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Riding The Kings Highway

Motorcycling articles by Leonard R.

Leonard - Motorcycle Touring contributor
Once upon a time, in the fall of a long time ago, Judy and I went North from Grand Portage, Minnesota, to the Canada / U.S. border, a distance of 3 miles to ride the "King's Highway." Although I will confess, I didn't know it was the King's Highway, until I saw a sign proclaiming the same a few days later. It was our first foray into Canada and we were filled with excitement and apprehension. The excitement I can understand, but not the apprehension. Perhaps the fear of getting lost or leaving something important behind. Or the fear that the border guards might think we were scrupulous characters, caused some uneasiness. So, I told Judy to take off her disguise and act like a librarian.

Kings Hwy motorcycle touring map

None the less, we pulled up to the Canada border guard house. A man leaned out the window and asked me to shut the motorcycle off. We did. Another man came out and took a look at the bike and the trailer behind and got this look as though we were going to be a pain in the butt. He asked us both for our drivers license. Then he asked a series of questions. "Are you citizens of the United States?" (No, we're from Krypton. We crashed in the States.) "How long are you going to be in Canada?" (Until we get our fill of Molson Canadian beer or until you kick us out, which ever comes first.) "What is your license plate number?" (What? Are you to lazy to walk back and look? Is this a test to see if I am on the right bike?) "Do you have anything to declare?" (Yes, we got to pee.) "Do you have any fire arms?" (Not with us, but we do have a six shot cross bow.) "Do you have any alcohol or tobacco?" (No, we drank all our whiskey just before we got here.) "Where are you going to cross back into the United States? (We're going to take a gravel road where there aren't any border guards.)

Okay, those were the real questions, but not the truthful answers. The real answers are as follows. (1. Yes) (2. About 3 weeks.) (3. I don't know. I'll have to look.) (4. I don't know. That is, I don't know what has to be declared.) (5. No guns, just a hunting knife.) (6. Yes, I have a pound of pipe tobacco. This was actually the limit on taking tobacco into Canada at the time. See? I did my research.) (7. We plan on crossing back in at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.)

Then the kind guard asked us to open our saddle bags to see if there was anything he could steal... oops, confiscate and like wise with the trailer. After looking at all the contents stuffed into the trailer, he said close it up and "Welcome to Canada, but first leave your four sticks of firewood tied to the back of the trailer." That is because of wood bugs and such, we were told. But I suspect they were going to have Brats and Beer after closing and need the wood to roast the brats over.

That's it? After all of our careful preparations? Judy was disappointed and I was relieved. Speaking of which, we asked, "where is the closest truck stop." Actually, the Canadian border guards were super nice and very efficient. We really did like them.

Three years later when we crossed back into the U.S. into North Dakota from a different trip, the guard did make us unpack the trailer and spread all the contents out on one of our tarps. We had to open and un-zip everything. He checked everything, right down to uncapping the tooth paste tubes. It took three hours to get through.

A tip: If you plan on crossing the border in either direction do it in the morning, And pee first. If the border is busy, you might wait in line for hours before getting checked. Then another hour for your self. Also bring along proof of insurance coverage for the country you are visiting, prescriptions for all your medicines and bribe money. Just kidding.

Kings Hwy motorcycle tour - Thunder Bay on tour So, we passed into Canada and rode the next forty miles (64k) to Thunder Bay, Ontario. In essence, Thunder Bay really is the front door to Canada, in this region. We adjusted our thinking from miles to kilometers. 60 mph became 100 km/h. The speed limit for the most part was 100 km/h, but we realized after getting the hell scared out of us that the unofficial speed limit is anything above 150km/h. Not wanting to meet a Provincial Judge, we always kept our speed at 100km/h.

