Just driving onto the MS Chi-Cheemaun is an experience that filled us with a sense of novelty. It’s like you’re a tiny little dinky car boarding this humongous vessel. The Captain even blasts the foghorn before casting off. We heard it from our campsite 15 kilometres away! The afternoon we crossed, we actually headed into some poor weather. Before long it started raining and the decks were quickly vacated as passengers vied for window spots inside the cabins. We remained outside under some roofing until the rain stopped and I slipped up to the upper deck to get some rare photos of it empty. The brightly painted colours were too good a contrast to the dark waters and skies to pass up.
Even though we had arrived on the island around 4pm we decided to head straight to our campsite at Gordon’s Park due to the inclement weather. The park was rather homey and unique. It boasts a nature museum, showers, flush toilets, a kitchen area outside with a stove and barbecue, a dark sky astronomy observatory, hiking trails, wifi, and a charging centre. Whether you’re looking for a simple campsite or a bed and breakfast, they have it all. We took advantage of everything except the observatory and trails. In the morning we headed out for Providence Bay and Lake Mindemoya. By the time we arrived at the lake, the storm that had started that morning was in the distance and we watched it leave us as we picnicked. We were ecstatic it moved on – we had been looking forward to hiking the famous Cup and Saucer Trail that is just north of M’Chigeeng. On the way we stopped and explored a native trade shop in the M’Chigeeng First Nation. All of these reserves were quite small and it seemed like there were not many people around. We had been hoping to experience more of the culture, but a lot had closed up after the long weekend. Nonetheless we enjoyed what we saw.
The Cup and Saucer trail exceeded all expectations. Although it was poorly marked at times, it was a hike that took our breath away. The vistas and drop-offs were absolutely stunning – enough to make my palms and feet sweat. Seeing Manitoulin at those heights was unforgettable and we would do it again in a heartbeat.
For our second and final night in Manitoulin we decided that Little Current would be a good place to have our first go without accomodation. That is, we were planning on parking in public and sleeping. While you can legally do this in some Walmart parking lots and rest stops, other places you may be asked to move on if caught. Fortunately, Little Current is a very safe and relaxed town (all of Manitoulin is). A quick drive through brought us to a spot that was unmarked, lit by streetlights, far enough away from the downtown road that it was nicely secluded, but close enough to feel at ease. It was right on the harbour. As we settled down for the evening we watched the sun set over the sailboats out the CR-V’s trunk window.
In the morning we drove up McLean’s Mountain after a run. We enjoyed one last view while eating breakfast and then headed to Blind River to visit some of my family and stay overnight. It was a wonderful stay, a home away from home. We were even treated to a ride in a custom vehicle that you just have to see for yourself.
It’s been only one week and we’ve experienced such a number of things. It still feels like we’re close to home in a sense – and really, we are. You could easily travel to the places we have so far, relatively speaking. I don’t think that it will feel like we’re far away until we cross borders. The amazing thing is this is all Ontario and we won’t even touch most of it. It truly is “Yours to Discover”.
Until next time, adios.