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Rant Log: Ontario (Part II)

Day 30

July 12

Sault Ste Marie

Manitou Motel

117.0 km

5.22 hr

Av 21.8

Max 39.0

I had an itchy night again, but I covered myself in Lanicane, so it was not as bad as the previous night. However, now my sleeping bag has anti-itch cream on it.

I've had a few unique bug experiences so far. Today it was earwigs. Somehow they had climbed up my bike wheels and climbed into every pannier pocket. They really liked my bathroom soap and stuff. They were in my cereal box but no the bag(I think). I ate the cereal even if they were. Luckily there was only one in my tent even though the outside of it had many trying to get it. All the zippers were closed, but earwigs are amazing at getting into things. Oh well. at least these things don't bite, so I didn't care too much(I was even laughing as I kept on finding more of them).

At Raco MI, two fellows asked me what I was doing. When I told them, their first question was if I carried a gun. They were stunned when I said I didn't even have a knife. They assumed that I was going to be robbed on the side of the road. I think they had been watching too much television.

It was pretty windy getting into Sault Ste Marie. The side road was really bumpy and I had not eaten well today and I was worried about getting sick.

I had a hard time figuring out how to cross the border. The interstate leads to the bridge which I am not allowed to be on. I detoured to the closest on-ramp and ignored the sign. It cost 90c to cross. There was no sidewalk on the bridge and the wind was very powerful. I could not turn my head to look at the amazing view. I had to just hold on with all my strength, keep it straight and get over.

Now that I am back in Canada I treated myself to a Motel. I had a shorter day but I am very tired with some strong wind and fatigue from earlier days.

Day 31

July 13

Blind River ON

Town Campground

145.0 km

6.46 hr

Av 21.4

Max 44.5

Friday the 13th. I am feeling the fatigue from not having taken any rest days since Kelowna BC. I thought I'd be rested from my short day yesterday but I am not. I called it quits early again today hoping to rest a little more.

Before I left this morning I found about 6 more earwigs in my panniers. Today heading out from the Soo, I saw the same hitchhiker 3 times. He was some fellow with a white dog. He'd always be hitching at the next town.

I came up to Evan, a Nova Scotia man walking across Canada. There seems to be a disproportionate number of people doing the trans-Canada trek from the Maritimes. Anyways, he was walking to raise money to dig wells in Haiti. His site is www.cupofcoldwater.org. I walked with him for a bit since it has been a while since I chatted. He does about 42 km/day and started in Victoria on April 1. Evan has a bit of a pot belly, which is strange for someone who walks 11 hours a day. He's past the halfway point but there is a lot more to go. He told me a few amusing things:

  • A friend of his was biking across Canada to raise money for Haiti. This fellow sounds really strange. In Quebec he was traveling on some sidewalks expecting wheel chair ramps. Well, one was a steep curb. He hit it, flew over the handlebars and broke his arm. He did not go to a hospital. He just kept on going. Later an American driver came too close to him on the hiway, he fell over, breaking his nose and got blood everywhere. He just got up, straightened out his nose and kept on going. Only when he finished his trip did he check out his injuries. The doctor had to re-break his arm and set it properly.
  • He told me of a couple on a tandem recumbent bike who could average 60 km/h and get up to 100 km/h on hills. That's nuts(Later I found that it was not quite correct). Also apparently there is an inline skater up ahead skating across Canada.
  • He collects those black rubber truck bungie cords. He was going to auction them off for charity when he got home. I thought it was a little weird. Apparently, there is a second guy in Manitoba who also collected them. He could find very many of them in that province. He actually met this second guy in a coffee shop or something like that. Very bizarre.

After about 45 minutes I gave him my coinage(which added up) for his charity and I moved on.

I came into Blind River, had a sub and went to the campgrounds. This place kind of looks like a dump with abandoned warehouses and a rusted water tower overlooking the grounds. There's also an old rusty lighthouse. But the Marina washrooms are some of the nicest I've seen, with 5 urinals, 6 sinks, 5 stalls and 8 showers.

I was worried about the TransCan Hiway. So far it is not great, but not too bad. There is a little bit of a shoulder and truckers are usually fairly courteous if they can be.

Day 32

July 14

Little Current ON

Great La Cloche Island

162.2 km

7.32 hr

Av 21.5

Max 54.0

Yesterday, I think I wrote the transCan was not so bad. Today it was getting on my nerves. It is a small choppy shoulder with lots of traffic.

I had lunch in Espanola at Wendy's. I had mini-lunches at Spanish and Massey. I turned down south on Hw 6. I had been looking forward to Hw 6. I thought it would be quiet. Instead it is really narrow and hilly and fairly busy. It is obvious they had to do a lot of blasting of rock to make this hiway. There were gravel trucks that would really bother me by nearly sucking me under.

I am camping in a free rocky camp spot near Little Current. It was hard getting here, very strong headwinds and very hilly.

I met Steve from Toronto, who is biking around here and camped here for the night. He also was laid off like me, but from Nortel. He chalenged me to a game of chess. I don't really like chess and he beat me in a couple of moves.

This site is just rocks and a broken outhouse. There is no soil here. The outhouse is literally about to cave in upon itself.

Day 33

July 15

Miller Lake ON

MAple Ridge Family Campground

101.8 km

4.32 hr

Av 22.4

Max 42.0

This morning I was awakened by the mooing of Beefalo. Beefalo are a combination of buffalo and cattle. The beefalo seemed curious about who was in their territory. They also seem more active than cattle. The beefalo would run when I got too close.

Hw 6 got a lot better today. It was quiet and less hilly. I guess since yesterday was Saturday that's why it was so bad.

I stopped in at the Manitowaning info centre. If I was giving out prizes, the girl working there would get the prize for cutest info centre girl. I checked out the ferry schedule. The next one is 1:30 PM so I got quite a wait.

I came into the ferry port. Parked just ahead of me is the British couple with the crazy recumbent tandem 4 wheeled bike. This is the coolest bike I have ever seen. But the speeds it can do where slightly exaggerated by Evan the cross-country walker. It does 30 km/h on flat land. 5 km/h uphill and 80 km/h downhill. 72 gears. The bike is Australian www.greenspeed.com.au and was custom made.

The couple has a website www.trikeit.co.uk

The ferry cost me 16.50. The guy had no clue what to charge for the trike. He ended up charging 28.00 or something like that. The ferry ride was about 2 hours. I hung out with the cyclists for most of the trip. They are like a celebrity because everyone stares at them. Once a car even went into the ditch because they were distracted by them.

I didn't go far past Tobermory. I'm at some deserted Maple Ridge family campground. They have a restaurant too(That I did not go to) run by the parents and two daughters. This place has bugs, horse flies and mosquitoes, but at least there is showers. I'm getting tired of the bugs and smelly tent, but there is only two more nights, then I am home.

Day 34

July 16

Varney ON

Motel

134.7 km

6.27 hr

Av 20.9

Max 59.5

I had a bad night. At 12:30 I was awoken by an animal sniffing. Before I embarked on my trip I asked my friend Phil about bears. He said something along the lines of just use commonsense and not do something stupid like leaving an empty tin of tuna near your tent.

Well last night I was being hounded by mosquitoes and horse flies. After a shower with the moths and mice(they were in the ceiling). I jumped into my tent to take refuge. I realized I left my garbage on the pinic table(including a tin of tuna). The garbage bin was so far away, and I'd let in all the bugs if I opened the door again. So I left it, I figured I was out of bear country.

Well I was awoken by sniffing at my tiny tent. In my sleepy stupor, my immediate reaction was to shout "Yah!". I was imitating Yosemite Sam's quote "Yah Mule Yah" imbedded in my heritage. I thought it was a raccoon. But listening the animal sounded big and breathed slowly. I quickly became a frightened thinking it was a bear. I could hear it licking the tuna can, but could hear little else. I remember the trike British couple telling me about a bear swiping a tent of some campers looking for food. I was worried and could not sleep. I lay there sweating, listening to the bull frogs, cows, wood peckers and other birds. I never heard it leave so I lay awake for a long time. I was the only visitor at this campground. There were a couple permanent trailers here but that was it. So if there was trouble I'd be the only one.