Thunder Bay is a beautiful city and worth exploring. We took about an hour to ride around, mostly trying to find a grocery store. Way off in a bay we saw a wonderful light house. If we would have had the time and ridden closer, we could have taken a picture. The city has both very old colonial style buildings as well as ultra modern. The streets were perfect. Wide, no pot holes, smooth dips and well marked. The drivers in the cars were courteous. We found a Safeway store, which we didn't expect. We thought they were only in the United States. We got our groceries for the next several days, packed them into the trailer and headed out northeast on Provincial Highway # 11, "The King's Highway."

KingsHwy Motorcycle Tour to Thunder Bay Ontario Canada We see Ontario's first beauty a few kilometers past Thunder Bay. The highway was smooth and very nice to ride. Surprising to us, the traffic seemed light, even so close to a large city. The landscape was pretty with pine trees growing right out of the rock sided bluffs along the road. The hills were gentle with nice rounded curves. On this day, the sky was cloudless and azure blue. Sort of a robin egg blue. Is this motorcycle heaven or what?

Excuse me if I don't mention all the towns we rode through or past. Time is limited and as you know, the highway sometimes sings you into a lull and you jerk out of it with a "where in the hell are we" startle. So, I'll mention the towns I remember and took notes about.

We passed through the village of Loon, Pearl, and Dorion. While passing Loon, we did see a train with blue engines. We rarely see colorful engines in the States. We passed Pearl not seeing anything worth mentioning. Later in the day we were told that Amethyst is mined there and explorers were always looking for the gem in the quartz pits. Too late for us to go back and explore. ( A question: If they mine amethyst, why is the town called Pearl?) After passing Pearl, our map said we were passing Ouimet, but we didn't see it. I think by now, Judy my Navigator, (she tells me where to go) had fallen asleep. I reason this because, it had been at least a half hour since she had slapped me on the helmet. Anyway I didn't see Ouimet. I turned into the small town of Dorion, because I actually saw some buildings. It's a tiny quiet town with a store we would call a "feed store" in that it appeared to sell feed. The town looked a lot like an Iowa farm village. After a minute or two, I made a u-turn on main street and went back to the highway. Judy must have awaken when I made the u-turn, because I got a resounding slap on the helmet.

KingsHwy motorcycle tour - take time to smell the flowers - Lipinus We continued North and rode the 6 kilometers into Red Rock. What a wonderful little town. Nice new houses along with a few old. A huge mill or factory of sorts and a nice little main street with a few interesting looking shops. We rode to the docks on Lake Nipigon and thought the view was visually stunning. (I couldn't find the photos we took.) If you are in the area, I think the town is worth a visit.

We retraced our steps and once again turned north. We passed the intersection where highway #11 and #17 split after Nipigon., thinking east # 17 might be a nice ride also someday.

I think it was just north of Nipigon where we turned into Ouimet (Pronounced We-met or We-may) Canyon Provincial Park. We wanted to see the canyon, but not to camp, since it was mid day. The road into the park, was nice asphalt, curvy and hilly. As we rounded a curve on a flat stretch we saw a wide open field covered with some sort of plant life. I slowed wondering what kind of crop they would be growing in a provincial park. As the young kids would say, "Like Wow." It was a huge field of marijuana. Grass. Weed. Hippie lettuce. I couldn't believe it. Then I saw the sign. "Industrial Hemp. THC less then, well, what ever" The sign continued. "Anyone caught in the field will be buried where they are shot." Or something to that effect. So, I managed to drag Judy back to the motorcycle and we got out of there. I'm real allergic to bullets.

We pulled into the park and talked briefly with some people on the parking lot in front of the visitors center. "You're from Iowa?" They thought it funny when we replied "you bet" to their questions. "You bet" is an Iowa thing. We also say "sure and yep" a lot. We met the hostess of the visitor's center, who was nice, and gracious enough, to let us use the wash room, with out charging us the two dollar parking fee. As the sign posted out front said, "If you aren't paying, you aren't staying." Or something to that effect. So, we did our washroom thing and left. We didn't have time to hike the 3 kilometers to see the canyon. But, the ride in and out of the park was worth the side trip and loss of time. From what we saw, it would be a beautiful park to camp in for a few days. I suspect there are some big fish in the canyon river too.

