Our Excursion Through the Shield - Day 4

By John Lilies & Lana Carbon

August 28th, 2019

Day 4: May 21st, 2019 – Sault Ste Marie to Marathon

[John] This was our morning to leave Sault Ste Marie and make our way up to Marathon for the night. We could have driven straight to Thunder Bay on this day but we didn't want to have a super long day in the car, so we decided to split the jaunt with a night of rest. Neither of us had ever been to Marathon, so we thought we would check it out and make it our overnight rest stop.

I actually really enjoyed our time in The Soo but I was also ready to move on. We had some great down time and exploration time while in The Soo, and we had nature time that helped me relax so, when it was time to go, I was ready to move forward and meet Day 4 of our trip.

We were so fortunate to have a rain-free day for this drive and what an incredibly beautiful day it was. We took our time getting ourselves together and after getting coffee and filling up ol' Lucy's gas tank, it was about 9:45am when we actually got on the Trans-Canada highway.

We took our time driving along, slowly making our way to Marathon. We love giving ourselves as much time as possible so we can check out different sights and places along the way; stopping when we want to and taking wee detours as we see fit. Until a bit north of Wawa, we noticed that there were still patches of snow and ice in the receded areas along the road. We saw a fair bit of that on the way to Sudbury but hadn't seen much in The Soo. It reminded us again, that May down in the city holds a very different season than up north.

A little ways out of Sault Ste Marie, we passed a beautiful, small water fall/rapids and as Lana exclaimed sheer joy at the sight of it ([Lana] FALLS! FALLS! LOOK AT THE FALLS!), I turned us around ([Lana] YIPPPPEEEE!!!!) and pulled into the little parking lot clearly designed for those of us who want to safely enjoy the view. Where Chippewa River/Falls crosses the Trans-Canada highway, is the approximate halfway point between Victoria, British Columbia and Saint John's, Newfoundland. You can find a plaque marking the point, benches at the side of the highway so you can comfortably sit to enjoy the beauty of the falls, as well as a path to climb up alongside the falls a bit, when the water level allows like it did on this day. (The point to where one can climb is not actually the top of the falls but it is the 'top' that people can feasibly reach on the path, relatively safely.)

[John] We actually did climb up the path a little bit and took some pictures and video. It was absolutely magnificent. Honestly though, it was also one of those moments when I consciously thought, "Okay John, keep your wits about you because this is the moment when the tourist innocently climbs a precarious path in the wrong footwear so she can take the photo, then suddenly slips or outright falls and dies, becoming an embarrassing headline warning for all the other tourists in the wrong footwear who are looking for the photo opportunity. Don't be that girl!" It actually made me think about the warning signs along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, when taking in the different views along the coast. There, they have signs showing an illustrated person falling (about to go off a cliff), and the sign plainly says "You may fall and DIE...". That's what was really going through my mind in this moment and it maybe made me chuckle a bit. We weren't on a cliff edge by any means, but it would have taken nothing for either of us to make a wrong step and go down. We so easily could have become those people at whom we shake our heads when we read the news.

[Lana] The worst part is that we had even planned for this type of scenario to arise when we were packing for the trip. We had multiple types of footwear with us in the car but we simply didn’t bother to take the time to change. Not only would we have been those headlines we shake our heads at but it also would have been our own fault because it would indeed have been totally preventable.

[John] After safely reaching the top and safely descending and enjoying the view from the benches set up on the side of the highway, and sadly noting the garbage people have carelessly tossed into the water below the lookout, we continued on and drove until we saw another rest area, this one at Alona Bay.

These little roadside stops are so important to us when we go for drives, whether long or short. This is where we learn a lot about our history that brings the knowledge to life, even if we had already learned about it in a book. We previously had no idea that Chippewa River, where it crosses the Trans-Canada highway, could possibly be halfway between Victoria and St. John's. It still doesn't seem conceivable to me; that it's as far east as Ontario and that there is still so much distance from that point in Ontario to the east coast of Newfoundland.

