Adventures in the Villa



2017-09-13 Westbound; Leaving Thunder Bay!

Today is the day!  We are finally leaving Thunder Bay, a full two weeks after we arrived…

2017-09-13 Thunder Bay Leaving

Our destination today is Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis; we are scheduled to get out refrigerator replaced.  (You recall our refer failed in PEI about one month ago…)

It was an uneventful trip, traveling southwest from Thunder Bay, continuing southwest to Minneapolis, then west to Anoka and Shorewood RV.

We stopped about every 1 1/2 hours or so to break up the trip.  We try to walk a bit and keep out Apple watches happy.  This rest stop was about one hour south of Duluth:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Rest Stop

The truck once again performed flawlessly, and we easily rolled along.  We arrived at Shorewood RV at about 3:30, and checked in to the Service department to make sure everything was on schedule.  They told us where to park, so we pulled in and set up for the night:

2017-09-13 Shorewood RV

A few minutes later they called to tell us the refer was here and they would be picking up the Villa at 6:00 am tomorrow morning…

We have good power, good internet access, good satellite TV, and air conditioning – it is 88 degrees and very humid!  We did add a sticker to our map:

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Happy Hours ensued and an enjoyable time was had by all…











2017-09-12 Westbound; Released from Thunder Bay on Day 12…!

We have been released!  Almost 24 hours after the arrival of the parts, the truck is finished.  They replaced all sorts of things on one side of the engine: push rods, injectors, just about everything they had – GM sent a giant box of parts…

2017-09-12 Silverado

They did an oil change, then a test drive; we took back the rental car, then headed out on a long drive to see that everything is OK.  I have no doubt about the engine, but it always seems like  other things go wacky when major work is performed.  We checked the radio, the navigation system, the trip odometers, the clock, the tire pressure monitoring system, the front and side cameras, everything we could think of.  Everything seemed fine.

We drove about 50 miles, then we went for a celebratory lunch:

2017-09-12 Lunch Merla Mae

Lynda went shopping to try to spend our last Canadian cash; I returned to the GMC waiting room to catch up on computer work; we will hitch up the rig tonight or tomorrow morning and leave before 9:00.

We walked over to Bistro One for our standing every Tuesday reservation:

2017-09-05 Bistro One

We had to tell them we will not be returning… unfortunately, Jean, the owner, and Brittany, best waitress ever, were both off sick.  But I still had a great Old Fashioned, we enjoyed a nice bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, the Duck Confit was as good as ever, and braised short ribs were a real treat.  We left at about 8:30 and it was still light, making our walk home easy.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…







2017-09-11 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 11…

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Monday; the GMC dealer is open again, so we get great internet access.

I was able to catch up on the blog; Lynda could read the paper and her book; the waiting room inside the GMC dealer is comfortable, and the stock market is up.  What more could we want?

At noon we received the news:  The parts necessary to repair the truck have arrived!  If nothing goes wrong it should be complete tomorrow!

I immediately started finalizing our itinerary; we will have our refrigerator replaced on Thursday in Minneapolis; we plan to be at Mt. Rushmore on Saturday…

We hung out for awhile, and then we went for an early dinner at Thunder Bay’s newest Sports Bar: Shoeless Joe’s:

2017-09-11 Shoeless Joes

It was very nice.  It was opening day, so everyone was super friendly and happy.  Food was even good.  Happy Hours were many and an enjoyable time was had by all…






2017-09-10 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 10…

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Sunday in Thunder Bay; we attend another Christian Reformed Church; in fact, there are three CRCs in Thunder Bay, a town of only about 108,000 people.  Today we went to the suburban church, about 15 miles out of town…  (Around the corner, within 1/2 mile, is a United Reformed Church, an ultra-conservative spin-off of the CRC.)

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2017-09-10 First CRC

It appears to be a fairly new building; it looks like it was built in conjunction with Thunder Bay Christian School.