KingsHwy motorcycle tour - Geraldton area
We continued on # 11 through Beardmore. It is a nice small twn seeming to have all the necessities to live. It is proud of the fact that it had ,or perhaps still has, the world's largest snowman.

We learned something early into our ride when stopping in small towns. Small town people are easily confused where money matters are concerned. Lets say you bought something for $4.03. And you give them a five dollar bill with 3 pennies, so as to get back a 1 dollar bill and not a lot of change. Oh gosh, I forgot... 1$ and 2$ coins. Loonies and Toonies. What always seem to happen is the clerk would still give us 97 cents in change and then return the 3 pennies. Needless to say, with all the change and the loonies and toonies, we ended up with bulging pockets. It didn't take long to start buying our fuel with the excess change.

KingsHwy tour Leonard and Judy at the Longlac Post office Also, the small town gas attendants, at least the one in Geraldton, are devoted and insist on fueling your gas tank. This is fine as long as the young lad doesn't engage in conversation with a curvy blonde high school girl on the other side of the pumps. This happened to us. I was stunned to see the kid talking to the girl, all the while he pumped 37 liters (10 gallons) of gas into a 15 liter (4 gallon) tank. How he didn't know all the gas was running onto the ground as he talked to the girl is beyond me. I got his attention by gently telling him that his head was stuck in an unusual place. Well, maybe I yelled something more provocative along those lines. We got the fuel flow stopped and politely requested that the clerk only charge us for 7.5 liters. (2 gallons.) He was apologetic and did only charge us for that amount. Which almost made us feel guilty since the tank was nearly empty. The station owner even let us wash the tank, seat, wheels and engine with his garden hose. Ice cold water and no soap helped. After that Judy would threaten anybody who attempted to put gas in the tank. Don't kid yourself. She's pretty scary with a # 24mm box end wrench swinging in circles over her head. She scares the hell out of me sometimes.

Other lessons on this stretch. Judy asked where the bathroom was? The clerk looked at her like Judy was a foreigner. Well, I guess we were. The lady asked "What?" Judy repeated her self. "Where's the bathroom?" The lady asked, "Where's what?" Judy then changed her tactic. "I got to pee, where can I go?" "Oh, you mean the Wash Room. It's around the aisle and to your left." Wash room. We got to remember that. It's important.

Kings Hwy tour near Nagagamisis Perhaps one becomes more acute of their surroundings when riding on a motorcycle. Or perhaps there isn't the walls to block things coming to the senses. But the fall colors seemed more brilliant and vivid. The odors more pronounced. The sounds more clear. Perhaps I am a little strange, but I enjoy odors. Judy does too, but not the same kind. She enjoys the more pleasant smells. Smells like fresh cut hay, sweet apple orchards, cedar pines and flowering fields. I like those too, but also get a peculiar satisfaction from farm lots, except poultry lots, the floor polish like smell of swamps and bogs, rain washed rocks and other smells. On this stretch it seemed there were new odors every few minutes. Often in the middle of nowhere we would encounter smells like sin-sin, chocolate, jasmine, fresh baked bread, wet laundry and hundreds of others. Maybe they came from cabins tucked away out of sight in the woods. We played an unofficial game, where we would assign a name to the different smells. Of course some were given the name of "phew, what the hell was that?"

This day was coming to an end as the western sun was close to the horizon, so we opted to camp at Lake Nipigon Provincial Park. It's was a pretty park with hard packed gravel roads. Within seconds upon our arrival at the park a young lad about 23 or so approached us. "Nice bike, eh?" We replied, "Yes, we like it." He asked, "You're from Iowa, eh?" Again we replied yes. (I think he was a stand in for Fred Ewanuik (Hank) from the TV show, Corner Gas.) "Hey" he says. "There's a cool camp site down by the lake, that would be perfect for you guys." Judy told me to go along with him and checked it out, before riding down there. I was quite excited thinking we would be camping next to the lake, away from the RV'ers. However two things changed my mind at the same time.