At 6:30 the rain came. There was a break at 7:00 where I quickly packed up before the rain came back. I had planned to go to Sauble beach and see what action was going on over tere. But I don't think there will be many people there on a rainy Monday morning. So I canceled that plan and skipped it.

I spoke to a local man in the morning. He said they were having bear problems around here. He said the local bakery had two separate incidents with two different bears, where the bear tore off the door and ate all goods with blue-berries. I dunno it may still be a raccoon but it was strong enough to knock over a full oil barrel garbage bin.

In drizzle lasting all day and headwinds from the South-East I headed out to Owen Sound.

The downtown of Owen Sound was packed with cars. Two fire trucks and an ambulance tried to get through these packed streets. I eventually came to the accident scene. A truck was crushed pretty good. I'm glad I wasn't there at the time.

I actually find Hw 6 pretty dangerous, there is no real shoulder. I really get annoyed when cars headed the other direction pass and nearly hit me at high speeds. I've almost taken a few rear view mirrors to the face.

Coming into Durham I met Derek(?) from Burlington. He is just starting his bike tour to Vancouver. He is on his first day and I have one day left. He did 200 km today but was fixing a flat at Durham. There is something about Durham because as I was coming down a steep hill my left pannier backboard broke. The bag jammed in the spokes and I had to slam on the breaks. I shoved my log book back there and hope it will do. Only one more day. I've actually found a number of problems with my panniers will probably throw them out when I get home.

Well I am tired of camping and I know it is silly to Model it on the last night of the trip but the previous night made me not want to tent for a long time.

23 subs.

Day 35

July 17

Waterloo ON

Home apartment

100.1 km

4.54 hr

Av 20.4

Max 47.0

Well today is the last day. I had pure unadulterated true-blue headwinds from the South, but who cares... it's the last day.

I came into Mount Forest and got some food at Foodland. An old man began telling me his life story. I was kind of anxious to get going but he kept on going on and on. Eventually his wife came and dragged him off.

I came into Fergus and headed for Elora. At this point the roads are familiar. Did I mention I hate Kitchener-Waterloo for biking? They are familiar and possible the worst of my trip. Tight narrow roads, trucks that nearly suck me under. On the trans-can truckers give me room if the can and I appreciate it. In Waterloo they often don't don't care if you are there or not. Also the air quality is pretty bad around here.

Anyways I thought I'd check out the Elora quarry even tough I've been there many times. The town has set up a wrist band thing since I've left and expect you to pay. How absurd. It's a quarry for crying out loud. So I skipped it. I headed to Elora gorge. I took some pictures of the canyon. I grabbed a sub, how many is that now? As I was trying to find my way out of construction a bumble bee went down my shirt. It literally took 30 seconds or more to get it out. I was thrashing around in front of a church where a lot of people were watching me. Amazingly the bee survived and did not sting me.

From Elora to my apartment building it was only 25 km. I used to think it was incredibly far, now it is just a hop-skip and a jump. The air quality got noticeably worse.

When I left gas prices were at 80 cents a litre. Today they are at 63 cents a litre. That made me happy.

Well I am home. Part of why I did this trip was to decide where I want to move to, now that I am unemployed. I have not really made up my mind, but Canada is a beautiful country.

I will miss the attention I would get on my trip. It is one of the few times I do not feel invisible in my life. But now the gear has come off and I can sleep in my bed. Maybe the next time I find myself jobless I will complete the trip and go from Toronto to St. Johns. It kind of itches me that I did not go all the way. Oh well there is lots of things I need to do now that I am home. If you are reading this I hope you are encouraged to do a similar trip(despite my complaints about wind). You will meet interesting people and see beautiful sights. Some days are better than others but it is a great life experience.


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