Monday, May 18, 2015
In the last few days Michael has been preparing himself for his bike tour to Thunder Bay. The first part of his route is through an area where there are very few people, no accommodations and likely no Internet connection:
"Because today is a national holiday in Canada I have to search for breakfast as many places closed. When I find myself in a coffee and fast food place I quickly start having a good time. There is a group of older men who are all telling some interesting stories. There is a very relaxed atmosphere and everybody is involved in the joy of it all. People are very friendly with each other. At a table in the corner one man is being served burnt toast. I already thought I smelled something. Right away the men comment to the waitress: "What are you serving your clients now?" “He wants it like this,” she says, "He's been having burnt toast like this for years, anything else puts him in a bad mood.” The men have more comments and there is a lot of laughter.
Today, I though I would bike part of the HUB trail. This is a beautiful trail according to Darell and the Natives who I met last Saturday and they told me I would see wildlife guaranteed.
I ask a cyclist for directions; I follow his instructions and after five minutes I find myself on the trail. There are people walking, running and cycling and and it's reasonably busy. I notice some trees that have been chewed at by beavers very recently. The beavers are very active it looks like.
Before I know it, I'm back in town but the trail seems to continue. When I end up downtown Sault Ste. Marie and I'm not sure I'm on the right track. I decide to ask a man for directions. He knows about the trails but there are several parts to it so he is not sure but he does tell me he is an avid cyclist! He advises me to go to Garden River which is a First Nations reserve and very beautiful.
Suddenly there is Darrell with his bike. "Hey Michael,” he says. "Hey Darrell, I was just talking about you and the HUB trail that you mentioned". He knows exactly how I can get back to it. He was just out for a bike ride and is on his way home for lunch. Darrell and I just seem to click and he tells me about some other things concerning the Ojibway and my trip to Wawa. He tells me he used to sail on a ship on Lake Superior, which is an immense and deep lake. Because of the cold winter, he says, I have to take into account that it could freeze in the park (Lake Superior Provincial Park on the way to Wawa) and snow has been forecast for Thunder Bay. Okay, I think I've really had quite enough of snow. After a while I say goodbye to Darrell but I am convinced that I will meet him again; which is more of a feeling then it a logical thought.
After ten minutes I find the park with the trails and I go down to one particular trail. There's almost no one there. A couple is startled by my sudden appearance, thinking I was a bear. Last week there were bears here, apparantly. The couple ask me what I'm doing here etc. and end up having their picture taken with me. As I keep going the path gets narrow and muddy. Although I don’t spot any bear tracks, I am on alert. At one point the path becomes so rough with rocks and tree roots that I have to walk through the mud. Toward the end there is even a tree down across the path; it is very beautiful though.
When I leave the park I go back downtown to eat a sandwich at Tim Hortons. There are all kinds of motorcyclists there who look kind of rough. It's funny: I park my bike right next to a row of Harleys. After I finish my lunch I bike along the water back to my motel. On my way back, I see a big moose statue which was erected in memory of four men who lost their lives in Lake Superior Provincial Park in January 2013.
As I stand beside the life-size moose statue I am amazed to see how big these animals can be. The males like to chase after pedestrians and cyclists in the spring, I have been told more than once. Those are mostly the exceptions and I'm not worried about it.
I bike over to Garden River which is about 10 km down the road from my motel. The weather is beautiful and so are the surroundings. I bike through the entire reserve and people wave at me here and there. It all looks tidy and beautiful. I decide at Darrell's recommendation to have lunch at Big Arrow. It is a gas station with a small shop and a small restaurant. I order the Grandfather Burger. It is an enormous burger with French fries. It is even bigger than the one I had in prince Edward County a couple of weeks ago. I think I just had dinner instead of lunch...
I chat a bit with some Native people and then I return to my motel. I have to prepare for my trip for the coming days. I think I may not have access to the Internet for 3 to 5 days. So my stories will have to come later but I will still write them. The last couple of days I've been hearing about Terry Fox and how he collapsed on the hills that I am faced with in the next few days.
I also thought that the hills would become easier once I pass Wawa, but this apparantly is not so. All the way to Thunder Bay I can expect a constant climb and descent for about 700 kms. Not many people take this on. I trust that I'll get through it, but it will be tough..."
Translation by Sytske van der Veen