wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls: Canada here we come!

wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls

because "...you can't invent more time." Lemony Snicket

Dan and Linda's Travel Journal

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Canada here we come!

Canada Fishing Trip August 2005

August 19, 2005

Barely reached a rest area north of Kansas City before the rain hit last night. We backed up a little side road and rested comfortably with the rain on the van. Woke at our regular time this morning to a beautiful sunrise. Breakfast at Micky Ds and back on the road.

This is the coolest thing--Iowa has free internet access at their rest stops!

We are headed to Mason City. Flew by Ames, Hooblers, and thought of you. Wanted some of those delicious muffins on the south side but had eaten too much Amish peanut brittle purchased at the Iowa visitors center.

Well, got to get going Looking to get up in Lake country tonight but it looks like more rain for sleeping.

Sunday at Cedar Lake Lodge August 21, 2005

Cedar Lake is an island. There are six cabins like ours and 6 others that accommodate larger groups. Our cabin is modern with a hot shower. Our little kitchen was totally sufficient to cook three small walleye and six small mouth bass for supper. (More about that later) The island has a peninsula which is where the lodge is located. It is so narrow that our front porch overlooks one side and I can see the water on the other side from our back door. It is beautiful.

We both slept great last night. Dan built a fire in our little stove this morning while I fixed fried Polenta and eggs for breakfast. We headed down to our boat around 9:00--later than the diehard fishermen. It had rained earlier so we were fully outfitted with our rain gear. We arrived back at our cabin around 2:00 for fired hamburgers and salad. It was then we decided to hire a guide for a half day. We needed help.

After lunch, while Dan was visiting with some other guests, I decided to throw some "junk" in off the dock. I ended up with the walleye we had for supper and two bass. Then Dan and I went back out in the boat and Dan caught three more bass to my one.

The fresh fish for supper was wonderful--simply delicious.

Tomorrow--help from a pro.

This is Al, the owner of the camp with me and my string of dock fish.

Monday at Cedar Lake Lodge August 22, 2005

Another great night of sleeping here on the island. Dan had to start a fire in our stove again this morning--I would not be a good pioneer woman as I laid in bed until the cabin warmed up. Breakfast was fresh blueberry pancakes and eggs.

The day was beautiful once the sun came up. We were in our boat around 9:00 am. We took off north on the lake. We knew we were getting help with our fishing later, so we decided to explore the lake and also dip our hooks once in a while. While sitting in a shaded area, we had an opportunity to watch a Loon catch its meal. They are a diving bird--we should have timed how long it stayed down. We have also observed Eagles dive for food on several occasions. Eagles are plentiful here--a majestic bird--but have a disappointing sound, high pitched and short. It's the Loons that have caught our hearts. Out on the lake at night they sound beautiful.

Another observation about Cedar Lake--it is a natural lake. Unlike our man made lakes in Kansas, it has little islands sprinkled throughout. This picturesque setting is hard to capture with a camera, but I am trying.

Al and Kim are our hosts and the owners of the resort. Kim had to return to their winter home in Florida so we are getting acquainted with Al and his young employees, Brenden and Chelsie. Al is letting me use his computer to post my journal. This is just one of the many things he has done to make our stay both enjoyable and memorable. We missed the liquor store at Vermillion Bay. We lamented that fact to Brenden & Chelsie as we were arriving and they were leaving for the weekend. We no sooner arrived at our cabin and there appeared a case of Lucky Lager Biere Beer. We are totally hooked on this Canadian brew. Their brewing standards are different and it is good. This is Brenden and Chelsie.

At 5:00 pm Brenden loaded us in the boat. His fishing gear consisted of a rod & reel, a little bag of 1/8 oz jigs and minnows. We headed out to three or four of his favorite spots. He was an excellent teacher--we caught our limit of walleye and had to begin catch and release. We learned how to "jig"--for fish that is--and Dan caught one that has gone into the freezer to bring home. They go by inches up here, but it was probably between three and four pounds. Not huge by Cedar Lake standards by any means, but it was good by us.

