In celebration of the 150th year of Confederation, we are trying to visit every Canadian National Park that we can drive to. This is the western portion of that tour.
Day 16 (technically the 16th day of travel not the trip)
I was not too upset when the raining and grey weather lingered over my grandparent’s cottage. It gave us the perfect excuse to spend plenty of time doing next to nothing. I would say nothing but my grandpa was in the midst of building a small guest washroom. One important task was to run the power cable from the breaker panel at one end of the cottage to the roughed out washroom at the other end. Of course, the cable had to be run underneath the cottage and even though I offered several times to go under since I am smaller and more flexible, he would have none of it. I actually would have been shocked if he would have agreed to let me do it but once he gets his mind set on something, you better have a damned good argument to change his mind; a trait I come by honestly it would seem. I had the all-important job of shining a light though the hole in the floor and then grabbing the cable when he pushed it through. My butt got numb waiting for the cable but I have to earn my keep somehow.
Piper spent a good bit of time snuggling with grandma, which gave her legs plenty of rest, and the boys…well they were boys.
After a few days it was time to continue on. I was tempted to stop at Nitehawk Cafe just before we crossed the border back into Ontario but I wasn’t quite hungry enough and the coffee wasn’t good enough on it’s own to warrant a stop. However, the old tummy was growling as we got closer to Kenora and I decided to stop there and try to find something to eat. I tried to think about places to eat in Kenora which was when I realized that I have rarely gone through town, preferring to take the by-pass to save time.
When I saw Broken Paddle Coffee Roastery and Kitchen, I cheered a little. Unfortunately, they are somewhat seasonal so I wasn’t able to get a proper meal. I did however get a good americano and huge lemon square. The square was a little flaky and gooey and I ended up wearing a lot of crust. As I ate, I decided to continue through Kenora rather than backtrack to the highway.
I kind of wish I had more time because what I saw as we drove through made me want to explore. I always had this idea that Kenora was on the fringes of civilization, an almost frontier town clinging to the shore of Lake of the Woods. Yet just minutes within the town boundary, I had found a proper roastery. What else would I find as I navigated the streets? All thoughts of exploration went out the window when I saw Sweet, Lake of the Woods Chocolate Shop and I quickly parked the car. I picked out a few treats for my friend who was watching my cats and when I mentioned I had dogs, one of the staff asked if they would like some ice cream. Why yes. Yes they would. She came out with little cups of vanilla ice cream and dog cookies and got three new best friends. When the dogs finished their ice cream and thanked her for their treat, we continued on.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the stretch between Kenora and Thunder Bay is my least favourite part of the trip. Then when I think about all the incredible sights we had seen, it becomes even more blah. Thankfully it’s only a few hours between the cottage and Thunder Bay. It wasn’t too far past Kenora when the rain started up again and I booked a room at the Airlane Hotel since there was no way I was going to go back to Voyageur Motel any time soon. I took advantage of a brief pause in the rain to let the dogs splash in the water before we continued on to Thunder Bay and into more rain.
You would think by now that I would know to leave the cottage earlier so that I wouldn’t be getting into wherever I was going to end up so late and yet here I was again navigating in the dark. Although winding through city streets is a lot easier than backroads in the prairies.
I found the Airlane Hotel to be that dated kind of classy; like it was a really good hotel before I was born. My room was on the third floor so juggling my bags and the dogs food and the dogs meant that I had to make more than one trip up and down the stairs. “I needed the exercise anyway” I thought as I huffed up. It never occurred to me to look for an elevator. The room was very nice and clean which was a big improvement from our last stay in Thunder Bay. The queen-sized bed meant that I wouldn’t be hanging off the side either.
Unlike many of the hotels we have stayed in the past, this one has a small restaurant, River Rock Bar & Grill, and I decided to order dinner from there. For some reason, fish and chips seemed in order with a caesar salad on the side because I really needed some vegetation. They didn’t do room service but they called me when my food was ready. Had I not had the dogs, I would have gone and sat there, just so I could say that I went to the lounge. Until I went to the lounge and thought “No I think I’ll have a better time in my room”. The fish was very good and actually came from Lake Superior. When your food comes from the lake you can drive to in under double digits, that’s pretty fresh. The caesar had way too much dressing on it but it was super garlicky and loaded with bacon so I didn’t mind too much. Once the dogs had finished their dinner and helped me with mine, they were all snoring away by the time I wriggled down between them.