[RetroPost] Roadtrip to Whitehorse: Sept. 28, 2016 (Day 1)

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[All posts about this road trip are written retrospectively. On the road, we were too pressed for time for me to actively blog, plus Internet/cell phone reception were spotty due to driving through a lot of rural territory (Canada is a lot of empty space). The good side to this is that I can include pictures that were taken along the way.

Long story short, my friend, Jessica, was moving up to Whitehorse, Yukon for a job she had accepted, and for a number of reasons, decided to do it as a road trip. I joined her for the experience, although in the end, I couldn’t make it all the way there before I had to return home for my own work.]

Start day! And it was an early start indeed. We had planned to drive all the way to Thunder Bay, approximately 1,006km away, so I picked up Jessica around 6:30am and we were in her U-haul truck and on the road by about 7:00am.

Speaking of which, I have to talk about the U-haul. It was huge, and attached to the end was a flatbed trailer holding her Jeep Renegade. Navigating tight spaces was damn near impossible, so we kept to open spaces and straight roads as much as possible. We could not use a smaller U-haul as it wouldn’t have had the towing capacity necessary. The cabin of the truck, on the hand, was small. Sure, it would have been fine if it was just me and Jess, but Jess also has a large dog (a golden retriever/great Pyrenees mix) named Remi. Poor guy had to squeeze in between us and it took him the majority of the day to find a comfortable position.

Jess took the first part of the drive out of town. However, about 40-45 minutes into the trip, I realized I didn’t have my cell phone. Luckily, I had left my spare car key with Jess’s landlady, who was keeping my car for me. We gave her a call and she said my phone was in the backseat of my car – I likely dropped it accidentally while grabbing my bags. There was nowhere for us to turn on the 2-lane highway, so we stopped at a farm/greenhouse near Espanola, as there was plenty of space for us to turn around. We briefly thought about turning around and driving back into town, but we would lose over 2 hours of driving time by doing that. Instead, Jess’s landlady kindly said she would drive it to us.


The greenhouse we stopped at. Great people, all around.

We waited about an hour there and chatted with the family (and used their bathroom, LOL). They were really friendly and the husband even turned our truck and trailer around to make it easier for us to get out onto the highway, as backing up with the trailer was a lot of trouble for us (and would continue to be throughout our trip). We got a bit nervous, though, when the lady there told us we wouldn’t make it to Thunder Bay, and that Wawa was far more realistic. We considered cancelling our hotel reservation in Thunder Bay, but decided to leave it and see how far we got.

After about an hour, Jess’s landlady arrived with my phone. I gave her some money for the gas, thanked her profusely, and then we were all on our way again.

While I napped, Jess got us to Sault Ste. Marie, where we stopped for gas, a bathroom break, and quickly at Best Buy for a TV rack that was on sale, and I bought myself a new charging cable, as mine was really positional when charging a device.

I took over driving so Jess could get some rest. I was very nervous driving such a large vehicle, and especially on the more rural roads with little to no shoulders, we couldn’t allow the trailer to hit gravel at high speeds, as it would throw it out of control – scary! So, I watched that sucker like a hawk through my side mirrors. Once I got semi-comfortable, though, Jess closed her eyes to rest while I continued driving.

The coastal drive around Lake Superior was honestly beautiful (and now, I can finally say I have seen all 5 Great Lakes). The water was a deep blue surrounded by steep cliffs and forestry. I wish I could have taken a picture, but it would have been dangerous to do so and Jess was asleep. The only problem was the hilly road – the U-haul truck definitely did not do well on inclines with all the weight attached to it. The hazard lights and the truck’s engine got a good workout. But slow and steady wins the race, so that’s what I did.

We arrived in Wawa a little before 4:00pm. One of my must-sees on this road trip was the famous Wawa goose. We stopped for gas again (we realized at this point that the U-haul was a big gas guzzler) and let Remi out to stretch his legs. We didn’t have time to stop at the original Wawa goose, but the gas station had a replica of the original statue (which apparently sits in Fort Friendly to the east).


Remi, peeking out the window of our truck as we stop for gas.


A replica of the original Wawa goose.

Jess took us the rest of the way to Thunder Bay, as we had decided to press on. We arrived in Thunder Bay around 10:30pm, but our hotel had construction around its entryway. We pulled into the large parking lot of a paint store next door, but instead of being able to circle around the back of the store, it was a dead end. It probably took us half an hour alone trying to back the truck and trailer out of that space. When we finally got it out and checked into our hotel, we were so exhausted we pretty much just showered and passed out in bed.

A long day, but we did it!

Travel path: Sudbury > Sault Ste. Marie > Wawa > Thunder Bay
Distance covered: 1,007 km
Distance to go: 4,464 km

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