Boy do my knees ever hurt, I rode just under 500 miles today and I can tell it. To begin with I left Steinbach right on schedule (following my usual Grape Nuts Flakes...) I had to retrace part of my route to get back on track heading east and that took me north where I hooked back up with the Trans Canada freeway. Once I’d gotten away from the area around Winnipeg I found myself alone on the road, sometimes for several miles. That struck me as odd since this was Canada’s main east-west arterial. Maybe business is slacking off?
I spent a considerable amount of time fantasizing about a movie I saw where the guy woke up and everyone on Earth is dead. He spends a lot of time running up and down the local freeways looking for other people, rummaging through stuff, looting, etc. Get the picture? That was me winding along on the Trans Cam all alone, last guy on the planet. Fun.
When I left this morning I decided to stow the leather jacket and switch back to the ‘stich aka Big Red. Yesterday afternoon had been fairly crisp and today looked even more so. It was a good decision but still I stopped within a few miles and added my neck warmer to the mix – the tubular thingy that keeps your guzzler from freezing up. That lasted for maybe another 10 miles and I stopped again, this time donning the electric vest which I turned up to the highest setting where it stayed the rest of the day. For the most part it was sunny to partly cloudy with little wind but still nippy as hell at speed. I have to tell you, the money I spent on electric heated stuff was well worth the price, and having the one-piece ‘stich to wrap it all up in makes it darn near perfect. Plus, as I confessed awhile back, it’s possible to sleep in the ‘stich. Just in case you left your sleeping bag home.
I stayed on the Trans Canada through Kenora which is the beginning of the route around the huge Lake on the Woods district. In Kenora I stopped for a photo op of the cabin on one of the islands which is posted above, very cool digs for someone of means. Turning south onto highway 71 took me through the Sioux Narrows area and ultimately to Fort Frances where I turned east onto highway 11. The ride down 71 was gorgeous and nearly every place is either owned by or named after one of the local Indian tribes. I didn’t see any of the huge casinos that we have in Oregon so maybe the Canadians don’t allow them?
Along the same route I spotted the Rushing River falls and pulled a U-turn to go back for a photo. There was a Provincial Camp Ground (Ta Da..!) so rather than parking on the narrow shoulder of the road I rode in and stopped at the entrance. The ranger gal was at the pay station and I asked if I could pull around as I just wanted to take a photo and not camp. “Nope. If you come into the park you have to pay $10.00.” she remarked. Make that smirked. I replied with “But..but..uh..but...”, then realizing I wasn’t going to win this one and no way was I going to fork over ten bucks I back peddled the bike over the speed bump and rode out against the one-way. She stood there smiling all the while. Nice lady. At the entrance to the highway I parked and took the photo which is all I wanted to do in the first place. Thinking back I’m glad she’s found a position that enables her to exercise her authority over the little people, if not for that her life would probably be empty. Yup.
Further on down the road I pulled over to shoot the photo of a beaver lodge and while I was fumbling with my camera bag one of the RCMP guys pulled up. “You doin’ OK” he asked. At least I think that’s what he said since I was wearing my ear plugs and could only see his lips moving. I pantomimed using a camera and pointed at the water. He got it, game me a thumbs up and drove off. At least I think it was a thumbs up. Maybe he arrested me for loitering and I was supposed to follow him?
The afternoon approached and as is my habit I began the search for a lunch stop. The places along the lakes all looked a bit upscale for a bug covered biker though, and being of a frugal nature I expected they would be on the expensive side so I continued my ride. Then as luck would have it I spotted a small café in the miniscule township of Emo named the Circle D Family Restaurant. It looked like a nice clean little place and although the door was closed I could see people inside, some of them eating so that was good enough for me. I parked right in front and it was easy to see I immediately became the source of entertainment for all of them. The watched me intently as I removed helmet, gloves, guzzler thingy, glasses, and then inside at a booth I shrugged partially out of Big Red, all of which was performed without dropping so much as a single item. No applause, just polite stares and hushed whispers. No folks, not Saint Nick, just the old guy from Bandon by the Sea… None of them rode bikes but at least one rode one of those scooter chairs you see in the AARP magazine and I think another one had a lethal looking cane.
The menu was great, lots of homemade items and all at very low prices. That’s under five bucks to me, probably not so for you guys? Anyway one of the items was called Poggerlies or something like that so I asked the waitress what it was. She started to explain and was immediately interrupted by an older gal who was probably her mom. Turns out it was a Ukrainian dish more properly known as Vareniki or at least that’s as close as I can recall. They’re small pastries filled with mashed potatoes, then deep fried and served with a topping of chopped fried bacon, onions, and a side of sour cream. Heavenly. To die for. Don’t forget where you left your fat clothes.
Waddling out of the café and preparing to mount up I noticed the same folks watching my show played in reverse. One of the ladies actually came to the door and watched. Maybe it was Big Red? These are the times you pray to God you won’t fall on your ass when you twiddle the bike out the gravel driveway.
After the heavy lunch I decided that retiring around 3:30pm would make sense so I began the search for a cheap motel. Not only were there no cheap motels, even the high end looking ones were closed or full up. Thus began the final ride segment for the day, I locked into the back of an SUV who was driving like a bat out of hell – 115k – and followed him all the way into Thunder Bay, a good 175 mile stretch that I didn’t want to take. It turned out OK though as I snagged a room in the Super 8 and tomorrow I’ll take it easier.
And what did I have for dinner you ask? As it happens I’m now on Eastern Daylight time and since it was right at 10:00pm and I didn’t want to go anywhere I settled for a sub sandwich and 6 donuts from the shop behind the motel. That’s right, SIX donuts, so what? I could just as easily have ordered twelve. Think about it.