Ride Lake Superior: Day 3 Nipigon to Wawa

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The day started with my first go ’round with Timmy Horton. Delish. Scrumptious. Ok. So, maybe I’m giving away my lack of knowledge about Tim Hortons. They have one, right there in Nipigon. So, ot only can you start your day with a good cup of piping hot coffee, a fresh breakfast sandwich with a side of ‘breakfast’ tot…but they have DONUTS! Seriously! This place is a calorie gut bomb waiting to explode, on my tongue!

MOOOOOOOving on.

Tip #1: This is a 200+mile day. So be sure to plan out your ride, deciding when you want to arrive at your destination. This way you can back into how many site-seeing stops you can make along the way.

As we were running just ahead of the storm that was following our direction around the Lake, much of the next few days were kinda gloomy. The night before, Nipigon was enveloped in fog, as the storm settled low on the lake. There just wasn’t a whole lot to see as we rode into town. Certainly, there were no good views of the Lake.  We woke however, to a higher cloud cover, so we could finally see the Lake. The sun peeked in an out periodically, but it was still pretty chilly. While chilly, every view we encountered was just breathtakingly beautiful. (My ‘back seat’ photography took a little getting used to!)

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Tip #2: Pack bug spray or lotion. Holy cow, we traveled in July, but once you got away from the Lake and its breeze, you’d think it was the peak of mosquito season. Not Kidding. They Swarm. OH, and once again, your rain gear comes in very handy…just keep your helmet on and your visor down if you are not doused in insecticide. That works well in a pinch!

There are many great places to stop along the way. Take the time to ride down and see some the many waterfalls available for you to see.

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And odd landmarks,

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And, more poutine along the way! (Not nearly as good as Montana’s though. I’ll be chasing that ‘high’ forever.)

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And when you see the goose, you’ve hit Wawa!

Tip #3: The Visitor Center there is well worth the stop. There is very interesting history involved in the founding of Wawa. It’s just off the highway, and if you continue on, you’ll wind up at Young’s General Store. (See Day 4)

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We stayed at the Best Northern Motel:

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I highly recommend staying here if you stop overnight in Wawa. It was clean, quiet, well maintained, right on the highway, and they had an EXCELLENT restaurant on property. One appreciates the simplicity of not having to gear up just to grab a bite to eat at the end of the day! Especially when the weather is being challenging, and all you wanna do is warm up and relax. They have a full menu, but feature traditional Polish dishes. I ordered the cabbage rolls and pierogi. Hubby, the cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes. Oh wow…So, so good! This is fine eats at its best, in a casual, comfy environment.

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Rounding up a wonderful meal was a nice after dinner drink, followed by stogie time for hubby on their little deck:

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This wraps up our third day of our journey.
Tip #4: Be sure to stop and smell the roses along the way. It’s impossible to fit all the sights in if you are doing the circuit in one week. Have maybe one or two sights you’d like to see, that way you can have some freedom to stop spontaneously along the way, at places that catch your eye.

Next: Day 4. Wawa to Sault Ste Marie.


San Francisco, A Weekend Get-A-Way

With the graduation of my youngest from High School, Hubby suggested we take advantage of the opportunity of having both daughters around and available one last time, by taking a long weekend vacation trip together as a family. Deciding on a destination was easy. When he suggested San Francisco it was met with approval by all, so SFO it was.

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This was a great ’empty nester’ practice test run for me, traveling light; ie: carry-on. I set forth to acclimate myself to the mindset for the freedoms of being an empty nester. Since my husband travels quite a lot for work, I need to be able to pick up and go if I want to join him, and I do! We decided in advance we’d be doing lots of walking, maybe some shopping, eating only amazing food, nothing of which required any fancy dress .
With those parameters in mind, the girls and I headed to the airport with our carry-on bags, our TSA mandated ziploc quart bags, and an abundance of excitement. (Hubby was flying in to meet us from his business trip)

We were on time at the gate, patiently waiting our turn to board, when I hear my name on the P.A. system. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my name over a public address system, my first thoughts leap to trouble. A little concerned, I walked up to the gate agent to find out why I was paged. Low and behold I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to fly 1st class with my daughters!

WHA?

ME?

Well, HECK YEAH! And sell me a lottery ticket while you’re at it, because I never win ANYTHING!
Tell you what, first class for a 4 hour flight is just the perfect way to start a mini-vacation. Oh yes, yes it was.

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We arrived in SanFran just around dinnertime. We met Hubby at the hotel (Westin St. Francis) which was beautiful and a perfect central location, right on Union Square. We dropped the bags off in our room, freshened up from the flight, then headed down to the concierge to ask about places to grab a bite to eat. As I said, we were looking for good food, not fancy food. A hole in the wall would do nicely, and a hole in the wall she recommended. A short walk and we were at The Old Siam Thai Restaurant.

