Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Heading to Familiar Territory - Sault Ste Marie to Tobermory, Ontario

The plan was to drive from Sault Ste. Marie, around the top of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, stopping around Bracebridge for the night.

When we were preparing to leave the Sault Ste. Marie KOA a group was gathering for breakfast in the kitchen pavilion:
Caravan from Quebec
They all met up here the night before and were Alaska bound. Arch was very envious as he is anxious to go to Alaska.

We saw a lot of cyclists as we crossed Canada. It would be quite a trip. It took us 14 driving days to come from Abbotsford, BC to Sault Ste Marie. I cannot imagine how long it would take on a bike.
Heading across Canada - It is a long way to Newfoundland
This was our seventh day on the road without a break and we were getting awfully tired of driving. So, at Espanola we turned the Adventure Bus south to Manitoulin Island and the ferry to Tobermory. The original plan was to drive to Sudbury, then go south. I calculated the cost of the ferry on the internet and thought it would cost about $350. Expensive as the extra gas to drive around would only be $100. But, enough was enough and we saw this as an investment in our sanity. So the ferry it was.

We saw a lot of moose driving through Northern Ontario, especially on the drive from Atikokan to Thunder Bay. (If you do this drive be aware of the warning signs and be alert!) But the warning signs driving between Espanola and the bridge to Manitoulin Island were interesting:
First we saw this sign
Then this warned that a moose was likely on the road. How the heck does the sign know that?
The road was lined with motion detectors. Of course!
But we did not see a moose on this leg of the journey. Maybe they don't like all the fuss about their presence.

The bridge onto the island is a very narrow one-lane affair:
Once again very few campgrounds were ready for visitors and the one we stayed at was wet and mosquito-infested. But the sunset view from the Adventure Bus was beautiful:
The next day we were up bright and early and off to catch the ferry at South Baymouth. When we purchased our ticket we were happy to find that it was "only" going to cost $250. What a bargain! Ha!
Here comes the ferry
The ferry was quite comfortable. Arch settled in on the upper deck and I found a corner in the lounge to read. Animals must stay in your vehicle and we were a bit concerned about Princess as we were parked right at the front of the vehicle area beside the engines. But she is a great traveler and a trooper and was resting happily on the bed when we returned to the Adventure Bus.

We arrived in Tobermory just in time for a quick lunch before headed out to explore the area. Tobermory is the home to two National Parks. Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada's first National Marine Conservation Area.

To qoute the Parks Canada website"

"The park preserves a rich cultural legacy that includes 22 shipwrecks and several historic lightstations. Fathom Five's freshwater ecosystem contains some of the most pristine waters of the Great Lakes. The rugged islands of the park are a reminder of the impressive lakebed topography found beneath the waves."

 We knew the boat trip to this area was expensive and we blew all our play money on the ferry so we set out to explore a bit of the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Again, from the Parks Canada website:

"Located in the heart of a World Biosphere Reserve, the 'Bruce' is place of global significance. Thousands of visitors come each year to experience the massive, rugged cliffs of the park, inhabited by thousand year old cedar trees, overhanging the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay. The park is comprised of an incredible array of habitats from rare limestone barrens to dense forests and clean lakes."

When visiting a National Park we always start at the interpretative centre. We were disappointed to learn that, due to budget cuts, the park was closed Monday and Tuesday. And it was Monday. However, when we arrived a park employee was just letting a group of school children out the door and, since it would take her an hour or so to close, she lets us in for a quick look-around. You could spend hours there.

Access to the tower for a over all view of the area was open:

It was quite a climb but the view was worth it.

We spent some time exploring the hiking trails.

Then back to the Adventure Bus to prepare for another day of travel. Tomorrow we are off to Southwestern Ontario and the driving marathon comes to an end. It was a long way from Calgary to Tobermory!!

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