Day 33 – Shabaqua to Thunder Bay – Total distance traveled 3380kms

The two cyclists I met outside of Fort Frances told me that there was a great place for breakfast in TB. All they knew was that it was on Algoma St. I figured there was a fat chance of me finding the place, but it’s worth a try. “You mean the Hoito” responded one stranger when I asked. So there I went.

Hoito means “care” in Finnish. When in the city young Finnish bushworkers had difficulty finding a decent meal at a fair price. I had an excellent eggs, pancakes and bacon breakfast with coffee for under $10.

I spent the rest of the day at Historic Fort William. Hotel rooms were in short supply because of the flooding (the Super 8 was completely shut down) and Donna have me a strong recommendation to see Fort York and I noticed they have camping. But a great way to spend the day.

So I cycled the extra 15kms and set up camp. It turned out that I was the only one there. For the entire night. It was a little lonely, but very peaceful. I woke up the next morning to geese outside my tent and a deer within a 100′ of my tent.

Fort William is fantastic. You’re give a tour by actors in period costume. Fort William was a Northwest Company trading post. Each year a 1000 or more voyageurs come from all around for the “rendezvous”. We were a little early but none the less we were greeted by Kenneth McKenzie, a cousin of the famous explorer, and wife gave us a tour if the facilities.

The two most interesting buildings were the apothecary and the canoe shed. With regard to the apothecary, apparently my black feet indicated foot rot and they would likely need to be amputated. But at least I didn’t have a toothache. They device they use to do a root canal looked particularily evil and they waste costing pain killers on such a simple operation.

At the canoe shed they construct birch bark canoes. They had two under construction and several hanging from the rafters. These are massive canoes, enough for 12 voyageurs and goodness knows how much cargo. Each voyageur was responsible for two 90lb packs of fur amd if they lost one it came out of their salary.

The food is really good there too. I had an early dinner – beef stew with fresh baked bread – so they I wouldn’t have to cook. I should also mention they served Rickard’s Red.

The thing that impressed me most about Fort William is the authenticity. They actually make 90lb packs of fur, they make the canoes from birch bark and use spruce root for twine. Everything is real.

By the way, if you have something against furs you should skip this place. There are hundreds of furs: beaver pelts, seal skin, timber wolf, wolverines, skirls, muskrat, fox, mink and on and on. The photo below of Kenneth’s wife beside a fur is a timber wolf. It’s bigger that she is. It would be very scary to meet one of these animals.

I’ll talk briefly about my ride into TB this morning. I woke up at 6am, hit that busy stretch of the Trans-Canada, and took that awful detour on 102. There’s no point in talking anymore about it other than there were some outstanding views coming into TB, and I got another flat. The cause of this one was easy to find: a big staple stuck in my tire.

I need to be on my way so I’m just going to attach some pics and you can figure out where they belong. I’ll probably sort it out later.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 84 kms
Moving time -4 hours and 28 minutes
Moving avg – 18.7 kms/hour
Elevation – 190m

Update: I was very excited to learn that the NorthWest Company is still alive and doing very well.

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Day 7 – Salmon Arm (Canoe) to Revelstoke – Total distance covered – 687kms

I awoke to a bright sunny, cold morning with all body parts intact. Other than waking up in the middle of the night with my lips swollen like balloons I felt quite rested. Hidden Valley turned out to be an awesome campsite. The campsites are in a, um, hidden valley, surrounded by pine trees and a babbling stream. All the sites have concrete pads for the picnic tables, and grassy sites for the tents. Fresh water is available everywhere plus power, showers and WiFi (yes!).

Outside of Canoe you climb a gentle 3km hill. There’s not much to look at, just rocks and trees, trees and rocks. I frightened a couple of white tailed deer along the side of the road who bolted up an embankment. They scared the living daylights out of me too.

