Friday, May 8, 2015
Yesterday, Michael started to doubt his decision again to refuse the freely offered car. His intent is to continue his trip on bicycle, and especially to finish in Vancouver. Today is his last day with Tom and Coby:
"This morning I woke up with a sense of reluctance. I have had the time of my life with Tom and Coby and it is difficult to leave. It is also the uncertainty of what lies ahead on my journey. I have breakfast while I also make sandwiches for on the road. I gather my gear to pack. At 7:20 AM, Tom drives up his truck so we can get everyone loaded up.
I carry my gear to the truck and again I notice what a ridiculous amount of weight all this is. Though I would still not throw away anything, I wonder whether I can cross Canada with all this stuff. Whether I can get over all those hills that only will get higher and higher in the coming weeks till I reach the prairie.
Everything has been loaded up, and Coby and I say our goodbyes – I am touch by it. She doesn't accompany us. Tom will take me to a hunting store to buy bear spray. Thereafter, he will droop me off near Gravenhurst. I try to concentrate on other things while I wave Coby goodbye when we drive away. She is such a nice woman, I'm going to miss her, the darling...
Tom and I continue our drive and have plenty of conversations. Time flies and I realize more and more how many hills there are over here. Tom notices them too, "I have never thought much about these hills, because in the car you do not notice them. But to ride your bicycle here, that's a hell of a job!"
It takes us an hour to get to the hunting store. What a store. The sell all kinds of firearms, crossbows, compound bows, knives, etc. When I ask for a can of bear spray, I have to fill out a form with my information and then sign it. All this is like there is nothing in the world to it and I get the bear spray. Tom also buys a few items. I believe to get rid of his raccoons. However, this morning they appeared to have left on their own. Tom asks an employee if you can ride your bicycle on HW 11. "No, that is illegal", he says, before continuing, "But sometimes people ride their bicycles there. Like last year, when a cyclist completely got flattened by a heavy truck..."
We go back to the car. We ourselves were convinced that cycling here could be suicidal. We go to look for a place to drink coffee. Tom says it is his intention to drop me off at a safe place. Not having seen any suitable place in a while, we decide to stop at a gas station for Coffee and a cookie. Thereafter we will go look for a suitable place near Gravenhurst or even Parry Sound.
After the coffee break we continue and notice a hotel at Bracebridge. We stop and inform whether I can overnight there. Wherever I will overnight is also the place where I will have to plan a new route. Well, it won't be this hotel. They ask $143 for a room, and that without tax. Tom, as I do, believes this akin to a scam – a very high price while it isn't even tourist season yet.
We continue our trip through a still very hilly landscape. "What have I done?", I ask myself more and more, to decline that offer of the free automobile. If I had to ride my bicycle here, with all that weight, then even 80 km each day might be too much. I get a nasty gut feeling and I find myself again struggling to meet the unknown and the risks.
The view of the landscape is beautiful, even though it rains on and off. We are close to Parry Sound were we have to take HW 400. At exit 217 is a Quality Inn Hotel and they can offer me a room for $89, which I decide to take. I treat Tom to lunch before he goes on his more than 2 hour drive back home.
It's great to be traveling with this man. I always liked him very much, but now he has become more of a buddy. We quickly say our goodbyes and Tom says that he greatly appreciated my company. I am also very pleased with their hospitality and believe Tom to be a great guy. Seeing Tom drive away, feels like there is a stone in my stomach. I am really all alone now and I will see no more acquaintances until July...
Two months without my friends, acquaintances, extended family, or my own family. It feels quite bothersome to continue. I first read upon e-mail and later I skype with my family. Such a delight to see them. We talk for over 45 minutes. Then I call my brother, albeit, it is a short conversation due to the costs involved.
Next, I go plan my route and overnight stays. After two hours I feel disappointed. I have not been able to find a nice place to overnight for tomorrow. The distances are big and the number of motels and hotels are limited here. There are no B&B at all on this part of my route. I do not get a good feeling about this. I feel more and more alone. Shit, it is so worthless to have to go through this again.
I go eat something around 6:15 PM. I notice that I actually have no appetite. I force myself to eat well, however, tears are closer than laughter. It's so hopeless. Bad weather, hills I do not know how many or how high, none or limited lodging possibilities, no internet connection, and days riding my bicycle all alone... Nope, I can't see myself completing the journey...
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Albert Dijkstra