finally, into Northern Ontario!
24.06.2008 -17 °C
June 19 -
Wonderful, warm ride from our B &B in Neepawa to Portage - sunny, and flying with a tailwind. We were halfway to Portage la Prairie when a car drove past, slowed down... waved... pulled over... it was Susan from the B&B, with an ice cream bar for each of us!!! We were so happy, what an amazing surprise on a deserted little stretch of highway. The three of us happily ate our ice cream bars and she wished us luck and then continued on her way to Winnipeg. I just can't get over people in the Prairies - they just seem to exude help and kindness.
We landed in Portage where we stayed with Sheri and Kent, two roommates sharing an organic farm. They fed us a wonderful dinner of lentil burgers and gave us a comfy futon to sleep on. Thank goodness for small comforts!
June 20 -
Woke up to a delicious breakfast of oatmeal and Saskatoon berries - made by Sheri and Kent - we love it when we don't have to make our own breakfast!! Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to leave town (around 9), I looked at Mary Anne with sad eyes and said, "I'm HUNgry again." "Me tooo" said Mary Anne. We can't keep up with our stomachs!!
We expected the ride to Winnipeg to be a lot shorter than it was (100 km) so we were a bit exhausted when we got to the city. However, it was a gorgeous, VERY flat ride through an all green blanket of grass and low shrubby trees. I've been complaining to Mary Anne that I just CAN'T seem to ride with no hands (hmm, 15 pounds of weight on the front of my bike miggght have something to do with that), and as I was complaining about it yet again, I was like... "I'm DOING IT, I'M DOING IT!!!" That was the day all surfaces touching my bike seat were absolutely killing me, so it was great to be able to sit upright in a totally new position.
Thankfully, our mutual friend Kathryn (aka Zeke, aka Hotpants) from the Otesha bike tour last year came to meet us on a secondary highway and weaved us in and out of residential streets, parks, and bike paths until we arrived at her apartment in Wolsley, so we didn't have to spend much time on busy city street. Hotpants suggested we go to a potluck slash birthday party of a friend of hers; we said we'd go as long as we didn't have to make intelligent conversation! It was SO DELICIOUS - rice wraps with delicious veggies and sauces, and then COCONUT GELATO and blackberries. Seriously. Next time you are in the grocery store, please, please stop and buy yourself some of this stuff, and eat copious amounts for me (potentially off someone else, it seems like it would be a shame not to).
June 21 -
Rest day in Winnipeg. Hotpants and Mary Anne and I got delicious warm cinnamon buns and walked around in the sunny, gorgeous morning, and then went out on our bikes to eat lunch and do errands in the city. It turned from a beautiful sunny day into rain and HAIL!! We hid out in a second hand bookstore, then headed back home. Mary Anne got to be the flag bearer in Hotpants' anarchist marching band that night - they were celebrating the solstice - and I stayed at home, too exhausted to do anything else!!
June 22 -
Hotpants biked with us for part of this journey - we hoped to make it to seven sisters falls but ended up staying in Beausejour as Mary Anne had been up late in the marching band the night before and I was still tired. Along the way we stopped at an old limestone quarry turned swimming hole and ate lunch and hopped in. The feeling of being in that cool water after 50 km of biking through HOT SUN is just unbelievable. We did an "aquatic freedom" dance of joy for the temperature in the water - consisting largely of arm flapping and bobbing up and down crazily. On the way through town I finally mailed home my winter sleeping bag at a gas station/post office, and when the guy running the gas station found out about our trip, he started offering us all this free food and drinks!! Interesting. Since then we've had a guy in a gas station leave us 20 bucks when he left - "to buy supplies" and people have become more and more incredulous of the trip - my favourite response so far after saying where we are going being "HOLY SHIT!"
Other memorable moments from this day -
- making stew and being upset that it wouldn't cool down because it's so hot outside, spreading it all over the tops of our tupperwares and then eating it "hands free"... yeah, like a dog. Try it sometime... makes for some hilarious unstoppable laughter!!
- trying to savour the chocolate Hotpants gave us like wine. Sniffing it... tasting it... then Mary Anne thought that there should be something different than swirling it (obviously, can't swirl chocolate) so she started rubbing it all over her teeth. ahahahaha... yeah
- Cleaning our bikes AGAIN. the neverending saga.
FINALLY out of the Prairies! This was our second longest biking day - 118 km! We saw 7 deer and it was Beeeeautiful. When I first saw the few flattish boulders covered in lichens, I actually cried I was so happy to see familiar terrain. I had no idea I even missed those rocks until I saw them again. I can't express how much I miss the east coast. I didn't know that I even noticed a sense of history and ocean-side culture, let alone appreciated it. Some of the the towns in the prairies are so new and ... seem almost barren and personality-less compared to the life and old-feel in maritime places. Anyways, we were seeing forests again - trees, swamps, streams, bogs, yum yum yum. We saw two beavers, and one of them SLAPPED it's tail on the water to warn the rest as we biked by.
We must have had 8 people today stop and ask us where we were going and where we were coming from and OH when did we start? When do we plan to finish? These same questions, every time. I love telling people about our trip, but it's funny - always the same questions. And it can be hard when you're trying to write your grocery list or trying to shovel pasta salad or 6 cookies (actually that was today) into your mouth and take the time to answer their questions with enthusiasm and warmth.
Oh. And this was the day of the gang of horseflies - we had - no exxageration - about 25 horseflies circling and circling around us - I called them the motorcycle gang and Mary Anne called them our fan club.