It was the most conservative, traditional CRC we’ve ever been to… An old CRC tradition was for the members of the Council or Consistory (The governing body of Elders) to walk into the church together, along with the minister.  I remember that tradition from days of my youth.  I just haven’t seen it in 30 years or so.  But another even older tradition was for the President of the Council to shake hands in front of church with the minister before and after the service. I have never seen that… until today.

Every song sung here was from one of the Hymnals.  No repetitive, upbeat praise songs here.  On the other hand, unlike the Bethleham CRC  last week, there were many families, lots of kids, and a good size congregation – I’d estimate 200 people.

But it was a nice service; the minister is the same one who had pre-recordrd the video sermon we heard last week.  (Same minister, different sermon…)

One more CRC tradition: They hold two services on Sunday, and they expect you to be at BOTH!  (We were oncers…)

After Church we had a restful day, catching up after our trip to Wisconsin.  We needed to do laundry, and find some internet; we found both within one block in downtown Thunder Bay:

2017-09-10 Laundromat

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Once we were back in the Villa we relaxed until dinner time; tonight we tried Caribou:

2017-09-09 Carribou

We walked to and from the restaurant; it was nice to get out after all the driving we have done over the past several days.  The weather was nice.  An enjoyabe time was had by all…
















2017-09-09 Westbound; Stranded, but escaped from, Thunder Bay, Day 9…

Today we return to Thunder Bay; we had a great time in Wisconsin, even though we were living in cheap motels and not the Villa; we were also driving a cheap rental car, not the Silverado, so no satellite radio, no navigation system, no wifi, and no 110v electrical outlet to charge our devices.  On the other hand, we could park in regular parking stalls like normal human beings…

We left early, stopped at Starbucks, headed northwest.  It was an uneventful drive. Eventually we passed through Duluth, into Minnesota. Finally we stopped for lunch at the Ledge Rock Grill:

2017-09-09 Ledge Rock Grill

This is a nice full-service lodge, right on the shore of Lake Superior; after lunch I needed a little nap:

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We drove on; we stopped at Brighten Beach and once again walked along the shore:

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A few miles short of the border is the little town of Temperance; of course we had to stop at the liquor store:

2017-09-09 Temperance

We crossed the border with no hassles, and returned to the Villa in Thunder Bay;

We unpacked and cleaned the Villa; then, because it is Saturday, we went looking for a Sports Bar to watch the USC-Stanfurd football game.

We failed.  Apparently Sports Bars in Canada only show hockey and curling.  No college football.  We returned to the Villa and powered up my iPad with Sling Box. We were able to watch the first quarter of the game before Verizon cut off my band width…

Never the less, Happy Hours ensued; an enjoyable time was had by all…

(PS:  Stanfurd lost.  Yay!)




2017-09-08 Westbound; Stranded, but escaped from, Thunder Bay, Day 8…

Today we move to Racine, WI.  We left early again, in the dark, traveling down small, dark, country roads; the only light was the occasional milk truck stopping by a dairy to pick up its load…

We reached Racine in time for a quick Starbucks, then we were at the headquarters of the SC Johnson Company – the Johnson Wax people…

At the 1967 World’s Fair they constructed a pavilion they called the Golden Rondelle; after the fair they moved it to their Headquarters in Racine; it is used as the Visitor Center, and as a conference center and theater:

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Our tour is of the Research Tower and the Administration Building.  Unfortunately, interior photography is strictly forbidden… The Administration Building interiors are spectacular.  I was able to steal some images off the internet…

The Johnson Wax Headquarters, completed in 1939, was set in an industrial zone; Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to relocate the headquarters out to the countryside to give all the employees more contact with nature.  Johnson say, “No way.”  So Wright decided to create a sealed environment lit from above, as he had done with the Larkin Administration Building.  (See my earlier blog about the Martin House.)   The building features FLW’s interpretation of the streamlined Art Moderne style popular in the 1930s. In a break with FLW’s earlier Prairie School structures, the building features many curvilinear forms and subsequently required over 200 different curved “Cherokee red” bricks to create the sweeping curves of the interior and exterior.  The mortar between the bricks is raked  to accentuate the horizontality of the building (like he did at the Martin House).  The warm, reddish hue of the bricks was used in the polished concrete floor slab as well; the white stone trim and white “lily pad” columns create a subtle yet striking contrast.  All of the furniture, manufactured by Steelcase, was designed for the building by FLW and it mirrored many of the building’s unique design features – see photos and story below…

