ON THE SHORES OF WHITE LAKE, Ontario — For many of us in Minnesota, “up to the lake” is a birthright. But living on the North Shore of Lake Superior, throwing on a swimming suit and lazing in an inner tube for hours in the water isn’t so much of an option. We can walk to a private beach from our house and hunt for agates, and my husband, Matt, likes to see ore boats on the lake because that means more work for him on the railroad, but we don’t spend a lot of time in the lake itself. We’re not familiar with purely recreational lakes.
That’s where we spent Tuesday night, on what our guidebook says is one of the warmest lakes in Ontario. At this point on the circle tour, roads pull away from Lake Superior and bring us into the interior, and so while we have pitched our tent on a lake, it’s not the lake. We miss the waves and rocks, but the kids run down to the sandy beach and wade right in, and in the middle of the night a loon calls urgently minutes before a thunderstorm hits our camp.
Many who have ridden out a storm in a tent say nature’s ferocity makes them feel humble and small. As I lie in my sleeping bag and listen to the rain hammer on the canvas, it is the realization that I don’t know where this storm is going that makes me feel disoriented and lost. There is little wind; there will be no hail to batter our shelter. But something as mundane as not understanding a weather pattern is what tells me I am Someplace Else and far from home.
We have been car camping so far, eating our meals out of a cooler and over a campfire. The first night was a challenge — we didn’t get to the camp until very late at night, when it was raining. The next night we pulled in with plenty of time, and had an early bedtime after swimming in White Lake and having an adventure with a leech. There are many hotels on the Trans-Canada Highway, but we figured a circle tour around Lake Superior required at least some camping.
We now push even farther away from the lake: Puksukwa National Park is along the lake’s northeastern edge, and there are no roads there. You have to boat in. Then we will angle back to Lake Superior and spend our last night on its shores.
After that, the Soo Locks, where we will spend a couple of days. A hotel, a long, hot shower, and restaurant suggestions — you all have provided some, are there any more?