Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 41 (with ducks)

Day 41
Current Location: Stonecliffe, Ont.
Date: July 30th, 2008

In all honesty, today was a rather boring day. We traveled around 130KM’s from North Bay, Ont. to Stonecliffe, Ont. The drive went fairly smooth, in the sense that nothing bad happened (the ride itself was rather bumpy). I guess the highlight of my day was seeing a bunch of ducks near my tent this morning. At the bottom is a video of said ducks (I can’t believe that I actually put the video on You Tube).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 39

Day 39
Location: Greater Sudbury Area
Date: July 28th, 2008

Today we traveled from Spragge, Ont. to some random rest stop in the Greater Sudbury area. We couldn’t find a campsite so I guess we’ll be sleeping at a public rest stop tonight. This will be the first time that I’ve ever slept outdoors on public property. Hopefully, I won’t be attacked by a bear in my sleep. Knowing my luck, if I were to see a bear it would probably slip on something and break its leg. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m some sort of reverse good luck charm for bears. Something bad seems to happen whenever I’m near one.

Day 37

Day 37
Current Location: Sault Ste Marie
Date: July 26th, 2008

Today we were off to a bit of a pretty slow start. We had to go to the emergency room in order for Brett and Vanessa to get a prescription for their “superbug.” It ended up surprisingly taking a really long time to do this. I ended up taking a nap in the van while Kelly and I were waiting in the visitors area. Following that we went to an A&P to stock up on food. For those of you that don’t know, A&P seems to be the big grocery store in eastern Canada. I know that this might sound a little silly but I really miss buying my groceries from Save-On-Foods. I haven’t used my Save-On card in weeks.

After we were done shopping at the A&P we biked for about 50km and then went back into Sault Ste Marie. After getting a campsite and eating we went and saw The Dark Knight. I had some freakishly high expectations going into the movie. To my amazement, it actually exceeded them.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It’s a wise idea to invest more than $25.00 on a tent (Day 36)

Day 36
Date: July 25th, 2008
Current Location: Sault Ste Marie

Today we traveled from Montreal River Harbour to Sault Ste Marie. It was a really rainy day. It seemed like at some points it was raining cats and umm ... bricks. Because of the rain I have come to the conclusion that there is a reason why one should be wary of spending only $25.00 on a tent. This morning when I woke up I was welcomed with a good dose of rain. Sadly my tent isn’t particularly adept at protecting me from the elements. When I woke I noticed that a puddle of rain water had formed on two sides of my tent. The bottom of my sleeping bag and a good chunk of my foam mat were drenched.

Later on in the day when we reached Sault Ste Marie, I asked Vanessa if I could borrow her spare tent for the next couple of days. She kindly said yes. Her spare tent like my tent was worth about $25.00. When Brett and Vanessa went into town to do get checked up at the hospital, it began to rain. When they left, I immediately went into the other tent. At first everything was going well in the tent. It seemed like it was doing a good job of sheltering me from the rain. Then I noticed a leak at the seams on the side of the tent. Then I noticed a leak on the other side. To make a long story short, the new tent was just as bad as my old and my sleeping bag, foam mat and clothes were drenched with water. I think that I might invest some money in a new tent. Perhaps one that is worth more than $25.00.

Day 35

Day 35
Date: July 24th, 2008
Current Location: Montreal River Harbour

In all honesty nothing really particularly interesting happened. We traveled from Wawa to a village called Montreal River Harbour. We began the day by going to Tim Horton’s and taking a couple of pictures in front of a giant statue of a bird. The terrain for today was a bit rougher than it has been in the last couple of days. I noticed a bit of an increase in the amounts of hills. Also the highway that we were driving along was adjacent to Lake Superior, so we ended up having a really nice view of it for a majority of the trip.

Nothing good seems to happen when I see a bear (Day 34)

Day 34
Date: July 23rd, 2008
Current Location: Wawa

Today is the third time that I’ve seen a bear on this trip. Like the other two times, I really wish that I hadn’t. About an hour after I woke up, I saw, the Australian biker, Rob point to something that was walking along the street. At first I couldn’t recognize what it was. All I saw at first was an OPP police car. Then I noticed a black bear walking along the street. The officer in the OPP police car then in front of the bear and honked at it in at an attempt to scare the bear. After the honking the bear left. Rob and I then went to the officer and asked him what was going on. He told us that he was trying to scare the bear away and that it was becoming more and more common for bears to enter the city.

About twenty minutes later Rob noticed that the bear had come back and was rummaging thru the dumpster. Moments later the OPP officer came back. As I was talking to Kelly I noticed that the officer had pulled out a rifle. After pulling out the rifle he shot at the bear multiple times. I wasn’t really sure what happened to the bear but I assume that the officer was using lead bullets rather than rubber ones based on what we heard from townsfolk. It’s kind of weird to see a bear get shot in the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh.

Following the bear incident we went out for lunch and then we began the cycling for the day. The weather was fairly hospitable and the biking for the day went rather smoothly. At the end of the day we ended up finding a pretty nice campsite in Wawa.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 33

Day 33
Date: July 22nd, 2008
Current Location: White River

Today we traveled from about 20Km’s north of Marathon to a small town called White River. While driving in the van with Brett I found out that White River is actually the home of Winnie The Pooh. While driving to White River we found an interesting sign for a road. A road called "Yellow Brick Road". As we drove past the road, Brett and I noticed that the road was neither yellow or brick.

While in town we saw a giant monument of Winnie in a tree with a jar of honey. We took a couple of pictures of it and I tried to climb the fake tree. I failed miserably. I ended up falling as Kelly boosted me up. I’ll be the first to admit that my climbing ability is rather sub par but I really thought that I would make. Oh well.

After that we headed into a gift shop/gas station/A&W. We were told by the gift shop workers that if we wanted to we could tent behind the visitor’s center. At first we were a little apprehensive to do this but it was the only site within 30km’s. When we reached the visitor’s center we bumped into an Australian biker that we had met and camped with a couple days ago. Despite being threatened (in a friendly sort of way) by a store owner that they were going to steal my Gnome, I found the people in town really kind.

Day 32

Day 32
Date: July 21st, 2008
Location: In a campsite about 20 KM’s north of Marathon

Today was a really bad day in general. It started off rather well in the beginning. We all had a pretty good night’s sleep in the campground in Terrace Bay. After we packed up, we went to a nice little waterfall that was near the campsite. After we were on the road we eventually saw a small baby bear on the highway. When I first saw it I thought it was a dog crossing the road. It was the first time on the trip that I actually saw a live bear and an animal that was alive on the highway. It seemed like it was in slow motion when I saw the bear. It looked like it was looking both ways when it darted through the road. As it was moving across the road, I saw a half-ton truck in my side view mirror heading towards the bear. The truck was moving slowly enough that I thought that its driver would notice the bear. It didn’t. I looked in horror as I saw the bear get hit by the truck. It was a really disturbing scene.

About an hour or so after the horrific scene of the bear, as I was driving I saw Brett pull to the side of a fence and wince in pain as he injured his leg for the second time on the trip. I could see from the look on his face that he was in a copious amount of pain and that he was done for the day. In all likelihood he’ll be unable to bike for the next couple of weeks.

After eating at an Esso, I drove Brett, Vanessa and Kelly to the hospital in Marathon. Kelly had an awkward bump on his neck and Vanessa had some sort of ailment After dropping them off in the hospital I drove back to find a campsite. On my way to the site I almost ended up hitting another bear crossing the highway. Luckily, I saw the bear in time and swerved into the shoulder.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 24-26

Day 24-26
July 15, 2008
Current Location: Ignace, ON

The last couple of days have been gone pretty smoothly. So smoothly that I can’t think of anything that really happened that is really particularly interesting. The weather has been fairly eclectic. At some points it was really sunny and at others it felt like it was raining cats and umm... bricks. We’ve been getting quite a dose of sun, rain, lighting and wind. Luckily, we haven’t experienced a freak snow storm yet.

