Sunday, July 10, 2005

On the shores of Gitche Gumee

For Drew: the AWESOME North Shore break (Lake Superior, that is.)

I estimated swells at 50 to 75...millimeters!

9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time Zone!)

Neys Provincial Park, Ontario

At "Aerostich", they have a t-shirt that states: “Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.” Sometimes that’s how this journey feels.

Breaking camp early, the ranger, with perfect timing, pulled right up to my site.

“You were all out of (payment) envelopes last night," I offered as soon as she said "good morning.”

“There were some when we left. Must be the kids. You know kids…”

She only charged the $15 camping fee, not the vehicle fee, since I had paid for one yesterday.

Superior shrouded in fog this morning. It felt good to be driving while it was still cool. After 30 minutes or so, crossed into Canada (and the Eastern Time Zone.) Simple formalities. "How much time are you planning to stay? Are you carrying any firearms or weapons? Any alcohol or tobacco products? Anything you plan to leave in Canada?"

The landscape changed almost immediately, and I didn’t like what I was seeing: shabby buildings, junker vehicles, logged-over forests, a worn landscape. The thought occurred, "should I turn around?"

On so many occasions along the way, the first impulse was the better one, and often I would later regret not following it. Numerous times, I have reversed course, after an internal debate, to follow that original instinct. This time I did not.

Thunder Bay, Ontario was a big disappointment. For miles, the sickening acrid stench of pulp mills filled the heavy atmosphere. The city has over 110,000 people, according to the sign. I'm thinking "it's an outrage that they are exposed to this pollution." Then I wonder if people here even notice it.

I found the Bowater Pulp Mill (it wasn't difficult) where they make pulp, newsprint and corrugated. Of course, it's our insatiable demand for corrugated boxes and newspapers that creates this environmental mess.

The Bowater pulp mill in Thunder Bay

At "Strawberries Family Restaurant" in a gritty lower-middle class section of town, I was uncomfortable parking the bike and leaving it. "How much do I trust my fellow man?" Let's see...

Inside, I was back in Canada; the soundtrack is again "oldies". Even Leslie Gore singing “It’s my party!” (recalling Grand Prairie - which now feels like a lifetime ago.)

A huge breakfast: Eggs Benedict, with pancakes smothered in strawberries and whipped cream! About $11.00 with tax and tip. Gradually, the world seemed a bit brighter...

At a Thunder Bay car wash

Skirting Superior's North Shore, conditions alternated between sultry and chilling. Where the highway moved even a short distance from water, the heat increased dramatically. Along the shore, it ranged from cool to downright cold.

Camped early today, which actually allowed me to meet some people!

Out on the wide sandy beach, while taking photos of the "surf", I met "Christine", who had brought her two children out to play. We talked mostly of travel. She's been only as far west as Calgary, but has the desire to travel, once she has the money.

Bruno Nussbaumer approached my campsite with his daughter to admire the motorcycle, saying "I'd love to have one of these!" He's from Switzerland, now living in Chicago. We talked about travel, and in particular about Argentina, which he loved visiting. Later, he returned, after speaking to his wife, Jacqueline. "If you come to Chicago, you are welcome to stay with us..." Such kindness amazes me. We exchanged contact information.

Crawled into my tent around 9:30.

In the woods, there's a bird that sounds like it’s warbling through a ceramic pipe. Very odd! At these times, I wished I had someone like Paul Boyer around to identify the birds. (Later, Priscilla tells me this was probably a Veery.)

1 comment:

cathie said...

This cracked me up!