Day 11 – Voyageurs across Canada

After such a long day yesterday, we didn’t crack out quite so early. By 10:00 a.m. we were crossing the border back into the USA to visit Voyageurs National Park. This is the place where French voyageurs came to trap the much sought after beaver, then found routes to return East with their valuable pelts. The day was overcast and grey, but the lakes were beautiful, nonetheless.  We walked down to the shoreline and visited the native tepee made of birch bark, as well as watched the informative firm and visited the museum. We learned there are 122,000 acres of park, but only 10 miles of road. Most of the park is water, and best explored by canoe or kayak. Since we had forgotten to strap a canoe on our little Prius, we had to make do with what we could see from land. It was still beautiful. But, someday, maybe a water exploration is in order.

Crossing back into Canada, we traveled the Trans Canadian Highway 11 on to Thunder Bay where we had reserved a room for the night. There is a LOT of water and marshlands and very little evidence of civilization over the almost 200 miles! The trees were turning – yellow and red – and at one point we almost hit a hawk or an osprey. Two large birds were feeding on some road kill and swooped up when we approached. Then one swerved to the left, then back right and got dangerously close to our windshield. We heard it lightly skim the roof of the car. That was an experience of nature up close and personal . . . well, maybe just a tiny bit too close.

After driving about two hours we knew we needed a comfort stop. There was nothing on the map, nothing on the GPS, nothing giving any information of any possible stop. Finally, we saw a sign for Atikokan. We turned off. Atikokan is a tiny town of about 1,000 inhabitants. We drove down Main Street and decided to stop at a bar and grill. It wasn’t open. We went farther down the street to PJ’s Pizza. It wasn’t open. We crossed the street to ask someone in the Bargain Market where we might find a bit of lunch. Just then two women emerged and I asked, “Where might we find a little lunch in town?” They graciously directed us to “the mall” and a tiny restaurant called “Little Darling.” They assured us we would find something delicious there.

The “mall” was a building with maybe 3 shops in it, and in the back was “Little Darling.” We hesitated, but we didn’t have much other choice.  And, besides, we were more interested in their comfort facilities, and not so much their food. Ordering hamburgers, thinking that would be quick, we took a seat and waited. The hamburgers came in a homemade bun, the meat mixed with spices and onion. They were juicy, hot and entirely delicious! Those ladies knew what they were talking about. Always trust the recommendations of the locals!

More and more and more of Trans Canadian 11, until Randy said “Oh! I saw a beaver dam. We have to turn around.” Which he did. I jumped out of the car – there was no one on the road but us – and ran across the street to take some pictures. It was a full-blown beaver dam, with a lake at the highest level of the dam, and a stream flowing out at a lower level. It was almost more exciting than seeing the hawk just about hit the windshield!

People always ask why I like beavers so much. Well, I tell them, beavers are industrious, hard working and very family oriented. They spend a major part of their time building and maintaining a home for their family. And, most interesting of all, people think beavers live in lakes, but they don’t. Beavers live in streams and create a lake around them. I feel like that’s the story of my life. And, so beyond being very cute and furry creatures, I identify with the hard working, creative and family minded beaver.

There were 4 more hours today of “Philosophize This” to entertain us and we learned about Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Spirited conversations followed each episode. The miles (or kilometers) flew away behind us.

About 5:00 we needed another comfort stop and by this time we were coming close to some habitation. Stopping in the village of Kakabeka Falls, we also got some petrol for Dixie before making the final kilometers to Thunder Bay.

Checking into the motel, we asked the clerk for a recommendation for dinner. He directed us to “Naxos” just a block away. We could walk! So, we did. It was Greek food and was tasty and delicious. Just perfect after a long day. I had never had avgolemono soup before, but I will be trying the recipe at home as soon as I can. It was unforgettably delicious.

Although few, the local Canadians we met today were delightful and we will long remember the kind advice they gave us for finding some delicious local cuisine. Everything is grace.