Kings Highway motorcycle tour near Hearst ON First the road going to the lake was down a steep incline and was made of red, powdery clay. If it rained during the night, we would be trapped. We've had to navigate slimy red clay on flat ground and would have never made it back up the hill. The second thing to change my mind was the young man's statement.

He said in a manner as though he said it often. "You know, I am paranoid schizophrenic and on occasion I have had this urge to kill somebody. But, as long as I am on my medication, I feel pretty good." When we got back to where Judy had remained with the motorcycle, I explained to her in front of the young man, about the road surface and the problems we would have getting the bike and trailer up the hill. She understood me completely and so we picked a level camp site, very close to the RV'ers. Then I made the excuse that we had a lot to do and wished the young man a pleasant evening. He left and I told the story of the lad's and my conversation. Judy agreed that we had made a good decision at staying close to the big camping busses.

Later, as we sat under the stars sharing a small pot of coffee, the young man returned with more, heart warming news. "I quit taking my medication several weeks ago" he said with out a lead sentence. "I quit, because I didn't think it was doing any good and besides, they just want to keep me doped up, so I really don't know what is going on." Judy and I having spent our working lives with the mentally challenged, gave no outward reaction. Judy explained that we all take medication in one form or another. (Morning coffee?) And that he should too. Since we were not allowed to bring a fire arm into Canada, we slept very close to our small hatchet, fillet knife, Judy's boot knife and hunting knife. Judy put her camp whistle close at hand too. We slept good but, we were perked for the slightest noise. The night passed with out incident and we didn't see the lad after that night. The next morning I took down Judy's garlic and wolf bane and aired out the tent.

A tip: Judy and I have encountered a lot of weird people in camp grounds most anywhere. People more weird then us. And a woman in a campground is most vulnerable going to and from the washrooms at night. So Judy wears a coaches whistle around her neck when she makes the required trip. In danger, her blowing the whistle might scare off the attacker and would most certainly alert me.

The next morning we continued North under clear skies and crisp cool autumn air. It was going to be another perfect days ride. The scenery remained much the same as before, with a lot of pine trees along the road, with a few breaks allowing us to see some pasture. We saw thick, wide stands or fields, of some pretty purple flowers. They were gorgeous. We stopped a few times to take pictures of the flowers and weeks later, looked them up in a book. They were either Lupinus Prennis or Lupinus Magnificence. Regardless they were breath taking in their beauty.

Near Tansleyville, the road makes a curve East, telling the traveler he has finished going North. The road surface changed too. It went from a smooth surface to deep grooved asphalt. The grooves running parallel with the center line, had been done as preparation for new surface. We had to slow our speed considerably, because the trailer and the bike could not find compatible grooves. However as the road heated in the sun, the newly disturbed asphalt got tacky and the trailer behaved a little better, so we were able to increase our speed to an acceptable level.

About the time we ran out of tacky road, we saw a huge dog running down the center of the road ahead. It didn't seem to be veering off the road, so we slowed to a crawl, incase the dog cut across our path. It wasn't until we were about 30 meters from it, that it turned it's head and gave a backward glance. We then realized that it wasn't a dog, but a Black bear. We really slowed down then. The bear sauntered along in front of us for a few more minutes and then abruptly turned left off the road and into the trees. And we swear, just before the bear moved off the road, he turned and looked at us and said, "Ok eh? I'm moving as fast as I can." Later when we stopped in Calstock, Judy related the incident to a lady. The lady was surprised, saying she had lived in the area all of her life and had never seen a bear.

Kings Highway Kapuskasing motorcycle touring photo
As we turned left off #11 for a short distance and entered Geraldton, it reminded me of Colorado's old gold mining towns. Which is pretty ironic, since Geraldton is an old gold mining town. The town still has an old mine shack to prove it. I guess the gold is gone, but it would be fun to spend a few days or a life time poking around for a new vein.

