Saturday, May 30, 2015
Michael went to bed way too late last night. His email obviously also came late. It appears that there have been some unexpected developments. Read on:
"I wake up after a short night sleep and walk into the living room. Dave is still lying down watching TV. “Did you not sleep?” I ask. ”Yes, but I'm already up again” he says. I find it incredible that he can just do that after all the drinking and such a short night. It is very cold outside, around the freezing mark, but the strong Northern wind makes it feel frosty. When we get downstairs at 8:30 AM Doris the owner of 78 and her husband Henry of 86 have already made coffee and baked fresh muffins for us; it's starting to snow outside. Yes, you read that correctly. The old woodstove is burning at full force and it is pleasantly warm. I enjoy my coffee but especially the muffins that Doris made this morning at 6 o’clock. She also made some sort of apple cinnamon pie: such sweet people!
A few hours later, the weather has changed once again. The sun is shining and it's warmer at 8C degrees. Dave is very happy, because his friends saw his message on Facebook and are coming over after a 13 hour of drive to bring him his ID and some other things that her needs to apply for new bankcards etc. Dave let's me know that he has been thinking about staying here for a while, working and living. And so before we leave, Dave puts up his tent by the people we met last night at the campground. He is planning to stay there for a few days or longer.
When we leave and get back to the gas station, he goes inside and applies for the job that is advertised on the door. They have been looking for someone for a while but were unable to find anyone. They are happy with him. They even offer him a place to stay. We continue our ride and I see yet another sign that indicates we are on the very special Terry Fox route. Dave suddenly tells me that he is going to quit and is not going to finish his tour. I ask him what his goal was when he started his journey, now that he has just committed to a new future. “Shit, you are good, you know, thanks”. Dave left a large part of his luggage at the campground and now he is much faster than I am. He is quite competitive but so am I. Nice bunch we are!
When the road changes to four lanes, we see signs indicating that we are not allowed to bike here. “Now what?”, says Dave. I know for sure I want to go to the Terry Fox monument which can only be reached by highway. Dave doesn't want to chance it. “Well” I say, “then I'll call for a police escort”. Dave looks at me in disbelief, but he does look up the number. I call with his phone and within two minutes everything has been arranged. Dave helps me with a few more questions and is completely surprised that the OPP is going to send an escort.
Dave warns me not to be too enthusiastic with the OPP officers but to keep quiet. A little later he takes all black-and-white cars for police cars and he's getting very excited. We bike along the Lake Shore. I have to keep asking him to bike a little slower, because he keeps going about 30 km an hour.
When we get to a fork in the road Dave calls the OPP again to find out where they are waiting for us. He can hear the police radio in the background where different units are reporting to take on the job. Dave is all over the place and when we see a police car a little later I have to calm him down. We carry on and have to make quite a climb to get back to the highway.
A police car is waiting for us when we get on the highway, but I am disappointed he doesn't drive down the highway with his lights on to escort us. It is quiet and I am very visible. When we reach the turn to the monument we have a little chat with policeman. He says he has never seen a cyclist who is as visible as I am! And he appreciated that we called. He is truly interested in my journey and my goal. He asks for a card about the website and we have our picture taken with him. This is very special, because the OPP usually do not want to have their picture taken.
We go up to the monument. It is very impressive to see how the road up to it has been cut through the rocks. Dave can't hold himself back and he's already on his way. He knows who Terry Fox was, but now that he's here it really inspires him. The monument is beautiful and I look for some peace and quiet to take it all in. This is short-lived. Dave is talking to some people and I hear him say “There he is!” One after the other people drop by to ask questions and to show their admiratioin for what we are doing. I am impressed to see how many people are visiting this monument.
The monument itself is really is a thing to behold. It stands on a large amathyst pedestal with a spectacular view over Lake Superior and Thunder Bay. The weather is beautiful compared to what we had yesterday. It had to be that way.
Dave is trying to call CTV to see if they can come by. It doesn't work that way, I think, but you never know. We spend hours here because of all the attention. Here a young couple offers us some hot dogs they happen to be cooking. Delicious! They are from Québec and very friendly. After that I'm being approached by someone from Toronto who heard about me and a little later by some Dutch people who have lived here already for 18 years.
But then we have to go because it is almost 5:00 PM. At the monument, I say goodbye to my cycling buddy Dave. He gives me money to repay some things I bought for him. We both feel sad.”You are like a brother to me”, says Dave. He is obviously touched. “You've changed my life! Really, you are very special man and they think that of you as well at the campground!
I don't know what to think of this. It seems a little exaggerated to me but it's not the first time someone has said that. Sure, I do experience all kinds of interesting things here but does that make me special?
With those thoughts in mind, I bike to downtown Thunder Bay. I see a motel and I want to find out if I can get a room there. There are quite a few people so it must be okay. When I get closer I see a gang of motorcyclists. It looks like a scene from GTA...
They are clearly laughing at me and I'm getting a little mad. Not sure where I find the courage, I park my bike right beside those guys. I slowly dismount and take off my helmet. I keep my bandana on and my sunglasses. I look in their direction and say “Hi there!” A large tattooed guy who seems to be the leader says “Hi”. I take my bag with the most important things with me and leave my bike parked and unlocked. Very confidently I say “You guys take care, eh”. The big guy nods and they're not laughing anymore...
The owner of the motel has some rooms to rent but as soon as he hears that I want to make a deal he suddenly he doesn't have any more rooms. Bastard, I think, but maybe it's a good thing because this is not a pleasant environment. I bike away and the motorcycle gang even wave goodbye!
I am pretty proud of myself for being so bold as to do this, but I realize that perhaps I better not do that again.
I find a very nice motel and book a room for two nights. I am tired and I get some dinner first. When I come back at 8:30 PM, I go straight to bed."
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen