Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lake Superior Circle Tour -- Day 15

We left our motel in Nipigon and headed to town for breakfast, where we had the weirdest experiences of the trip.

At the cafe, we ran into three guys on motorcycles from Ohio. Harleys. They were Harley men. We walked into the restaurant before them and when they walked in, I couldn't believe it was the same guys. They were scrawny little yuppies. And they sat at a table near us and talked loudly and boisterously about actuaries, retirement plans and the economy. Harleys just don't mean what they used to.

After that, a young man came in and the waitress greeted him by name. He sat behind us and began having the wildest, craziest conversations with himself, complete with sound effects. My back was to him and I kept making faces at Boyfriend Extraordinaire, trying to get him to explain wordlessly what the heck was going on behind my back. He pretended he didn't understand what I was asking. It wasn't until I got up to pay that I realized the poor guy behind me was crazy, and I don't mean that in a derogate, condescending way. This guy was having conversations with other people who didn't exist. Child-like conversations. Exuberant conversations. He scared me just a little. As we left the restaurant, B.E. must have felt some affection for the poor guy and he said goodbye to him, calling him by name. Okay, maybe I'm the crazy one. Maybe they were talking and I just didn't hear B.E.'s end of it. He explained later that he felt sorry for him and just wanted to be friendly. Leave it to him to be so nice it freaks me out.

We drove through town one last time and again, I didn't take any pictures. Yeah, clearly I wasn't feeling well.

B.E. liked all the old, historic buildings in the former business district, but this one in particular amused me. Men's entrance?

Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Without a doubt, the most scenic section of the entire Circle Tour occurs between Nipigon and Marathon, Ontario. Hands down. Words can't describe it.

But I'll have to try since we didn't take any pictures.

The roads are hilly, with sharp inclines and declines, with the road itself being carved deep into the rocks, making you feel like you're driving through a cave sometimes. The highway twists and turns as it follows the shoreline and what will happen will just take you're breath away. Up a hill you'll drive, steep, slow and through rocked walls or dense forests, and at the top of the hill the road will curve suddenly, rocketing you downhill and to the left. Before you can even brake your car to a manageable speed, there will be an opening in the trees by the lake, and you see for miles and miles across the blue water, small islands peppering the lake and the jagged, rocky cliffs and trees that jut out into the water. Sometimes the view will afford you a view of the small peninsulas that make up the irregular shoreline and other times you will have a majestic view of the span of your vision, from 200 or 300 feet above the water, just miles and miles and miles of lake. It seems unending. It's sapphire blue where it's deep and aqua green where it's shallow. B.E. always says it looks so much like the Caribbean that he never stops being amazed. And it is amazing. And breathtaking. And dangerous. If you can shut out the highway that you're on, it looks like you imagine it had when the Indians first settled in the area, and the same way it was when explorers first invaded. It's timeless. Utterly and completely reflective of ancient earth and modern earth all at once. And I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures.

At some point, when we were nearing Rossport, I started barking at B.E. to take some road shots because we hadn't shot any the entire time. We had leveled out to much lower elevations by then and his photos were not as dramatic as the scenes earlier, but still, the infinite lake is there.

Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Much of the road is carved into the rocks, and on these rocks are where you find the Inukshuks. We, again, failed as photographers and did not snap any pictures of roadside Inukshuks, but this is the way the highway looks, and you can imagine four or five different little rock men sitting on the tiers of stone, each with a unique design and personality.

Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Rossport is a great area, and the wayside just outside of the town is totally cool. The smooth rocks are reminiscent of Stoney Point in Minnesota, but these rocks are mainly reddish in color. It's a very fun beach to walk around on.

What's really interesting is the contrast of the red rocks with the green algae with the aqua water softly lapping on the mixture of colors.

There was this cute guy in a handsome flannel shirt (he is always cold) taking pictures of the orange and green lichens on the rocks, which interested me less than the algae. We appreciate different flora. Opposites attract, I guess.

At first I found the graffiti at the beach to be amusing. It was all so friendly. So-and-so loves so-and-so, and all the people who wanted the world to know they'd been there, it just seemed so nice.

But in Rossport, it's all over the rocks! And it's huge! And it seems everyone feels the need to spray paint something on the rocks! And it made me mad. I did not come from Chicago (burbs and all) where graffiti is a plague, to see nature in abundance vandalized like this. It made me angry. I had to leave.

We drove straight through Schreiber and stopped briefly in Terrace Bay, which was B.E.'s favorite of the small Canadian towns. It didn't have much of a cool harbor, but he liked the way it felt like the economy was more stable, people had nice houses, and there were businesses all over. I understand. Personally, I preferred Nipigon, but I understood the comfort of being in a more bustling area.

Briefly, we drove down to the beach. We didn't hike to Aguasabon Falls like I wanted to, but we did see the sparse amount of water the river unleashed at the mouth of the river. Not the gushing, massive river I'd read about, but then again, this region is in such a weather rut, I'm guessing water levels are more unpredictable than ever.

We finally reached Marathon and drove into town to check into our motel. It was laundry day, so we had to do some quick shopping at the grocery store and get some change for the machines at the laundromat. It was a nice little laundromat and only half the machines worked, so it took quite a while. When it was finally done, we drove to the beach to enjoy the fading sunlight.

There is a factory of some kind on the south side of town, right on the lake. Unsightly thing. Nearby is the beach, which itself is a bad idea. We parked at the beach and had our coffee break while enjoying the view. It's a really beautiful area if you don't look to the left at the enormous factory.

The problem was, something near the beach stunk. I'm not talking about the smell of algae and water, nor am I talking about exhaust or gasoline. I kid you not, it smelled like sauerkraut. The smell was so intense that it burned my nostrils. We didn't even get out of the car to walk on the beach, and I was anxious to leave the area for fear that it was some kind of chemical we were inhaling. B.E. tried to assure me it was just the smell of rotted fish. I live near enough to Lake Michigan to know what rotten fish smell like. That was not fish. I don't know what it was, but I couldn't take it and we just had to go.

Somehow we stayed out too late and made it to the hotel's restaurant after they closed. The only place in town to get food after 8 PM was the local sandwich shop. The teenager in the sandwich place was hilariously clueless. I asked what kind of soup they had and he said he didn't know -- something with beans. This kid didn't know much; couldn't answer any of our questions. Finally we took our sandwiches back to the room and shook our heads in amazement. Good thing we didn't ask him how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit.

With clean pajamas, we bid adieu to another fabulous day on the road. Even if Marathon's beach smelled like sauerkraut, it was still quite beautiful.

No comments: