Day 35: Espanola, ON to Tobermory, ON

Today we cross Manitoulin Island and take the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry across to Tobermory, putting us on the southern Ontario “mainland” and onto the last leg of our cross-country voyage!

Last night’s rain continues into the morning, and we decide to wait it out. There are few things more miserable than riding in the rain, especially when you have no actual rain gear to speak of. We pass the time reading Doc Savage: The Mental Wizard to each other, and come within a few pages of the end when we hear the rain let up enough to cook a delicious breakfast of cheesy tempeh-pepper gnocchi and Bengal Spice tea. (That tea has been a fantastic morale-booster on the trip thus far: it’s got by far the most flavor of any of the herbal teas we’ve tried in the past while.)

We’re finally out of the campground by 9:45 am, with over 100 km (62.5 mi) to cover before 11:10 am. The ride turns out to be arduous, with crosswinds and headwinds up to 40 km/h (25 mph) that threaten to blow us clear off the road. As before in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the lake surrounding the island creates a complex and unpredictable wind pattern. Unfortunately, the winds slow us down just enough…

…to miss the ferry by a couple of minutes, so that when we roll into South Baymouth at 11:12 am we’re treated to the sad sight of the ferry just pulling out of the dock. We’re shivering with cold from the windy drive, and we haven’t got much else to do until nearly 4 pm, so we duck inside the one open restaurant for a passable fish and chips lunch. From there, we warm up inside for some time, writing blog posts until we feel ready once more to head out into the world.

Turns out there’s not much in the world around South Baymouth at this time of year. The town more or less shuts down after Labour Day, with only a couple of businesses remaining open until the ferry stops running on October 16. (Hey, at least we’re here before that!) There’s a couple of small museums, but we opt for a walk around the marina and into a small lakeside park where we put our fingertips into Lake Huron:

The lake itself is whipped into a white-capped frenzy by the fierce winds, making for rough sailing once we get on board the ferry. As we go to sit down in the cafeteria, a stern announcement comes over the intercom:

“Would the owner of the motorcycle come down to the vehicle deck, please?”

Turns out that we forgot to secure it to the rings! Good thing they reminded us, as otherwise we’d have a very sad and battered Vespa once we got to the other side. With the Vespa now secured, we enjoy the roiling sea from the comfort of our chairs:

We alight in Tobermory into a non-committal drizzling that serves to further dampen our spirits. Fortunately, we’re soon inside a dry B&B…just in time for the one grocery store in town to close up for the night. We grab some beer from the local brewpub before retiring to our room, where we snack on some leftover celery, carrots, and peanut butter. Maybe we’ll have better luck with food and timing tomorrow…