The entrance is within the structure, penetrating the building on one side with a covered carport on the other.  The carport is supported by short versions of the steel-reinforced lily-pad concrete columns that appear in the “Great Workroom”.  The low carport ceiling creates a compression of space that later expands when entering the main building where the lily-pad columns rise over two stories tall.  This rise in height as one enters the administration building creates a release of spatial compression making the space seem much larger than it is. Compression and release of space were concepts that Wright used in many of his designs, as I have noted in my earlier blogs.

Throughout the Great Workroom, a series of the thin, white lily-pad columns rise to spread out at the top, forming a ceiling, the spaces in between the circles are set with skylights made of Pyrex glass tubing (see below for more of the story of the glass tubes…) At the corners, where the walls usually meet the ceiling, the glass tubes continue up, over and connect to the skylights creating a clerestory effect and letting in a pleasant soft light. The Great Workroom is the largest expanse of space in the Johnson Wax Building, and it features no internal walls.  It was designed for the secretaries of the Johnson Wax company.  The Great Workroom is intended to celebrate the work of these important people and the work they do.  A mezzanine holds the offices of the administrators.  We did not get to see the mezzanine.

The Great Workroom:

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The desks:

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The desk with the three-legged chair:

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The construction of the Johnson Wax Administration building created controversies for the architect.  In the Great Workroom, the lily pad columns are 9 inches in diameter at the bottom and 18 feet in diameter at the top.  This difference in diameter between the bottom and top of the column did not sit well with building officials in Racine; they deemed the pillar’s dimensions too slender at the base to support the weight.  Building officials were also not impressed that FLW held no license as an Architect…  So they required that a test column be built and loaded with twelve tons of material. The test column, once it was built, was not only tough enough to support the requested weight but FLW insisted that it be loaded with five-fold the weight. It took sixty tons of materials before the “calyx,” the part of the column that meets the lily pad, cracked.  The crashing of the 60 tons of materials to the ground damaged a water main 30 feet underground. After this demonstration, a vindicated FLW was given his building permit. (But not a license…)

Additionally, it was very difficult to properly seal the glass tubing of the clerestories and roof, thus causing leaks.  This problem was not solved until the company replaced the top layers of tubes with skylights of angled sheets of fiberglass and specially molded sheets of Plexiglas with painted dark lines to resemble in a ‘trompe l’oeil‘ of the original joints when viewed from the ground.  The glass tubes are still performing well today as “windows”, both in the Administration Building and in the Research Tower.

Finally, FLW’s chair design for Johnson Wax originally had only three legs, supposedly to encourage better posture (because one would have to keep both feet on the ground at all times to sit in it).  However, the chair design proved too unstable, tipping very easily. Herbert Johnson, wanting to keep the secretaries from falling out of their chairs, purportedly asked FLW to sit in one of the three-legged chairs and, after FLW fell from the chair, the architect agreed to design new chairs for with four legs; these chairs, and the other office furniture designed by Wright, are still in use to this day.

We were able to sit in the chairs, both the three- and four-legged versions.  We could also see the eight different versions of the desks, including swinging (not sliding) drawers, and built-in trash cans.

The ceiling between the lily pad columns are amazing, illuminating the space beautifully. The glass tubes are also used as “windows”, diffusing the light and offering a wonderful texture.  The caulking between the tubes failed early on, and it took 20 years of experimenting before they finally found a water-tight solution:  silicon sealants.

The curved glass tube “windows”:

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Next on the tour is the Research Tower:

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The Research Tower was a later addition to the complex, completed in 1950, and provides a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal administration building.  It is one of only 2 existing high rise buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Cantilevered from a deep foundation and a small central core, the tower’s floor slabs spread out like tree branches, providing for the segmentation of departments vertically.  Elevator and stairway channels run up the core of the building.  The single reinforced central core, termed by Wright as a tap root, was based on an idea proposed by Wright for the (unbuilt) St. Mark’s Tower in 1929.  Wright recycled the tap root foundation in the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1952 (see my blog on the Price Tower).  Freed from peripheral supporting elements, the tower rises gracefully from a garden and three fountain pools that surround its base, while a spacious court on three sides provides ample parking for employees.

