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Stopping By To See Goldie (Hawn) and Kurt (Russell) In The Muskokas


Taking the Trans-Canada Highway from our home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to our home in London, Ontario, is a long, long drive. 7000 kilometers, to be exact.

 

Crossing Saskatchewan and Manitoba over miles of prairie and whispering grain fields holds a wonderful sense of freedom. You can see for miles, the roads are straight and the driving is easy. The land is as flat as a pancake and sunsets are sensational.

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Wheat field.

 

Canola (yellow) and Flax (blue) fields.
SK Canola Fields

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We have to say we were shocked to see giant marshmallows growing in the fields.

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(Until we realized they were wrapped bails of hay.)

 

Saskatoon is now known as the Paris of the Prairies. It’s a pretty city with a river winding through it and miles of walking and biking trails all along the river. The castle Bessborough, the old Canadian National Railway Hotel, sits as a sentinel in the centre of town on the North Saskatchewan River.

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Regina, the only other major city in Saskatchewan, is a windy city, dry and dusty in summer, with frigid winters. Even in Saskatoon, winters are brutal, with days where the thermometer hits 30 to 40 degrees below zero centrigrade. “But it’s a dry cold” they say, “Not like the wet biting cold of humid places like Southern Ontario.”

 

It’s not always cold in Canada. Summers in Canada are perfect. Warm and sunny days see everyone out working in their yards or fields, children playing outside, barbecues smoking, people walking or biking, and everyone enjoying mild nights with the sun setting late into the evening hours.

 

There is an attitude in Canada, where Easterners, especially Torontonians, think they are superior to Westerners. Westerners think Easterners are snobby and ‘scared to get their hands dirty’. Easterners think Westerners are all farmers and cowboys with little class or sophistication. To some extent, this is true. But there is a warmth and honesty to Westerners that is well-appreciated by many. The competition has abated somewhat since the economic crash in Eastern Canada (Ontario), while the economy of the Prairies has remained stable and solid, even growing. The East does not refer to the Maritime Provinces, which again, are generally thought of as an area of poor fishermen with little refinement. And don’t get me started on Quebec – that’s a whole other ballgame.

 

In the fall on the Prairies, the sound of a farm truck on a country road kicking up the gravel and leaving a blooming dust trail brought back memories of growing up on the farm. Combines urgently harvest the grain fields, and farm equipment is a common scene on the highways as farmers move to another field. Grasshoppers chirp and plug up the rad on your vehicle. Frogs sing as dusk falls, and watch out for deer crossing the highway. The sights and sounds of childhood live on forever.

Gravel Road Truck On

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Only when you get to Brandon, Manitoba, do you see a few soft rolling hills and more trees.
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We took a detour to stop and visit M in Morden, Manitoba, a lovely little town in Southern Manitoba. We got in after 9 pm and hadn’t had supper. Much to our dismay, everything was closed except a pizza place.  This is typical of small prairie towns – we should have known. And we just missed the Corn and Apple Fest.

 

It is flat again here until you hit the Great Canadian Shield near the Manitoba/Ontario border. Remember studying that in school? That massive splay of bedrock spreads like a grand sweep of paint on an angle across Northern Manitoba and Ontario.

 

There are few towns, often with nothing but your vehicle, the mountains and lakes and forests and bears and moose for hundreds of miles. There is nothing between towns, so if you’re looking for a gas or a bathroom, you may be in a bit of a bind, so to speak. You feel like you are in the far North, yet there is an excellent divided highway.  This is a Must-See area if you are driving the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s a region where there is lots of fishing, diving and hunting, with many signs for Bait and Ice. We saw two black bears, one near Marathon, and another near Sault Ste Marie.          

 

A dramatic change of scene as you drive along both before and after the Manitoba/Ontario border is surprising. Suddenly there is rock everywhere. Huge rock cuts along the highway have you imagining the gigantic boom from the dynamite that blasted away that rock to make way for the highway.

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The forest is thick and impenetrable. You imagine someone getting hopelessly lost in that forest, never to be seen again. Black bears are abundantly roaming the area, and moose signs are everywhere. Thousands of lakes spread beautifully along the sides of the highway. Not ordinary lakes. No, these lakes are dotted with rock islands and treed islands, big islands and small islands. Hundreds of pretty lakes. Who knew?

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In Dryden, take a stop at the Trading Post Motel along the highway to get a smile from the Super Hero statues and the little yellow plane.

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Bridge construction seemed to be on every bridge, with one-way lanes, so that slowed down our progress a bit, but gave us more time to look around. We must have crossed 10 bridges under construction.

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And mountains. Well, big hills really, but the locals call them mountains. Despite driving through in heavy fog, the mountains shrouded in fog, there were impressive views in every direction.

