and Mark got out to adjust the blades. After a soggy few minutes , Mark got back in the RV. As he dried off, I closed and locked the door- or tried to lock the door. Again, the door didn’t shut properly and the lock didn’t engage. Why are we locking the door while we are inside? Well, just before we departed on our trip one of the bolts that latch the top of the door, keeping it snug while it is closed, had come off. Our local RV repair shop wasn’t able to get the part before we had to leave. We found, if we locked the dead bolt, the door was secure and no wind noise or chance of flying open as we traveled down the road. So another rainy 10 minutes on the side of the road trying to get the door latched. We did the best we could, then proceeded to move down the road.
The scenery was a little better- trees lined the road, so we had that. As we drove along we looked for pull- outs or some type of truck stop, and found nothing. Our plan of just pulling over for the night seemed like it wouldn’t happen, so we then started looking for an actual campground. When we got to Wabigoon Ontario, I noticed a campground sign that said ” Big rig friendly” Ok, great, that’s us. So we watched for the entrance and pulled in.
What we found was a smaller park , but we loved it. The owners are Rvers themselves and they built the park with that in mind. Nice wide big rig friendly spots. No trees overhanging to scratch, good power source, nice washer dryer and shower to use, satellite . Not expensive , all around a nice place. We walked down to the lake, but because of all the recent rain the access to the dock was flooded. We did come across a turtle making his/her way to the lake. Our understanding is Wabigoon lake is a great walleye fishing lake.
We spent some time talking with the owner- even had a wild thought we would buy the campground from him, we enjoyed our stay that much. Next morning, we continued our trek to Thunder Bay