More tomorrow---

Tuesday at Cedar Lake Lodge August 23, 2005

I like this sleeping in and having Dan warm the cabin and start the coffee. We didn't get up until 8:00 this morning because we finished cleaning, frying and eating our last night's catch at 11:00 pm. I was afraid I wouldn't sleep after eating so late, but no problem.

Our plan for today was to catch enough fish this morning for a shore lunch. There are sites all over the lake that have a fire pit and picnic table. Al provided us with a shore lunch box the first day, but we had not been able to use it because we haven't caught any fish by noon! This morning, we loaded our shore lunch box, some firewood, oil, favorite fish breading and beer. We headed out to catch our lunch. We did catch a walleye in our best spot from last night. Then we were unable to catch anymore there. By this time, we were hungry, so we decided to fall back on plan two--perch. They are easy and fun to catch. So, our lunch was on the stringer and we headed up the lake to the shore lunch spot that I had my eye on for two days. Unfortunately, someone had beat us to it. We headed on up the lake. The next one we came to was vacant and actually a better spot. Dan dressed the fish while I made the fire. There was a seasoned pan in the shore lunch box that had a nice long handle--perfect for cooking over the fire. The fish was ready quickly because they were little filets. We kicked back and enjoyed our meal with beers.

It was then back to the cabin to get organized until we went back out. Canada is very
strict about their fishing laws. We have one Walleye in the freezer, so our possession limit is three fish a day. Since we had one with our shore lunch, we could only catch two keepers. It didn't take long for us to start a stringer. Thankfully, they all stayed alive and we were able to keep the two biggest. Top top it off, there was a spectacular sunset across the water combined with wolf and loon calls. It was nearly dark when we arrived back at camp. Once again we were eating fried walleye at 10:30 at night--a perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Wednesday at Cedar Lake Lodge August 24, 2005

Today, we decided to take a break from fishing for a few hours. It was a beautiful day and probably should have been on the water as the word around camp when we returned was that the fishing was good. But, it was also a good day to travel.

Red Lake is one of the northern most towns in Northwestern Ontario. From the Cedar Lake Lodge parking lot, it was about two hours north. There is a very active logging industry in this part of Canada. It would seem they would never run out of wood up here as there are forests as far as the eye can see. We met many logging trucks on the road.

Ear Falls is about half way there. It is a small city that has a power plant where the falls was located. There was an information center located on the highway, and we never pass up an opportunity to pick up a map and information. The young lady working there was starting her junior year in high school so we learned about her school in the long, hard winters. She commutes by bus one hour each way to Red Lake High School. Her school had a girls and boys hockey team and the rest were indoor sports. She said they travel great distances for hockey games and might be gone several days.

After visiting the Ear Falls information center, we continued north. Red Lake is a clean, pretty city that sits on the shore of the lake. The city has many sea planes around the shore and there is actually an airport. In the winter the planes change to skis instead of the water floats. We drove around the city a bit and ate lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the lake. It was nice to be able to see the sea planes take off and land while we ate.

On the way home, we stopped by the local landfill. Al said this would be our best opportunity to see a bear. The landfill was sit up to have people back in with their trash and dump it over an edge. We parked and eased up to the edge and as we looked over, there was a big black bear looking back--maybe about five yards away. We didn't care
about us, though, as he had found a sack of trash that interested him. The diet of human garbage must have agreed with him as he was sleek and fat. On the road out of the landfill was bear droppings and it contained--a plastic trash bag, of course.

Tonight it was back to the lake to catch some walleye. We caught our limit with the biggest being 14 inches. Dan still has the biggest at 18. It was nearly totally dark by the time we returned to the dock. Dan cleaned the fish. I could not resist, I had to cook one of the small ones to eat around the campfire. Tomorrow is our last day to catch a big walleye--or two.

