The car is packed up once again and on our way across Ontario and along the north side of Lake Superior and we finally had the perfect opportunity to get some camping in... After Ottowa we made our way through the border town of Sault Ste. Marie, where we finally reached Lake Superior! After a brief stop in Sault Ste. Marie (trust me) we made our way north towards Wawa, which would be our first camping site.
As soon as we started along the coast of Lake Superior the views became incredibly breath taking! At one moment I was driving along and I was brought to tears by the beauty! It's impossible to explain but I would say that the drive from Sault St. Marie, Ontario all the way to Grand Marais, Minnesota was beautiful and what I thought was the original reason behind this trip! We were very lucky with the weather (and the kids!) and it was constantly clear sky, good spirits, and sunny the entire route. We weren't traveling as fast as we had thought, as we learned that with kids in tow you have to stop every hour and a half to let them burn off some energy and look around - but this was fine by us.
Our first campsite was in Wawa, a totally idyllic setting next to a river feeding the lake, a silent night, beautiful full moon, a tent, some happy kids, and some s'mores (not to mention some pesky mosquitos). But the next morning we had to get up early and get ourselves on the road fairly quickly. Our next destination was Thunder Bay, which I had a childhood memory of as being a great place. Along the way we hit a sweet little community called White River, probably our favorite little town along the route north of the lake, a chip wagon (these are in just about every town across canada!) a HUGE playground and a long long long freight train passed through that the kids just loved - probably because my husband made sure they had front row seats! As well, we came across a little 'bistro' in the town that had a perfect coffee, breakfast, and conversation with the locals. We spent a bit longer than planned in the town, but that's how it works sometimes! We were set for the road! --next stop Thunder Bay!
Again the driving was pretty impressive! With stunning cliffs and lakes and rivers it was all perfect. We got a tip from a family at the playground in White River that we should camp at Trowbridge Falls Campground, which we did. Our campsite was even better than the previous one, a bunch of open air space and right next to river 'rapids' and a series of short water falls, the kids had a blast swimming, jumping on the rocks, building wood dams, and our campsite overlooked it all at the top of a short path! We slept to the sounds of the river moving past! We had to get up early again (this was a recurring thing considering we kept stopping along the way and worked out anyway because the kids rise at sunrise...) so that we could meet my family on Burntside Lake, near the town of Ely, Minnesota - way north! We were already running a half day late!
So we got up early in the morning and skipped breakfast, crossed the border fairly quickly, and made our way down to Grand Marais, MN on the coast of Lake Superior! Honestly it felt like a bit of civilization after the last 2 days, a natural foods co-op!! YAY! - some herring sandwiches and we were ready to go on our way. The coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota was beautiful but much more crowded than the roads in Canada, but after the solitute of the drive that we had been on it was fine.
Not to sound a bit suspicious, but sometimes it seems from passing that the Canadians live on the Lake Superior and on the US side it seems the citizens make it a business! Canada felt more sparse and almost rural as we crossed over the northern shore of the lake and once we started down the west side and back into the US again we could see that it was much more 'active' with inns,coffee shops, gift shops, etc in every town. It's not really a bad thing, it's quite nice after you have been driving for days though many 'empty' towns hoping to find that cute lunch spot...Don't let that make me sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not. In fact, when you think of it, who needs a quaint lunch spot when the 'chippie' wagons popping up along the route throughout Canada offered us ample opportunity to indulge in fish and chips - and a unique 'cuisine' native to the area called poutine, which takes a little getting used to! My husband said it reminded him of something similar that is popular in the north of England.... either way, you have to try it once at least.
And next stop: Snake Island, Burntside Lake, Minnesota! We are looking forward to that!