Day 2

fly to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario go
Quick room breakfast, fast check out, 10 minute ride to airport for early morning (2nd in a row) check in. Our Air Canada turboprop flys low level over lakes and bays. Below, clearly visible: many islands, sailboats, summer lodges, connecting bridges; in the distance, dense stands of deep green conifers. 
Located between two Great Lakes, (Lake Superior, Lake Huron) Sault Ste. Marie (the “Soo”) sits surrounded by water on the shore of the St. Mary’s River, which connects the lakes. This is our “base camp” as we set out to explore the pristine Algoma wilderness.

  383 miles/617 km

9:30 am arrive Sault Ste Marie’s intimate airport go
Our hotel’s van and driver waits for us just outside – nice service. The 20 minute ride to the hotel takes us through rural outlying areas which gradually change in density and sophistication as we approach the downtown hub. This “just-right” sized city of 75,000 with its small town feel, now celebrating its Centennial year, has 27 well preserved heritage properties from the late 19th and early 20th centuries built in various styles: Georgian, Craftsman, Romanesque revival, Classic Edwardian, Queen Anne, and half timbered Tudor. History buffs, check them out!

We are (geologically) in the Canadian Shield (first part of North American continent permanently elevated above sea level), one of the world’s richest areas in mineral ores: gold, diamond, uranium, copper, silver, zinc and nickel, but  better known for logging, fur trade, early explorers and prospectors who mapped and settled the area. Very rocky with little or no farmland, so most Shield residents work in forestry, mining, hydro electric power generation and paper mills.

Also a world best destination for outdoor sports enthusiasts with fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, water and snow skiing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, birding, rock and ice climbing. There is much inspiration for  photographers, artists and rock collectors. The Canadian Park system has good tourist information and safe vacation spots.

11 am check into Algoma’s Water Tower Inn and Suites go
Drop off our luggage, pick up rental car, sightsee by auto around The Soo to get familiar with the city layout. Map in hand, we easily locate and drive-by the historic Soo Lock, OLG Casino, Queen Street E shopping, railway depot, famous waterfront boardwalk, Delta Hotel, Tent Pavilion, Algoma Art Gallery, and Museum ship Norgoma before stopping at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Center.

1 pm visit Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre go
This place is fantastic; one of our trip highlights and a perfect way to start a Velvet Wilderness experience. Don’t miss – worth coming just to see by itself! Only North American facility dedicated to the history of Bush Flying and Forest Fire Management – something for everyone. The 48,000 sq. ft. hangar is where “water-bombing” was developed. On display – 30 aircraft exhibits: visitors board vintage aircraft, try a flight simulator, spot fires from a 30-foot high fire tower, see world-class film presentations in one of three theaters. Children love the interactive Flight Centre. We learn the Bushplane (aka Float plane) is a Canadian invention without which the back country wilderness would not be accessible.

2 pm visit Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site go
Across the road is 
Ermatinger House – oldest stone building northwest of Toronto. The handsome two story home, originally surrounded by acres of riverfront land, is now a block away from the water on a small lot. A lawn, garden, grinding stones, small orchard and herb garden demonstrate 19th century life. Costumed guides add a nice touch. Next door, the sturdy Clergue Blockhouse once stored the North West Fur company’s powder magazine. The upper log portion, added in 1894, was the home of visionary industrialist Francis H. Clergue, who in many ways defined the area. Too bad he ran out of capital. All areas are very interesting to visit and provide a good sense of early Soo life.

5 pm energizing dip hotel spa pools go
The hotel provides terrific travel exercise options: spa, indoor/outdoor whirlpools, pools, sauna, exercise facility. We benefit by lightly exercising in the pools and whirlpools. (We do something like this whenever possible when traveling – keeps us healthy, fit, energized.)

7 pm dinner Arturo Ristorante go
When a tempting array of internationally inspired dining choices is available, we usually opt for Italian. Requirements: small, family owned, authenitic, handmade pasta, homemade sauce using traditional family recipes. Arturos fits the profile. Very fine, well-regarded Italian restaurant with one brother in the kitchen and one in the dining room. We enjoy Italian cuisine at its best with Carol Caputo (Ontario’s Algoma Country) and Lindsey Errington (Tourism St. Marie), who brief us on what to see/do.

stay Algoma’s Water Tower Inn and Suites go
The hotel pub is rocking! Loud live music, 15 beers on tap, wood fired pizza, lots of people. But our Algoma rail adventure into the wilderness starts early tomorrow, so off to bed.

Day 2 photos
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