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In Nipigon, cute statues of bear cubs were along Front Street, and also big fish. The region is known for excellent fishing.
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Nipigon Bay had lovely panoramic views.
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“Watch for Falling Rocks” signs were around every corner.
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And we huffed and puffed up steep grades.
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Instead of burning off, the fog became even denser.
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Though visibility wasn’t great, the misty lakes were pretty.
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As vast as an ocean, Lake Superior was veiled in a blue fog that disappeared into the skyline.
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There are places to drive off the highway to experience waterfalls, suspension bridges and zip lines.
 
Schreiber is a pretty little town where T lived for a few years. Nestled in a valley between mountains, it felt quite cozy. 
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Expensive Gas in Northern Ontario.
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More fog and now rain.
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Marathon is a little town on a beautiful bay dotted with islands.
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Outside of Marathon, we saw a black bear! Albeit just a teenage bear, but exciting nonetheless. Apologies for the terrible picture  – I was busy saying, “Where? Where?!”
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If you ever find yourself in White River, be sure to stop and say hello to Winnie the Pooh. The story is fascinating.
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All along the North coast of Lake Superior, our amazement continued.
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In Wawa, get a giggle out of the giant goose. Then stop at Young’s General Store for all manner of paraphrenalia. Try to ignore the high prices, or just meander.
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Dill Pickle Barrel
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Player Piano Cartridges
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Inukshuks like this one are seen all over this area, even little ones at the top of the giant rock cuts, where some brave fools must have climbed up to set it up.
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Further down the road is another general store, very similar to the one above. This one had smoked whole fish.
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Take a close look at their door handle.
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We thought the grandkids might like this sign.
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But there was an even better sign that said:
Retired
Old Woman Bay, in Lake Superior Provincial Park is just gorgeous. 

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                                                                                                               Hiking view above courtesy panoramio.com 

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As you drive towards Sault Ste. Marie, the terrain softens with lower hills and flatter rocks.
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Just outside of Sault Ste Marie, we saw another black bear. This one was barely out of diapers and was so cute and cuddly that T wanted to take him home. 
 
Near McKerrow, we stopped along the side of the road to buy a basket of wild blueberries.
 
Then after rounding Lake Huron, the bluest of the Great Lakes, and its fantastic Georgian Bay, you arrive in Parry Sound, where you discover another gorgeous lakes area: the Muskokas. The Muskokas are very pretty, dotted with the same islands on every lake as in the North area, and in hidden coves, you see extravagant and expensive homes. Joseph Lake is the largest of the Muskoka Lakes and really beautiful. Properties in the Muskokas range from $500,000 to $25,000,000 with the average being in the millions. Most of the houses are hidden and if you’re lucky, you can see the boat house, which is the size of a small mansion.
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We planned to stop and visit Goldie and Curt who have a fabulous place on Lake Rosseau, but sadly, they sold there little cottage last summer for a mere $25,000,000 (There boat house was the size of a small castle.) So sorry we missed you Goldie and Curt. Let us know where you will set up your next cottage so we can come for a little visit. Locals say Goldie and Curt fit right into the community, and were often seen shopping at the Gravenhurst grocery store, or out for lunch or coffee.
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Bala is a charming little town in the Muskokas.
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If you ever find yourself in tiny Bala, be sure to stop at Bee Jay’s Grill  for an Orange Float. Their “Cola” themed shop is a sight to behold.
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Even the bathrooms were Cola-themed.
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More of the Muskoka Lakes.
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After the Muskokas, the landscape is rocky and shrub-covered with few hills.
 
As you drive towards Toronto, the land becomes flatter. Avoid Toronto like the plague unless you like 7-lane freeways, almost always backed up somewhere enroute for at least an hour.
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Heading into Southern Ontario in the London area, there are hills and glades, softly rolling countryside with green groves of trees and corn fields. Stop to buy some fresh corn on the cob.
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Arriving at our home near London after four very long days of driving the Trans-Canada Highway, was like the end of an endurance test, but one with amazing views along the way. Home Sweet Home.
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Trans-Canada Highway (Saskatoon, SK to London, ON

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Trans-Canada Highway (Saskatoon, SK to London, ON 43.277205, -81.079102
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2 Responses to Stopping By To See Goldie (Hawn) and Kurt (Russell) In The Muskokas

  1. Janice Marriott says:

    Fabulous photos! Brings back memories of a long ago trip including Wawa and along Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie. The photos of the Muskokas bring to mind other trips up north. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful province. It makes me itch to get in the car and go see the fall colours.

  2. Thanks Janice! It’s well worth the trip around Lake Superior. So many beautiful lakes and mountainous hills. Fall would be the perfect time to go!

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