I got my first experience with black flies (aka Simulium Yahense) when we passed the Ontario borders. I was briefly out of the car stretching when all of a sudden a swarm of them tried to eat me alive. It was like they were flies crossbred with piranhas. After trying to brush them off I quickly ran back into the van and closed the windows. After closing the windows they still tried to get into the van. They kept on flying into the windows even when I was going 30 km/hour. I guess that they were hungry for Chinese (worst joke ever). I very much dislike flying insects that bite. As you can probably assume, after my first encounter with them, I’m not particularly fond of anything from the Simuliidae family of the Culicomorpha infraorder.

The terrain in Ontario is quite a bit of a change to the prairies. Lots of hills, trees and rocks. The drivers in Ontario have been fairly good so far. A lot more friendly then I was expecting.

Currently we are in a small town called Ignace in Ontario. We're staying in a campground/laundromat. The owners of the place seem to be really nice. We’re also camping with a fellow biker that we met yesterday in Dryden tonight.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 22

Day 22
July 11th, 2008
Current Location: Portage

When I woke up this morning my head was hurting. Not from a headache but rather from me accidently slamming my head on the lower roof of a five year old’s bunk bed (the roof is around 1.5 feet from the mattress). I think that I was in the middle of dream while sleeping when cell phone alarm rang. After hearing the alarm I instinctively rose up. While rising up my head collided with the beds roof. It really hurt. I wonder if the bunk beds box had any warnings about adults sleep in them.

After the collision, I walked outside to wake up Kelly and Brett. When I was outside, I realized that the cover on top of my tent (which I had set up the night before)had flow on. My sleeping bag, pillow and foam mat was in what seemed like a small pond of rain water. This isn’t partially the best way to start a day.

Today, Brett was on his bike again. It’s the first time since his injury, that he rode a full day with the rest of the cyclists. I was really glad to see him riding again. There was a pretty good tailwind (wind blowing the cyclists forward) throughout the day. They surprisingly ended up biking over 200+ KM.

Day 21

Today we traveled from Moosomin to about 50kms west of Brandon, MB. It felt like we were back home today and I don’t mean this in a good way. On the highway, we had some really strong winds that were blowing against the drivers. It slowed down Kelly and Vanessa quite a bit. I wish I brought a kite with me because it would have been pretty good kite flying weather.

On our way to Brandon we reached the point in the highway where the paved shoulders were replaced with gravel ones. When we reached that point we began to be extra cautions. Kelly and Vanessa had to bike on the edges of the right hand lane while I had my driver side tires on about ¼ of the right hand lane and the rest on the shoulder with the hazard lights on. For the most part the drivers on the highway were being pretty good. They all immediately changed lanes when they saw the van. When we were about 50-60KM’s away from Brandon we decided to stop for the day. The wind was being really horrible and Kelly and Vanessa were biking around 10KM per hour.

After we stopped biking for the day, we packed up the bikes and drove to Brandon. Bob Coney, who does PR for the University of Lethbridge, arraigned for us to have dinner at his friend Cathie’s resultant. It was a really cool ice cream parlor/burger place called Tastee’s Ice Cream and Grill. Cathie was really nice. As we were eating dinner she kindly offered to house us for the night. We gladly accepted her offer.

She lived in a really nice house around 20 KM’s from Brandon. Initially, we had all set up our tents and we were all going to campout in her backyard. Then Brandon and its surrounding areas were hit with a rather severe thunderstorm. Vanessa and I decided to stay in the house while Kelly and Brett decided to sleep outside and brave the elements. Instead of sleeping in a tent outside, I will be sleeping in the lower part of Cathie’s five year old son’s bunk bed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 20

Day 20
July 9th, 2008
Current Location: Moosomin

This morning when I was waiting for the group on the highway a kind couple offered to give me a ride. I think that they thought that I was some sort of hitchhiker. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been mistaken as a hitchhiker. I was kind of flattered that they offered to give me a ride. I know that this sounds kind of bad but most of the time I just ignore hitchhikers on the road because they make me kind of nervous. I blame this on the movie The Hitcher(the one that was made in 1986 not the 2007 remake staring Sophia Bush).