And here, at Alona Bay, we discovered we were standing only 30 kilometres east of where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. I didn't realize we would be that close to the site while on our trip. Also, when looking out to the water, there is a point to the right (slightly north-ish) where it is believed uranium was first discovered in Canada. I love learning these things while being right there in the area. If my schooldays had presented history in such a vivid and relatable way, I may have actually learned and retained something.

[Lana] There are times when I will see something that I want to take a picture of and John will pull over for me so that I might get out to get a better angle or not have to rush my shot. I have learned to always take a photo of any accompanying plaques that may give any significant historical information for John to peruse as well. She is turning into quite the history buff.

[John] I really appreciate that, actually. Being behind the driver’s seat means that I can’t always take in the signs and plaques that accompany the sites. I love that Lana captures these for me.

Pinguisibi (Sand River Falls) was an actual planned stop I had found while looking at the map and studying the route to see what we might find along our way. This was another beautiful spot of rapids/falls and while we were out on the rocks enjoying the view, a man and his dog showed up and the gentleman asked us to take a photo of them on his phone. He was from Thunder Bay and was heading south; he was quite kind and friendly and we all chatted a bit about just how magnificent the views were along the drive, including the snow and ice patches we were still seeing.

[John] Pinguisibi has a trail within the park but we didn't venture up to explore it, as we did still have a while to go on our drive. The area likely makes for a great hiking and picnicking experience.

Our next stop was also planned: Magpie High Falls. We again found this one while exploring the map route to see what might be interesting along the way, and we decided we should plan to stop and check it out. While driving along the back road to find the falls, we almost decided to quit as the road was a bit nerve-wracking (thick gravel turned to thick wet mud while a massive road construction grader was also flattening out the way). But thankfully, we pushed on for the incredible beauty of it. It was powerful and the water spray was quite strong. So worth the drive in. Though Lucy is not an off-road vehicle she does a lot of off-road driving and she tends to excel at it. We were so grateful that she glided through the mess and allowed us the opportunity to take in this experience with Magpie High Falls. It was impossible to not simply stand in front of the falls, being soaked from the spray, and deeply inhale completely relaxing fresh air and perspective.

[John] Immediately following Magpie was Wawa, home of the infamous goose. Stopping to see the goose is almost a requirement when passing through here, no matter how many times you may have already seen it. We grabbed a quick little lunch at Subway and stopped at the information centre to sit at a picnic table to eat. In typical Carbon Lilies style, the information centre itself was closed due to plumbing/water issues and so we just walked around the grounds a bit after eating, and then we continued on with our journey.

Here we are trying to fit in with our surroundings.

Here we are trying to fit in with our surroundings.

[John] Not far north of Wawa, we spotted moose #3 on Lana's side of the road, with its head bent down in the ditch drinking water. It wasn't right at the road-side but it was still close. It had really black, rough hair on its back and as we came alongside it, it looked at us and took off into the woods (thankfully not out into the road). Lana managed to quickly capture a shot of moose bum, before it completely disappeared in the trees.


[John] A little while later, we made a quick stop at Depew River for a stretch. Here, there was a calm river and we saw a beaver-chewed tree that would soon need to be taken down safely if the beavers didn't finish it off first.


[Lana] Beavers can be nasty critters. I remember how angry Pa Carbon was one morning when he went out to find his beloved apple tree had fallen victim to some furry little dam-builders, and had been pulled to the shore of the river in our backyard. No more apples from that tree for him.

[John] But oh how cute wee bittle leavers are!

Next, we stopped at White River to find the statue of Winnie-the-Pooh. Of course, the information centre was closed but Lana still got up close to the outdoor monument for photos. As the story goes, a trapper found an orphaned black bear cub and sold it to a man travelling through Canada, Harry Colebourn. Mr. Colebourn was on his way to England and named the bear cub Winnie, for Winnipeg, Manitoba which was Colebourn's hometown. Winnie accompanied Mr. Colebourn to England but landed in the London Zoo when Colebourn had to move on to France. Eventually, one of the zoo visitors to fall in love with Winnie was Christopher Robin Milne and the rest, as they say, is history.