It was lunch time when we pulled into Geraldton, so we looked for a place to eat and a bank to break down a couple of $50 bills to make purchases easier in small towns. The cafés were closed. The banks were closed. Everything was closed except for a shoddy "Chip Stand." To the Americans, it's like a hot dog stand. We then went to a two pump gas station and found it closed with a sign declaring it was closed for the holiday. Darn our luck, because we were getting very low on fuel.

We were surprised at how impoverished Geraldton looked. The town even had a feeling of morbid loss. Like some tragic event had sucked all the cheer out of the town. It seem to have a sadness about it. The town was dusty and nearly desolate. We also discovered we were the only Caucasians in town. We did make an inquiry and was advised although the next town was smaller, it did have a gas station that was open. We did a kilometers to miles conversion and reasoned that we just had enough fuel to make it. Onward to Longlac.

The town we first stopped at, we were told, was called Long Neck. But we really aren't sure. This town seemed to have the same sadness that Geraldton had. We pulled into the first gas station we saw, which was a two pump "fill it up your self" station. It was very busy. So we waited at the bottom of the parking area under some shade trees. While we waited, a drunk lady came up to us out of nowhere and engaged us in conversation. As she parted, she gave Judy a big friendly hug, at the same time grabbing a pewter eagle that Judy wore on her leather jacket. I saw the eagle about to part from the coat and Judy making a fist, so I grabbed the girls hand, asking her if I should call the police. The girl gave a shrug and walked up the short hill to the guys at the gas pumps. We took quick notice as she talked to the rough looking guys, all the while pointing down the hill towards us.

I suggested to Judy we get out of town and see if we could limp to another town on the road. So for the next couple of kilometers we rode at ¼ speed trying to conserve our precious gas. We topped a small hill and there about two kilometers away was a town so brilliant white in color that it actually glowed. The buildings had a look of welcome and joy. We truly thanked God for the town of Longlac. The gas station was open and we filled the tank to the brim, because the next stretch, according to our map was 212 kilometers (132 miles) to the city of Hearst. (One map said 132 miles and another said 127 miles.) We found a city park and ate lunch. Stopped in front of the Post Office and took our picture with our camera. (Timer and tripod.) We did a small tour and then headed on east. Longlac looked like a TV town. The small type of town where Auntie May knows everything going on.

Less then a quarter of the way to Hearst, I noticed we only had ¼ tank of gas. We stopped along the highway and checked for leaks. None were found. We were in deep trouble. What was going on? Why such high fuel consumption? So, once again, we dropped our speed to 50 km/h. We were riding on fumes and worried about not seeing any other vehicles in case we ran out of gas in the middle of no where. I mean we were really worried. Our reserve tank was nearly depleted and our maps showed no other towns along this stretch. As I was looking for a place to pull off to camp, in case the bike should cough and die, we rounded a curve and spotted a large truck stop. This has to be a mirage. But it wasn't. It had at least 12 pumps, a café and a motel. We had gone 136 kilometers (85 miles) and sucked almost every drop of gas from our tank. Our fuel consumption had gone up almost 60%.

Judy and I paid for the new fuel and bought supper at the café, but choose to eat outside, to watch the huge logging trucks pull in and depart. We engaged in conversation with a fellow who explained why we got such poor results from our gas. He explained that the gas purchased in Longlac was probably "Pirate" gas. That is, gas that is cut with water. This will fill the tank and burn in the engine, but the octane is about 25% lower. The Longlac station was privately owned, so they could do this. Where as, Esso, Mobile and other franchise stations have good gas.

As it turned out, this truck stop sits at the intersection of highway # 11 and highway # 631. We were in luck as # 631 was the highway to take us to Steel River Provincial Park. The park we wanted to camp at for the night.

While eating we listened to a young lady working on the roof, and a trucker engaging in heated, but friendly conversation. All in French. We don't understand French, but enjoyed the banter anyway.