Sadly, I had to decline their offer. After meeting the group in White City, we went off to Moosomin. On our way there we stopped briefly in a really cool 50’s styled dinner. The dinner was filled with coke memorabilia and collectibles. The food was pretty good and the owner was really nice. He tried to sell us a limo that was made in 1987. It was once owed by a funeral home and an old-timers hockey team. If I had a larger disposable income I would have seriously considered it.

When we reached Moosomin, we found a pretty good campsite. It was for only $18.00 and it had a small manmade lake. The only downside is that it was littered with mosquitoes. I’m glad that I drenched myself with a can of Deet. For some strange reason my tent smelt kind of funny. I tired sleeping outside but I was attacked by more mosquitoes. Then I eventually went back to my smelly tent. I plan on washing it tomorrow or at least drench it with Febreze.

Day 19

Day 19
July 8th, 2008
Current Location: Regina

Today was a pretty interesting day. We went to a small town called Rouleau. This is the place where the T.V series Corner Gas is filmed (as least the exterior). We took a couple of pictures and did a bit of sightseeing. I found out that the building that they use as the Food Mart in series is actually the office for an orthopaedic surgeon and that the Dog River Police Department is actually a gift store. I’ve never actually seen an episode of Corner Gas so I didn’t really appreciate it as much as the rest of the group.

When we reached Regina, I was dropped off at my grandparent’s house. I spent the night in Regina while the group biked to White City. This was so that I could spend my extended family in Regina. I ended up walking around downtown Regina for about two hours. It was nostalgic walking around my old childhood neighbourhood. After that I went and visited a couple of aunts, uncles and some old family friends with my sister and my mom. I ended up spending the night at my grandparent’s house.

Day 18 (I dislike places that do not offer 225/65R16 type tires)

Day 18
July 7th, 2008
Current Location: Moose Jaw

Today was a somewhat frustrating day. The day had begun pretty well. Our host for the night, Anne made us a pretty good breakfast in the morning. After that we left for Moose Jaw at around 8:30am. We were going at a pretty good pace when all of a sudden the rear wheel of the van got flat. After changing the tire, we drove to Moose Jaw to find a replacement for it. We initially went to Kal Tire. They were the tire store that were told to go if we ever had a flat. Then it turned out that our tire type was too new and thus they didn’t have one in stock (we’re driving a silver 2008 Dodge Caravan). Then I phoned a couple of tire shops in town and I pretty much got the same response. Then I finally called one that said that they might have some in stock. After driving to that store they later told Brett and I that they old had used ones. They recommended that we go to a Dodge dealership to see if they have some new ones. When we reached the dealership they told us that they don’t carry that tire in stock. Brett and I thought that this was weird because you would think that a Dodge dealership would have tires for its 2008 models in stock. Then we went to the tire store that said that they had a used version. It turned out that they didn’t actually have a used tire that meet our specifications. Finally we went to the tire store that was next door to that one and they had the tire in stock that we needed.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 17
July 6th, 2008
Current Location: Swift Current

Today we traveled from Gulf Lake to a town called Herbert (well sort of). After reaching Herbert we ended up driving 50km back west to Swift Current. This was so that we could stay with Maureen Schwarz’s mother, Anne. She was a really nice host. She expected us to come to come the following day, so she was caught a little off guard.

Alberta’s roads > Saskatchewan’s roads.

I have come to the conclusion that the roads in Alberta are far superior to the roads in Saskatchewan. Brett and I had a really bumpy ride following Kelly and Vanessa on the shoulders of HWY 1. The shoulders were covered by a surprisingly large amount of dead mammals and bits & pieces of destroyed tires. I have also come to the conclusion that people tend to exaggerate about the flatness of the roads of Saskatchewan (but I might be biased due to the bumpy roads).