The park at West Hawk lake had a nice cold lake (the deepest in Manitoba!) and the most clean, big, modern bathrooms we've seen in a park so far. Sweet!
The day of other travellers!
It's getting late here so I'll have to be quicker!
We had only met two other bike tourers since BC, but this day we actually saw 6 and met 4 other bikers and one walker!!
We saw a hiker on the side of the highway and when we went to go ask him if he needed any water or anything, and asked him where he was going, he said he was WALKING ACROSS CANADA!! His organization promotes inner peace (I'll find his website and post it on here later) and he was doing this as a fundraiser. He started on April 1 from Vancouver (yeah.. we asked him all the same questions people ask us) and we were just catching up to him in KENORA. He does 40 - 50 km a day. Walking. Walking! WALKING! I just couldn't shake how amazing that is... how different it would be... really made me appreciate coasting down those big hills even more. His name was Joseph and he was full of smiles and curiosity. He told us we were the nicest bike tourers that he'd met so far
We also met 3 men touring together - 2 french, 1 belgian. We met up with them to bike the next day, they were really nice and very jealous of our "small" amounts of stuff - because we share some things, we have less, while they had just randomly met up to bike together so they all had everything they needed.
Then we met Dennis, the crazy Dennis from Korea who was biking from St. Catherines to Vancouver. He had third degree burns from sunburn all over his legs but a HUGE smile and a very positive attitude - laughing because he hadn't done his research about the prevailing wind in Canada (he's going the wrong way - east to west) and doing 140-150 km a day. Once (he said) he couldn't find a place to eat or sleep so he just kept biking. At night. In a lightning storm. 230 km later he stopped. Haha, what a guy.
It was a gorgeous ride to Kenora, swaths of white daisies and orange devil's paintbrush coat the roadsides. It's funny - before our ride two Manitobans warned us about the craaazzzy hills on the way to Kenora, and we had to laugh at their idea of steep hills - they were quite pleasant and a welcome change from flat flat flat!!!
Day of Frustration. We had to go back to the bike shop we had briefly visited the day before to fix a broken screw on Mary Anne's bike, and then on the way to Sioux Narrows, Mary Anne broke a spoke. We were actually biking with the group of 3 men from France and Belgium and Roland wrapped the spoke for us and suggested Mary Anne disconnect her brakes until she could get another spoke. It's too bad that we had those troubles, but man oh man, this day must of been one of the most beautiful so far. It is just unbelievably, ridiculously, intimately, beautiful. Everything is lush and green, lakes around every corner, bogs, marshes, streams, huge rocks with great rose and white tinted stripes through them, something different over every hill. So different from the mountains in BC - majestic but cold and seemingly so far away.
When we were biking with Roland (french guy) we had a deer run with us for about 20 seconds, then run across the road and up a big hill on the other side - very cool. Our campsite was overrun with poison ivy, but we got through it to skinny dip in the famous lake of the woods. Excellent.
Hitchhiked to Kenora (why are we always being saved by men with pickup trucks?) and laughed our way into the bike store in Kenora for the third time (we're now on first name basis with Adam, the wonderful man who always had time to fix our troubles) to fix Mary Anne's tire. No problems getting back to the park - just put a sign on my head that said "SIOUX NARROWS Please" on it as we walked out of town and got picked up within 5 minutes!!! VERY buggy in the park. Still homesick. Sigh.
We woke up to the sound of rain hitting the tent - ouch. That's only happenned once before and it was on a day off so we just went back to sleep, but we didn't have that luxury this time. It stopped long enough to get to Caliper Lake Provincial Park and make dinner and walk down to the lake... and then, it slowly, slowly approached us from the other side of the lake. We could see it. Making the islands and peninsulas grey, one by one. Drumming up the pollen into clouds so yellow we could see them from across the lake. We ate by that lake until the last possible second and then RAN back to our tarped tent site (Dad, I'll show you the picture of the tarp set-up when I get home, you'll be proud). I have never felt so chased by rain as I have on this trip.
Funny - I had put some stuff on my bike and then walked to the tent and heard a bike falling - I yelled over my shoulder, "was that my bike???" And Mary Anne replied, "No, that was a little boy falling off HIS bike. That sound you thought was your paniers hitting the ground? Was actually the sound of a soft little body hitting the earth." Man, that girl cracks me up.
I wrote a list of things I will and won't miss about this trip:
will: Being outside all the time.
won't: being outside all the time.
will: getting a lot of daily exercise.
won't: having to bike EVERY DAY.
will: all the wildlife
won't: all the bugs!!!
will: being able to tell people we are biking across Canada!!
won't: People asking us the same three questions every day.
will: FOOD and Mary Anne spicing things and eating whatever I want
won't: buying groceries every day.
will: having nothing better to do than read and write and thing
won't: not having my computer!! (aka, my umbilical cord)
will: Mary Anne
won't: missing everybody else!
will: hot breakfasts
won't: Farting CONSTANTLY. WOW.
Today. Again, woke to rain. Sigh. Packed up. Stilll raining. Ate. Stillll raining. Left. Stilllll raining. Biking biking biking biking RAIN IN MY EYES DRYING OUT MY CONTACTS raining raining raining bike bike bike PEEEEE on the side of the road, yes folks we're biking in the rain nope we're peeing near this driveway actually. Bike bike bike it's stilll raining. That was my head today, we biked 55 km with almost no breaks before lunch - amazing how the weather can motivate you. We ended up just throwing the idea of camping again to the wind - half of what we owned was wet, the tent was still wet from the morning, and we wanted a nice. bed.
Which is where I'm headed now!