Now, as most here are familiar with, my youngest is gluten intolerant, not celiac. That gives us a little more freedom in our food choices and places we choose to eat, but asian is always challenging with it’s soy, buckwheat, oyster sauce and flour based noodles. Thai, however, is a lot of rice, rice noodles and fish sauce based dishes, not soy. That gives us a little more room to play with. The waitress there was extremely helpful and despite the language barrier (their english was not the most proficient), she dutifully checked for wheat and soy in all our dishes. She explained how best to order and helped us select a tasty meal that was by far the most reasonably priced of the whole trip. If you like Thai, which we do, this is a great find. I can’t say if a celiac can eat there or not, but if you intolerant, my daughter did just fine here.

After dinner we did a little walking around and I found myself breathing deep breaths, just inhaling that wonderful coastal air. After so many years landlocked, it’s hard to describe the soul satisfying comfort of that clean, slightly salty smell that comes off the ocean.

Have you ever had that moment when you realize that there was something missing, something in the deepest recesses of your soul you craved, but wasn’t aware of that emptiness until it hit you in the face? I grew up on the sands of Oregon’s beaches. Cool, crisp, sweet and salty air is as much of my childhood associations as mountains are. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until there it was, saturating my sinuses. I’m sure many a tourist travels to SF and they have never even made that association. I’m sure they are overwhelmed or mesmerized by the lights and bustle of the streets. I, however, was too preoccupied with the sea air, taking deep draughts of that soul satisfying breeze.
As we wrapped up the evening back in the room, I opened the window and let that wonderfully damp, brisk, bay breeze lull me off to sleep, dreaming of bare toes dug into the sand, accompanied by the roar of the ocean in the background. Don’t misunderstand, I know I was in the city, with big city obligatory rumble and roar of the city sounds. But this is different than any other big city to me, this is home…west coast home.

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Gluten Free Travel: Introduction

I’m no spring chicken as I have 2 girls (now 17 & 19) who I had in my 30’s. Therefore, I was blessed with the opportunity to do some traveling before settling down after marriage. As memories come forth, inspired by current life, I’ll share some of those great adventures, but the ones that come to mind right now are from my childhood growing up on the west coast and visiting the Hawaiian Islands. 

My friends in the mid-west can understand the context of Hawaii, in that they ‘do’ Mexico. On the west coast, you ‘do’ Hawaii if you are able. Acapulco has gotten rather unsavory for families and Cabo San Lucas is expensive. Disneyland is not for everyone, Arizona is freakishly hot and dry. So, if you are able, you go to Hawaii. 

In the mid-west, the popular destination is Mexico, primarily Le Rivera Maya. Having lived in the mid-west now for over a dozen years, we have had fun planning Disney Cruises out of Florida to the Virgin Islands (when the kids were very little), Mexico multiple times in various locations, and the inevitable family visits to relatives in Arizona.(I swear, all old people retire in AZ) 

So, time came to plan our yearly winter get-a-way. You see, I have to get away from the frozen tundra mid-winter or I would perish, or be committed. Winters in the northern Mid-West are not only brutal, but obscenely long. Cabin crazy long. 

Hawaii was not my first thought, but I have a couple of friends on Facebook who live on the islands. Their constant posting of photos, the food they shared and the culture all reminded me of my trips as a youth and inspired me to seriously chat with hubby about a trip to the islands. You see, while as a native from the West Coast, I had grown up going to the islands, none of my family has ever been. So beginning back in the early summer negotiation talks went on with the family and hubby. Hawaii is no breeze to get to from the Mid-West. It’s expensive to fly, it’s a brutally long trip, and it’s expensive once you are there.  However, we had a secret card to play. My hubby has been flying extensively for going on 16+ years, and fortunately a majority has been with one airline. So accrued miles were plentiful enough to get us 4 first class tickets to Hawaii. Oh yes, we burned them ALL up baby!

I have a friend who is a travel agent, and she foubnd us up with some very reasonable (and CLEAN) condos and the plans were set. This however, is the first time since my daughter was diagnosed as gluten intolerant (and we have discovered recently dairy protein or dairy fat sensitive). I can think of worse issues to have, but I will confess, the islands are a challenge. You see, soy and breading are a big part of the food culture here. Many things that are not breaded have soy. Fish dishes you’d expect to be ok, have soy or contain flour.

So this is the introduction to our families journey, gluten free traveling. I hope others can benefit from it. 

 (part 1: coming shortly)