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Day 34 June 10 Monday
Ney’s Campground to White River
Today started with a drive into Marathon, to the Fountain Tire. They took care of us right away, and patched up our flat, so we were on the road in no time at all. We started cycling from Marathon, as Terry, Bill and Brian did an out and back at the end of the day yesterday to make up the missed mileage due to the RV mishap.
We came across another more serious mishap. A truck had gone off the side of the road, and skidded on its side in some grass. We’re not sure why, because it was on a straight away, and the conditions were good. The police were just arriving, and no one was hurt, so we carried on. I’m sure the driver will have a difficult time explaining what happened.
Today marks the halfway point of the trip – 34 of 68 days done. It is flying by, and some days crawling by, depending on how you are feeling at the time. I know that at the end of the trip, there will definitely be mixed emotions about it ending.
Many people commented to me how barren the area would be, but I have not been finding it that way at all. When you have friends along with you, you’re never really alone. And there are little towns along the way, so there is always something to see. People have made little inukshuks all along the way, and they help me remember I’m on the right path. And there’s always the odd sign to make you chuckle.
Although our day was not that long (about 95 kms), it was pretty much uphill all day. A gentle grade mind you, but even what appeared to be flat or downhill was really still going up. There is nothing more disappointing than thinking you have a nice downhill coming up, and then end up having to pedal just to keep moving. There are often optical illusions of the grade of the road.
Today, we saw the Barrick Gold Mining operation, and Brian caught sight of a moose swimming across a lake. The moose was going so fast, he actually had a pretty good wake behind him. We didn’t stop for long at any of the sites, because the mosquitoes and the little black flies (THE dreaded Ontario black flies) were incredible. You didn’t really notice them while you were moving, but as soon as you stopped you were surrounded, and they wanted blood! They were just as bad, if not worse, in town as they have a lot of marshes around. When I was walking back to the RV after dinner, swatting and swearing with a cloud of about 50 flies following me, my savior, local resident Nancy, took pity on me and drove me the rest of the way. The back of my white shirt was red with blood-sucking bug splatter.
But we should remember White River not for flies, but its other claim to fame. It is the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. I won’t go into the real story of the adopted bear as many of you know it, but you can look it up – interesting background to the beloved storybook characters.
And I finally got a chance to have my first lake fish for dinner – pickerel. I know it wasn’t really local, but it was from Ontario, so it qualifies as local to me.
It was the warmest evening yet in the RV. We had to turn on the fan and open all the screens to cool things off, without letting in the army of flies. Brian and Bob took a motel room for the night, or be eaten alive. We appreciated that, as we used their shower and internet, as our RV site was not equipped with toilets or showers – pretty much a parking spot with power. A few of us actually got to watch some of the news on their TV. We really have been isolated from the happenings in the “real world” while on this trip, and I can’t say that is a bad thing.
Day 35 June 11 Tuesday
White River to Wawa
Last night was a blood bath – blood splatters on the walls and sheets from the little buzzers who circled our heads all night and kept us awake. We survived the onslaught, but just barely.
We started out cycling in drizzle this morning, which then changed to rain. It let up around 10:30, dried up and then turned to fog – and I mean the pea-soup kind of fog. Funny when the inside of your glasses fog up more than the outside. And we are now over 1000 kms into Ontario.
We’re passing lots of provincial parks. Today it was White Lake PP and Obatange PP, and also lots of first nations reserve lands.
At one point I fell over on my bike while stopped on the road and looking behind me. Keeping the rubber side down is easy when you’re moving, but clip-in pedals are notorious for not releasing when you are standing still. No damage, just bruises – one on my calf and one on my pride.
We spotted a family of three on a “surrey”, but they didn’t stop to talk, maybe thought we would hijack them to get some cover from the rain. It looks like great fun, but we heard the truckers weren’t too happy, as they are too big to fit on the shoulder and therefore could be in danger of causing an accident.
It was still foggy later in day, and Terry and Brian did extra 40 kms to shorten our next days – and they say it’s pretty hilly. So we have that to look forward to. Barb, a reporter from the Algoma News weekly paper came out to the RV site for an interview, and we had to track Terry and Brian down at the Tim Horton’s (where else?) on the way back from their ride to get Terry in her photo. Spot always gives their location away.
Brian got his first flat just before the campsite. We’ll be getting a round of new tires in the Sault. Bill and Bob was his Nascar pit crew and had his tire fixed before he was out of the shower. And then the “chain cleaning” lecture began from Terry and Bill, who are purists when it comes to daily chain cleaning. Terry would wax his bike and chain if it was an option, and Brian had not cleaned his chain since he started the trip.
We drove back to Wawa for dinner, and made a trip to the Young’s General Store for treats afterwards.
Bill found some locally-made famous bag summer sausage, as well as hard ice cream, and he was as happy as a kid in a candy shop….wait, he IS a kid in a candy shop, just look at his face in the photo! I myself had some fudge and bought a few souvenirs of the area. I had a good talk with the two young ladies in the store. One had a sister who had been hospitalized with depression, and the other felt new university students needed more support while they try to adjust to life away from home and with the stresses at school. The conversations are happening, and it is refreshing to have them with the next generation. Maybe, with some encouragement, they will carry the conversation forward.
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