[John] Not long after White River and having enjoyed a lovely day on the road, we pulled into Marathon and found the wonderful Bed and Breakfast we had booked - Lakeview Manor. There aren't many accommodation options in Marathon and we were so happy we'd found vacancy at this house. It was a beautiful spot with a spectacular view and complimentary bourbon and wine. The management was friendly and welcoming and we couldn't have been more thrilled with our room.

[Lana] We always get a little worried when it comes to B&B’s after some of our previous experiences being hit or miss, but after getting the tour of this beautiful place, all our worries were alleviated. While it was more than welcoming here, it was inclusive while still respectful of allowing you to maintain your privacy. The view was breathtaking, especially at sunset. The décor was absolutely amazing as well, with unique antique pieces. I think it is safe to say it turned into the best B&B experience we have ever had.

[John] Upon arriving, we unpacked the car, quickly freshened up, and went down to Pebble Beach for a little walk and an incredible view of Lake Superior.

[Lana] For all of you golf fans out there, no, not that Pebble Beach.

[John] The shore is entirely made up of beach rock and pebble, and driftwood. The area is so shaped by the rock that there are signs specifically asking visitors to leave the rocks behind and not take any souvenirs. We could understand why people would want to carry away some beach samples, as these rocks are stunning - so smooth and unique. But we behaved ourselves and left the rocks behind when we went back to our room for the night. Arriving back at our room for a good rest, a quick look at the odometer showed us we had, thus far, travelled 1,143.3 kilometres since leaving home. Gosh, we've previously done 1,000 in 24 hours!

[John] As we prepared ourselves for a good night of sleep, we hoped we might glimpse some Aurora Borealis but alas, our luck did not extend that far. Between our exhaustion levels knocking us out relatively early (honest - the one sip of bourbon had nothing at all to do with it, really) and the skies clouding over as the hours grew later, we decided to just close the curtains and focus on rest for the night.

[Lana] I tried to keep her awake… honest I did. It has been a longtime goal to see the Northern Lights and it wouldn’t be the same seeing them without her now (sometimes I curse the alcohol even as I watch it enter her system, just knowing the affects that it will have in only a few moments… it’s a good thing she hardly drinks at all).

[John] Day 5 will find us on our way to Thunder Bay, so please come back and join us for that stretch! Thanks for coming along with us and let us know if you’ve ever had the privilege of capturing a photo of moose bum, too! Happy misadventuring!

Our Excursion Through the Shield - Day 3

By John Lilies & Lana Carbon

August 19TH, 2019

Day 3: May 20, 2019 – Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Well I have to say that for as much as I try not allowing the weather to dictate my plans, the rain we'd had thus far was not making it easy to carry out what we'd hoped. So, when we discovered on this great Monday that the rain had stopped in the early morning, we were quite happy and grateful.


[John] This was our final full day in The Soo, so we wanted to make it the best we possibly could.

The night before, we had considered going down to the hotel restaurant, the Soo Blaster Arcade, to play pool for a while but we decided to just stay in our room and watch TV and rest. We figured we would begin the next day with a morning game of pool before going out. We checked the hours of the games room to make sure we would arrive just when it opened, to maximize our time. It was Victoria Day but it's the hotel restaurant and bar, so it should be open, yes? Yeah... nope. Definitely closed. It is us, after all; misadventures are our specialty.

The Soo Blaster Arcade, Days Inn & Suites, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

The Soo Blaster Arcade, Days Inn & Suites, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

[Lana] That's okay. John didn't want none of this pool shark action, anyway.

[John] I'm perfectly fine with losing to you. My game skills are less than stellar on a good day. Gosh... when last did I play pool, anyway? I'm good at losing. It's a strength.

[Lana] You really need to learn how to talk smack.

[John] I lost my edge somewhere in French River. The exposure to nature made me too zen.

So, with no pool shark action occurring, after spending the morning just chilling out and relaxing, we finally made our way out to explore and enjoy the rest of the day.