It took us about half an hour to get to the park. The scenery was beautiful along the way. The road surface was new and smooth, with just enough low hills and curves to make it perfect for a motorcycle. We crossed a couple of small bridges and glanced at the pristine streams beneath. The park was wonderful. In fact, we think it was a darn good park. Clean and spacious with out people. We didn't see any other people, so we figured we were the only one's camping. We set up camp and went right to bed, lulled to sleep by the melody of the quiet wild life.

We awoke to another beautiful day. To heck with making breakfast. The restaurant's food was so good the night before and their breakfast menu looked so tantalizing, we decided to pack up right away and head back to the café. A half hour ride with out coffee? We're tough. We can do it. Later, Judy told me she wanted to choke me for not having her "get ya going" coffee. Come to think of it, she was a mite touchy for a while.

After a great breakfast, eaten outside, so we could watch the trucks come and go, we topped off the tank and headed on east, under clear blue skies with a soft cool northwest wind.

Because of circumstances we found our selves a full day behind on schedule. So with the wide open road, clear skies, a tail wind and excellent gas, we increased our speed a little over the normal. By the time we reached Kapuskasing, which is past Hearst, we knew we could gain back several hours.

The ride to Hearst was wonderful. The many lakes surrounded by pines, beckoned to be fished, or take a nap by. But, we didn't yield and kept moving.

We made a pit stop at Hearst, without looking around, except to view the huge, two man saw by the welcome center. The kind of saw where one person pulls on one handle and the man across from him acts like he is pushing on the other handle.

Kings Hwy tour Kapuskasing Inn We crossed the beautiful Kapuskasing river and rode on into Kapuskasing. We found the main street to be quaint with many old shops waiting to be explored. We did take a side excursion to visit the castle like Kapuskasing Inn. We have since learned that it has been closed. When we stopped we were amazed by the grandeur of the building. Lunch was being served, but we figured it was the kind of place where there were no prices on the menu. So, we took our picture in front and did a brief tour of the town. We saw a huge bear statue, but don't know what it means and looked at the paper mill along the shore. We think it was a paper mill, because it smelled like one. We stopped at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place for lunch. That was before it became just KFC. We presented our order and asked for "mashed potatoes and gravy," to go along with our chicken dinner. Neither the counter clerk or the manager knew what we were asking. We had to explain it to him. "No such thing here," he said. "Just Fresh Cut Fries." Oh, well they will do, but we sure missed the gravy.

We filled the tank and headed on down the road. The highway started it's slow turn to the south. The highway was still pretty decent and the scenery was the same. We did notice a marked increase in traffic, so I wasn't able to gawk as much. We came to a sign that said Iroquois Falls--That-a-way. So we took it to check the town out. It's small, with an old steam engine in the city park. Not really a tourist attraction, but quaint enough.

KingsHwy bike tour New Liskeard Ontario We continued south and stopped to visit New Liskard, and it's statue of a Holstein cow, and to get gas and a dish pan. We use a plastic oil pan to do dishes in, and I lost the one we started our journey with. (I know. How do you loose a dish pan?) When we got gas, the clerk told us Canada Tire would have one. A tire store? We were amazed at what the store had. We were even more surprised when the clerk and her friend were speaking English, until we approached the counter with our food and things. Suddenly they didn't understand English and only spoke French. So, Judy and I made pleasant conversation between ourselves in english, loud enough for the clerk to hear, about how nice the store was, and how helpful other customers had been at helping us find stuff. But, we never spoke to the clerk, until we had paid and was leaving. Then I said in the best French I could, "Merci-boku." The look on that woman's face was so funny, Judy and I still laugh about it to this day.

We continued to Colbalt which looked like a ghost town. We saw a car parked on the street, so at least one ghost lived there. But, the old abandoned buildings looked so worthy of paint and canvas. We rode past old silver mines and even rode up a loose gravel road to take our picture. We saw a sigh that said "Danger, tunnels are prone to caving in and yanks won't be rescued," or something to that effect. We tipped toed around and did a little looking. Of course tip toeing won't make a bit of difference.