All along the road there are signs that say “watch out for falling rocks” or “avalanche zone”. It seems kind of weird to me. What are you supposed to do if there’s a rock fall or an avalanche? It seems like about the time you notice the avalanche it’s too late anyway. If you’re the driver you can’t watch out for falling rocks because your supposed to keep your eye in the road. Maybe your supposed to slow down? But then why don’t they just say that? I guess the “sign people” take great pride in their “falling rock” signs so I’ll let it be. Hmmm, I just got an idea: Falling Rock beer, but I digress.

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These falling rocks just missed me… by about 20 years

The view begins to improve as you climb up and coast down numerous hills. There’s a great view of Shawsup (sp) lake on the left.

I took a right into Sycamous where you follow the road through the town to join up with Trans-Canada a bit down the road. The visitor centre there is a new, beautiful building with cedar accents.

That’s where I got the low down on Rogers pass and Kicking Horse pass. After Revelstoke you start climbing up to Rogers Pass. Most cyclists continue on downhill to Golden but the total distance is 145kms. After Golden you climb the Kicking Horse pass which is the second highest pass in BC, there’s not a lot of places to stay between Revelstoke and Golden and between Glolden and Banff so you don’t want to get caught up there because it gets cold.

When I think about cycling these passes I get butterflies in my stomach. Not the cute Monarch kind of butterflies but more like the type of butterfly that’s really a moth that lands in your bowl of ice cream. But if I’m not trained and prepared enough to do these passes at this point then I’ll never be. Besides I heard little Suzy did the pass on her tricycle just last year (not really).

This route is so scenic I find myself stopping every 5 minutes to take a shot. You’ll be please to know that I’ve edited many of them out. At one point you cross the rail tracks and there’s a view of the Eagle River down below. This is the one time I hoped to actually see a bear because I know they can’t get me way up here. But no such luck, no bear spotted.

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A view of the Eagle River

Next stop was the “Last Spike” attraction and rest area. It’s quite impressive with a huge parking lot and a visitor centre, and gift shop with many useless things (I was tempted to purchase a replica spike, but you know, I don’t want the extra weight). This last spike spot is way more impressive then the last, last spike spot it stopped at on Day 4. Anyway, it’s an important part of Canadian history for sure, really important.

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It makes me think of how when there’s progress we always loose something and there’s some regret, but in the end the new is better than the old, in my opinion. Here’s one sequence of events describe progress in Canada:

  • The first explorers used canoes
  • Then they built roads for the first settlers
  • Then came canals which allowed goods to be transported much faster
  • Then trains put the canals out of business
  • Then came highways and transport trucks with cheap gas
  • Now massive cargo ships transport goods from far away

The same thing has happened with communications: Runners to the Pony express to the telegraph, to the telephone, to data communications, to the Internet, to wireless. What’s next? As I’ve mentioned, I’m a geek so I thrive on the Next Big Thing. There’s a phrase for it: Creative Destruction and you’re either part of it or you fall behind. But there’s nothing wrong with that either as long as you realize “you can’t stop progress”. Personally, I prefer to stay one step ahead if I can.

I stopped to take some photos at Crazy Creek. It’s very scenic whitewater and one of those things that you wouldn’t notice screaming by in a car. There’s a suspension bridge crossing the creek and apparently the worlds largest tress house is here too. That’s questionable: what about the Swiss Family Robinson tree house? That was huge.

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Crazy Creek – Git ur canoe!

There’s much more to write about but I need to get to bed because Rogers Pass is calling. Let me conclude by saying Revelstoke is friggin awesome!. There’s skiing, and biking, and hiking, great food, nice people, shopping… This is a real town, not a made up town like Whistler or Mt. Tremblant village. I will definitely return with Vicki one day.

I met two other cyclists in the village who were looking for an expresso shot. Their website is followthatbike.com. They do “stealth camping”. Basically, you cycle until sun down and set up camp wherever you happen to land. They’re truly brave and I admire their courage. For those out there looking for adventure, you can do this trip in the cheap, real cheap like $20 or $30 per day if you want to. There’s nothing stopping you.