Though we’d considered all sorts of events for our time here, such as the Art Gallery of Algoma (closed Sundays and Mondays), the Museum Ship of Norgoma (closed until June), the Mill Market (only open on Saturdays), the Sault Ste Marie Museum (only open Tuesdays through Saturdays), the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site (closed at the time), we clearly needed to refocus our attention on some other attractions. We had considered going to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre but by the time we had gone through the list of all the attractions that were not open, we had exhausted our desire to look at the planes. So, we excitedly looked towards the other places we wanted to check out.

We first went to the Ontario Travel Centre to pick up some pamphlets for the remainder of our roadtrip. While there, we bought the required magnet, postcard, and of course a Sault Ste Marie baseball cap.

After the Travel Centre, we went to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site and we walked around for a while. We walked through part of South St. Mary's Island and around most of Whitefish Island Indian Reserve, a territory of the Batchewana First Nation.

[John] We enjoyed a beautiful, quiet walk through the land, watching a great blue heron fly around, chipmunks run around, and minnows swim in the marshes. We had a wonderful view across the water and also saw just how busy the International Bridge was, with the lineup to come back into Canada. We assumed everyone was returning home from the long weekend and it made us grateful we were not in the line.


[John] There were a number of people out fishing and I have to say it was not a warm day; cold enough to see my breath and windy, too. This was the nature moment I had been needing and I was so grateful for it. I could feel all of my stress disappear and it really just felt so nice to breathe among the trees. After this little walk, we returned to the canal/locks and wandered around there for a bit, taking in the views. It may seem small, but we don't often have this opportunity and space to just be. We need to make it a priority but on this day it felt so nice to have the ability to walk in a nature reserve instead of a concrete neighbourhood. We enjoyed the experience so much in fact, that we did not pay attention to the time passing by.

[John] After enjoying our time at the canal, we drove a short way to Roberta Bondar Park , looking for the statue of Three Bears Fishing, which was one of our roadside attraction goals on the trip. Apparently, the statue has been removed (we looked everywhere but did not find it and looking exactly where our research had shown us it should be, there were no bears) but we did get to see a Canadian Coast Guard ship and the Norgoma (as mentioned earlier, this was one of the activities we wanted to take in but in true Carbon Lilies style, it wasn't open for tours until June).

We believe this is where the Three Bears Fishing should have been and this fish is all that might be left.

We believe this is where the Three Bears Fishing should have been and this fish is all that might be left.

The Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard

[Lana] And, why would it be open for tours before June, while we’re here? It's only a supposedly haunted ship, afterall.

[John] True enough. We didn't exactly hit the mark much that weekend, did we? However, let's focus on the positives, in true John style.

It was still a lovely walk, though fairly windy, and I wasn't sad about the plans not working out entirely. Those moments together, even if we didn't manage to execute the planned activities, were wonderful and enjoyable and special for us. I'm more than okay with that.

After our walk around the park, we finally moved on to the Lock City Dairies Ice Cream shop to see the Three Cows statue.


[Lana] The Three Cows were awesome. It was the best three-cow statue I'd ever seen. It isn't often that you see three cows climbing over each other to be immortalized in statuesque form, in all their comical glory.

[John] Wow. I've got nothing.

From the ice cream shop (at which we somehow and for some reason restrained ourselves and did not have any ice cream), we went to the Soo Minor Baseball Fields to see the World's Largest Baseball. It's a big baseball, on the edge of the field.


It appears as though The Soo is not the only city laying claim to having the World's Largest Baseball on display and I do tend to wonder who is confirming these facts for marketing. At least two cities in the U.S. also claim to have the World's Largest Baseball, and it makes me think of how it's similar to when a company claims their product is "the best in the universe". Have they communicated with the rest of the universe to determine this? Have they conducted the broader-scale market research and surveying to ensure that their product truly is "the best in the universe"?

[Lana] Yeah, you never hear anyone from Alpha Centauri claiming that their product is the best in the universe, now do you?

[John] Well, I certainly haven't heard anyone from Alpha Centauri say anything at all. How often are you in touch with Alpha Centauri, anyway? Do those beings complain about our earthly corporate claims to have the best products in the universe? I feel like I should really know more about your connection to Alpha Centauri; we have been married for a while now, you know.