We continued on to the quaint town of Temagami. It had many turn of the century buildings, a wonderful gift shop or Indian trading post, a water front café with a menu proclaiming some wonderful French food. We wish we would have had time to explore it a bit more, but it was getting late and it was also laundry night. Judy can't wear the same pair of socks more then three days in a row. As for me, the trick is to switch the one on the right foot to the left. That way it feels like a different sock. Laundry night means we get to stay in a motel. Yippee, television. (Just kidding about the socks.)

Kings Hwy motorcycle touring photos North Bay So we continued south, stopping at Marten for fuel. The clerk gave us directions to a park to see the worlds largest Walleye. It is statue made of plastic of some sort depicting a Walleye. If you stuck your body half way into the mouth and took a picture, the picture would be pretty cool. But, Judy didn't want to do this, so we retraced our steps and headed back south through Tilden Lake, into North Bay. The scenery in this area is pretty in the fall, but the bugs aren't. The bugs did keep Judy from chatting a bit. We entered North Bay as the sun was setting, so didn't look around, but headed directly to the Super 8 for the night. After eating near by, Judy asked where the nearest Laundromat would be. The kind desk clerk said we could use their machines, since we only had two loads. (Actually this trick almost works every time. The motel does their laundry during the day, so the machines aren't in use. Judy uses her special charm and usually gets her way.)

North Bay is a wonderful and beautiful city. One could spend days riding through old town, riding along the shore and visiting museums and such. It looked a lot like our native Des Moines, Iowa. Only Des Moines sits on two rivers and not a lake. Like Des Moines, North Bay has the old down town area and also the new modern multi story buildings.

Kings Highway tour NorthBay area water falls We did a, "ride-around" of the air force base and saw the old planes and later, was going to stop at the model railroad museum, but the parking lot was full. We rode the shore road to view the lake and saw lots of wharfs with both small and large boats moored. But, it was late morning and we had to get going.

While passing through Powassan we saw a store sign advertising Powassan's Maple Syrup. So we stopped and bought a small bottle and several days later, tried it on campfire pancakes. It is a very good quality syrup. So if you find your self in the small town, buy a bottle. On the south edge of Powassan the modern highway 11 changes to the old highway 11. We don't know if old highway 11 is considered part of the Kings highway or not, but for our travels we say it is.

This part of the road is pretty. The road meanders between low white rock cliffs where the stone must have been cut and blasted away, to make way for the highway. To think so much labor just for us to ride a beautiful highway. I sweat just thinking about it.

We passed through Trout Creek and South River. Both are tiny towns sitting close to each other and we didn't see anything to catch our eye. We did notice two things though. The highway was in terrible shape and the flies were hitting our wind screen at about 100 flies a second. A few years later, we learned that these bugs were Canadian black flies, famous for biting non Canadians. So that's what caused those welts.

We passed through what we perceived to be the main street of Sundridge. For a tiny town, it seemed very busy. Cars and people going in every direction. We noted it had a few small shops, and several with a nautical flare. It's another small town worth exploring should time ever present it's self.

We rode past the famous Caswells Resort through Katrine and Novar. Both towns sit on lakes of different names, or perhaps the same lake. I couldn't figure it out, because it seemed where ever you looked there was water. Both towns were tiny and sleepy.

KingsHwy tour Iroquois Falls Ontario Canada Just before you get to Mellisa, you find the entrance to Arrowhead Provincial Park. With urgent interest we rode into the park to view it's beauty. Again there was lots of water. Lots of trees and lots of privies. Ok, so our main interest was a privy, but we do think the park is beautiful and quiet. There didn't seem to be many campers this day. I wonder if the "killer bear" signs had anything to do with it? We are sure we would like to camp here on our next foray in Ontario. Bears or no bears... maybe.

We were told there was a Mellisa, Ontario, but couldn't find it. Or it's so small we mistook if for a farm. Or it's a ghost town only appearing on spooky holidays. Or we fell asleep passing by.

