By John Lilies & Lana Carbon
July 26TH, 2019
Day 1: May 18th, 2019 - Toronto to Sault Ste Marie, Part 2
[John] Hello there! Thanks for coming back. Let’s jump right in and pick up where we left off from the last article …
After a quick stretch in Sudbury and refueling ourselves and Lucy, we got back on the road and continued west to Sault Ste Marie. Though there is a lot to explore in Sudbury, we decided that it is close enough to Toronto that we could easily explore the area another weekend. After pushing on, our first stop was in Espanola at the Northwest Trading Company; we’ve been there before and it has become a regular stop for us on our way to Sault Ste Marie. It makes for a good opportunity to stretch and walk around for a little bit, as well as maybe pick up a little souvenir from our trip.
This time around, as we walked into the building, Lana, of course, noticed a relatively good-sized bell on display. Surprisingly, he was able to resist his usual temptation to ring a bell and he continued on into the shop. However, as we paid for our purchases, he asked the cashier if he could ring the bell on the way out. The cashier politely obliged on the condition that it was a gentle ring. True to his promise and with a huge smile on his face, Lana happily gave the bell a firm but gentle ring. (If you remember from previous articles, Lana has a bit of an obsession with ringing bells.)
[Lana] I haven’t the foggiest inkling of what you are talking about. (Side note… a good way to help someone find their bearings in the fog is by ringing a bell for them so they can follow the sound.)
[John] Yes, the thick fog inside the shop certainly made it necessary to assist those trying to find their way to the exit. You provided a desperately needed service that day.
[Lana] They are more than welcome to send their thanks to email@example.com in care of Lana Carbon.
[John] Be careful, the appreciation may be overwhelming.
[Lana} I am prepared to be whelmed.
[John] Oh boy.
So, we left Espanola and continued along the road to Massey for our next roadside attractions. Here, we were looking for sculptures of a couple of life-sized horses, a motorcycle, a mermaid, a horse and rider, and a moose. We found the two horses, the motorcycle, and the mermaid. The horse was missing its rider and the moose was nowhere that we could find. Traffic on the main road made it difficult to get the pictures we really wanted, but we were still able to document our finds.
Moving on from Massey, we headed to Serpent River to visit one of our favourite trading posts and to find a sculpture of dueling deer. The trading post did not disappoint and Lana even got to play a game of Plinko to win us a discount on our purchases.
[Lana] Big money… no whammies… 50% off BABY!!! That was the big prize and I nailed it. Looks like John will be sending me one of those thank-you emails.
[John] Gosh golly, you just make me so darn proud.
The only other thing that would have made this stop better was if the art gallery had been open. The gallery here holds some beautiful artwork by incredibly talented artists. In retrospect, perhaps it’s a good thing the gallery was closed because it quite likely saved us money and space in the car.
As we walked back outside, we looked around for the dueling deer as we really thought the sculpture was located here. Unfortunately, we were unable to find it and not having the time to really explore the whole of Serpent River, we decided to move on.
[Lana] We were having great luck with the trading posts so far but nowhere near the same luck with our attraction hunt. It was still early in our trip though, so we were still both fairly optimistic things would soon turn around in our favour.
[John] Next stop… Blind River. Our goals for Blind River included a large statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe as well as three big tree statues with a couple of loggers. The logging memorial was easy to spot on the main strip, so we pulled in and got out to admire the artwork and meaningful intent behind the memorial.
After an introspective moment here, we got back on the road in search of Paul Bunyan and Babe.
[Lana] Paul Bunyan was one of the monuments I was really hoping to see up close and personal. What young Canadian didn’t hear about the strongman lumberjack and his giant ox, Babe? The old folktales were legendary. From the moment I knew that a statue existed and it would be on our path, I knew we had to see it…
[John] I suppose I should raise my hand here. For all the Canadian stuff I know about, I had never heard of Paul Bunyan and Babe. How much of a hoser does that make me?
[Lana] It would make you a non-hoser in the Canadian sense of the word, I believe.
[John] Ouch! Not even Canadian enough for hoser status? Here, take my tuque and my lumber jacket.
We didn’t find Paul and Babe. We looked for the street they were supposed to be on, but we somehow missed it.
Lana, I am sorry we didn’t find Paul but you were the navigator.
[Lana] Ok… now you have to hand over the Raptors gear too.
[John] Not a chance in H-E- double hockey sticks. Don’t even think about asking for my Leafs shirts.
[Lana] Anyways… moving on.
[John] Moving on to the fact that I just looked up Paul Bunyan and he was American anyway… so I am taking back my tuque, lumber jacket, and hoser status.
[Lana] What? No way. Fine you can take back your claim to your Canadiana but he was Canadian at heart and you can never take that away from me. He probably had dual citizenship.
So… um… as we moved on through our journey, guess what we went looking for in Iron Bridge? Yep… a lumberjack. We found him, by the way. Maybe it was honouring a Canadian lumberjack.
[Lana] Sure we can find a six-foot-tall carved wooden lumberjack basically with our eyes closed but couldn’t spot hide nor hair of a twelve foot plus, fully coloured sculpture with a big blue ox beside him. How does that even make sense?
[John] Again… navigation was your job, dude. Next time, baby. Next time you can meet Paul Bunyan… I’ll hold the map for you.
After leaving Iron Bridge, we went on a hunt for the giant loonie in Echo Bay. We weren’t super excited for a giant loonie but being familiar with the giant toonie in Campbellford, we felt that the giant loonie was only appropriate. Thankfully, we were easily able to find the loonie on a town road and stopped to take photos and have a bite to eat.
So, Thessalon should have been next but I think we were growing a bit weary by this time, and we chose to give up the opportunity to see an inukshuk and a big Muskoka chair. When we originally planned the trip, we had contacted my cousin in Thessalon to make arrangements to meet up. Naturally, following true Carbon Lilies misadventure tradition, she and her family were going to be down in our neck of the woods that weekend. I think that missing out on a chance to see them, may have played a little bit into our decision to bypass Thessalon.
[Lana] That, and the fact that the highways are lined with inuksuit from just north of Barrie and every souvenir shop is also filled with them. As for the big chair, unless I could have convinced you to sit in it while I took a picture, it was just a chair to me.
[John] What if I’d wanted to get a picture of you in the big chair?
[Lana] You have seen me try to climb things before, right?
[John] Well, yes. It is entertaining… maybe that could have been my video souvenir.
[Lana] That is why we bypassed Thessalon.
[John] Gosh, you are just no fun.
After skipping Thessalon, the next stop on our list was Garden River for some giant arrows. Because exhaustion was setting in, we also decided to bypass the arrows.
[Lana] After all, once you have seen one giant arrow, you have seen them all, right?
[John] Just how many giant arrows have you seen?
[Lana] Enough to fill my quiver, let me tell ya.
[John] I got nothin’.
As 5:30 p.m. was drawing near, we arrived in Sault Ste Marie and headed for our hotel. We also have cousins here, however, one set was in Ottawa at this time and some health complications on our end made visiting on this weekend too difficult to make plans with the other cousins. (We are both fine, but some days are tough and make social interactions difficult.)
Pulling in at the hotel in the rain, we were feeling grateful for arriving safely and having such a fun day on the road. We checked in to our room, organized ourselves for the next couple of days, and basically crashed for the night.
With a glow-in-the-dark constellation ceiling map guiding our sleep, we fell deep into dreams, hoping for a great rest and another amazing day ahead.
And to you dear friends, we wish a good night and we will see you here again for reflections of our time in the Soo. Until then, please be well.