Day 16

Day 16
July 5th, 2008
Current Location: Gulf Lake

In comparison to yesterday, nothing particularly interesting happened. I had a really goodnights sleep and Brett’s grandma made us a really good breakfast. In the morning, for about 15 minutes we were all frantically looking for the van keys. I checked inside every cushion and I unpacked all of my stuff looking for it. We ended up finding the keys in my jacket. That should have been the first place that I should have checked. Oh well.

The drive went off fairly smooth. We found an outlandishly cheep campground in a small city called Gulf Lake (sadly the city doesn’t lake anymore). It was only $10. The sad thing about this is that despite the outlandishly cheap price, there was only one other group of campers. Kelly and I ended up talking with manager of the campsite of awhile. She told us about her grandchildren and gave us a brief synopsis of the history of the town.

Day 15

Day 15
July 4th, 2008
Current Location: Medicine Hat

Today was a pretty interesting day. It was the first day in over a week or so that Brett wasn’t with me in the van. He had to meet with his acupuncturist and doctor. He eventually met up with us later in the day in Medicine Hat. It was kind of weird driving by myself again. I ended up listening to my IPod for most of the trip. I listened to 62+ Modest Mouse songs.

Adam Vossepoel, Brodie Pattenden and Chris Courtney joined us for the trip to Medicine Hat. Adam and Brodie are from the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union and Chris is from Alpenland. Today was the longest bike ride ever for the three of them. All three of them broke the American century mark of 100 miles (160ish KM’s). I was really impressed by the three of them considering that none of them had really trained for the bike ride. I think that I would have been done after 30 km’s (I’m disgustingly out of shape).

While on our way to Medicine Hat we briefly stopped in a small town called Burdett because we saw a vintage Canadian military vehicle riding along in the parking lot for a store that sold John Deer machinery. It was a really old APV (armoured personal vehicle). The six of us and the gnome ended up taking a group picture on top of the vehicle.

We ended up staying with Brett’s grandmother when we reached Medicine Hat. She was a really nice host. Kelly and I stayed in her basement and slept on some fold out couches. Later in the night, I explored her basement and found her art studio. It was really cool and I was really impressed. I later found out that the house was decorated with her pieces of work.

Day 10-14

Day 10-14
June 29th – July 2nd
Current Location: Lethbridge

The last five days have been very pretty good. On the 29th, we traveled from Creston to Cranbrook. On the 30th, we traveled from Cranbrook to Sparwood. On Canada Day, we traveled to Lethbridge. The driving has become more routine over the last couple of days. Like last week, Brett has been with me in the van. We’ve both been taking turns driving. On the 30th, I spent the day relaxing in the passenger seat while Brett drove the entire day. The weather on the 29th and on the 30th was blistering hot. There’s nothing like being in a giant metal box parked on asphalt in +30 degree weather. In an attempt to conserve gas and money, Brett and I tried to use the A/C as little as possible.

For the most part we haven’t been having as much issues with the bikes as we were before. We’ve had a few flat tires but overall things have been good. Hopefully this trend will continue.

We managed it make it through most of B.C without rain surprisingly. We didn’t get our first drop of rain till we were leaving Sparwood on Canada Day. We didn’t get heavily rained on (the cats and dog variety) until we reached Fort Macleod. We somehow managed to avoid the brunt of the storm that flooded Lethbridge (unlike my parent’s basement and the UofL gymnasium).
I was really happy when we finally reached Lethbridge. I could almost kiss its wet soggy soil. We ended staying in town to rest for two days.

On July 2nd there was a free BBQ in the atrium for the bike trip. It was really something to see 200+ people waiting in the atrium for the free food. Bill Cade and Kelly both gave a brief speech to those waiting for food. We got a really good reception from the people from the crowd. I ended up seeing a surprisingly large amount of people that I knew there. I didn’t really do anything particularly interesting over the two days. I spent a majority of the rest days doing errands and some other stuff for the Meliorist. I also watched Batman Begins again. I’m really looking forward for The Dark Night.