The tower has twice as many floors as it appears; every other floor in the square tower is circular, and these are mezzanines that do not contact the exterior walls.  You can see it in this photo during construction, and you can see the mezzanine levels through the glass tube “windows”.

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The Research Tower is no longer in use because of the change in fire safety codes (it has only one 29-inch wide twisting staircase), although the company is committed to preserving the tower as a symbol of its history.  In 2013, an extensive 12-month restoration was completed.  The research labs shown on the tour have been set up to appear frozen in time, including beakers, scales, centrifuges, archival photographs and letters about the building.

The final building on the tour was the Fortaleza Hall:

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Fortaleza Hall’s construction marked the first major new construction at the company’s international headquarters since Frank Lloyd Wright first designed and developed the Administration Building and Great Workroom which opened in 1939 and the Research Tower which opened in 1950.  (The last new building to be brought to the campus was the Golden Rondelle in 1967.)

The new building offers visitors a chance to come together to learn more about the SC Johnson company and provides employees with a central place for company amenities.  The 60,000 square foot facility, which broke ground in September 2007, has two distinct sections: Fortaleza Hall, which provides historical context for the company and the advances that continue to take place through displays, memorabilia, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Library and Legacy Gallery; and a second part, The Commons, which offers employee services like dining, concierge services, company store, bank and fitness center in a comfortable environment.  Fortaleza Hall houses a full-size twin-engine S-38 amphibious plane suspended to simulate it in flight which can be viewed by all passers-by.

The building is a nice counterpoint to the FLW buildings. The brick matches the color of the grout in the bricks in the Research Tower and Administration Building.  The curves pay homage as well:

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Inside are galleries telling of the five generations of Johnson family Presidents, the history of many of the Johnson Wax products, and, of special interest to us, a gallery full of models of FLW buildings.

It was a great experience to see these icons of 20th century architecture.  An interesting side note:  The “Great Workroom” contains restrooms only for women; the upper levels contain restrooms primarily for men, with a few small token restrooms for women.  The Research Tower has restrooms only for men…

So we move on: Lunch!  We drove to downtown Racine and parked near the marina; we headed to the Reef Point Brew House.  But wait!  There is a Classic and Antique Boat Show going on!  We love old boats:

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We saw several boats displaying this symbol for Glen L.  Glen L was a Naval Architect and small boat designer who, for over 60 years, operated from a really cool mid-century modern building in Bellflower, CA, where we used to live.  In fact, it is located directly behind out favorite Airstream Service Center, C&G.

I spoke with a man who was sitting on his Glen L boat.  He spoke highly of his designs; the Glen L boat pictured above was Glen’s last design; Glen died a few months ago, and his wife and daughter currently run the business.

When I was a kid, I loved Glen L boats, and I poured through his catalogs of plans and kits for hours on end.  I still have some of those catalogs today.  This is the boat I always wanted to build and own:

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After lunch we checked out the views of Lake Michigan; we now have seen all five Great Lakes on this Odyssey!

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We continued on our journey; we drove a few miles north to see Wingspread:

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Wingspread was built in 1939 and was designed by, of course, Frank Lloyd Wright for Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr., then the president of S.C. Johnson.  It was considered by FLK to be one of his most elaborate house designs. If fact, it is the largest home designed by FLW.  The property is now a conference center operated by The Johnson Foundation.  Note that it was designed and built at the same time as Fallingwater.

