Part 3 of 15
Going My Way?
The Seniors' Breakfast
Going My Way?
It didn't matter that I was damp. It didn't matter any more that it was drizzling constantly because I no longer cared. What was important was the wonder of nature and its raw beauty as I rode along the north shore of the Georgian Bay. Seeing small islands peaking through tufts of white mist. Watching the predators – the Hawks high in the sky and the Eagles stalking their prey. I was in heaven. There are some tricks that you learn when you ride long distances in remote areas. In front of me was a late model Honda Gold Wing motorcycle being driven by a man who had a female passenger on the back. He had American plates. We were the only vehicles on the road for what appeared to be hours. Consequently, I followed behind him at a discreet distance. I used him as my pacer. When he sped up, I sped up. When he slowed down, I slowed down keeping my distance constant at all times. Its a game I play. We stopped for gas at the same gas stations and had a pleasant conversation each time. But, we maintained our riding arrangement until we reached the City of Sault St. Marie and the border crossing to the United States. I pulled beside them at a red light and they asked me was I going to the USA and I said, Yes! They said that they were heading back to Wisconsin and I could tag along with them if I'd like. I countered their offer by suggesting that they tag along with me instead. They asked, “Where are you going?” I said, “Fairbanks, Alaska”. We had a good laugh but they gracefully declined and waved good-bye.
Despite the continuing rain I had intended to reach Marathon today on the North coast of Lake Superior but it soon became evident that I was not going to make it that far. Apart from the slower travelling speeds due to the incessant rain, a huge tractor-trailer was lying on its side in a ditch. Red, white and blue lights were flashing all over the place and the traffic had to be temporarily re-routed. The accident had happened in a long and isolated stretch of highway and I suspected the the poor driver had possibly fallen asleep. I was hoping that he was going to be OK because there was an ambulance there as well.
Totally drenched, totally tired and here's something new, totally cold, I felt I'd had enough riding for the day so I pulled into Obotonga Provincial Park to rest for the night. Since it was still raining, I pitched my twenty-nine dollar pup tent at an angle so that my feet were lower than my head in case of flooding. With the help of a small flashlight, I stripped-off and dried myself as best I could with a damp towel before I got into my damp sleeping bag. I didn't know it at the time but this was going to be the worst night of my life.
The thunder-claps were so near and so deafeningly loud I felt the ground quiver beneath me. The tent was flood-lit inside by excessive lightening flashes that often lasted up to five seconds each. The sound of the rain hitting the ground was so heavy that it “roared”. During the lightening flashes I saw water streaming inside the tent through the seems. I unzipped the front door and tried to scoop as much rainwater as I possibly could to the outside. I must have fallen asleep eventually only because I remember the waking up part. There was something going on just outside my tent door. Furious and nasty animal noises! I also heard a noise consistent with someone shaking sea-shells in a burlap bag. Another animal was making a growling or snarling sound and all I could picture in my mind was a raccoon and a mississauga rattler going at it! I didn't wish to confirm what I was thinking by unzipping the door of my tent. That's not all. I woke-up in water below my waist. This was not the kind of holiday I was expecting. I needed a steaming hot coffee, bacon, eggs, home-fries and all the trimmings to help get some energy back. I made that my first priority of the day.
The Seniors' Breakfast
I felt like I was riding a trail-bike out of Obotonga Provincial Park. I was riding pot-holes full of water up to my ankles. I looked on the bright side. I was leaving the wilderness behind and heading towards the nice clean highway and breakfast. Far in the distance on my side of the highway I saw what appeared to be a family restaurant with a few pick-up trucks parked out front. That's all I was looking for so I pulled in. Eight seniors were having breakfast in the corner of the restaurant. They had moved two tables together so they could “chat”. It appeared that it was their regular hang-out so I chose a table as far away from them as I possibly could because they were very noisy – non-stop chatter – and in a manner as if they all had a hearing problem. I didn't scrimp on the breakfast. I figured I deserved it so I stuffed myself. I felt a lot better even though being damp had now become my everyday normal. I was forgetting what it was like to feel dry.
As I was leaving the restaurant I was feeling a little guilty about thinking unkind things about the old seniors so I thought I'd speak to them in a nice way on my way out. I asked them how many kilometres was it to Marathon and all of them responded in unison - but with different numbers. Two said 60; one said 70; another 80; another 90 and one even said a 100. Then they began arguing amongst themselves about who was the most correct, so I smiled, and left quietly. I confirmed the distance with my odometer as I rode through Marathon - and the person who'd said 90 had been correct.