Thursday at Cedar Lake Lodge August 25, 2005

You might think we would be up and at the fishing this morning since we slacked yesterday, but I had to have my fire and coffee. Another round of fresh blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. The blueberries were purchased in Dryden on the way up to the lake. We found the maple syrup in Red Lake. I had to gather everything up for another shore lunch as we were feeling optimistic about our day.

We were off the dock around 10:30. The first spot was too rough. We had to have our usual "discussion" about where to go next. We decided not to argue with success so we headed to Sawmill Bay. We caught a couple walleye right away, but were small so they went back. I then had quite a thrill--a Northern hit my jig. They are fun to catch, maybe like a bass. It even jumped out of the water. It was over 20 inches long. I guess most people don't keep Northerns because they are not that good to eat. Dan did clean it for me so we could make a judgment on that issue--besides I was pretty proud of the catch.

Then Dan caught a couple of the biggest Perch I have ever seen. I bet they were nearly a pound. We headed to a new shore lunch spot, Dan cleaned the Perch and we fired fish over the campfire again.

After lunch, we continued to fish in another of our favorite spots. We love this place because the water is calmer and there is a beaver that swims around that is fun to watch. Also, we nearly always catch fish there. True to form, Dan caught another 18 inch walleye. What a beauty. We caught several more small walleye and small mouth bass. By then it was getting close to 4:00 and we had promised to cook the steaks and hamburgers we brought but never ate and had invited Al and Chelsie. Branden had to go to the dentist and missed the meal.

With that we are gathering up our stuff this evening. I will write a couple of observations about our week. First, I am not sure where the mosquitoes that we heard so much about are right now, but we have yet to see one here or on our way up. So, all the bug repellant we purchased has not been used. However, I should have brought more sun screen as we both have red faces right now. We should have brought more beer--it is the vegetable in the meals--and it is a bit pricey up here. However, as I said earlier we do like the Canadian brew. The rain gear has been used and necessary. The tackle box could fit in a cigar box--jigs, and that's about it unless you are into trolling. I am sure there are more, but I need to get our things packed up. It's been a wonderful, beautiful week. Tomorrow we are off to Thunder Bay and down the west side of Lake Superior on our way home.

Friday Pack Up Leave Cedar Lake and Rain August 26, 2005
We off loaded Al’s pontoon around 8:00 am Friday morning. It looked gray and rainy, but since we were spending the day on the road, it didn’t worry us. However, we didn’t expect the rain to “set in” as we say in Kansas. It rained the entire day sometimes so hard Dan had to run the windshield wipers on high.

The drive from Cedar Lake to Thunder Bay was pretty much the same as our trip north to Red Lake—trees, logging trucks and saw mills. Lumber has to be the main source of income for many of the residents in the northwestern part of Ontario. I had studied the map and information on the area around Thunder Bay and one place I wanted to visit no matter what the weather was Kakabeka Falls.

First, the story. The chief of the Ojibway (Chippawa in the states) named Chief White Bear heard that the warrior Sioux were approaching his camp on the Kaministiquia river. His daughter, Green Mantle, decided to take matters in her own hands. She walked up river and into the Sioux camp pretending to be lost. She convinced her foes that she was confused and would lead them to her tribe if they would just take her home. The warriors were elated that someone who knew the river so well would lead them to their destination. At this point, the story differs as to weather Green Mantle lived or perished. I prefer the one where her canoe was in the lead with the rest of the Sioux warriors tied behind. They all descended over the falls tied together. She led them to their deaths and sacrificed her own to save her people. The legend says that her image can still be seen in the mist over the falls. This falls is also called the Niagara of the north. It was beautiful and impressive in our full rain gear and umbrellas.