Wingspread is located near the center of the Wind Point peninsula, a triangular protrusion into Lake Michigan north of the city of Racine.  The approximately 12 acres of landscaped grounds form an integral part of the architectural experience, having a landscaping plan also developed by FLW in emulation of a prairie setting.  The house is approached from the north by a long winding drive.  The house consists of a central hub, from which four long arms radiate.  Each of the wings house a different function: parents’ wing, children’s wing, service wing, and guest wing, with the public spaces in the center.  The hub appears as a domed structure, with clerestory windows on the sides, and a viewing platform (“Crow’s Nest”) at the top.

The tour was mostly self-directed; we were given a floor plan and we were free to wander at will.  (We were not allowed into the kitchen area or into the guest and servants’ wings…)

The approach to the entry:

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The entry:

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The central core contains lounging areas, office areas, and the dining area:

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See the dining table above: it was designed to slide back into the butler pantry, so that dishes could be cleared and new courses of food could be placed, then it would slide back out to where the people were sitting… They used it this way once.  Apparently it was was awkward for the dinner guests to be sitting there in their chairs without the dining table between them…

More living spaces:

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The Study:

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The spiral staircase to the “Crow’s Nest”:

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I was able to climb to the top:

Lynda took a picture from below:

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The Master Bedroom wing:

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More FLW barrel chairs:

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The mezzanine:

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The vertical fireplace (above) is a neat feature; apparently, when these 8′ logs burn, and the bottom ends burn away, the burning logs fall into the room.  It was used once…

Looking down at the staircase:

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The pergola and terrace:

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The wood on the exterior is cypress; it was left unfinished to age naturally.  It has. Maybe it is time to reconsider that decision…

The construction was overseen by a young John Lautner.  John Lautner subsequently moved to southern California and built many extraordinary houses there.  The house was the last of Wright’s Prairie School inspired designs.

There are several interesting stories about this house.  Sadly, Mrs. Johnson died unexpectedly during the early stages of construction.  Mr. Johnson, however, did carry forward and complete the house.  Mr. Johnson subsequently remarried and the new wife did not like the house.  She added floral draperies throughout the house, and removed the FLW-designed furniture and brought in her own overstuffed furniture. She removed the modern art and brought in her own traditional artworks.

OA few years later, Frank Lloyd Wright was an overnight guest.  Always an early riser, he removed all of the offending furniture, draperies, and artwork, and re-installed his own, which he found in the storage rooms of the house.  When Mrs. Johnson came down and saw what he had done, she ordered him to leave the house, which he did in a haughty manner.  He never returned.

The Johnsons built a new house on the property more to Mrs Johnson’s liking:

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The other story, which, while it may be apocryphal, just might not be true:  The skylights leaked.  From day one.  (This part is true…)  One evening, when the Johnsons were entertaining several influential people from the area, it started to rain.  The skylights leaked.  The water dripped directly onto Mr. Johnson’s bald head.  Obviously annoyed, he asked the maid to bring the telephone to the table.  He called FLW at Taliesin.  He said, “Mr. Wright, your skylights are leaking again, right on top of me where I sit at dinner. What do you propose I do?”  FLW is purported to have said, “Well, why don’t you move your chair?”

The Johnson family donated the property to The Johnson Foundation in 1959 as an international educational conference facility.

It is quite a house, but obviously it has its flaws.  It is certainly a glimpse of how the upper classes lived in those days, at least the upper classes who did not want to live in a gilded age mansion…

We headed back towards Madison, with one more FLW building to see:  The Unity Temple (officially known as the First Unitarian Meeting House.

We were unable to see inside; but the outside is pretty impressive:

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The First Unitarian Meeting House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of its members and the son of two of its founders.  FLW was commissioned to design the Meeting House in 1946.  Construction began in 1949 and was completed in 1951.  The FLW design is characterized by its prow-like roof, covered with a blue-green standing seam copper, set with a combination of vertical and horizontal seams to emphasize the roof’s shape. 

The church building is recognized as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture.  In 1960, the American Institute of Architects designated it one of 17 buildings to be retained as an example of FLW’s contribution to American culture.  The Meeting House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, before the traditional 50-year minimum age for historic buildings. 

