Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh Canada!

There's something remarkably therapeutic about riding the last 140 miles of the day under clear, sunny skies. It goes a long way in mending the insults and injuries from the weather and luck over the past couple of days. You forget that just 3 hours ago your fingers were numb and you were sitting in a cafe clutching a cup of coffee working up the gumption to get back on the bike. Instead, your head is clear, you're feeling good and you'll be sad to call it a day when it's time to make camp.

So, where were we. Oh yes...the last time we wrote we were leaving our hotel room for a ride in the rain. That was yesterday. What can I say about yesterday? We past through what looked like it would have been beautiful riding through Canada from what I could see through rain and mist pelting my face shield. Yesterday was just about getting as many miles behind us as we could while riding the entire day in the rain. Even the locals were complaining about the weather. We called it a night around 7 or so just outside of Thunder Bay on the north end of Lake Superior. It rained on us until we got to camp and then, mercifully, it stopped. We slept like babies .

This morning we woke up to a very damp 48 degrees. It wasn't raining, but the air was saturated which makes 48 degrees on the bike feel bitter cold. James, who had to ring out his socks last night, wrapped plastic bags around his feet before putting them back into his still water logged boots. My jacket was still sopping wet, even after I dumped the water out of the pockets the night before. We geared up just the same and hit the road. We had put about 130 miles under us and had to stop for a break. Freezing and hungry we pulled in to the Burger Scoop in a small town of which I can't recall the name just now. Dismayed that they didn't serve soup we both ordered coffee with lunch.

That's when the big announcement came that the Canada Day parade was going to be coming down the street in 10 minutes. Yes, it's Canada Day folks. I don't know much about our northern neighbors but it seems that today is the 100th anniversary of Canada becoming a country (or something like that). I should take a moment to point out that although Canada is apparently one country, eastern and western Canada couldn't seem more different. James and I had stopped in a small town just west of Quebec for a little break. We had ridden to to a boat launch to park the bikes for a minute. “Amile! Venir Amile!” I heard in French as a two-color eyed husky popped out of the bushes and inquisitively headed our way. He was followed by a young women and a somewhat chubby, awkward, 14-ish boy in a yellow life vest. The young woman and I spoke for a bit. She was a counselor at a home for children and she was helping the boy learn to swim. I asked her where she learned English. Western Canada she told me and explained that there, in eastern Canada, they were French. She didn't say, French Canadian or, we speak French. Just that they were French. Well, the western Canucks seem far from it. They don't speak French for the most part either. They do, however, say “eh” a lot. And not just when they are making a statement for you to agree with. They say it like the way a valley girl would inject the word, “like” into a sentence 5 times - but much more charming. So, like, you get what I mean, eh? Anyway, the two sides seem rather different – the east portion with the mystique of a foreign country and the west so much like home.

Back to the Canada Day parade in our small town for lunch. Armed with our Canada flag sandwich picks, James and I just looked at each other thinking, sure, our luck the parade will roll up and occupy the street for an hour just as we are trying to hop back on the bikes. It didn't. The parade was an interesting hodge podge of whoever showed up for the day with a gaggle of red hat ladies in their mobile motorized wheelchairs bringing up their rear. Interesting.

After getting up the gumption we were off again. The weather slowly started to get nicer. We decided to push through Winnipeg and get a place to camp on the other side for the night. Winnipeg looks like a great city. As we rode through the city it was alive with people. People everywhere. Along the river walk, in front of the ice cream shop, the park, the sidewalk. All facing the same direction for what I expect was probably an excellent display of fireworks for Canada day. People with their red and maple leaf flags and hats and shirts. Families riding their bikes and little boys being pulled in radio flyer wagons and pointing excitedly at the motorcycles riding by. Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba. Their license plates say, “Friendly Manitoba,” and they looked it.

I think James and I are losing our hearing. Maybe it's the wind in the helmets or the loud mp3 player headphones drowning out the highway noise while I listen to, “when the hotel front desk attendant says, 'ohayo gozaimasu,' how do you respond?” (my Japanese audio lessons) or Vietnam-era rock. But when we get off the bikes we can never hear each other. It's a constant, “huh?”, “what?” At one of the gas stops where the communication lines were breaking down I yelled, “someone should write an SNL skit about our communication problems!” To which he replied, “huh?”
James is snoring beside me. Time for bed.

From pics-day 4-5

(Frosty fishes.)

From pics-day 4-5
Dinner in the tent last night.

From pics-day 4-5
Mmmm. Mountain House.

From pics-day 4-5
Open for caption.

From pics-day 4-5
Sky starting to clear.


  1. I'm so glad the weather got better today! Sad to say I can't make it to Anchorage...the next CG flight doesn't leave until the 13th...Boohoo! I'll keep in touch about where you'll be getting your massage though, you better make time :) Sounds like you'll really need it by then! Safe travels.
    Big hugs to yall

  2. You guys are doing great. Its all part of the package. Love the posts and following daily. Are you still on schedule?

    "buy the ticket and take the ride"
    Hunter Thompson