4th Nov, 2011

Minuteman Missiles, Minnesota and Finally, Home! – September 29 – October 18, 2011

Total distance driven (includes in-city driving): 36, 653.6 kms (22, 725.2 miles)
Average gas consumption: 23.3 L per 100 KM

Unexpectedly as we headed out of Badlands National Park we came across this sign… Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

…AND FOUND A NUCLEAR MISSLE SILO BURIED IN A WHEAT FIELD!!! Ok ok…maybe it’s not “hot” but it’s still pretty shocking.

The views from the highway are deceiving! Rolling prairies and long vistas hide the Delta-09 – Missile Launch Facility that sits a half mile off Interstate 90. During the Cold War this facility was just one of 1,000 ready for action. A missile launched from South Dakota could fly 5,170 miles (8,320 kms) to Russia in just 30 minutes. Thank goodness the Cold War is over!

We took a tour of the Delta-01 Nuclear Missile Launch Control Facility. The park Ranger leading the tour actually worked as a missile launch operator when it was operational in the 1960s.

Here two men were buried 200 feet underground in a hardened bunker specially designed to survive a nuclear strike. The veteran giving the tour explained that they had the responsibility of launching, upon orders, 50 nuclear missiles that would effectively “end the world”.

As we officially left the west we passed by this very weird scene that reminded us that the unexpected makes the adventure.

As we crossed into Minnesota and headed North East we were surprised to see a White Castle restaurant! Ever since watching Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle in 2004 we were on the lookout for a restaurant. We definitely wanted to try a burger.

Guess what? White Castle burgers are actually sliders – mini buns, tiny meat patties. Didn’t know that.

The pickle is about the same thickness as the meat. Glad we tried them but they really have nothing on In N’ Out Burgers.

The next day we continued our drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior through a number of Minnesota cities and towns. Duluth was an interesting place – neat buildings and lots of bridges.

Gooseberry River had a few interesting water falls…

…just a short hike away from the parking area and beautiful!

Loved the Split Rock lighthouse!

In Beaver Bay, MN we discovered the best breakfast buffet ever at a little place called Northern Lights Restaurant. We found a table on the back patio overlooking the gorgeous gardens and Lake Superior. The extra cheesy hashbrowns and the tomato basil soup were absolutely delicious. The chef wouldn’t give up his recipe so if you discover them please share!

Our last stop in Minnesota was Pigeon River’s High Falls. At 120 feet these falls are the highest in the state. The river forms the border between Minnesota, USA and Ontario, Canada. So that means everything on the right side of this picture is in Canada!

Finally reached Ontario! Just love seeing English and French on the signs. Ontario does road signs very well. Unfortunately gas prices leave something to be desired L.

Our first stop was Kakebeka Falls Provincial Park – near Thunder Bay. At 130 feet (40 metres) the falls are 50 feet shy of Niagara Falls’ height.

At one of the road side stops near Thunder Bay we tried to find Sleeping Giant – a peninsula that resembles a … well, you know…

The face is much easier to make out by driving on the Peninsula and checking it out from the other side. Since Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is nearby we decided to camp there. At $46 per night we had a waterfront electrical site. That’s right $46 per night! Yikes…that’s close to what we paid in Mailbu, California for an ocean view site.

Got to admit though, the view at sunset is spectacular! We liked it so much we stayed a few days.

Ouimet Canyon was amazing to see as well. This gorge is 330 feet (100 metres) deep and 490 feet (150 metres) wide. Sunlight reaches the canyon floor for a short time each day making it possible for snow to stay all summer and artic-alpine plants to thrive.

Chuck really fits in well with all the fall colors!

Our next stop was Aguasabon River Gorge with its 98 ft (30 metre) water fall. Gorgeous!

Aguasabon River Gorge is near Terrace Bay – where this landlocked lighthouse seems out of place. It’s actually a viewing platform.

Wawa’s 28 foot (8.5 metre) goose was a must see as well.

Loved the sunset over Batchawana Bay!

The fall colors near Parry Sound were absolutely gorgeous. And for the first time since March we actually popped out Wendy’s front bed.

Fall is beautiful!

On October 18th we unloaded Wendy and packed her away for the winter. It was tough saying good-bye…but we’ll see her again!

So, we’re home! Since arriving we started making our way through 7.5 months of mail, planned and hosted a baby shower, unpacked and yes, started a job hunt. Please drop us a line for any interesting job prospects you come across.

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I can not thank you adequately for the posts on your web site. I know you’d put a lot of time and effort into them and hope you know how much I appreciate it. I hope I’ll do exactly the same for someone else at some point.

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