So we were sated, for the day.  We stay in a cheap motel tonight, and head back “home” to Thunder Bay tomorrow.  An enjoyable time was had by all…










2017-09-05 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 5…

Stranded, Day 5:

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Tuesday; Labor Day is over and the world resumes its normal activities.  The happy merry workers at Dominion Motors GMC return to work and we get to sit in their waiting room, drink their coffee, watch their TV, use their internet, and use their restrooms (washrooms here in Canada…).

There is no word on the truck.  They have run their diagnostics and sent the data to technical support in Detroit.  Maybe they will hear back today or tomorrow; for now it looks like a blown engine; the normal fix for this is a complete engine replacement.  We might be here for awhile…

So we did some sight-seeing and checked out the local artisans; first, we went to Thunder Oak Cheese Farm:

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The Thunder Oak Cheese Farm specializes in Gouda cheese, and all things Dutch:

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We tasted their cheeses and even cheese curds; Lynda wanted some Komijne Kaas, and they have it!  Also some dropjes…

Around mid-day we visited The Persian Man; “he” or “it” is located within Bennett’s Bakery.  Apparently Persians are a “Thunder Bay Specialty”.  But I’m all, “What’s a Persian?”

A Persian is an oval-shaped, cinnamon-bun-like sweet roll with a sweet, pink icing made of either raspberries or strawberries.  It is credited to have originated at Bennett’s Bakery in, and remains particular to, Thunder Bay.  It is sometimes confused with a Pershing or a Persian bun which are regional items in parts of the United States but are a completely different baked good made with doughnut batter as opposed to being a sweet roll.  So there!

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It happens that we are “camped” right around the corner from Bennett’s Bakery; also, Syd, an employee of the GMC dealer where we are camped, stopped by on Saturday and gave us a gift certificate to have Persians at The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery. Around the corner.

So we  walked around the corner to The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery, and had coffee and Persians.  It was interesting…

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Later in the afternoon we walked around the corner to Dawson Trail Craft Brewery. We tasted 4 very nice craft beers and chatted with the owner about what it’s like to be a craft brewery in Thunder Bay.  While it is a small town (108,000), there is only one other brewery, no distilleries, and there are no wineries or wine tasting rooms… So while this sort of craft/artisanal business hasn’t really caught on here on the north shore, it is an up and coming thing, and they are optimistic…

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Since we still haven’t heard anything about the truck’s prognosis, and since our time here is seemingly endless, we did two things:

  1. We planned to go to Wisconsin in our rental car to see the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that had always been on our itinerary for this week…
  2. We went to dinner at our favorite Thunder Bay restaurant, Bistro One. The fact that we have a favorite restaurant tells us we have already been here way too long; we have a standing reservation for every Tuesday night…

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After dinner we turned in early; tomorrow is a 10 hour drive across the border and through Minnesota, into Wisconsin, down to the town of Spring Green.

And a not too awful time was had by all.













2017-09-04 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 4…

Stranded, Day 4:

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Happy Labrador Day!

2017-09-04 Happy Labrador Day

Yes, it is Labor Day.  Everything is closed.  Grocery Stores, Gas Stations, Craft Breweries, Car Dealers… We did find a pharmacy open to buy ice, then we headed out to see the Kakabeka Falls.

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Kakabeka Falls is a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River, located beside the village of Kakabeka Falls in the municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Ontario, 19 miles west of the city of Thunder Bay.

The falls have a drop of 130 ft, cascading into a gorge carved out by ancient glaciers. Because of its size and ease of access, it has been nicknamed “the Niagara of the North”, although people who compare these falls to Niagara have obviously never seen Niagara Falls…

The rock face of the falls and the gorge are composed primarily of unstable shale, and are continually eroding.  These rocks host sensitive flora, and contain some of the oldest fossils in existence, some 1.6 billion years of age.  It is astounding how plants, from grasses to giant trees, grow right out of the rock!

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The name “Kakabeka” comes from the Ojibwe word gakaabikaa, meaning “water falling over a cliff”.  Duh!

