Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Day 8- off-roading for purple rocks

Well, we are still in the land of trees and windy roads  Will we ever get around Lake Superior?  It’s quite lovely in its vastness- and some of the views are stunning, but for the most part we are driving in this corridor of trees and rocks.  Again, I will say it – Ontario is BIG! Imagine those explorers and early settlers who traversed this land without the benefit of a highway to pull your mini-house behind you. 
Just after we left Thunder Bay we stopped in at Terry Fox Memorial site and spent some time learning about the courageous young man who ran with only one real leg for over 5000 km from Newfoundland all the way here until he was forced to stop his run because the cancer had spread to his lungs.  He was attempting to run across the entire country, raising money all the way – running a full marathon each day.  What an inspiration – it’s been about 35 years since he died and so it’s time to pass on his story to the next generation. 
According to Wikipedia, the Terry Fox run has gone on to become the largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research every year.   It just goes to show that you don’t have to be big, or old, or strong to make a difference in the world.
After that, we were still trying to kill time while Dana was unsuccessfully trying to get an oil-change done on the RV – so for the next potty break (there is usually at least one person in the van who has to go pee at any given moment), we decided to stop at the Amethyst Mines and Panorama that the priest at St. Andrew’s had insisted we tour. 
The sign off the highway said it was a short 7 km ahead, but as we started down the road, we realized that not only was there nowhere to turn around, we were committed to driving up a very steep, narrow  gravel road.  There were a few moments of concern as we wondered if the van could handle this excitement- but halfway up, we saw a sign that assured us there would be RV parking at the top.  That must mean RVs can actually get up there, we reasoned, so we kept going.  Then we got to the very steep part of the hill and Sean had to gear way down to first gear to make it… a few tense moments and hail mary’s later, and we were assured by another sign that the worst part was over (why didn’t they warn us at the bottom??).  The worst part was, along the way I was trying to text Dana that the road was a little dicey, but there was No service so the message didn’t get through.  

It turned out to be  a fun detour though- we went on a little tour of their amethyst mine and then were handed a bucket and a digging tool and were sent to dig up our own stones to take home for only $3/lb.  The kids were given strict instructions to abandon the buckets (can you imagine 8 pails of amythest and granite bumping around in the back of the van.

Everybody found a few special rocks and in the end we only walked off with $12 worth. What an adventure!!

With that unexpected stop behind us, we readjusted our camping destination and drove on through the forests to the little town of Marathon. 

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