Canadian Pictionary, Giant Spider and Parliament Hill

June 15-21, 2019 — The third week of June found us leaving Wisconsin and heading north, first to Michigan then crossing the US border to Ontario, Canada. We have traveled to Canada in the past but this was the first time in the motorhome. 

Prior to embarking on our journey, we researched the rules for crossing into Canada and then back into the United States as we wanted as seamless of a crossing as possible. We studied the rules for transporting food, especially meats, produce and dairy products, allowed amount of alcohol, documentation required, etc. Even with our extensive research, we still possessed an element of apprehension at the first border crossing we encountered. 

Upon reaching the border at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, we found ourselves as the only vehicle present. That was surprising as we had read that crossings can be very busy with long wait times. We presented the border patrol agent with our passports and he then asked us a few simple questions i.e. purpose of visit, length of stay, whether we had guns or pepper spray, and how much alcohol we had. Obviously satisfied with our answers, he waved us through and told us to enjoy our trip. In total, the stop took less than 40 seconds. We are planning three more crossings in the next few weeks so hoping they all go as well as the first one did!

All nights this week were free stays with one night each at the home of family, a casino and Walmart and four nights at two Boondockers Welcome host sites. Follow along below for a pictorial of our travels and discoveries during this time period. 

Mile Driven - RV
Miles Driven - Car

Someone once told us that by retiring early we’d soon be “living on the streets”. Look how right they were! Obviously they meant this in a different context but we love our “street” life and don’t plan to change it up any time soon. 

In 1885 “Hamburger Charlie” Nagreen served the world’s first hamburger at the Seymour, Wisconsin fair when he flattened a meatball and placed it between slices of bread to increase portability. Other towns have claimed to have invented the hamburger as well but Seymour is the only one that celebrates with an annual Burger Fest and has a museum with the world’s largest collection of hamburger related items. Regardless of the rightful inventor, we’re just glad someone came up with it. 

After a quiet night at Oneida Casino in Green Bay, Wisconsin, we hooked up the car and began the trek north to Michigan, the first stop on our summer circle tour of Canada and New England. 

Break time along the mouth of the Ford River where it flows into Lake Michigan near Bark River, Michigan. It was a beautiful place to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat before continuing the journey north. 

Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, aka “The Soo”, sits along the southern edge of the St Marys River which serves as a border between the US and Ontario, Canada. The river connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron in the Great Lakes system. Just below the exit from Lake Superior are the St Marys Rapids which necessitated the building of the Sault Ste Marie Canal and Soo Locks to allow freighters and other ships to safely pass through. The Soo Locks Visitor Center located on the US side offers guests an opportunity to experience the engineering marvel of the Soo Locks via visual displays, videos and an observation deck where you can watch the numerous ships pass through the canal. 

The border crossing from the US into Canada was painless. There was no waiting line and the border agent only asked us a few questions before sending us on our way. Sure glad they didn’t charge duty on the bugs that peppered our windshield while driving through Michigan. The bugs, as seen in the photo below that was taken out the windshield of the RV, made quite a mess. 

The A.Y. Jackson Lookout near Sudbury, Ontario offers scenic views along three hiking trails of High Falls as it ripples into the Sudbury Basin. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a few hours soaking up the beauty of nature. Beware, though, that the area is very populated with mosquitoes so come armed with bug defense. 

The mosquitoes, black flies and mayflies were plentiful in the Sudbury, Ontario area. This photo of a bug-filled overhead fan in the RV was taken in the early am. Yikes!

Our Boondockers Welcome host site in the Sudbury, Ontario area. Great hosts, great site, great program. Gotta love it!

Maman, a bronze, stainless steel and marble sculpture of a spider by artist Louis Bourgeois, stands in downtown Ottawa, Ontario outside the National Gallery of Canada. The 30 foot high by 33 foot wide sculpture was named (Maman is French for mummy/mum) and designed in honor of the artist’s mother as she, like a spider, was both a weaver and very clever. 

The ByWard Market in Ottawa, Ontario is a retail and entertainment district in the downtown area. It has operated continuously since 1827 and is the city’s #1 tourist attraction. Retailers feature jewelry, clothing, artwork, etc. along with the best displays of produce we’ve ever seen. The market is open daily and is easily accessible via public or private transportation. Street and lot parking is available nearby. 

A definite highlight in visiting Ottawa, Ontario was seeing the magnificent buildings on Parliament Hill, home of the Parliament of Canada. The structures were built from 1859-1927 and represent various forms of Gothic architecture. All of the buildings are currently undergoing an extensive $1 billion renovation and rehabilitation project that started in 2002 and isn’t expected to be completed until 2028. What a huge undertaking! We would love to return to “The Hill” to see the final results of the restoration project. 

Ottawa, Ontario is a beautiful city to explore. The downtown and canal areas are very walk and bike friendly. Bicycle racks are present on most blocks and many streets have a separate traffic light just for bike riders. 

Mer Bleue Bog Trail is a .75 mile (1.2 km) interpretive boardwalk trail that allows visitors to explore the sphagnum moss bog up close. The 7,700 year old bog is one of the most studied in the world as it is home to many rare species of wildlife that are normally only found in far northern regions. On select early mornings when the light hits the mist that lies in the wetland, it creates a blue effect that makes it look like you are viewing an expanse of a sea. “Mer Bleue” translates to “Blue Sea” in French. Mer Bleue is the largest bog in the Ottawa, Ontario region and second largest in southern Ontario. 

Canadian sign pictionary! Some of these road signs were easy to understand the intended meaning, others took a bit more thinking. 

We are loving being back on the road and look forward to spending the summer in Canada and the New England states. Follow along next week as we continue to explore Canada and then return to the United States and visit Upstate New York and Vermont. See you then!

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