2010 Alaska Sunk - Part 13 of 15
Canada Here I Come!
Stuck in Espanola
Canada Here I Come!
For my last night in the United States I treated myself to a stay at the Comfort Inn at Newberry, Michigan. I sure wasn't the only Canadian biker there. I must have counted fifteen or more couples riding touring bikes and tricycles from Michigan to Ontario. It was party-time for most of them but I spent the evening preparing for my last stretch of highway out of Michigan and into Ontario. That would include crossing the border from Sault St. Marie Michigan to Sault St. Marie Ontario. Why do they have the same name?...I've no idea. I wasn't concerned about customs because I had nothing to declare anyway. The next stop I made was at a country store at Watter, Mi, to get gas. There was a great big sign on the door which said, “ Motorcycle helmets must be removed before entering this store!” I removed my helmet and I went to pay for my gas. “Why no helmets?”, I asked. “Because bikers come in here leaving their visors down. Then they rob us at gunpoint” she responded. She went on to say “You can put your's back on because you have an open-faced helmet”. I could see her point. Her store was at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing for thirty miles in either direction and I left with the impression that she was robbed often.
I'm such a lucky Guy. The Canadian border guard said, “I love your Harley. I ride a Softail-Classic. Welcome home brother!” ...As he said that my heart sunk. All I could see far ahead were the same heavy storm clouds that I had faced several weeks ago - and this time I had no rain suits left!
Stuck in Espanola
I had no doubts at all that I was going to get soaked to death no matter what I did so I thought about the options I had regarding the best way to get home. Firstly, I knew the road very well and I could probably get there blindfolded. Secondly, I estimated that I was looking at twelve hours of riding and possibly more. Thirdly, it didn't matter what time I got home. I could crash-out for as long as I wanted once I got there. Consequently, my decision was to try to make it all the way home stopping only for food, gas and bathroom breaks. Considering that I'd crossed the border about 11:00am, I saw no reason why I couldn't be home by about 2:00 o'clock the next morning. For that brilliant piece of reason and logic I should be given an award for “idiot of the month” as you will soon find out.
The rain was steady but manageable. I made good time riding along the north coast of the Georgian Bay until I reached the town of Massey and Chute's Provincial Park. There, the heavens opened-up and the torrential rain came down with a vengeance once again. The heavy raindrops were hitting the asphalt and bouncing back up twelve inches or more . It was hard to see were I was going. Large and small vehicles were starting to pull over. I knew that if I could keep going for another ten minutes I would get to the Wendy's/Tim Horton's restaurants at the Trucker's Corner located at the Espanola intersection. I spent the next two hours sitting at a corner table watching the rain come down in sheets. Other travellers were doing the same. Some time later it seemed to lighten up a bit so I jumped on the Harley hoping that I might be able to drive out of it. Then, suddenly, everything went black. There was a power-cut knocking-out hydro to traffic lights, street lights, and lights in nearby restaurants and bars. The torrential rain started up again so I stopped at a small family restaurant to rest. The staff were sitting together at a large table talking about the weather . One waitress came over and explained that the restaurant was closed due to the power outage and they were not able to serve anything. I ask her could I just sit in a corner for a while until the power came back on. Three hours later, I left the restaurant in the heavy rain and continued towards Ottawa. It was now nightime. I made it through Sudbury, North Bay and Mattawa until I reached Deep River bordering the Ottawa river. It had a motel with a vacancy sign out front. I couldn't have lasted two more minutes riding the Harley because I was dripping-wet, cold and totally exhausted. I knew I still had several hours to go. I don't remember turning into that motel parking lot and shutting off the engine. I think my unknown Angel may have done that for me. That's why I deserved the “idiot of the month” award.
The next morning I woke-up on top of the bed. I hadn't even got under the covers. My first thought was “Three Hours To Go!” ...and I'd be back home again. I really wanted to get back now so I didn't shower or shave. I could do that a lot more comfortably at home. The rain had stopped but the road was still wet so I decided to leave Deep River. A late model Ducati Sports bike had parked next to me during the night. Although those Ducatis are strikingly attractive and powerful they make a rattling noise sounding like nuts and bolts shaking in a tin bucket. Notwithstanding, the point I was about to make is that I never heard him arrive so I must have slept very deeply during the night. Ever since I found out that Tom Cruise had bought himself a Ducati I've always wanted to take one for a test drive - but I never got the chance - not yet anyway!
When I was going through Canadian Forces Base Petawawa I was glad I'd stopped at Deep River because I know from past experience that the distance from Petawawa to my home in Ottawa is exactly three hours easy riding. The only reason I stopped that morning was to get gas. After that, cruising through Pembroke; Cobden; Renfrew; Arnprior and Ottawa was a breeze. I couldn't help thinking about the difficulties I'd had; the inclement weather; the running out of gas; dropping the bike in the mud; and the unrelenting cold - compared against the thrills; the adventures and the good times I'd experienced. I asked myself the question, “ Given the choice, would I do it all again?” My answer was “Yes of course – I'd do it all again a heartbeat!”
I have a personal “thing” I like to do. It would mean nothing to you. It means something to me. I have a single favourite piece of music called La Golondrina. It was written by a Mexican doctor/composer in 1883. In Spanish it means “The Swallow” and it's about invoking sentiments of longing for home. This is a sentiment to which I, personally, am highly sensitive for reasons that will remain private. I like to play it each time I leave and return from a very long motorcycle trip. In Mexico, it is sung each time someone leaves someone or something. I think in my old age, I might be turning into an emotional basket-case just in case you didn't know. Nevertheless, I stopped in a parking lot on the east side of Ottawa and I put on my mp3 player. I placed the headphones under my helmet. I rode the rest of the way home listening to Dr. Narcisco Serradell Sevilla's La Golondrina sung by Nana Mouskouri in Spanish. Its one of the most beautiful pieces of music I know.
I parked my Harley in my garage and closed the door. I stripped-off everything damp. That meant absolutely everything. I walked naked into my scalding-hot shower and scrubbed myself clean. After I'd dried myself-off I fell into bed and crawled under the covers.
I don't know when I woke-up.