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Taking a day trip, a road trip, to Canada with just a few days off in the summertime

A night stay in Superior and a night Stay in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a three day drive

August 27, 2019

2019-08-27 (7 images) Click a picture to see a larger view.

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Helton on the shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota 08_27_superior_shore_minnesota_0348_stitch.jpg 08_27_superior_shore_minnesota_0351.jpg 08_27_superior_shore_minnesota_1584.jpg 08_27_kakabeka_falls_ontario_0427.jpg Kakabeka Falls Ontario with Helton and Dennis Dennis Knuth at Kakabeka Falls, Ontario

Three days and two night in Superior and Thunder Bay, Ontario

5 days off equal a short fun road trip with Helton and Dennis.  It was rare that Helton had so many days together so we decided to make use of them

We left Monday, August 26 at about 1 pm after having spent the morning taking care of our gardening responsibilities at sister Sherri's in Durand.  We decided not to take the standard route up Highway 53 up to Duluth.  Rather, we took I-94 to the Barron exit near Menomonie, then Highway 8 West toward St. Croix Falls and then Highway 35 up to Superior.  It is entertaining to go through the small towns but we were hindered by some heavy rain out of St. Croix Falls and the rest of the way to Superior

We got to Superior at about 5 pm, found our way to an Super 8 motel on Superior Street and checked in.  We got lucky; next door to the Super 8 is a bar and grill called Gronk's.  It was a Monday night and the Monday night special was $1 Tacos.  The bar was full of local character and it made our first day on the road memorable.

Got some gas at $2.53 per gal in the morning after our 216 miles to Superior. Tuesday we were up at 6:30 and headed North up the "Northshore Drive" of Highway 61, famously sang about by Bob Dylan early in his career

Stopped along our drive up Highway 61 for some of the stunning scenery on Lake Superior.  Crossed the border at about 12:15 and entered the Eastern Time Zone.  It was a surprise to us, we had not known.

We got to Thunderbay at about 2:30 eastern time, drove around looking for a bank to get some local currency, the Canadian Dollar, and stopped at a KFC.  Stopped at Royal Bank to use the ATM, asked customer service the exchange rate which she could not provide.  We felt we were greeted rather coolly.  We were a little surprised, we had expected Canadian warmth, but didn't perceive any.  This remained true throughout our brief stay in Canada.  We only ended up being there for 20 hours (because it rained for the afternoon, night and next morning - it was windy and just too wet and cool for touring)

The Canadian Dollar was 77 cents to one US $.  We found the province has a 13% sales tax.  Gas was 1.309 per litre, which worked out to be about $3.80 a gallon US.  We were paying $2.54 US at home

We were not able to find a tourist information center by using our smart phones.  We found a Comfort Inn using them and called. They offered to help but we waited and waited and finally were cut off.  More coolness.

 We went to the motel using our GPS and found a room quoted at $139 Canadian but discounted to $107 for a AAA rate, it worked out to a little over $80 US after the room and sales taxes. Reception people also reflected the coolness we perceived at first

We headed for Kakabeka Falls, paid the Canadian $5.25 two hour use fee and tried to do a short hike but got unpleasantly rained on every time we tried to get out of the car.  Too wet to tour so we headed back to our motel.

We drove around the Harbor - beautiful and built for touring but again it was just too wet to get out and enjoy.

We spent an hour in the Casino downtown - its fun to spend dollars that are worth just  75 cents - we won about $30 Canadian

The downtown area we saw is inviting for walking and exploring the various restaurants but again the scattered rain showers just kept getting in our way.  We stopped by a very busy bbq house but there was 40 minute wait and it was too loud.  We stopped by a Thai restaurant that was full too but the menu was not something were in the mood for.  We  walked into an upscale steak house, the wait would have been brief but it was just too upscale - most plates were in the mid-$30 Canadian and up - $25 plus US w/o beverages

So much for looking for local character.  We were tired of dodging raindrops so we fired up our smartphone GPS and found and settled for an (Canadian) Applebee's near our motel.  An after 8 pm super dooper appetizer deal was C$10 - Helton's meal - and a Canadian sirloin was C$22.  Two drinks and a hearty meal was C$58, including tip - abut $43 US.  We would have spent about the same at home in the local Applebee's

Wednesday, the next morning, greeted us with more wet weather

We checked the weather for the day, more rain through the mid-day, then cloudy and windy with temps only in the 50's.  We choose not to feud with the weather, not spend money on another hotel night waiting for better weather on Thursday, the next day.  We decided to head home

Our overall impression of Thunder Bay was very positive.  There seem a lot to do and explore, but most of it requires you to be outside.  The city is respected as a cultural center of the province and we will see it again

The town is built and reflects the wide open spaces of Canada.  The avenues are wide and broad.  We had to turn around many times in expansive parking lots around town as we tried to find our way.  Our one bad impression of Thunder Bay is that the lots are full of huge and deep pot holes that every car needs to avoid - it is much worse than the street pot holes of New York city

We want to go back when the weather is not dropping water on us all the time

Our haste to get Canadian Dollars that we did not have time to spend left us with a surplus as we headed back to the US.  We didn't think of paying the motel bill with the C$ (we used a cc) so we had C$160 left.  We stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought a C$13.49 - plus 13% tax - coffee maker (the one at home just got broken)

No chances to exchange money as we approached the border (Thunder Bay is just 36 miles from the US).  We called RCU Credit Union, our bank, and they do not exchange currency.  A casino, in the US, not far from the border, exchanged the dollars at 74 cents - we had paid jut 77 cents - which is a fair rate.

Canada, and Ontario, has made medical and recreational Marijuana legal.  Commercial sales became legal just this year, 2019, in April.  We saw a large billboard advertising this in Thunder Bay.  We did not know or have time - we looked it up after we got home.  Hmmm, it is something to explore the next time

Did not buy the expensive gas in Ontario, got a refill after re-entering Minnesota at 2.69 a gallon

Drove back to Duluth and then down I-35 to Minneapolis, got stuck in construction traffic using I-694 to I-94 for over an hour and arrived at home in Eau Claire at about 5:30 pm - a 907 mile three day road trip

Re-filled again after passing Duluth at $2.43 a gallon

Oh, Minnesota - some of Minnesota's Interstate Highway off ramps do not have on ramps at the same location.  We got off on one of them to take our sweat shirt off and had to drive 15 miles on dirt top country roads to get back on I-35.  Thank you iPhone GPS.

Thunder, bay, impression, August, road, trip, Canada, day, nights, Ontario, Helton, work, Dennis

Photographs taken with Helton's Apple iPhone 7's and Dennis's Canon PowerShot SX50 HS