From the falls we decided, since it was 2:00, we would eat at one of the local ice cream/sandwich shops. The menu had something called Poutine. This was a new food, so we gave it and hamburgers a try. The Poutine turned out to be unbelievable. It was a huge plate of fries with curds of cheese (don’t know what kind) and the whole thing was covered with delicious hot brown gravy which sort of melted the cheese. Wow, what a meal. Also, the hamburgers were served with sweet pickles and sweet mustard relish.

Since it was still pouring down rain, we decided not to hike in to the Pigeon River site which was near the US/Canada border. This park was about the route of the Voyageurs (fur traders). I was sad as this site had two waterfalls!

We entered the US and progressed south along the coast. It was time we needed a spot to spend the night. We were thinking motel room since the rain was relentless. Grand Marais is a beautiful little town along the Lake Superior coast. We drove around looking for a “vacancy” sign. Everything was full. I ran in Best Western in full rain gear among the rather well dressed clientele and asked the rate for a room. They had one available, but we decided to give it some thought over a Sven & Ole’s pizza. (Dan’s brother tells really funny jokes about these two) We finally decided to have the Vild Vun (Wild One) which included wild rice on its topping. All the rain had made us hungry despite the Poutine and burgers.

It was during the pizza that the sky showed promise of clearing so we progressed down the coast a short distance to Temperance River State Park. We were glad we did. It was a beautiful setting for the night and it also had a beautiful waterfall that we enjoyed on an early morning hike. Sure beat a motel room looking at the parking lot.

Saturday Lake Superior and Home August 27 - 28, 2005

We awoke Saturday morning to blue skies. It took a bit for the fog to clear, but there was promise. On our way out of town at the start of our trip, we stopped at Cabela’s in Kansas City and purchased a little backpacking stove. Everyone who camps should have one. It fits in our glove compartment and heats water for coffee quickly. It was with a fresh cup of coffee made in our coffee press that we checked the map and planned our day.

If I were to recommend this trip, I would say to spend at least two and possibly three days covering the same territory. We could not do it justice in a day. However, we did see some beautiful sights.

The Temperance River State Park, where we camped Friday night, had a beautiful waterfall. The water fell down a narrow gorge and provided quite scene with the green trees on either side. When we turned the other direction we could see that same river flowing into Lake Superior. A great way to start the day.

From there we made our way down the coast. By this time the fog had lifted although it was still a little hazy. Even with that, we could see boats a long way out on the water.
Our next stop was Tellegouche State Park. This park boasted the highest waterfall in the state of Minnesota as well as a lakeside trail called Shovel Point. The waterfall was beautiful but we spent the most time on the shore enjoying the sound of waves and looking out over the water. The water was unbelievably clear—much different than the ocean. We watched mother duck and her brood swimming in front of us. We could have stayed longer, but moved on.

The picturesque Split Rock Lighthouse was next. It was built because many ships sailed the region carrying steel bulk ore. In one storm in November, 1905, 29 ships were damaged. The ore companies portioned congress to build the lighthouse. The water off the point has been called “the most dangerous piece of water in the world.” We did not take the time to tour the lighthouse proper, but as we moved down the road, we had an opportunity to take a picture of the lighthouse and the cliff where it is perched.

We arrived at Gooseberry Falls in time for lunch. We put our sandwiches in the backpack and hiked to the base of the top falls. Gooseberry Falls actually is three falls. At the edge of the falls are many rocks that can be climbed and sat on. What a great setting to eat a lunch. This falls seemed to be a favorite with families. There were numerous children enjoying the water with their parents.

From Gooseberry, we pretty much headed home. Twin Harbors and Duluth offer many attractions, but we felt like we needed to get though Minnesota by evening--which we did. We drove to one of the first rest stops in Iowa and “hit the hay” as my Dad used to say. This morning, it was through Iowa, part of Missouri and home. It was a great time!
Tomorrow I will add a few pictures to the posts.

Camp site in Cascade River State Park
Picture by Linda

Cascade River Falls
Picture by Linda

Lake Superior shore line
Picture by Linda

Split Rock Lighthouse
Picture by Linda

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