After a day of shopping, two days of driving, and many stories to tell already, we’ve finally arrived in Pickle Lake, Ontario! The day before leaving, Michaela and Jessica attempted to buy 7 weeks of food from Costco and Price Chopper, resulting in two overflowing grocery carts and many funny looks. They also bought all of our teaching supplies, and after loading all of bags into Jessica’s front hall, we all wondered how everything was going to fit in Eric’s car.
The next morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn and somehow, with a lot of determination and some squished bread, we managed to pack up the car. We were finally on the road! For the trip up to Thunder Bay, Jessica and Kelsey rode in Kelsey’s car, rocking out to 500 Miles, and Michaela and Eric rode in Eric’s car, belting out the classics from Much Music 2000. As we got more and more north, we drove through more frequent snow squalls, rainstorms, and the beautiful scenery of the cliffs, forests and lakes of Northern Ontario. Stopping only for gas, bathroom breaks (one in which Michaela almost peed in Eric’s car), and a quick lunch, we arrived in Terrace Bay (two and a half hours away from Thunder Bay) around 8 pm. Sitting down for a nice meal, in which Eric’s “personal pizza” turned out to take up the entire table, we decided to get a motel room and avoid the danger of hitting a moose by night driving. This was the plan, until we realized that our two very full cars were receiving unwanted attention from several relatively unfriendly looking motel residents. Jessica and Kelsey had the awkward conversation of returning the motel key 15 minutes after we’d just bought it, and we were soon on the road again.
Jessica and Michaela were the designated animal watchers as we warily drove through the dark in the middle of nowhere, expecting a moose to jump onto the road at any moment. Though Michaela and Eric saw 6 deer and one wolf, we arrived at Jessica’s uncle’s house in Thunder Bay, exhausted but thrilled to have made it. The next morning, after a delicious breakfast at The Hoito with some of Jessica’s family, a grocery run for frozen goods, and some repacking of Eric’s car to squish Jessica and Kelsey into the back, we set off for the last leg of our journey. We thought we were going in the right direction, until we hit the Minnesota border. A quick turnaround, some dry heaving by Kelsey from the pungent smell of manure, and a few dirt roads later we were back on the highway heading in the right direction. We were told by Jessica’s uncle that you weren’t a true Northerner until you’d hit an animal: check (rest in peace little muskrat). It was a beautiful day for driving, and we even saw a couple moose! Our excitement grew when we passed the Mishkeegogamang First Nations sign, and again as we drove into Pickle Lake. We met up with our host, Sandra, at North Star Air and drove back to her home, our residence for the next seven weeks. After a very excited greeting and plenty of kisses from her two labs, Duncan and Charlie, we unpacked the car by lantern and flashlight, as the power was out.
We watched part of a movie, and then, exhausted from the long journey, we all fell asleep in our ridiculously comfy beds. We are so excited to go out today and start meeting people in the communities, as well as get to know Sandra better as she seems like a fascinating woman by all of the certificates and badges on her walls.