[Lana] Well, Yondu does think he's Mary Poppins. But, that has nothing to do with being the best in the universe.

Yondu meme courtesy of knowyourmeme.com. Rights to the character belong to Marvel.

Yondu meme courtesy of knowyourmeme.com. Rights to the character belong to Marvel.

[John] So... a totally random fact. Okay. (“Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height…”)

[Lana] Well, Yondu IS Alpha Centaurian. (Don't mess with a comic geek.)

[John] So, a not so totally random fact then. Okay.

[Lana] I'm never random.

[John] Ha! Oh, sorry... were you being serious?

[Lana] I'm always serious.

[John] Ha! You definitely are funny.

[Lana] By the way, what does Guinness have to say about this whole World's Largest Baseball fiasco?

[John] Honestly, I haven't been able to find any supporting evidence that any of those places is a Guinness World Record-holder for the World's Largest Baseball.

[Lana] So, if I roll up a big ball of tin foil in our apartment, can I say that we have the World's Largest Baseball?

[John] Well, these cities at least have large monuments that look like actual, for-real baseballs. Not balls of tin foil. But, with a large ball of tin foil, you could potentially make a lot of hats to block out the alien systems to locate humans.

[Lana] First of all, I would paint it white with red threading so that it looks like a real baseball.

Secondly, I want to talk to the Alpha Centaurians.

[John] Someone, please help us (and by us, I mean me). Please. Please?

Moving right along


From the baseball, we headed to the Chippewa Trading Post shopping plaza - there is not much to see there but Lana was wanting a picture of one of the statues they had when we were there last time, but alas it was also gone.

[Lana] Alpha Centaurians? (It's all coming together now...)

[John] So...

After that, as we were needing some food and rest and we wanted to get ourselves organized for the next leg of our journey, we went back to the hotel and called it a day.

[Lana] It's amazing how tiring it can be to go around looking for things that aren't there. Possibly, even moreso than actually finding them.

[John] Truly.

These were really some great days in The Soo and I'm so happy that we enjoyed the experience despite our plans not working out as we had originally hoped. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and have fun no matter what the ride is.

[Lana] We are so used to just rolling with whatever life brings us that if our plans ever did work out as expected, we probably wouldn’t have as much fun.

[John] So true…

Well friends, thanks again for being great company. We shall see you all again as we head out of The Soo. As always, if you have any stories to share or any comments for us, please contact us through the usual bat channels. Happy misadventures!

Our Excursion Through the Shield - Day 2

By John Lilies & Lana Carbon

August 7TH, 2019

Day 2: May 19th, 2019 - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

[John] Let the misadventures begin... that was my thought when we woke up on this morning. We knew we would encounter rain on this day but I suppose our hopeful, wishful thinking led us to believe it wouldn't interfere with our plans. In truth, rain was scheduled to overtake our Sunday and Monday in Sault Ste Marie.

[Lana] Something I have come to learn over the past few years of traveling with John is to always expect rain. It is drawn to her like moths are drawn to a flame. Now if only I had the common sense to actually bring an umbrella with me.

[John] Ha. Yeah, I can’t really deny that one. The sad part truly is that we actually did have umbrellas with us, but for some reason we just weren’t inclined to think about them - as per usual.

The indoor activities we were interested in were closed Sunday and Monday, until the next week or even June. Rain made the outdoor plans a bit difficult as it wasn't just a light rain but relatively heavy with intense downpours at times (Ontario norms and not entirely umbrella friendly).

We could have gone to the Michigan side for some attractions there, including a boat tour through the locks - which would have been really cool - but I questioned whether it would be enjoyable in the rain... what could we have seen? Same for some of the historical sites on the Michigan side. The intensity of the rain would not have made them worthy of the trip across the border (long weekend traffic) and the American dollars. There were a few statues we could have driven around our side of the border to find - some of the roadside attractions we were looking for - but what would the pictures be like in such heavy rain, what would we even see without the camera?