Pressing on through Muskoka Falls, were a few side streets that took us by some beautiful water falls in the small rivers. This town seemed larger, but still small enough to be quiet and peaceful. We didn't do any off the bike exploring, although we would have liked to.

We didn't see anything that perked our interest when we went through Severn Bridge, except for a couple of houses on the water front that we would have liked to live in.

As we approached Barrie, the quiet country side gave way to post card pretty homes and the marked increase in traffic. At the time we didn't know that #11 was an inner circle around Barrie. We found Barrie to be a pretty town and the highway through town was well maintained. Barrie sits on the shores of Simcoe Lake and in a park there is a huge abstract metal sculpture that is called " The Spirit Catcher." Visually, it stunning. I suspect seen at night it might be a little scary. It sort of looks like an outer space alien. I do know that it stirs the imagination. While at the park we talked to a couple who told us that Barrie has about 100,000 people. We also learned there is a McDonalds fast food place, where you drive under the restaurant. It's located on highway 440, but we were to far South East in Barrie to go back and see it. I guess we also missed an airplane museum located on the same highway. This caused me, a military aviation buff, to say "fiddle sticks." Or something close to that. But the fall scenery made up for it as we toured the streets next to the lake.

We caught the street that took us back to # 11 and so we continued south. Going around in circles in Barrie, still had "the Navigator" confused and I never know where I am going, so we had a bit of a challenge figuring out which way was south. Finally a little girl playing in her front yard told us, "If the sun is there" pointing to the sky, "then south is that way," pointing down the road. I hate smart kids.

KingsHwy tour Temagami train stn Going to St Paul's was nice enough, but there didn't seem to be much separation between St. Paul's and Barrie. At first we didn't know we had reached St. Paul's. We saw some pretty churches and then the road truly turned south.

We rode into the town of Stroud and a few seconds was riding back out. Either Judy and I both fell asleep for an instant or were to focused on the rough patch of road. Anyway, we didn't see enough of Stroud to make any comments.

Another five minutes and we were passing through Churchill, a quaint Amish looking community. A couple of shops looked interesting, but, we were trying to make up some lost time.

Highway 11 cuts the town of Bradford in half. While riding through we saw old Victorian style houses as well as the new ultra-modern bungalows, or as us yanks call them, "ranchers." We saw old churches and new churches. We saw lots of churches. Bradford seemed to be a quiet town the day we passed through.

We blew past the outskirts of Newmarker, stopping only to top the tank off, get a snack and to do the wash room thing again. We talked to a couple of other bikers going north. When they learned we were headed to Gananoque, they advised us to take the interstate highway to save time. I didn't want to tell them that big cities scare the bejewels out of me and for that reason we were avoiding Toronto like the plague. Instead I told them we had friends a little north we wanted to visit, which would take us away from Toronto and the interstate. "Who?" they asked as though they would know two people out of the million or so that populate the area. So, acting like a typical Iowan, I said "Yeah, it sounds good to me." Of course as planned, that befuddled them into silence. The truth is, we had no friends north of Newmarker and big cities do scare me.

So, we rode on down to our last highway # 11 town. The town of Aurora. The old buildings we saw in Aurora indicates, that at one time it was a small town. However being close to the Toronto metro area, urban growth has eaten up the countryside. Still we did see a few remaining fields and the trees remained plentiful and pretty in their fall colors. With a slight lump in our heart, we turned off Highway 11, a most wonderful road of experience and headed east, to our next adventure.

The problem with time being limited when you are on a vacation (holiday), you don't really have the time to spend, with the few people you do manage to meet and like. We met several people we would have liked to share evening dinner and coffee with. But time was a relentless beast. There were far to many shops and other places we would have liked to explore. And even though we keep saying, "We'll have to do it again someday." Deep inside we fear we never will. So, perhaps by writing this story of the Kings Highway and reading it again in a few years, we in our minds, might just ride... the highway once more.

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