The falls are beautiful, and the layers of rock are amazing.  I love how the ledges and slabs of slate and shale animate these falls.  There are many areas from which to photograph the falls, from many angles, allowing many contrasting images…

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After viewing the falls, this being Labor Day and all, we needed to have hamburgers for lunch.  Luckily, CJ Restaurant was open:

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After lunch we decided to try another recommendation from the staff at Bistro One: Boulevard Lake.  This is a man-made lake just north of downtown Thunder Bay.  It is surrounded by a 650 acre park, with a walking path 5.31 km long.  (I have no idea how long that is in real dimensions; they said there would be no math in retirement…).

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The lake is fed by the North Current River.  A fish ladder was added to the dam in 1991 to allow fish (mostly Salmon) to swim up-stream to spawn.  Apparently there is a power generation station downstream from here and its operators are not happy with the fish ladder and how it affects the flow of water into the generator; they have sued the City of Thunder Bay for breach of contract…

2017-09-04 Boulevard Lake 03

2017-09-04 Boulevard Lake 01

No matter; the weather was nice and we had a lovely walk;

2017-09-04 Boulevard Lake 02

Happy Hours ensued.  Just because we are stranded doesn’t mean we don’t need happy hours…

A not-too-awful time was had by all…




2017-09-03 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 3…

It is Sunday… Guess what Thunder Bay has that most other cities in North America do not?

2017-09-03 Thunder Bay CRC 02

Yes! A Christian Reformed Church!

2017-09-03 Thunder Bay CRC 01

Lynda and I were raised in the Christian Reformed Church. We went to a CRC High School and we were married in a CRC church, and our children were baptized in a CRC church.  (There is no CRC church in Irvine, so we are now Presbyterians…)

So it was fun to attend a CRC church while on our trip.  This church is tiny.  Maybe 35 people in attendance.  They did have a good piano player, but the power-point operator could not find the file for today’s service, which, of course, contained the words to all the songs we were to sing.  So we had a good old-fashioned “hymn-sing”.  We pulled out the gray 1987 Psalter Hymnal (which we all hated when it replaced the “old” blue Psalter Hymnal, which we all hated when it replaced the old red Psalter Hymnal…) and people called out the number of their favorite hymn.  Some of these songs we haven’t sung in years, and most churches we have attended over the past 25 years have not used the Hymnals, projecting the lyrics onto a screen instead…

Also, this church has no pastor.  So the sermon was a video pre-recorded, maybe by the pastor from the other CRC here in Thunder Bay…

Anyway, it was a good service.  We had coffee in the fellowship hall after and met a few locals.  Then it was time to go.

We took the advice of the staff at Bistro One and drove over to the marina. Thunder Bay is remaking their formerly industrial waterfront into a very pleasant people-friendly place.  There is a pedestrian bridge spanning the railroad tracks, connecting the waterfront to the historic downtown; there are two new apartment/condo towers, a hotel and retail center is under construction, a new restaurant is open, the marina is bustling, and there is a very large park with walking trails along the water.  We had a pleasant walk, enjoying the clear skies and sunny weather.

2017-09-03 Marina 01

2017-09-03 Marina 04

We had lunch at Bight, a very nice contemporary restaurant, again, recommended by the staff at Bistro One.  Steak Tatare!  Need I say more?

2017-09-03 Bight 02

We also had another view of the Sleeping Giant:

2017-09-03 Marina 05

We returned to the Villa and had a quiet afternoon.  The weather was nice. We walked around the dealership, but after 1 1/2 laps it started to sprinkle and the wind started to blow; we made it back to the Villa just as the thunderstorm hit, dumping huge amounts of rain amid much thunder and lightning.  It lasted about 45 minutes…

The weather was nice. We walked around the dealership, but after 1 1/2 laps it started to sprinkle and the wind started to blow; we made it back to the Villa just as the thunderstorm hit, dumping huge amounts of rain amid much thunder and lightning.  It lasted about 45 minutes…

No, I didn’t type this paragraph twice by mistake – it really did happen twice, just like this… They didn’t name this place Thunder Bay by accident.

Happy Hours ensued.  Just because we are stranded doesn’t mean we don’t need happy hours…

A not-too-awful time was had by all…




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