Friday, March 26, 2010

Ottawa – USA Trip 2009 Part 3 of 9

Modesty and Prudence Don't Apply
Fugitive On The Run
We Were Never Close

Modesty and Prudence Don't Apply!

At a campsite in Manitoba, just west of Brandon, I got up early so that I could use the toilets without interruption. It was about six o'clock in the morning. To my surprise, there was a large jolly fat man with no shirt on having a shave. He was talking to his mate who was taking a hot shower a few feet away. The jolly fat man was not shy. With a friendly but booming voice he invited me to go ahead and use the toilet while he shaved and his mate showered, so I did. Before you knew it, he and his mate, and I, were having the most fascinating conversation about our trips, our families and our dreams as we were all doing our “business”. I thought, “Where else in the world would you casually talk to strangers while sitting on the toilet and feel comfortable with it?” When we were finished we shook hands and wished each other a safe journey.

Fugitive On the Run

In the middle of no-where, somewhere between Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and the Alberta border, a small private campground assigned the smallest campsite in the world to me. All I had done was inform the office clerk that all I had was a bike and a small pup-tent so he gave me a campsite so small that I couldn't fit both in the tiny space allocated. I was so disgusted that I switched to a larger campsite without letting him know. Of course, an hour later a young French Canadian kid riding an old beat-up Honda Shadow stopped at my campsite claiming, correctly, that it was his. Between his lousy English and my broken French I explained what I had done and I offered to vacate his site. He saw the humour in the situation and he decided to set-up his tent in the campsite next to mine hoping that no-one else would come along. His name was Pierre and he was leaving Vancouver to head back to his home city of Montreal, Quebec. He looked undernourished and hungry so I offered him half of my submarine sandwich and a cold can of Coors. He accepted both with thanks. Pierre was telling me that he had lost an entire day trying to get through Alberta. The Police had pulled him over to examine his Honda and they had given him twelve hours to have the necessary repairs done to meet Alberta safety standards, or they were going to impound his bike. He could not afford the estimated cost of repairs so the garage mechanic whispered to him that two hours of hard riding would put him inside the Saskatchewan border and outside of Alberta's jurisdiction. So, that's what he'd done. He showed me his bike and I was amused. His rear mudguard was loosely held on with coat hanger wire; he had to keep his foot tight against the gearshift lever while he was riding or it would fall off; his turn signals didn't work and neither did his horn. What a mess! It was a piece of junk but it had got him this far, almost 1,000 Kms. The next morning, as we were both ready to leave, I gave him a full can of bug spray; one road map of Canada and one of my spare flashlights. I also showed him a few shortcuts to Montreal which included a ride through some of the more scenic parts of Ottawa. In that short time we had become friends.

We Were Never Close!

I don't like Alberta. People don't generally know this but southern Alberta around Medicine Hat is nothing but a desert. It was a long hard drive through Alberta but I made it through Calgary before I filled-up with fuel on the trans-Canada highway at a place called Cochrane. I felt cold. I just wanted to get out of there and continue on my journey. Ironically, I was just a couple of blocks from where my sister Pauline lives, that's if she still lives there. We never did get along. I didn't stop for tea.

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