The first day is entirely on the highway, a long haul of about 475 miles from Michigan to Canada.
|Date:||Saturday, July 22, 2006|
|Weather:||Warm and sunny|
|Traffic:||Heavy in stretches|
|Departure:||Beverly Hills, Michigan|
|Distance:||475 miles by highway|
Our boat is a trailerable boat, so all of our boating adventures begin on the highway. The long highway trip provides a transition from work to vacation, from home to new places, from land to water.
2006 Cruise on Ottawa River
Our cruise begins with 475 miles of highway trailering to Eaganville, Ontario. Then another 25 miles to Pembroke to launch our boat on the Ottawa River.
We depart about 8 a.m. on a warm Saturday morning. As we have often done in prior trips to Canada, we will be crossing the border at Port Huron. The expanded bridge facilities impose no delay, and even the Canadian customs and immigration checkpoint can be cleared with only a five minute wait.
Heading east on Highway 402, The Queen Elizabeth Way or QEW, we find the road unrestricted. The construction projects of prior years are finished, and all lanes are open. Unfortunately, the weather begins to cloud up and soon we are in rain. A cool rain is not the worst thing when hauling a boat on the highway, as it helps to keep all of the tires and wheel bearings nicely cooled. There is also the notion that it is better to encounter rain while on the highway than while on the waterway.
Approaching Toronto we decide to stay on the QEW, and we do not detour onto the Electronic Toll Road or ETR which heads farther north. This turns out to be something of an error, as progress on the highway soon slows to a crawl. A multi-car accident, probably caused by the wet pavement, congests traffic just east of Toronto. Even after clearing the accident, our speeds stay low and we are in very heavy traffic all across the Toronto region due to construction having reduce the number of lanes available. This delay adds another hour or so to our travel. Toronto is so heavily populated that there are suburbs with over one-million residents! It is quite a transition from the rural countryside we have been driving through.
Our GMC Suburban has a 44-gallon fuel tank, but eventually we need to stop for gasoline. The price at the pump in Canadian dollars per liter is $1.10. With a currency exchange rate of about CA-$1.12, this converts to US-$3.68/gallon. Adding $100 of fuel brings the tank back towards the FULL mark, but not quite.
Toronto is a halfway mark for us, and by early afternoon we are safely east and continuing on Highway 401 in light traffic along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The lake pops into view now and then, looking, as all Great Lakes do, like an ocean. We roll east until the exit for Highway-41, shown as a major surface road and leading directly north to Eaganville.
The map makers have fooled us, and Highway 41 soon turns into a twisty and hilly two-lane road without a shoulder, traversing a rugged lake region. It is interesting scenery, but not the fastest route to our destination. This is definitely not the "truck route" and we soon are the only vehicle on the road.
The rain is still with us, although it seems to be clearing. As we go farther north, the skies begin to lighten. By late afternoon, the rain stops, and the sun returns.
After about 40-miles we come to an intersection with Highway-7, and it is clear Highway-7 is the major route into the region. North from here the road improves, and by 6:30 p.m. we are nearing Eaganville, a small town of 1,200 which is the mailing address of our relatives, with whom we will be staying tonight. They actually live about five miles northwest of town, on the shore of Lake Doré.
The last ten miles of the trip take another hour, compounded by a wrong turn and some foggy recollections of the proper route, but by 7:30 p.m. we have arrived. It has been a long trip, 11-1/2 hours in the car, as we are delighted to finally relax and enjoy a relaxing dinner overlooking the water of Lake Doré, graciously provided by Chris's aunt Laurel. Her cottage is literally perched above the southeast shore of the lake, and from her windows one can see only water, no land at all, in the direction of the lake. A beautiful hand-painted sign picturing a loon gives the cottage the name "PARADISIO." It lives up to its billing.
The nine-day narrative continues in Day Two.
Copyright © 2006 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared August, 2006.