The next day (Monday) would be Victoria Day so, not much would be open here. We knew this coming in but had counted on outdoor activities. Leave it to us, ha.

After another chat and yet another look at the weather, it looked like Monday afternoon and evening would actually be okay, so we could do the outdoor stuff! On Sunday, we figured we could pick up some groceries and get in a mall walk to get our steps for the day. We had considered using the rainy day for a trip to the nearest Cineplex, but they weren't showing anything we either wanted to see or hadn't already watched. So, after having a slow morning, we decided it was time to get ready and get our butts out of the hotel to salvage what we could from the day.

Our day’s adventure, just across from our hotel.

Our day’s adventure, just across from our hotel.

[John] We spent the afternoon leisurely walking through the mall, which is definitely not a normal activity for us but we actually really appreciated it. The forced down time gave us an opportunity to peruse stores and gain some creative inspiration, as well as time to just walk and talk, sit for a coffee and talk, and just enjoy each other's company without focussing on any one activity. We don't often have that kind of time together, so it was truly a really great afternoon. I was so grateful for this, after having spent a short bit of time lamenting our misadventure fortunes, I was happy to have the reminder that everything works out as it is meant to.

[Lana] It also gave us the opportunity to pick up some gifts for our family members at home that we wanted to pick up a little token for, as well as a couple souvenirs for us. We always like to grab a little memento from our trips. Something simple like a magnet or postcard is usually what we favour but if I can get my hands on a hat with the town name or event represented on it… that baby is coming home with me.

[John] He lies not. The collection is beginning to take control of us and I am debating building a glass enclosure to house his beloved hats (not really but maybe kind of for real).

[Lana] You want to live in a glass house? Really? Because that is how big of a glass enclosure you are going to need if you want to keep all of my hats behind glass, my dear.

[John] Isn’t there a horror movie about a glass house or something? Maybe that’s actually what we really do want. (Kinda not really but maybe, I’m not so sure.)

[Lana] Just the Thirteen Ghosts will be fine.

[John] On second thought…

Lana’s Sault Ste Marie hat, a post card, magnet, key chain. John was treated to her chosen Bob Ross hat, while Lana treated himself to a fun and colourful addition to his hat collection.

Lana’s Sault Ste Marie hat, a post card, magnet, key chain. John was treated to her chosen Bob Ross hat, while Lana treated himself to a fun and colourful addition to his hat collection.

[John] We ended the day with some TV time, without the worries of the house work being postponed or errands needing to be run, or anything else contributing to stress. Though I must admit, I began stressing a bit as I realized that while running a cleaning cycle for the dishwasher the day before we left home, I forgot to remove the lone cup that had been holding the vinegar to freshen the machine. Forgetting to remove it meant that I didn't dump out the water it would have then been holding, which also meant I didn't turn off the dishwasher. So, while we diligently checked everything else in the apartment to ensure it was off and/or unplugged, I realized way too late that cleaning the dishwasher was futile because when we return home the machine (and maybe the apartment) would likely not smell so good. Yes, these are some of the things that go through my mind. (Thankfully, when we did finally return home, all was well & there was nothing growing in the dishwasher!)

[Lana] She honestly does stress way too much.

[John] You just… you… okay yes I do but I really am working on it and hey, I took a vacation with you! This is a good start, yes?

[Lana] Yes, it is indeed.

[John] See, there is hope for me yet.

I decided there wasn't much we could do about the dishwasher from The Soo, so instead of continuing to stress, I turned my attention to us appreciating time with each other and enjoying the ability to just be with our thoughts together. I was feeling calm and happy, and warmer after we finally figured out the heating system in the hotel room. That night, I was very much looking forward to another enjoyable day on Monday. Thank you, Lana, for being a major part of why this day was so wonderful.

[Lana] Thank you, John. It is always a magical day when I get to spend it with you.

[John] And lovely readers, thank you for joining us on our Day 2 journey! We appreciate you very much and we hope you are enjoying our adventure. See you again for Day 3!

[Lana] Don’t forget your umbrellas.