But I think I finally figured out what the difference is between youth in their early 20’s doing this trip and people in their late 40’s or 50’s. Us more “mature” folks can afford to stay at the nice hotels with their jacuzzi hot tubs and warm beds, while the young’uns are doing this trip on the cheap and camp wherever they can find a spot and cook their own meals. I’m quite happy with the warm bed and the jacuzzi hot tub, which is definitely what I plan for tonight. Especially given I’m climbing Rogers Pass tomorrow, and my knee hurts, whine, whine…

I had a great meal and a local brew in town and decided to find a place to stay outside of town so I could get a bit of a head start towards the pass in the morning. I’m glad i did because there’s a wicked 100m climb just outside of town. As for the hotel, boy did I hit a gold mine. the Hillside Resort is a beautiful lodge overlooking the mountains. I’m don’t feel bad missing camping tonight.

Stats
Distance travelled – 102kms
Moving time – 5 hours and 19 minutes
Moving average – 19.2km/hr
Elevation – 628m

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BreakfastLunch of champions

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A pack of wild horses couldn’t drag me in here. Too scary.

Day 6 – Kamloops to Salmon Arm (actually, Canoe) – Distance traveled today 127kms

After having breakfast and watch the pancake machine at the Holiday Inn Express I set up for another fun day of riding. It started out with a wrong turn and I ended up on the wrong side of Kamloops. But I did get to see a lot of nice neighbourhoods. Kamloops is a pretty nifty city (no, really Jeff). My only complaint is that it’s on the side of an enormous hill.
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Magical pancake maker

I slowly made my way back to the Trans-Canada and immediately got a flat. This was as good as any place to get a flat, and I’ve been lucky so far. I quickly made repairs and was on my way.

I had a brief moment of despair when I realized I’d left my MacDonald’s cherry pie and combo pepperoni/cheese stick back in the hotel fridge. Should i go back? Nah.

The next 50kms was a cyclist’s dream with flat roads, nice scenery and a wind at my back. I stopped in Pritchard for a well earned O’Henry bar and some of that beef jerky I keep seeing everywhere. I saw an old bridge in the distance and Googled it later. It turned out to be a magnificent trestle bridge.

The scenery changes dramatically after Pritchard. There are Ponderosa Pines, lakes, and lots of greenery. At one point I was passed by a flatbed truck with the biggest tires I’ve ever seen. It only carried four tires and they hung over the side (wide load).

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Ponderosa Pines just like in Bonanza

I stopped for lunch at a subway in the town of chase – another cute town. You can get off the highway to go through Chase and the road links back up with the highway further ahead.

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Still missing the tulip festival

Next you’ll pass through Sorento, the heart of the Shuswap.

There’s a climb after Chase with a nice view from the top.

Salmon Arm is on the shores of Shuswap Lake, where the Salmon River empties into the Salmon Arm reach of the Lake. It is a tourist town in the summer, with many beaches.

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The elevation profile today

This is the thirdforth draft I’ve written of this blog today because the WordPress app keeps crashing and its getting late and I’ve got to make it to Revelstoke. In the meantime, here’s some photos from the day.

Update

When I entered Salmon Arm I headed straight for the visitor centre… which was closed, of course. Why visitor centres close before 5pm is beyond me, but I digress. I did catch three gentleman who just about to leave. They were exteremly helpful in finding me a campsite (there is no campsite in Salmon Arm itself) even to the point of calling the campsite to make sure they were open. The only catch: it’s in Canoe which is 5kms down the road. But hey, I love canoeing, so why not?

One thing that one of the gentleman mentioned to me really scared me. He said something about how I was planning on “timing” the so-and-so pass. I told him I didn’t know what he meant and he replied, “oh, never mind, I thought you’d done this before”. Now I know he was talking about Rogers Pass.

In Canoe I camped in a wonderful campsite down in a valley. I asked about bears and the owner said that one came into the campsite last year and it was sad because they had to deal with it. I should have been more nervous when I went to sleep that night, but it was so peaceful and serene I fell asleep instantly. It also helped that the campsite owner let me hide all my gear and food in a storage shed for the night.

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